Released here in America on August 23, 1991 for $199, this grey little thing sold close to 50 million units worldwide until it was discontinued in 2003, but who cares about all that? This system was all about them games! The games that were credited to the success of this system and to what made it leave its mark on the history of gaming. Here is a list of the more notable games that made the system what it was. If you were really there to experience it in the early 90’s you know… Now slap that eject button and launch a cartridge into the air in the salute for the SNES!
10. Mortal Kombat II
Released: September 13, 1994
Unlike the original Mortal Kombat, which edited and held back most of its violence, MKII wasn’t about any of that weak stuff! This game let you play as 12 characters that had two fatalities each! Better graphics, sound, production, right in the middle of the popularity of Mortal Kombat, this game made a fantastic debut. The first week sales of the game were over $50 million and even out performed that season’s Hollywood blockbusters Including Forrest Gump and The Lion King!
The game is simple. Punch, kick and throw your opponent all over the place. I mean, how else can you kick a woman in the face and rip her head off and drop it on the floor without someone bitchin' about it?
I personally found this game superbly entertaining and loved Shang Tsung, Mileena and Reptile. Turning invisible and spitting acid is exactly how I want to treat my friends!
9. Contra III: The Alien Wars
Released: February 28, 1992
The year is 2636, our alien friends were not too happy with the outcome of the previous wars, so they have decided to launch a full-scale war against mankind on Earth.
You follow Jimbo and Sully (descendants from the characters of the first games) as they lock and load up on plenty of unique weapons and literally run around shooting and killing everything in sight, just the way we like it!
Fun Fact: If you were eight years old when this game came out you died tons! Took some time to reflect on your poor life choices, practiced, practiced, practiced, then still died tons!!!
8. Super Mario Kart
Released: September 1, 1992
Freakin Mario Kart! Does throwing banana peels and turtle shells all over the place ever get old? Even in this game it is pretty cool. This was the first game of many in the Mario Kart franchise. It is the fourth best selling SNES game of all time.
In Mario Kart you pick between eight playable characters: Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Bowser, Donkey Kong Jr, Koopa Troopa and Toad. You can choose between two single player modes and three multiplayer modes… you know what… If you are looking at a Top Ten SNES list and don’t know what Mario Kart is, I highly recommend Articles and Top Tens on: The Great Depression, Farming, Parcheesi Made Easy, Bonnets 101 or “What’s all that racket outside? Kids screwin around?”
7. Street Fighter II
Released: July 15, 1992
This game set a new standard and is regarded as one of the most influential video games of all time, also the most important fighting game in particular, why? When it was released in 1991 for arcade it featured the most accurate button and joystick scanning routine in the genre up till that point, which allowed players to reliably execute multi-button special moves. Obviously, the SNES version wasn’t up to par with the highly detailed characters and stages of the Capcom’s CPS arcade chipset, but that didn’t stop any of us from enjoying it all from the comfort of our own homes on our 16-bit version. That and beating up your younger siblings and friends at home was much easier then facing off against Katsuro at the local arcade.
The game did very well on console, but if you factor in the arcade sells and adjust for inflation, all versions of Street Fighter II have grossed over 10.5 billion in revenue… That’s insane, and puts it in the top three highest grossing arcade games behind Space Invaders and Pac-Man. Hadoken!
The game plays by much of the rules established by the original. You engage opponents in a best two out of three matches in one on one close quarter combat. You must deplete your opponents vitality before the timer runs out.
6. Donkey Kong Country
Released: November 21, 1994
This game is bananas… Ok, wow, I’ll see myself out now... But seriously, this game was super cool and is one of my fondest memories of the SNES. Donkey Kong Country had a large budget on a very aggressive marketing campaign, which was credited in its great launch success. The game received critical acclaim and sold over 9 million copies worldwide, making it the third best selling SNES game. It was also because of this game that SNES was still making good sales during the release of PlayStation and Sega Saturn.
The game centers around Donkey Kong and his sidekick Diddy Kong, which you could play as either if you had them both on screen. DK could beat up enemies more easily and could perform a “handslap” move that would reveal hidden bananas, while Diddy was faster and could jump higher than DK. They can stomp, throw barrels and roll through 40 levels collecting bananas, red “extra life” balloons, golden letters spelling K-O-N-G and looking for secret areas. Many enemies stand in your way with various skills and defenses, like the Klaptraps a crocodile-like enemy who must be stomped on because of their forward facing jaws, so if you roll into them you will lose a life.
Fun Fact: If you were ten when this game came out, you may find dentist visits more enjoyable than the latter levels of this game. Some of that crap was straight ridiculous and our young motor skills were just not ready… I didn’t even officially beat this game till I was like twenty years old.
5. Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World
Released: December 1994
Super Mario World released in 1991 and Super Mario All-Stars in 1993, but in 1994 all of them became one and if you loved Mario and all the NES adventures you shared with him in the 80’s this game is THE game.
Now I could go on and on about Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, 3 and The Lost Levels, but they weren’t really apart of the SNES family. So, lets talk about Super Mario World! What a game! I absolutely adore Super Mario 3, and I still consider it one of my favorite games of all time, so I wasn’t sure how Nintendo was going to make a Mario game that could stand next to that gem, but here we are. Super Mario World is still a game worth going back to play, the graphics, style and playability will probably never get old.
