The Super Nintendo was the first video game console I ever owned. As such, it holds a very special place in my heart. Nostalgia aside, I have a feeling I'm not alone in my love for the SNES. Despite advancing technology, the software library of the Big N's second console has held up better than many of those on subsequent platforms. From a slew of amazing RPGs to a plethora of charming platformers, there's so much to love about the Super Nintendo. Here are twenty-five reasons why the console is easily one of gaming's greatest.
25. NBA Jam
"From downtown!" I'll never forget playing this arcade sports game with my pals back in my younger years. I've never been a huge fan of sports games, but NBA Jam was a major exception to that sentiment. Chucking the ball from half court and sinking a basket at the buzzer was insanely thrilling. And remember when you managed to get "on fire" and a flaming basket ball burns right through the netting on the hoop? So awesome.
I was a huge fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back in the day, and Turtles in Time was an incredible gaming gift to my brother and I. Multiplayer co-op where you can select which turtle you'd like to control, bashing your way through each level, proved to be enormous amounts of fun. Taking the arcade experience and bringing it to the comfort of one's home can't be understated. TMNT: Turtles in Time simply can't be taken for granted. It's one of the most entertaining beat 'em ups you'll ever play. Ever.
23. Killer Instinct
The Super Nintendo is home to some of the greatest 2D fighters. Killer Instinct is one such game, with a cast of incredibly varied and memorable characters. Not only that, but it added to the breadth of mature content on the SNES. Pummeling your pals to a bloody pulp may sound a bit gruesome, but in the cheesy and oddly endearing context of Killer Instinct it was totally awesome.
High-speed racing hit the Super Nintendo at blazing speeds with the arrival of F-Zero. While the visuals may not look like much to write home about today, the sense of speed Nintendo managed to create was unlike anything else at the time. You'll be hard pressed to find another 16-bit experience that will get your adrenaline flowing quite like F-Zero. There's a reason why Nintendo turned it into a franchise and made Captain Falcon an essential member of the Smash Bros. cast.
21. Earthworm Jim
Blending elements of the 2D platforming genre with classic run-and-gun mechanics, Earthworm Jim offered an experience like none other at the time. The game stars an earthworm (coincidentally named Jim) who, equipped with a robot suit, must save Princess What's-Her-Name. Yep, it's goofy, wacky, and all sorts of silly fun. The game may have originated on the Sega Genesis, but the SNES port was quite incredible as well.
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20. Star Fox
Nintendo's animal-filled space-battling flight game first got its wings on the Super Nintendo, and boy did it serve up a memorable experience unlike anything else available on the SNES. Star Fox included the Super FX chip, which allowed for the use of 3D visuals, making it the first Nintendo game to use such a mind-blowing visual style. Blasting baddies from the comfort of a flying vessel never fails to disappoint.
19. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
There are only a few games that occupied more of my time than Donkey Kong Country 2. My brother and I would play this game for hours on end. I remember going back to replay the mine cart levels over and over and over again. With such expert level design, rich with gorgeous art and varied environments, there's so much to love about the sequel to DKC. The sheer awesomeness of Trixie's hair spinning move cannot be understated.
18. Super Castlevania IV
The Castlevania series made quite an impact when it first launched on the NES and the fourth installment was no slouch either. Super Castlevania IV lived up to fans' high expectations, delivering a side-scrolling action platforming experience unlike anything else available on the SNES. Fighting your way through a slew of monsters as Simon Belmont was as awesome as one would expect. I mean, who wouldn't want to hunt down Dracula?
17. Final Fantasy II
Not to be confused with the Japanese release, the localized version of Final Fantasy II is actually a retitled version of the Japanese RPG Final Fantasy IV. Naming confusion aside, Final Fantasy II is one fine piece of role-playing magnificence. The game introduced the Active Time Battle system, which proved to be a staple in subsequent entries. Not only that, but the addition of in-depth character classes only made the Final Fantasy formula all the more engaging.
16. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
The original Super Mario World was (and still is) a masterpiece among 2D platformers, so when Nintendo released a sequel, the bar was unbelievably high. Instead of playing it safe, however, Nintendo made some really bold changes, including a completely new art style that's all sorts of whimsical. If that weren't enough, the game places a much larger emphasis on Yoshi—it is subtitled Yoshi's Island after all—by tasking the green dinosaur with escorting baby Mario safely through each level. It's weird, different, and charming. A must play.
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15. Super Mario All-Stars
The original Super Mario Bros. games on NES are some of the most iconic, influential 2D platformers in existence. Super Mario All-Stars took those beloved classics and spruced them up with improved visuals. With the same great gameplay coupled with a fresh coat of 16-bit paint, All-Stars quickly became the de facto place to experience some of the greatest NES games of all time. The inclusion of The Lost Levels was pretty awesome too.
This wacky role-playing game may not have done all that well sales-wise when it first launched outside of Japan, but boy has it rose in popularity since. Earthbound (aka Mother 2) is the very definition of a cult classic, giving gamers an offbeat experience that went criminally undercooked upon release. It has since become regarded as one of the greatest RPGs on the SNES, which is no easy feat. Thankfully this super rare game is now available on the WIi U Virtual Console.
