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The 25 Top Super Nintendo Games

Updated on March 3, 2011

The 25 Top Super Nintendo Games: Introduction

The SNES is a system that's got a lot of memories for me. I remember getting up early on Saturday mornings and running down to the living room to turn on the TV and fire the old Super Nintendo up. It was a time when life seemed simpler, and it was a time when there were some pretty awesome video games.

The SNES was a system that had a lot of awesome games, which made creating this list of top Super Nintendo games difficult. However, this is my best shot at it. It includes some old favorites and a couple of games that I discovered more recently. Without any further ado, I give you . . . my 25 top Super Nintendo Games.

Mario Kart

#25 Mario Kart

Long before the days of Mario Kart: Double Dash and Mario Kart Wii, the original Mario Kart was an awful lot of fun to play. The racing mode was fun enough, but it was the battle mode that really earns this game a place on the list of top Super Nintendo games. Plus, the graphics made my Dad sick, especially whenever someone spun out, which I thought was kind of amusing at the time. I can still remember the opening music. I was never a huge racing game fan, but Mario Kart won me over.

Gradius III Bosses

#24 Gradius III

Gradius III was an awesome side-scrolling shooter which sent the player through a number of diverse and difficult levels. The game allowed the player to customize which weapons he or she would use. My favorite was the E-laser, which charged up a ball of energy around the ship and then launched it across the screen. While the laser was charging up, the ball could destroy enemies if the player dared to get close enough. A fully charged E-laser could even take out some bosses in just a hit or two.

The bosses in this game were awesome, too. They ranged from crystalline butterflies to giant warships to screen-sized plant monsters, but they all had a couple things in common: they were big, and they shot a lot of bullets. Slowdown was common, but it never really felt like a glitch to me. It felt almost like a cinematic effect that just served to emphasize how many shots there really were on the screen. Gradius III definitely earned its rank as 24th top Super Nintendo game.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time

#23 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time

I was a huge Ninja Turtles fan as a kid, so it was pretty inevitable that one Ninja Turtles game was going to end up on my list of top Super Nintendo games. I briefly considered TMNT Tournament Fighters, which was essentially a Street Fighter II clone that featured characters from Ninja Turtles. As awesome a concept as that is, I had to go with this one. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time played just like the arcade version of the game, and it was an awesome game to play multi-player.

My older brother and I loved playing this game, which sends the turtles on an adventure through time and space. In the game, players get to fight Slash (the evil turtle), Tokka and Rahzar (from the second Ninja Turtles movie), Krang, and even a mutated Super Shredder. Ninja Turtles games have come out for the Gamecube and the Wii, but I'm not sure if any of them are actually better than TMNT IV: Turtles in Time

Final Fantasy II

#22 Final Fantasy II

I know a lot of people are probably going to be upset that Final Fantasy II (Final Fantasy IV these days) didn't make it any higher on my list of top Super Nintendo games. However, I came to this game relatively late, and so some of its technical defects have counted against it more for me than for some.

The game isn't quite as prettily drawn as Final Fantasy III. However, it tells a colossal story which takes the characters across the Earth's surface, to the underworld, and even to the moon. The game deals with love, death, sacrifice, and redemption, and it has the typical Final Fantasy drama and angst. Some people might find Final Fantasy II a little heavy-handed, but some people find it intensely moving. The game's soundtrack is beautiful and deeply evocative. Love it or hate it, this is an extremely influential game, and it deserves a place on any list of top Super Nintendo games.


#21 F-Zero

As I mentioned earlier, I have never been a huge fan of racing games. So, the fact that both Mario Kart and F-Zero show up on my list of top Super Nintendo games says something about the quality of these titles. F-Zero managed to create an exciting and fun space-age racing game that has spawned sequels on every subsequent Nintendo platform. And yet, even with the improved graphics of these newer games, none of them have managed to live up to the excitement of the original F-Zero.

F-Zero featured fun gameplay, a number of interesting tracks, and music that really fit the mood of the game. Well done, F-Zero, you're number 21 on the list of top Super Nintendo games.

Street Fighter 2

#20 Street Fighter 2

Anyone who disagrees with Street Fighter 2 appearing on a list of top Super Nintendo games wasn't a child of the '80s or '90s, and was possibly never a child at all. Street Fighter 2 wasn't just a game, it was a phenomenon. The game swept the nation in the arcades, and then it did so again on the Super Nintendo.

If you go up to someone who grew up during this time period and ask them, "Who'd you play as in Street Fighter 2?" you'll get an instant answer. If only the Van Damme movie inspired by Street Fighter 2 had been half as awesome as the game . . .

Star Fox

#19 Star Fox

Star Fox is another top Super Nintendo game which has inspired countless sequels which have yet to truly surpass the original. Star Fox was one of the very first Super Nintendo games to use the new and exciting Super FX chip. This chip allowed Star Fox to render 3D polygon graphics, which was pretty darn revolutionary at the time.

Granted, when you look back at Star Fox, its graphics are very . . . polygonal. But Star Fox was pretty darn exciting for a game where you pilot a collection of triangles that's being shot at by other collections of triangles. Somehow, the smoother graphics and fancy voice overs of the newer entries in the Star Fox franchise just aren't as exciting as those old blocky triangles.