In this installment of the popular Mario franchise you can team up with a friend and play cooperatively while navigating the different levels and landscapes of the Mario world. With many secrets and alternate paths, including a star world and secret levels, this games replay value was amazing for its time. You could fly in this game with timely maneuvers and even ride a Yoshi and eat everything. Plenty of awesome levels and boss fights. Every castle had its own twisted set of puzzles and enemies to navigate through. Then there was Bowsers castle! How fun/terrible was that thing? I remember some of the rooms were damn near impossible, but boy did you ever get a sense of satisfaction when you finally took that dude and his crazy flying face propeller craft thing out!
4. Chrono Trigger
Released: March 11, 1995
Every game on this list so far has been jumping, punching, shooting and bananas. Lets move on to something more storyline based. Now, what happens when you get Hironobu Sakaguchi (The creator of the Final Fantasy series), Yuji Hori (The creator of Dragon Quest) and Akira Toriyama (Artist and creator of Dragon Ball) together to create a game? Chrono Trigger, that’s what!
Chrono Trigger was a commercial success upon release and is frequently cited as one of the best games ever made. This game had it all! A rich complex story, memorable characters and a very graphically detailed world to explore. The game also included multiple endings, plot-related sidequests focused on character development and a unique battle system.
The game takes place in a two-dimensional world consisting of cities, forests and dungeons. You play as the protagonist and his companions in the game and navigate using a overworld map.
What separated this game form others like it at the time was a combat system in which you fight in the same area where general navigation occurs, with everyone visible on screen.
This game had a ton of material for your buck. I remember playing it on and off for months and always enjoying myself every step of the way. I mean, you can play as a frog-man with a cape and sword. What else do you want in a game?
Released: June 5, 1995
This game has a lot of history. Originally named “Mother 2” in Japan, this game had one thing in mind, being goofy. It was a Japanese take on Western culture and Americana. The game was full of jokes and humor related to all of this, so being translated to English for the American release took some work.
In the game you play as a party of characters as they try to collect experience points to level up. Turn based and pretty standard in the RPG community, this game didn’t really stand out too much. You are trying to defeat the alien force Giygas after you find a meteorite crashed right outside your town. A small bee like creature tells you that you have to defeat them by filling a sound stone with the melodies from 8 different sanctuaries.
The game didn’t do as well as the Japanese version and was said its simple graphics, is poor marketing campaign and lack of market interest made this game a flop. But… The game developed a dedicated fan community and is regarded as a “sacred cow” among gaming’s cognoscenti. Multiple reader polls rank this game among the best of all time. I have personally found either you love it or hate it. I for one love it, a lot. I have very fond memories of this game and its humor. It's always nice to play something a little more goofy especially when you were younger and needed a break from the “skill factor” involved in the other games.
But... This game is not all fun and silliness, the end of the game is actually quite horrific and could be traumatizing to a younger player. When the creator was a child he accidentally walked into the wrong movie at a theater and saw a very violent distressful part of a film. He wanted to capture that emotion in the ending of this game when you fight the final boss. There are tons of theories and speculation about what the ending really means. Just another reason this is such a good game and worth all the effort it takes to get to the end.
2. Super Metroid
Released: April 18, 1994
Another game often described as one of the best games of all time, Super Metroid is a side-scrolling action-adventure game. The game received critical acclaim for its gameplay, atmosphere, music and graphics. Unlike our last entry this game did poorly in Japan but did very well here in America, selling 1.4 million copies by late 2003.
You play as Samus Aran on the fictional planet Zebes. You are searching for Metroid that has been stolen by Ridley, the leader of the Space Pirates. You navigate the large, open-ended world with areas connected by doors and elevators. You can jump, run, crouch and fire your weapon in eight different directions. You can also perform other actions, such as wall jumping and moon walking! Throughout the game you can acquire power ups that better Samus’s weapons and armor that grant special abilities that let you access areas previously inaccessible.
This is definitely a game worth revisiting time and time again.
1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Released: November 21, 1991
I don’t even know where to begin with this game? Such a classic. I remember a time before people super glued their foreheads to their phones in an endless search for memes and cat pictures. We had to actually get up, go to the phone and actually dial a seven digit number that you actually memorized to get your buddy on the phone. Then guess what you would say to them? “Hey jerk, did you beat the boss at the Desert Palace yet? NO! LULZ! #gitgud NOOB!” Yeah, you had to say all of that…
This game was a critical and commercial success and was a land mark title for Nintendo. Over 4 million units have been sold worldwide.
If you loved video games and were looking for new and exiting things around the birth of the SNES, this game was something else. Nothing had ever been quite like this, well except the original Zelda, but with the capabilities of the next gen system this game was worlds apart from its predecessor.
You play as Link as he travels on a journey to save Hyrule and defeat Ganon as he saves maidens related to the Sages. On this journey you encounter several characters and unique areas that have a different feel and atmosphere. What about that crazy Dark World! That crap was creepy as hell. I remember feeling a real urge of panic trying to get in and out of there as fast as humanly possible.
What was your favorite Super Nintendo game? How many Summer Vacations did you waste away trying to beat that final boss? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading!