The 50 Best SNES Games in Existence
Call it the Super Famicom, the Super Nintendo, the SNES, or even the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, if you would like to be spot-on. First released at the beginning of the 1990s, the SNES was a global powerhouse in the video game industry, selling around 49 million copies over the course of a decade before its discontinuation in 2003. Whether you grew up putting in hours on this small console with a big impact or have only heard of it, all video game enthusiasts have felt the impact of the SNES through their current favorite games.
After going over 1500 games released for the SNES, we’ve listed our top 50 best SNES games by genre. Take a walk with us down memory lane in this article or better yet, if you’re a SNES owner, brush off the dust from your SNES and take it for another spin as we go through the classics and fan favorites.
Action-Platformer & Adventure
Donkey Kong Country
With one of the most memorable graphical achievements on the SNES, Donkey Kong Country raised the SNES’ shelf life and gave the world Donkey Kong’s current design. Players switch between Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong as they search for DK’s stolen banana stash.
Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit!
One of the stranger adaptations for the SNES, Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit! Let you play as Tim Allen as he fights dinosaurs, robots, and mummies to get his special tools back. And no, we’re not making this up. As if the gameplay wasn’t random enough, the game even lacked an actual instruction manual, instead opting to tell players that “Real men don’t need instructions.”
Kirby Super Star
Advertised as “8 games in one!”, Kirby Super Star is innovative for introducing cooperative gameplay into side-scrolling games, giving Kirby a new look for each enemy he absorbed, and adopting an omnibus format to appeal to a broad range of players.
Mega Man X
An update to the classic Mega Man image, Mega Man X featured an edgier version of the iconic blue bomber who sought to protect the world from the evil Sigma and his army of Mavericks. The popularity and success of this new entry in the Mega Man franchise would lead to fourteen more games.
Scooby Doo Mystery
1995’s Scooby Doo Mystery for the SNES is a platforming adventure where you solved mysteries as the loveable Shaggy and Scooby Doo. Levels included a shipwreck, amusement park, swamp, and a manor where you could find mini-games and secret levels while searching for clues to the mystery. This entry in the franchise is also the final performance of Don Messick as the beloved Great Dane.
To be straightforward, Shaq-Fu has you playing as basketball icon Shaquille O’Neal as he fights through a fantasy world to save a child. While universally panned in this day and age, we still love Shaq-Fu for its memorable feature of Shaq as a martial artist instead of a basketball player.
Super Castlevania IV
A remake of the very first Castlevania for the NES, Super Castlevania IV is an enhanced version of the original with updated graphics, a remixed soundtrack, and new content, though the story is the same. This remake is praised for its high level of detail and quality for both its graphics and music.
Super Mario Bros. 2
The Mario series is an iconic gaming franchise that has a rich history of innovation and influence. Super Mario Bros. 2 is no exception, with its lifting mechanic, characters, and stages appearing in Mario games even to this day.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
An eventual marketing boon for the green dinosaur Yoshi, Yoshi’s Island is an all-around great game that’s hailed as a SNES masterpiece. As Yoshi, players escort an infant Mario while defeating enemies across an island. Its coloring-book aesthetic and innovative mechanics led to rave reviews and praise as one of the greatest video games in history. Not bad for a glorified babysitter!
In the third installment of the Metroid franchise, play again as Samus Aran in a gambit to retrieve an infant Metroid from the hands of draconic space-pirate Ridley. With three different endings determined by how fast the player completes all levels, Super Metroid provides much room for players to both challenge themselves and to take the game at their own pace.
Toy Story introduced the world to the magic and possibilities of innovative 3D graphics, and the SNES adaptation’s graphics didn’t fail to live up to its source material’s reputation. The game featured impressive graphics that added a whole new level to the gameplay, though it’s been noted for its difficulty level (this game was meant for children after all).
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior is a legendary title in the fighting game community for its definitive gameplay style and mechanics that continually sees its influence in fighting games to the present day. With a successful arcade run, the SNES port and subsequent console titles made SFII a cash-cow and eventually evergreen property for Capcom.
Mario Paint was a unique title in that its gameplay was focused on drawing. Essentially an art tool, players could make all kinds of drawings or even custom stamps to use. You could even make short animations with music that could be recorded onto a video cassette, an ancient technology of bygone days. It is placed as one of the best SNES games of all time due to blending creation and play into a unique and fun idea.
