My Top-10 Super Nintendo (SNES) Games

Since I posted my Top-10 Sega Mega Drive games, I decided that I should also update my list of Top-10 Super Nintendo games. The SNES wasn’t perhaps my absolute favourite Nintendo system, but it had its share of timeless hit games. These are the ten that stand out for me personally.

I also want to give an honourable mention to Super Star Wars: A New Hope, the first of the three Super Star Wars games. Though these games are notorious for their harsh difficulty, I find the first game extremely entertaining and it’s the only one that I could beat without becoming enraged at it.

But now, let’s get on with the lis…

10. Super Punch-Out!!

Everyone considers Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out for the NES as a timeless classic, but I think this game would deserve far more recognition. Super Punch-Out improves on the first game tremendously and not just in graphics and sound. This is a game where your boxing skill actually matters.

Don’t get me wrong, the first Punch-Out is an excellent game, but I feel it relied too heavily on learning secret tricks to beating most of the bosses and, in the end, how good you were at the game didn’t really matter. Here however, the fights go on until you beat the challenger fair and square. And sure, there are secret tricks to beating the bosses, but I like it better that you can go on for three rounds and will still have chance at winning, instead of wasting a whole bunch of time and then get screwed over by a pre-set decision.

If you’ve ignored Super Punch-Out, you should give it a try. Sure, there’s no Soda Popinski, but the cast of this game is just as memorable as that of the first title with Bear Hugger, Dragon Chun, that asshole Aran Ryan and that creepy Mad Clown.

9. Killer Instinct

Rareware exploded into public consciousness with Donkey Kong Country and Killer Instinct. The gory fighting game gave Mortal Kombat a run for its money with better gameplay and music that had you rocking hard. Many consider it the best fighting game on the SNES and I’m not surprised.

With an excellent character roster comprised of Fulgore, Orchid, Jago, T.J. Combo, Riptor, Spinal, Cinder and Glacius – its one of the craziest and most intense fighting game experiences you can have on a 16-bit system. The pre-rendered graphics still hold up pretty well and the smooth-as-butter gameplay just makes it an epic fighting game experience.

Admittedly, I do prefer KI: Gold on the Nintendo 64 a bit better, but if you want to have a hell of a time, Killer Instinct is worth trying out.

8. Super Mario World

Every one goes on and on how Super Mario World is the best 2D Mario game around. And don’t get me wrong, in the classic 2D Mario series it is probably second only to Super Mario Bros. 3. But beyond introducing Yoshi, I never felt Super Mario World really offered anything new or revolutionary.

Okay, it is a much more refined Mario game though. You can revisit and replay older levels at your leasure, something which I can totally appreciate. The super powers are at least as good as SMB3, but the ability to carry power-items with you is something I really missed in this game. However, the graphical and musical design is flawless and there is a huge World for the player to discover, with secret levels and all that good stuff you expect from a Mario game.

Super Mario World is an epic game for sure, but there are other 2D platformers on the SNES that I find personally more appealing. Still, absolutely worth playing.

7. Tetris & Dr. Mario

Ever had difficulty deciding whether you wanted to play Tetris or Dr. Mario? Well with this combo package you don’t have to decide. Tetris & Dr. Mario is the perfect puzzle-package title for the SNES, with two of the best puzzle games put together for you to enjoy.

First, you have Tetris – an extremely addicting game that’s hard to stop once you’ve started. Then you have Dr. Mario, Nintendo’s own classic puzzle game with that cartoony appeal and brilliant music which might be even harder for me to stop. And if that’s not enough, you can challenge your friend in a round of Mixed Match, where you play two variants of Tetris with a round of Dr. Mario in the middle within a time-limit to see who has the real puzzle skills.

There simply isn’t a better combo for hard-core puzzle game fans.

6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time

Konami’s TMNT game series may have had a rough start on the NES, but the games kept on getting better until, finally, TMNT4 became one of their all-time classics. Turtles in Time may appear to be you standard run-of-the-mill beat-em-up on the off-set, but if you’re a Ninja Turtles fan, then it’s absolutely the best Ninja Turtles game to own.

Firstly, the game utilizes characters from the comics, the cartoon and even the movies to create a unique combination of end-of-level bosses. You won’t get any generic goons as your bosses, but instead recognisable faces like Baxter Stockman, Rocksteady & Bebop, Slash, Tokka & Razzah, Krang and even Super Shredder. Secondly, the gameplay is extremely fluid in its simplicity and this is what makes it so much fun. And finally, the soundtrack of the game is superb, utilisin recognisable themes from the cartoon with original material from Konami.

