The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or the Super NES, was a groundbreaking game system in its time.
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the SNES might be responsible for the explosion of gaming in the US as it helped launch as well as reinforce some of the largest brands in gaming. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System first arrived in the United States on August 23, 1991, in a limited release before getting an official nationwide release date of September 9, 1991.
The SNES was Nintendo’s answer to Sega’s 16-bit console, the Sega Genesis. The SNES would sell 23.35 million consoles in the United States and 49 million worldwide thanks to games like Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, and more. Thousands of games lived on the console, but we decided to focus on these seven games from the Super NES era that we truly feel were the cream of the crop.
You can peep our gallery below.
Photo: Alexandre Morin-Laprise / Getty
1. Super Mario Kart
Nintendo’s loveable plumber’s Mario and Luigi, have been saving princesses and stomping turtles since the ’80s, and they continued their reign on the Super NES with several titles. Super Mario World was packaged with the system, holds the best-selling game’s title on the system, and introduced the world to Yoshi. Super Mario RPG took the platformer and remixed it to an RPG. But since the list can only have 5, the nod goes to Mario Kart. Mario Kart launched the karting genre and could be said to have laid the groundwork for the party game sub-genre. The game was easy to pick up and provided hours of fun for all ages. It was so easy that older players could play with little ones, and you didn’t even have to pull out the controller and just let them think they were playing. Mario Kart was a seismic shift, and its influence in gaming is still being felt.
2. Super Metroid
Yes, Super Metroid changed the Metroid franchise. It added new mechanics, new weapons, graphics, and just a greatly improved, smoother, more engaging gaming experience. But what makes it one of the top 5 is the design elements and its legacy. While it is heralded as one of the best action games, and the franchise is praised for having a woman protagonist, Super Metroid is overlooked in how it affected gaming moving forward. The sound design, the level building, the characters, created an ominous and almost claustrophobic feeling of you as a lone fighter against almost insurmountable terrors. Sound familiar? Dead Space, Alien Isolation, just to name a few. So if Resident Evil birthed the survival horror genre, Super Metroid launched the “in space no one can hear you scream” genre.
3. Final Fantasy 3 ( FF 6 in Japan)
Final Fantasy had an odd relationship with the US market initially. Nintendo wasn’t sure the US would buy into it, so only certain games made it to the US. So while it was our 3rd game, it was Japan’s 6th in the series. While FF II (4 in JPN) was well received by gamers in the US, FF VI would break down the barriers permanently. FF VI, at the time, was an almost perfect RPG. It had a fantastic storyline, 14 playable characters with backstories and personalities, customization, excellent graphics, and was just engrossing. Without FF VI, we might have never received FF VII, and that would have been a tragedy.
4. Chrono Trigger
It’s hard to talk about RPGs on Super NES without bringing up Chrono Trigger. If there’s a list of top SNES games, Chrono Trigger is on it so we couldn’t leave it out. And with good reason. CT took all the greatness of Final Fantasy and improved upon it. Created by a dream team of Square Enix creatives, and an artist on Dragonball, Chrono has you traveling through time to recruit heroes to fight with you. The game had amazing graphics, time travel, multiple endings, and improved the RPG turn-based combat system by adding combo moves. While still renowned as one of if not the best RPG of all time it didn’t get the longevity that Final Fantasy has achieved.
5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past
The third entry in The Legend of Zelda Franchise brought the Zelda game franchise back to its roots. While the second game, Zelda: The Adventures of Link, tried to give the iconic franchise platforming elements, A Link to the Past returned to the top-down game we fell in love with. Increased graphics, gameplay, and an engaging and entertaining storyline had Link traveling through time to save the princess. A Link to the Past introduced some iconic items that became staples of Zelda games like the Master Sword, Spin Attack, the split worlds, and more.
6. Super Street Fighter II
Probably one of the main factors that launched the fighter genre. Super Street Fighter II added iconic characters and didn’t mess with the game too much like Street Fighter II Turbo or Ultra editions of the game.
7. Mortal Kombat II
Nintendo was known for its cutesy, family-friendly, games and Mortal Kombat seemed not Nintendo, which was awesome. Mortal Kombat II took the MK formula added more brutal fatalities, more characters, more vicious moves. If you wanted to keep the rose-colored glasses, you could do babalities and friendships.