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Nintendo is celebrating 25 years of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It's the console that ushered Nintendo into the console wars against Sega in the 16-bit era and it's one of the most cherished pieces of electronic entertainment hardware that made it onto the market.
Given that without the SNES Nintendo wouldn't be where they are today, it only seems fitting to highlight some of the very best games that helped define and shape the 16-bit era for the Big 'N'. So without further ado, here are the 10 very best games ever for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
No. 10: Super TennisNot every game on the SNES that was steeped in greatness an action title or platformer. Some of the most beloved titles for Nintendo's home console were also sports games... such as Super Tennis. This game had some awesome music, some great animations and highly enjoyable gameplay.
Admittedly, Smash Tennis was the game with greater gameplay and mechanical depth, but Super Tennis really made you feel at home with the graphics, the light-hearted art-style and the motivational music that periodically played in the background. It was hard not to love this game and even harder not to play just one more round with a friend in a competitive one-on-one bout or an entertaining doubles match.
No. 9: EarthboundOne of the strangest games I've ever played, Earthbound became a classic and one of the best games on the SNES thanks to its modernist themes and quirky plot elements. The whole game revolved around fostering the strength of telekinetic kids, and despite a bunch of opportunities to go really, really dark – like Akira dark – they managed to keep it light enough for most kids of all ages to enjoy.
Earthbound had catchy music, environments that seemed like they came out of a Saturday morning cartoon, and a plot that involved dimension-hopping aliens. I don't know what they were smoking when they made this game, but it was strong enough to help them craft a game that has lasted more than a lifetime in terms of quality gameplay and replayability.
No. 8: Secret Of ManaIt's going to be tough to start each entry in this list without saying “Yet another gem”, considering that just about every single one of these games is a gem, it's redundant to repeat it but gosh darn-it are these games absolute gems. Secret of Mana was one of the few, rare three-player JRPGs made back during the 1990s. It had an amazing soundtrack made by Hiroki Kikuta who is working on the game Unraveled and it sported some great hack-and-slash gameplay.
Secret of Mana was one of the few games that really nailed the concept of being fun, in-depth and carried by an interesting story with very hard bosses. Unfortunately the Mana series never really caught on quite like the Final Fantasy series but the original Secret of Mana is still as charming today as it was back then.
No. 7: Donkey Kong CountryNintendo really hit a home run with this game. It was one of the few games on console that managed to successfully take 3D images and rasterize them for a side-scrolling platformer. Not only did it give the game a sleek, graphically defined look but it also made it one of the most visually memorable games on the SNES.
The graphics weren't the only thing to write home about... the music and gameplay are still some of the most standout even to this very day. The platforming was tight and fluent, and the challenge of getting through some of the stages was difficult and rewarding. But the music really captured the feeling of a lively jungle that seemed every bit as dangerous as it was entertaining and fun. This was a true classic for the SNES and one of the very best games ever made for the console.
No. 6: F-ZeroI was never the biggest fan of the original F-Zero on the SNES, but a lot of people I knew who owned an SNES absolutely loved the game. It was one of the first console titles to really push the limits on speed and offer 3D rasterization effects that helped give the impression that players were on a real, rotating track. It was just something that hadn't been at the time.
F-Zero was one of the many standout games on the SNES at the time, and it was something that Sega had no answer for. It was a futuristic, brightly colored, fast-paced racing title with some wacky characters and equally memorable tracks. The launch on the SNES helped pave a way for a long and beloved history for the franchise, even though it seems like Nintendo has abandoned it in recent years. That doesn't detract from it being one of the best that the Super Nintendo had to offer.
No. 5: Star FoxThere's no way anyone can talk about the SNES without talking about one of the first truly proper 3D games running natively on a Nintendo home console. While Sega was touting blast processing, Nintendo just went on and opened and can of kick-butt by utilizing the Super FX 3D capabilities of the SNES to completely show Sega up.
The 1993 release of Star Fox set the gaming world ablaze with chatter because Nintendo was effectively competing with Panasonic's 3DO, and wasn't doing a bad job of it. The game was the first of many Star Fox games to come, and while it hasn't aged very gracefully in the graphics department like some of its counterparts, it's still a heck of a lot of fun to play.
No. 4: Super MetroidThe game that started the Metroidvania sub-genre was Super Metroid on the SNES> This game is easily one of the best games ever made for Nintendo's 16-bit home console and possibly one of the best games ever made, period. The title was a side-scrolling, RPG-lite shooter that saw players having to solve ridiculous puzzles to advance through the maze-like levels.
The game was what really helped pave the way for the Metroid series to become one of the most recognized and respected brands in Nintendo's illustrious history of titles. The game was a hallmark success for Nintendo, paving the way for other developers for generations to come to experiment by making progressively harder gameplay while utilizing the same game map. It was brilliant.
No. 3: Chrono TriggerEasily one of the very best games made in the history of gaming. It's an amazing thing to say that, eh? That a game was so good that compared to all other games throughout time, different cultures and history, this title managed to stand out on its own and hold a special place in the annals of video games.
Chrono Trigger was one of those rare games that had it all; a great story leveraged by equally great gameplay leveraged by equally great graphics and music. Everything about the game clicked. It worked. The time traveling and multiple endings just added to the journey, giving gamers a reason to replay it over, and over, and over again. Without a shadow of a doubt this is easily one of the best SNES games ever because it's one of the best games ever.
No. 2: Final Fantasy VIOne of my personal favorites and a true underrated gem compared to the likes of the diesel-punk Final Fantasy VII. Squaresoft's Final Fantasy VI was one of the few games that dared to go where other games dare not go. They offered a bad guy who managed to go to such lengths to control the world that he actually managed to do so.
The story twists and character turns weren't all there was to Final Fantasy VI. It had one of the most expansive and diverse collection of magic systems out there and coupled in with the active turn-based battle timer, it made it both challenging and fun to play. The multiple endings and 30 hours worth of content, combined with Nobuo Uematsu's absolutely perfect and timeless soundtrack makes this a classic for the ages and an easy pick for one of the best on Nintendo's SNES.
No. 1: Super Mario WorldWhat did you expect to be here? Bubsy? Get out of here. There was only one game that was going to occupy this space and everyone who knows gaming knows that there was no better classic that defined the Super Nintendo Entertainment System than Nintendo's own first-party masterpiece that was pure perfection from top top bottom... Super Mario World.
I feel bad for kids growing up who never played this excellently honed and intricately hewn platformer. It was as hard as it was fun, and as wildly unpredictable as it was easy to pick up and understand. The game's introduction of Yoshi in the Super Mario universe made it a great addition to the series, and the cape easily became one of Mario's most recognized power-ups next to the raccoon suit. With a great soundtrack, popping visuals and tight controls, Super Mario World is still a fun game to play to this very day and the pinnacle execution of software development that defined the Super NES.