I played this game to death as a child and its still one of the quintessential pick-up-and-play experiences from the SNES.

5. Street Fighter 2 Turbo

There are many who would probably go for Super Street Fighter 2 instead on the SNES, but this is the version of the game I’m closest to – and through the countless versions of the game I’ve experienced, it’s still easily my favourite. What Turbo got right in my view was the gameplay which is just perfect.

I’m perhaps not too wild about the alternate colour-schemes for the characters, but you still get the original colour-schemes if you like and the faster gameplay feels more natural to me now than the positively sluggish original. Also, this was the first version to allow you to play as the villains (Balrog, Vega, Sagat and Bison) so that’s a definite plus.

If you’re craving for Fei Long or Cammy, then you should probably go for Super SF2, but for me, Turbo is where it’s at.

4. Tetris Attack

Funny story, Tetris Attack originally had nothing to do with Yoshi or Tetris. The game was originally released in Japan as Panel de Pon and featured cute anime-ish angel characters. Nintendo deemed the game too Japanesy for Western audiences and hit upon an ingenious idea. By replacing the cute angel girls with characters from Yoshi’s Island, they created one of the most likeable and an even cuter game than before.

Underneath it’s super cute exterior though, Tetris Attack is an intense puzzler. The block mechanics and the intesifying music get your adrenaline pumping. No matter how many puzzle games I play, none of them can beat Tetris Attack. Not just because it uses Yoshi characters, but also because it has an excellent story-mode which is a nice switch from the typically boring Vs-Com gameplay of most other puzzle titles.

Tetris Attack is the single most addicting puzzle game I’ve ever played and nothing compares to it. The game’s concept was later recycled for Pokémon: Puzzle League on the Nintendo 64, but for me – it’s Tetris Attack all the way.

3. Mega Man X

Pretty much anything Mega Man related is enough to get me excited, so what would you think my reaction was to an even more bad-ass version of Mega Man with far more intense gameplay and excellent hard-rocking soundtrack to boot. And mind you, I only played the first MMX long after the SNES was discontinued on an emulator. I loved every minute of it.

Mega Man X was an excellent upgrade from the prior Mega Man titles, by taking what had made the classic games excellent and upping the ante with more intense enemies and more hectic action than before. You still got a free choice of eight levels and you still had tons of exploration opportunities, looking for upgrades to make the final battle with Sigma easier.

Mega Man X may be a frustratingly hard game at times, but it’s a gem of a title and certainly the best Mega Man title on the SNES. Its sequels sadly couldn’t live up to its excellence. And don’t get me wrong, I loved the cartoony Mega Man 7 – but Mega Man X just has the definite edge.

2. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

The Donkey Kong Country games are the most solid series of platformers available for the SNES, but there’s never been any question which one was my favourite. DKC2 just blew me away the first time I played it and the game continues be my favourite title from the series.

The dark settings, the excellent music and the near-flawless gameplay. DKC2 had it all. It took everything that made the first DKC excellent and improved on everything. It was such an awesome game that DKC3 couldn’t even hope to match its awesomeness (though was a good game in its own right). Diddy’s Kong Quest has that lasting timeless appeal, another perfect game you can just pick up and play.

However, there were times when I grew quite frustrated while playing the game, especially in the few levels that required almost ridiculous precision. However, it’s still a platformer I feel can only be topped by one other.

1. Yoshi’s Island (a.k.a. Super Mario World 2)

Not a surprise in the very least, Yoshi’s Island left a strong impression when I first played. Yoshi’s Island showed that a game could be cute and cartoony and still be a considerable challenge and a grade-A platforming experience. No 2D platformer I have played has ever come even close to its excellence.

The artwork of the game is astonishing. And it isn’t enough that the game just looks sweet, it had creative elements such background items that affect the game, distortions and tilts, the type of stuff you just don’t see in a run-of-the-mill platformer. Yoshi’s Island is a work of art.

And I haven’t even started on the music, all the memorable melodies and excellent production. The variety of tune is also excellent, it’s not all up-beat and happy, but there’s also stylish, jazzy and dark sounding music.

And the gameplay is just pure awesomeness. You have challenging platforming, spatial puzzle solving, attacking enemies with eggs and avoiding all manner of inventive hazards. Every single level is of this 50+ stage adventure is full of surprise and wonderment. It’s a game that is simply packed with content.

Yoshi’s Island is unquestionably the best game on the Super Nintendo.

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