Mega Man X2

#18 Mega Man X2

For those of you who are worried, the original Mega Man X comes later on the list.  However, Mega Man X2 definitely deserves a mention on any list of top Super Nintendo games.  This game continued everything that was good about Mega Man X, and if it was slightly less original and striking for being a sequel, it was still solidly awesome.

Super Mario All-Stars

#17 Super Mario All-Stars

Super Mario All-Stars deserves a place on the list of top Super Nintendo games because it's actually four games in one. This SNES game included remakes of the original Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 2, and Super Mario Bros. 3. All of these were awesome regular Nintendo games which had previously been released in the United States. But in addition to these, Super Mario All-Stars included a fourth game, Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels had been released in Japan, but had never been available to American audiences.

As a child, I wasn't actually crazy about a lot of the updates that had been made to these Mario games. However, Super Mario All-Stars still delivered an awful lot of great action and fun for a single SNES title.

Secret of Mana Opening Theme

#16 Secret of mana

Secret of Mana was an adventure RPG which a number of people have called the greatest RPG ever made. The game follows a boy, a girl, and a sprite through a quest to save an entire world. Secret of Mana had a story with plenty of action and plenty of feeling, with some random zaniness thrown in, too (at one point in the story you have to fight an evil Santa Claus as a boss).

Secret of Mana also contains a few of my very favorite songs from video game soundtracks.  The opening theme is absolutely beautiful, and there are a couple of other songs that are just beautifully crafted.

I know a lot of people who would say that Secret of Mana should be number one the list of top Super Nintendo games, but in my opinion, there are even bigger and better games.

Yoshi's Island

#15 Yoshi's Island

Yoshi's Island also made use use of the Super FX chip, but with very different results than Star Fox. Rather than making graphics out of three dimensional polygons, Yoshi's Island used the chip to present a striking world with a curiously hand-colored appearance.

Yoshi's Island told the story of how a group of Yoshis banded together to save the infant twins, Mario and Luigi. During the game, Yoshi, rather than Mario, took center-stage, which made for a fun and unique twist on the Mario game theme.

This game's unique appearance, soothing yet catchy music, and fun gameplay earns it its place on this list of top Super Nintendo Games.

Tetris Attack

#14 Tetris Attack

#14 on the list of my list of top Super Nintendo game also stars Yoshi.  Tetris Attack is an unusual and often-overlooked game from the SNES era.  This puzzle game wasn't very well-known, but it became a cult classic.

In Tetris Attack, the player switches around differently colored blocks to form matches in a form of gameplay which is similar to Bejeweled.  The best thing about this game was its two player mode.  In this mode, players can drop blocks on their opponents by making combos.  When two experienced Tetris Attack players played against each other, the matches were epic.

Battle Cars

#13 Battle Cars

Yet another racing game that managed to win me over and convince me to include it as one of the top Super Nintendo games.  Battle Cars was awesome because it was a racing game that let you blow up your opponents.  The game takes place in the distant future, where races to the death take place in a circuit that spans the galaxy.  Sounds pretty cool, huh?

In Battle Cars, you have three weapons: explosive discs, homing missiles, and mines.  You can upgrade these as you progress through the game, along with boring but crucial things like your engines and tires.  You have to win races to continue in the game, but blowing up other cars earns you money for further upgrades.

Firepower 2000

#12 Firepower 2000

I didn't own this game for most of my childhood, and yet if you'd asked me for a list of top Super Nintendo games back then, I definitely would have included this on it.  My brother and I borrowed it from Blockbuster once and then spent the rest of our childhoods trying to locate a copy to buy.

Firepower 2000 was just a straight up awesome game.  In some aspects it was a fairly common top-scrolling shooter.  However, in other aspects it was so much more.  There was an awesome two-player option (which in my experience was pretty necessary if you wanted to get very far in the game), in which one player controlled a helicopter and the other a jeep.  Each vehicle had unique advantages and disadvantages. Add in big and impressive bosses and a bunch of awesome powerups, and you've got an SNES winner.

Final Fantasy III

#11 Final Fantasy III

Final Fantasy III (or VI by today's counting) was the first Final Fantasy game to really catch my interest, and it remains my favorite game of the series.  The game combined a beautiful soundtrack with graphics that were pretty good for the time. The game had a large and complicated storyline that detailed the sinking of a world into ruin and the ascent and ultimate defeat of a madman.

For me, the game was always most interesting up until about halfway, when the world is destroyed during the Day of Judgment.  However, that didn't stop me from playing the game through a number of times (although I'll admit to having started the game a lot more frequently than I stopped it).

If you've never played Final Fantasy III, you owe it to yourself to try it.  This game truly deserves its place among the top Super Nintendo games of all time.

See the Rest in Part 2

Catch the rest of my top Super Nintendo games list in The 25 Top Super Nintendo Games Part 2: The Best of the Best! Also, if any of these games were especially dear to your heart, let me know in the comments!


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    • ilikegames profile image

      Sarah Forester 3 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for all the great memories on this page.

    • profile image

      mtsi1098 6 years ago

      let me see from this list I can remember playing Star Fox...I will continue...thanks