Released at the beginning of the SNES’s release, the player’s goal is to destroy viruses by using colored capsules tossed into the playing field by Mario, who assumes the role of doctor instead of a plumber in this Mario spin-off. With a generous learning curve, playful graphics, and memorable tunes, Dr. Mario would be yet another successful entry in the franchise.
Krusty’s Fun House
Based on the Simpsons series, Krusty’s Fun House has you in the shoes of Krusty the Clown himself as he navigates multiple levels while creating a path to lead rats to extermination. While the main premise of the game is to control Krusty as he makes a path through maze-like stages for the poor rats, the game still features titular Simpson characters such as Homer and Bart.
Mixing the puzzle genre with platformer action, your goal in Lemmings is to guide a group of lemmings to the end of a level without losing too many lemmings. Each lemming can also be given one of eight special skills to help the group navigate treacherous terrain and ultimately finish the level with no M.I.A lemmings.
Tetris & Dr. Mario
Tetris meets Dr. Mario in this ambitious puzzle game cross-over. While you can play both Tetris and Dr. Mario, what makes this SNES game stand out the most is the ability to play Mixed Mode, where players could face each other off with a catch—the playing field switches between Tetris and Dr. Mario mechanics. This feature would add an extra element to the addictive, competitive edge of the game.
Show me your moves! Though this well-known phrase wasn’t connected to Captain Falcon until Super Smash Bros. Brawl, F-Zero was the game that started it all. Though originally intended to be the SNES’ flagship character and eventually sidelined instead, Captain Falcon’s origin game F-Zero would serve to pioneer the foundations for racing games with over fifteen tracks offered and its Mode 7 graphics, which gave the game a pseudo-3D appearance.
Super Mario Kart
Featuring familiar characters with their own individual moves to bump other racers off the track, Super Mario Kart would not only be a hardcore friendship breaker but would also be one of the first racing game for the SNES. Its core mechanics have been carried on today through over seven continuations of the racing series.
Race your way to the top through this racing game released in 1992. As one of the first racing games released for the SNES, you get to race through different venues across the world and can choose between four unique cars and four different controller layouts.
Join Crono and Co. as they travel through different eras ranging from the prehistoric age in which primitive humans and dinosaurs share the land to a post-apocalyptic future where human survivors and even sentient robots struggle. Developed by Square’s dream team, Chrono Trigger will go down in gaming history as not only a game with an intriguing premise but also as a game with memorable characters and gameplay.
Dragon Quest V
The Dragon Quest series had a tough reputation in the US, but Dragon Quest V proved the series wasn’t over yet. You play as a medieval fantasy-style hero over the course of thirty years and essentially you live a full life as an adventurer. This title was well-received for its innovative concept of collecting items for achievements and prizes—a common feature in AAA titles today.
Dragon Quest VI
Alternate between the real world and a dream world in a quest to save them both from a growing, greater evil. While continuing many of the mechanics seen in previous Dragon Quest entries, what makes Dragon Quest VI distinct is the introduction of special abilities and skills that don’t require MP to use, allowing more variety in your typical menu-based RPG.
If a game could reach cult status, it would have to be EarthBound. While at first generating little interest among the North American gaming community due to a general disinterest towards RPGs and a reverse-psychology marketing campaign (This game stinks!), EarthBound would eventually grow a dedicated fan base which has since pressed for this game’s well-earned recognition.
Final Fantasy III/VI
Though the sixth installment of the Final Fantasy franchise, it was re-titled as Final Fantasy III for its North American release. This Final Fantasy entry brought back mechanics from previous games such as the menu-based ATB system. With every character written as if they were the game’s protagonist, the game’s memorable storytelling and stellar battle system have caught the attention of gamers worldwide.
Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War
Though a Japan-only release, the fifth entry of the Fire Emblem series would introduce mechanics such as class skills, a generation system, and a skill-inheritance mechanic that would radically affect the development of future Fire Emblem entries. Enjoy not only one but two timelines as you control armies on vast battlefields and recruit a range of characters with their own distinct personalities and skills.
Fire Emblem: Thracia 776
While Thracia 776 is not well-known outside of Japan, it’s regarded among experiences players of the series as one of the most difficult Fire Emblems. With distinctive features such as a fatigue bar that can render characters unusable for one battle and the introduction of the Fog of War mechanic which made enemies undetectable, Thracia 776 was also the last game to feature the ideas of one of Fire Emblem’s original developers, Shouzou Kaga, before he left Intelligent Systems.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The third installment of the Legend of Zelda franchise and a prequel of the first two installments, A Link to the Past would introduce an important mainstay feature for future Legend of Zelda entries: parallel worlds. Journey with Link through two reflecting worlds on yet another mission to save Hyrule from Ganon before both worlds succumb to his evil will.