13. Super Street Fighter II Turbo
2D fighters don't get much better than Super Street Fighter II Turbo. This super smooth fighter from Capcom is highly regarded among fans of the genre, and rightly so. With a cast of diverse characters each with their own strengths and weaknesses, Super Street Fighter II offered enough variety while still keeping the experience as balanced and competitive as possible. No dignified fighting fan should be without this game.
12. Super Mario Kart
Ah, Super Mario Kart, how I love thee. Another great time sink for my brother and I, this incredible kart racing game is easily my favorite in the series. From the insanely intense battle mode, to the wide array of courses—remember the crazy awesome ghosts levels?—it's difficult to find any fault in this game. It was the start of one of Nintendo's most profitable franchises ever. That's a big deal.
11. Secret of Mana
It's no "secret" that there are loads of amazing role-playing games on the Super Nintendo. Secret of Mana is one of the best of the best, thanks to its incredible story and gorgeous art. The game's active real-time battle system also brought a breath of fresh air to the genre, which was typically dominated by turn-based combat. If that weren't enough, it incorporated cooperative multiplayer, which is a huge win in my book.
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10. Contra III: The Alien Wars
One of the greatest games to ever come out of Konami has got to be Contra III: The Alien Wars. The couch co-op gameplay consumed hours upon hours of my bro-filled time. Running through levels with my finger on the virtual trigger was thrilling, especially when I managed to nab a cool power-up. Oh yeah, and those top-down sections did a great job to break up the pacing. Though, man was that game hard!
9. Mortal Kombat II
Classic fighting games don't get much better than Mortal Kombat II. If the sheer amount of violence packed into this fighter didn't grab your attention, perhaps the killer cast each with its own batch of unique attacks did. And then there's the Fatalities. Remember playing for hours on end just trying to pull off those gruesome finishers with each character? Such a wonderful waste of time.
8. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
I don't think I've rented a game from Blockbuster more times than Super Mario RPG. Every time my brother and I would take the cartridge home from the rental store, we'd start from the beginning just to experience the game's epic opening moments. Sure, it featured the traditional cast of Mario, Peach, and Bowser, but also tossed in some fresh faces like Geno and Mallow. Squaresoft brought Mario into the role-playing genre in expert fashion and that is no easy feat.
7. Donkey Kong Country
Rare's kong-filled platforming franchise blew away gamers on the SNES with its impressive pseudo-3D visuals, super fun tag-team style gameplay, and a wide array of unique and interesting levels. Hunting down all of those hidden coins and KONG letters was always a blast, and the game's slew of rideable creatures were totally awesome. The series still lives on today as Retro Studios carries the torch. The fact that the same great gameplay still lives on today is a testament to DKC's quality.
6. Mega Man X
Capcom totally blew my childhood mind with Mega Man X. Adhering to traditional Mega Man form, the game featured a number of varied and super creative levels, each with its own iconic boss. The gorgeous art is some of my favorite on the SNES and the pitch-perfect gameplay made it difficult to put down the controller. There are few games as timeless as Mega Man X, which speaks volumes about its quality. Oh yeah, and that soundtrack was amazing.
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5. Super Mario World
In my eyes, Super Mario World is 2D platforming perfection. It was undoubtedly the SNES game I sunk the most of my time into thanks to its incredible level design, amazing world map, and flawless controls. Some believe Super Mario Bros. 3 is the superior experience, but I beg to differ. The excellent incorporation of Yoshi and the feather power up were wonderful additions that took the franchise to new heights… literally.
4. Chrono Trigger
Square's time-traveling RPG Chrono Trigger will go down in history as one of the greatest role-playing experiences ever. It's got a great story with multiple endings, an unforgettable cast of diverse characters, and some of the most eye-grabbing art available on the platform. Crono and the gang go on one heck of an epic quest, a quest that should not be missed by any self-proclaimed gamer.
3. Super Metroid
"Super" doesn't even begin to describe Samus' exploration-heavy action game on the SNES. With some of the most ingenious level design in all of gaming that encourages exploration and makes backtracking actually fun, Super Metroid is easily one of the finest experiences on Nintendo's second home console. Oh, and that music. So captivating.
2. Final Fantasy III
Yet again we run into a bit of numbering confusion thanks to localization, but don't let that scare you away from what is arguably the best role-playing game of all time. Final Fantasy III (or VI if you're going by Japan releases) is a piece of gaming art. The soundtrack is easily the best collection of gaming music I have ever heard, and the story is simply mind-blowing. It's truly amazing how much of an emotional impact a 16-bit game can have.
1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Honestly, did you really think we'd choose anything but A Link to the Past for the top spot? Only a few games are serious contenders for the prestigious title of "Greatest Game of All Time," and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of them. With a massive world map to explore, excellently-crafted dungeons, and an earth-shattering dark world mechanic, there's so much to love about this SNES classic. A sequel is coming to the 3DS later this year and let's just say the insanely high level of expectation is most definitely justified.