Great Games for the SNES that Never Saw a Release in the United States
Note: SNES stands for Super Nintendo Entertainment System and is what the Super Famicom goes by in the United States and other countries. I will be referring to the Super Famicom throughout most of this article to preserve accuracy.
In the United States over 700 SNES games saw an official release. Over a dozen more saw an initial unofficial release and in the last decade many fan-made or fan translated titles have garnered an unofficial release. It still pales in comparison to the over 1,400 titles officially released in Japan. Europe saw over 500 games officially released, some of which saw releases that the United States didn’t get.
Suffice to say, there are at least 700 games that didn’t get an official release in the United States. Among those titles are almost countless great games. Some of those games have been faithfully translated by dedicated gamers so that individuals in the US, Canada and other regions can enjoy the game through unofficial methods. It is extremely rare for a game to get a release, officially, years after its initial release in Japan, but it has happened. I’m looking at you Mother 1.
That being said, this article is dedicated to highlighting a couple of the many great games not officially released in the United States. It’s highly unlikely for any of these games to get an official release, but if it ever happens, please remember to support the official release. Money talks and games are licensed almost solely based on if publishers think a title will sell.
Developer: Glodia, Alfa System
Long ago, dragons and humans lived together, but a curse caused the two groups to separate, with dragons living in another land/dimension called Draguria. Two thousand years later, a ship crashes, with the sole survivor being Tamryn, who is cared for by the dragon tribe, mostly by Atorushan. As a teenager, she decides to leave Draguria and return to Ishbahn with Atroushan’s horn and a promise to call if something happens. Three years later that happens and Atroushan goes to Ishabahn to help her, taking the form of a human due to a deadly curse on dragons. Upon arriving, Atorushan finds out it isn’t a simple call for help…
Originally released in 1989 for the PC Engine (who got actual animated cutscenes too) this is a more obscure, but equally great title ported to the Super Famicom in 1995. The story revolves around two central characters, Atorushan and Tamryn. Several other characters join in the fray, presenting one of the best parts of Emerald Dragon, the characters. I cannot praise the story, characters and dialogue (fan translation) enough and I can only add that I wish there were more games with stories and themes like this. The combat can get dull and it’s one of the most linear RPG’s I’ve ever played, but throw in the impressive music scores and it’s hard to pick too much.
Developer: Human Entertainment
A fire breaks out in the middle of a Christmas party (so a fire instead of criminals like Die Hard?) You and a partner (computer or friend) are tasked with putting out a fire that is destroying a highrise. The levels involve the player(s) moving up higher and higher in the building, putting out fires in an attempt to save the building and people. Each level becomes more challenging and special equipment serve to tackle harder portions of the game.
It’s an addictive game, though portions can feel repetitive since players are completing the same tasks over and over again. There are ‘bosses’ in the form of fires and you are supposed to save people as you move throughout the game. Saving them restores health lost from the fire. It’s a solid game and a game outside the norm. How many games are there about fighting fires afterall?
Mario and Wario
This side-scrolling puzzler focuses on Mario, who moves through a variety of levels consisting of different obstacles and traps by Wario. Along the way, players can get help from the fairy, Wanda, who protects Mario throughout the 100 levels of the game. One important aspect of this game is that it is playable only with the Super Famicom Mouse accessory.
It’s shocking that this game was never released stateside, especially when you consider the developer and director of the game, Satoshi Tajiri. You may recognize him as the creator of Pokemon! It’s a fun and somewhat challenging game that offers a good variety of gameplay.
Marvelous: Another Treasure Island
Developer: Nintendo R&D2
Players take control of three kids (Dion, Max & Jack) who are searching for the hidden pirate treasure of Captain Maverick (ala The Goonies style). They must make it through numerous puzzles and traps to reach it. They are not the only ones searching for the ‘Marvelous’ treasure however and may have more to contend with than just puzzles and traps.
Adding in another RPG on the list, we get Marvelous: Another Treasure Island. This was a late release and featured the work of Eiji Aonuma, who joined the Zelda development team starting with Ocarina of Time (and continues to do so). It was intended for this game to be released stateside after Nintendo Power dedicated 4 pages of its magazine to preview Marvelous, but it ended up never getting a release.
Sailor Moon: Another Story
A sorceress named Apsu has arrived from the 20th century. She has formed a group of girls, Opposito Soilders and orders them to alter the past in order to change the future to her liking, ultimately attaining the Silver Crystal. Each sailor scout has their own storyline, which players work through. The game takes place between the third and fourth story arcs and features 10 playable characters. The game features two playable endings.
This is one I have to include because its gained a bit of a reputation. At conventions, I’ve seen (illegal) fan translation carts for this game. Sailor Moon was a smash hit in Japan and abroad and this game proves that games based on anime and/or manga can be good. It gives a unique story to each character and allows players to explore characters in new ways.
Developer: Square, Squaresoft
The world is being consumed by war and the prologue sees the defeat of the Kingdom of Kahna, by the Granbelos Empire. The game starts off after the war has come to an end and the world sees the Granbelos Empire over all of the Lagoons of Orelus. The Resistance attempts to take down the new Empire.
Like Emerald Dragon, Bahamut Lagoon keeps dragon at the heart of its story. Dragons fight alongside the player. The game features great graphics and interactive environments, adding an extra element to the games battles. It features strong elements in story, characters, graphics and gameplay, making it an RPG that stands out on the Super Famicom.
On a planet, much like Earth, there is an internal and external world. The inner world represents the devil, while the outside represents God. The story picks up after Ark, who lives in the underworld, opens a forbidden door and touches a mysterious box. As a result, everyone is frozen, save the Elder, who instructs Ark to resurrect everyone on the worlds surface. The remainder of the game tells of Ark’s quest to resurrect the world above.
Highly regarded as one of the best RPG’s for the Super Famicom/SNES (up there with Chrono trigger, Final Fantasy VI, super Mario RPG etc.) it is a huge loss it has never gotten an official release in the United States (Europe did, however). It was published by Enix, the same company that created the highly successful (in Japan) Dragon Quest series.
Conclusion and References
These games are just a sampling of the many games that didn't receive an official release in the United States. While there is still a sliver of a chance they will see a release, it is highly doubted.
If you are interested in discovering more titles than the ones mentioned in this article, I highly recommend checking out the websites below. They are great resources and the sources I used for additional information on the games listed;
© 2018 Alexis