As far as RPGs go, Romancing SaGa is unique for offering players the choice of taking on one of eight different characters and presenting the narrative in an open-ended manner. While the PlayStation 2 remake gave this Japanese-exclusive title a questionable reputation, Romancing SaGa holds a place in our hearts as a fun and unique title that all RPG fans should play.
Secret of Mana
A sequel to Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana is a unique RPG for its time due to its real-time battle system, unique Ring command system that allows mid-battle decision making, and a co-op multiplayer system that allows players to drop in or out of the game at any point they wish. These new features would push the bar for what RPG’s could achieve.
Combining cyberpunk and fantasy elements, Shadowrun has you playing as amnesiac Jake Armitage, who is suddenly gunned down in 2050 Seattle, Washington at the game’s beginning. As you proceed through the game, you not only learn about Jake’s identity but also the motives of those who wish to see him left for dead.
Play through over forty-five different stages as Bomberman defends Peace Town against the scheming Carat Diamond who will stop at nothing to steal Bomberman’s unique powers. While the gameplay is deceivingly simple, involving Bomberman laying down bombs to destroy walls and vanquish his enemies, players are in for a real treat with the game’s variety of options including a single-player and battle mode.
Super Mario RPG
A certain wise old man would have described this game as “A surprise to be sure, but a welcomed one.” Super Mario RPG is a noticeable departure from the usual vein of Mario games with a turn-based battle system and plotline borrowed from co-developer Square’s (now Square Enix) games. Super Mario RPG was also well-praised for its quirky sense of humor and 3D graphics.
Super Mario World
Released to wide acclaim as a packed-in game for the SNES at the start of the home console’s distribution, Super Mario World would not only give us another chance to play as Mario in his quest to save Princess Peach but would also go on to introduce Yoshi, the dinosaur beloved by many spin-offs related to the Super Mario franchise.
Terranigma, or The Creation of Heaven and Earth, is a relatively unknown RPG for the SNES where players take on the role of Ark and his mission to unfreeze the people of the world. Aside from an epic story with all sorts of twists and turns, the game features gorgeous graphics and a memorable soundtrack that’s sure to impress gamers even today.
Take a break from fast-paced, intense gameplay (and from reality) with this easygoing farming simulator. With a farm to build and maintain, five possible bachelorettes to romance and countless interactions with the local townspeople, the first Harvest Moon release will go on to spawn more than thirteen spin-offs and become a popular series enjoyed by hardcore and casual gamers alike.
SimCity is the precursor to the much-loved The Sims series, and the SNES version gives it even more charm. A game where you build up a city, nintendo would add its own distinct traits by replacing Godzilla with Bowser and awarding players with a statue of Mario. You even get a helper character who resembles creator Will Wright, further adding to this quirky SNES title.
While it’s commonly said that dog is man’s best friend, the dog from Duck Hunt proves to be a strong contender against that phrase. Though many reviews have summarized Duck Hunt to be a repetitive game, its cultural legacy would continue for many years to come, earning its spot in the collective memory (and frustration) of gamers everywhere.
Everyone knows Doom as a seminal first-person shooter game for the MS-DOS that defined its genre for years to come, but not many know it also came out on the SNES. Aside from its great reception and controversy over its graphic violence, Doom gets its spot on this list for its unexpected port to the SNES.
Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario, one day had an epiphany to put a fox in a spaceship and have him shoot down other spaceships. That idea gave birth to Star Fox for the SNES, a shooter game that led to the development of an advanced processing chip that was the first consumer-grade chip for 3D graphics.
Sidescroller Beat’em Up
Children of the ’90s may remember Michelle Pfeiffer destroying her stuffed animal collection and donning a latex catsuit in Batman Returns. While the SNES adaptation of the movie doesn’t let you recreate her iconic scene, you can fight off the bad guys as Batman in a sidescrolling beat’em up the format and briefly chase bikers in the Batmobile.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time
Ported from the arcade to the SNES, TMNT IV: Turtles in Time was a hit due to its accurate translation of the arcade original and its inclusion of extra levels and modes. This game is a side-scrolling beat’em up where players fight evil monsters and ninjas as the titular turtle brothers. You can also surf the freeway on a flying saucer as you fend off enemies while heading to the city.