The Super Nintendo is my favourite game system. It’s the console I grew up with, the one that made me fall in love with video games and gave me a passion that I still have today.
Most people think of adventure games like Super Mario World and A Link to the Past when they think of the best SNES games, but the best SNES racing games are also worth playing. Not only did the system introduce the world to a number of racing game franchises, but it also improved common racing game mechanics and almost created its own subgenres!
Today, we’ll talk about these game-changing games and give you an overview of the most famous racing games from the 90s console. Sounds like a plan? Put your foot on the gas and let’s go right to the list!
Imagine a game where all the offensive vehicles are like the ones in Mad Max. You can now picture Battle Cars.
The aggressive rubber burner from Namco and Malibu Interactive lets you play as three different vehicles right from the start. Each vehicle has its own stats and can be upgraded. Choose your car, then take it to the track and race against the other cars. Use the game’s three types of weapons—missiles, grenades, and discs—to attack your opponents and win the game.
Battle Cars has nine different levels, and each one has two tracks: a sprint track and a circuit track. Boss characters with their own unique vehicles are also in the game, and the player has to beat them to move on to the next area. The game doesn’t win any awards for how it looks, but the graphics are good enough and the vehicles are easy to control overall.
Battle Cars is one of the best SNES racing games, even though it isn’t as hard, long-lasting, or varied as the games that follow it on this list.
F1 Pole Position 2
I found a lot (and I mean a lot) of Formula One racing games for the Super Nintendo and other consoles from the time when I was doing research for this article. I have to say that it was hard to choose a winner out of them all.
Formula One racing isn’t for everyone, but Pole Position 2 is the best simulation of F1 on the old Nintendo system. F1 PP2 is the opposite of Super Mario Kart, which is funny and like an arcade game. It gives you a lot of ways to change and customise your car, lets you choose from a who’s who of former F1 stars and their accurate cars, and lets you relive the 1993 Formula One season.
Because it tries to be realistic, F1 Pole Position 2 (and the games that came after it) may be too hard for some people to play because of their stiff controls and steep difficulty curves. Still, F1 PP2 is probably the easiest way to get started with the games as a whole, and we recommend it more than the others.
At any kart race, people will always say that it’s just a copy of the Mario Kart games. Even though these accusations are mostly true (because it’s a racing game where everyone drives a go-kart), these games that look like Mario and his friends’ games usually have something that makes them different. This is clear from the name of the game, Street Racer.
Street Racer is a racing game made by the people at Vivid Image. It focuses on being “wacky” and not taking itself too seriously. I think this was a good design choice because it makes it easy to tell it apart from the Italian plumber’s drive.
Street Racer has a cast of recognisable characters, and each one has its own special power-up and stats. No matter which character you choose, all drivers can punch opponents on either side of them. There is also a KO metre that makes you vulnerable if it runs out. There are also different types of modes, such as a single-player campaign, a multiplayer mode called “Rumble,” which is like sumo wrestling with karts, and a multiplayer mode called “Soccer,” which is similar to Rocket League.
Overall, Street Racer is a good game that has a strong sense of humour.
Biker Mice From Mars
Even though I was a kid in the early to mid-1990s, I still remember the glory days of Saturday morning cartoons. One of these alumni cartoons was Biker Mice From Mars. Others included Spider-Man, X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Gargoyles. Even though many of these animated shows and franchises had their own games, Biker Mice From Mars was the only one that went into the racing genre because it was inspired by nature.
You can play as six of the show’s characters in BMFM, which is different from most racers because the camera has an isometric view (rather than being directly behind the racer). After the first lap, players get three missiles to use. This is similar to how other racing games give players a limited number of turbos or speed boosts. During races, players also earn money, which they can then use to improve their bikes after the match.
The game has a lot of visual appeal. The character sprites are bright and colourful like their TV animation counterparts, and each character’s vehicle from the show has been carefully modelled. Even if you’re not as old as I am, this game will still give you a lot of fun.
Gekitotsu Dangan Jidousha Kessen: Battle Mobile
Now, this is a little bit different from what else is out there at the same time. This game was only available in Japan, which means it was made for the Super Famicom and not the Super Nintendo. It is more like the scrolling shooter game Spyhunter than a traditional racing game.
Gekitotsu Dangan Jidousha Kessen: Battle Mobile came out in 1993 and was only available in Japan. It takes place in the spring of 2029 and is about a widower who wants to get revenge on the gang of bandits who caused the car crash that killed his wife. His way of getting even? Taking out his anger with his souped-up sports car (at least, that’s what I’m getting from the opening scene, which has no speech or text).
You move through the levels by killing enemies and avoiding their gunfire and other dangers. Eventually, you have to kill the boss at the end of each level. You can use different moves to defeat and avoid enemies and get power-ups that make you invulnerable and refill your health. The game is more like a scrolling shooter like Galaga than a traditional racing game.
The game’s graphics aren’t anything to write home about, but the music is great and the gameplay is where it really shines. Whoever comes here looking for a different kind of racer is sure to like what they find. The only hard part might be finding this rare SNES game.
Top Gear/Top Racer
When talking about the best racing games for the Super NES, you have to mention Kemco’s Top Gear, which was made by Gremlin and was also called Top Racer in Japan and on its later western rereleases. Top Gear is one of the fastest racing games on the platform. It’s basically a reimagining of Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge without the licenced cars, and it’s a lot of fun with two players.
If you need more proof that Top Gear is one of the best racing games for the Super NES, all you have to do is look at how games are made in Brazil. Because Top Gear was so popular in Brazilian gaming cafes, called locadoras, a lot of Brazilian kids had their first real gaming experience with it until not too long ago. And we’re just starting to see the results with great new games like Horizon Chase Turbo that pay homage to this classic.