As the SNES Classic Mini Edition approaches, we run through the best Super Nintendo games ever
It’s the vinyl revival of gaming. Thirty-something gamers start getting nostalgic for the ragged-assed games of their youth, while the 1080p generation wakes up to the simpler pleasures of 16-bit – the pixels as big as your fist, the characters walking around flat on the floor, the reedy, teeth-gritting one-note synth soundtracks that sounded like a robotic weasel singing Beethoven. Yes, there’s something innately glorious in these formative Nintendo games from the days when epic RPGs lasted barely fifteen hours, wizards spoke in bubbles and Mario had only one direction he could go.
So, following last year’s relaunch of the Nintendo Classic Mini as a retro console barely bigger than its own controller, this September sees the SNES get its own Mini reboot, with 21 classic games included. We’re hoping these ten best ever SNES games make the cut.
With the SNES Classic Mini boasting the release, 22 years after it was axed at the last minute, of Star Fox 2, what better time to check out the also-included original? A revolution in 3D gaming on 2D consoles back in 1993, Star Fox involved Fox McCloud and his team of dorky toads, sexy hares and cool falcons fighting back the invading hordes of Andross, largely by flying around blocktastic psychedelic sci-fi environments avoiding floating ceiling tiles and shooting enormous space faces.
Mortal Kombat II
The first Mortal Kombat game went down in infamy for its ultraviolent deaths – is there anything more sick/satisfying than pulling the still-beating heart out of your opponent’s chest, or punching their head clean off? Okay, maybe Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie. But the sequel upped the stakes both in move-sets and gore – you could now turn into a dragon to bite your opponent in half or pull their head off with a snake tongue – and became acclaimed as amongst the best fighting games ever produced. Before lunch, obviously.
Super Mario RPG: Legend Of The Seven Stars
Developed by RPG experts Square and set in an isometric 3D platform world, Legends Of The Seven Stars dropped our squat plumber into a Final Fantasy style world and became an instant classic thanks to its groundbreaking (for the era) graphics, immersive combat and even-nastier-than-Bowser villain Smithy, a metallic evil Thor.
Mega Man X
Whether racing through a crumbling 22nd Century city blasting away at spaceships resembling giant caterpillars or dashing across a seabed swarming with vicious fish gits, Mega Man X was a high-paced delight – one amphetamine overdose short of Sonic The Hedgehog. As a vision of a future full of hyper-advanced robots, it was reassuring too, knowing that they won’t kill us all with nanobots releasing deadly gas strikes but by trying to lob crap WWII bombs at us that we can pretty much step over.
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If you’d tried to make an arcade Alien in 1994 using the processing power of a housebrick you might have come up with Super Metroid, a fantastically atmospheric sci-fi platformer in which you traverse a huge sandbox world of underground alien slime lairs and fiendish space station traps, gathering power-ups that let you morph into tiny balls and a sort of human helicopter. For added Alien appeal, there was even an against-the-clock race to escape a self-destructing space ship at the end.
Super Mario Kart
It helped to have been about five, but in 1992 the original Super Mario Kart was the most fun anyone had ever had in a bouncing go-kart driven by a shit dinosaur. A split-screen affair, the top screen had the player racing around the courses collecting coins and power-ups and leaping over the sort of random holes in the ground that would certainly liven up Formula One, while the bottom screen had hilariously oversized characters essentially queuing their way around a bird-s eye man. Nonetheless, a game so addictive they’ve remade it ten times since.
Donkey Kong Country
No, not the point where our favourite tie-wearing ape decided he was too old to be throwing barrels about and decided to make the C&W record that had always been his true calling, but a joyful jungle of platforming delights in which our simian hero fights alligator pirate kings and rides rhinos and runaway mine carts in one of the most engaging and charming 3D platformers on this or any other console.
The SNES at its most technically advanced, Chrono Trigger was a simply stunning RPG with all the hallmarks of a long-standing classic – the enormous map, engrossing time-travel plot, eleven endings for ultimate replay value, vast array of weapons, gear and through-history landscapes and combat mechanics that allow you to kill your enemies by, um, dropping a screen-sized frog on them. And what was the deal with the virtually invincible boss living at the centre of the Earth, sucking out all the life out of it like some kind of elemental proto-Trump?
Super Mario World
There are lost Amazonian tribes cut off from humanity for centuries who know that they should headbutt all the bricks in a Super Mario game and chase down the resulting mushrooms, so we entered Super Mario World in 1992 on very familiar ground, even if some of the tubes were on a slant this time. What turned Super Mario World into the SNES’s best-selling game and a truly seminal release was the introduction of the fire-spitting dinosaur Yoshi that Mario could now ride around this gloriously varied and colourful new slant on the original games. The definitive SNES game.
Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past
Just one of a host of classic Zeldas, A Link To The Past ruled over the SNES thanks to its vast scale, its Tomb Raider worthy puzzles, bosses that were far from pushovers and faultless dungeon designs. A standard was set which later Zeldas have surpassed, but A Link To The Past still stands as the crowning achievement of the SNES era.