With the Super Nintendo Classic Edition, which came out last week, Nintendo dug up the ’90s and put them all over your HD TVs. This collection of 21 SNES games is not just a tribute to nostalgia (and easy money), but also to a time when games were well-made. As we wrote last week, Nintendo had a lot of great ideas for games in the 1980s, and the SNES was where they all came together. This is because the more powerful technology let the designers of the SNES go deeper into their ideas than they could before. We’re basically trying to say that the best SNES games are pretty cool.
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If you want us to explain it even more and tell you which of these 21 games are the best, here it is. Continue reading. It’s all down here. This was done for you.
This polygonal mess tries to add life to its awkward 3D shooting by introducing a bunch of generic characters who look like they were taken right out of a short-lived Saturday morning cartoon from 1989. Star Fox was barely playable at the time, but now it’s almost impossible to play.
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
We like the guts it took to put the word “super” on this. While Nintendo was exploring the ideas behind its NES classics and making them into brilliantly designed labours of love, Capcom basically just remade an old arcade game that was always frustrating and never fun. It’s not an exact copy of the original, but it doesn’t do much to change the formula. Instead, it makes players jump, kill, and die over and over again (over and over and over). If you think Cuphead is hard, good luck getting past the first level of this game.
Star Fox 2
This unreleased sequel tries to fix the first game by making it more open-ended and building it around a map of the galaxy. It gives it a little sci-fi zing, but it can’t make up for the clumsy action. The simple three-dimensionality of these space dogfights, which sometimes featured real dogs or at least cartoon dogs, was supposed to impress players. However, this kind of technological gimmick quickly loses its appeal as more powerful chips come off the line. Today, it’s hard to play.
Kirby’s Dream Course
Kirby saw Mission Drift almost as soon as Mario did, since this minigolf-based spin-off came out only two years after the little pink puff debuted. Nintendo didn’t waste any time making more Kirby games. Within two years, he had a Game Boy game, a sequel for the NES, and two spinoffs based on minigolf and pinball. It’s Kirby, so it’s cute and charming, but it’s about as unimportant as a minigolf game based on a platforming mascot could be.
Racing games have always been popular because they can show off how good a system’s graphics are. Today, both Forza and Gran Turismo are proud of how photorealistic they are. When it came out with the SNES, F-Zero blew people away because it was basically a demo for the system’s famous Mode 7 graphics, which gave the illusion of a 3D view by making a background layer that could rotate and change size. The graphics hide the fact that the game is just a basic racer with a sci-fi look and technology that hasn’t changed much in over 25 years. F-Zero isn’t a bad game, but it doesn’t have much to it either.
Kirby Super Star
Here is more Kirby, a lot more Kirby. Or at least many different versions of Kirby from the past and present. This is done through a variety of platforming minigames that put Kirby in different situations. It’s a pretty good collection of small games, but the whole feels less than the sum of its parts. On a list like this, being #16 isn’t really a bad thing, since almost every game from here on down is worth at least a little bit of your time.
This boxing game isn’t nearly as well-known as the original NES game, but it’s still a fun rush of recognising patterns and seeing colourful racial stereotypes. It’s a simple formula that’s hard to mess up, but it was done so well on the NES that every new version felt a little unnecessary. The problem with Super Punch-Out!! is that it’s well-made and just as good now as it was 23 years ago, but it’s still stuck in the shadow of its predecessor.
Contra III: The Alien Wars
In the meantime, here’s a well-made game that’s pretty much the same as the one before it. Contra III has everything that made the original NES game great, but it looks better and is just as hard. This is one of your best options if you want to use the SNES Classic to relive your couch co-op glory days.
Secret of Mana
The classic Japanese role-playing game became popular in the early 1990s, so it makes sense that there are a few of them on the SNES Classic. Secret of Mana might not stack up to Earthbound or Final Fantasy VI, but it’s a clever and inventive example of the genre, and shouldn’t be overlooked in favor of the bigger names in this lineup.
Donkey Kong Country
Nintendo made a lot of these monkey games for the SNES. The first one, Donkey Kong Country, came out in 1994. Then, over the next two years, there were two more. But only the first of Rare’s platform games is on the Classic, which is a good choice since they are all pretty similar. The original is still a hard and tricky run-and-jump game with great music and 3D graphics that were new at the time. You can see why this was the second most popular game on the whole system.
Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting
Street Fighter II is a timeless classic of the time, and the version that was chosen for the SNES Classic is probably the best one that was made for the system. You can say they maybe should’ve gone for Super Street Fighter II, which includes the four new challengers that gave that game its subtitle, but unless you absolutely refuse to play as anybody but Cammy or Fei Long there’s little to quibble about here.
There is no way to rank these three games because they are three of the best games ever made. They make a trio that can’t be beat. If Super Mario World is a 100, then The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a 99.9 and Super Metroid is a 99.8. It’s almost there. I used to put Metroid at number 2 and Zelda at number 3, but I couldn’t live with myself. A Link to the Past can’t be the third best game. It’s too good.
Super Mario World is the best platform game ever made. I think it is the best game in the main Mario series ever. It’s crazy how many secrets there are to find. The music, too. The songs! When I was 4, that creepy music in the ghost houses used to scare the hell out of me.
Super Metroid is one of the games that is most fun to finish. I love how this game ends. It’s by far the best Metroid game ever made, and it still works great.
If you got a Super NES Classic and have never played any of these three games, you should stop what you’re doing and start playing them RIGHT NOW.