25 Best SNES Games

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The 25 Best SNES Games. Making a list like this is like Sophie's Choice, only if Sophie had a zillion kids who were all too awesome to let go. It's been argued by many that the Super Nintendo era was the best era in gaming. Video games had become advanced enough to create intricate gameplay systems, more complex storylines, and stirring music, but had yet to get bogged down with the limitations of early 3D, or money-grubbing DLC tactics. The SNES was truly a perfect storm of gaming — there are so many amazing games in its library that narrowing it down to the top 25 was truly a tough task. But, it is a task completed, nonetheless, so sit back and enjoy the 25 Best SNES Games!

  • 25

    Secret of Mana

    Squaresoft

    Count up how many three-player, simultaneous co-op RPGs there were in the 16-bit era. Go ahead, we've got all the time in the world. Shouldn't take you too long seeing as how there was only one. Secret of Mana combined the hack and slash gameplay of a brawler, the character progression of a traditional RPG, and a stirring score to create a gaming legend. There's just something fun about dungeon crawling with a friend (or two).

  • 24

    Axelay

    Konami

    In the vein of Konami's other shoot-'em-up (otherwise known as a 'shmup'), series, Gradius, Axelay has the player piloting a tiny spaceship against an impossibly large army of evil spaceships. What sets Axelay apart from its contemporaries is that in addition to the standard, side-scrolling levels, Axelay also features vertically scrolling, pseudo-3D stages. Knowing that you'll be facing attacks from every angle is a key factor to consider when choosing your weapon selection before your playthrough. It's this flexibility and variance of gameplay that kept Axelay fun no matter whether it was your fifth or five-hundredth time playing.

  • 23

    Battletoads in Battlemaniacs

    Nintendo/Rare

    Ever wanted to punch someone using a fist that's actually a hammer? Or kick someone with a foot that's actually a buzzsaw? Then Battletoads in Battlemaniacs is the game for you. The sequel to the devilishly harsh NES Battletoads toned the difficulty down to a reasonable level, but kept the same fast-paced, cartoony, co-op brawling that made the original so memorable. Those accolades earn this beat-em-up an easy spot on this list of the 25 Best SNES Games.

  • 22

    Actraiser

    Enix

    One part SimCity, one part Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and one part awesome was a dangerous brew to concoct, but the mad geniuses at Enix defied the very gods and made a game about being a god. As the Master, a god whose power has waned thanks to the hordes of non-believers, you've got to get back into godly shape and kick evil's butt out of your lands. Actraiser's gameplay alternates between city management, where you try foster your small band of followers and help them grow, and side-scrolling hack and slash levels. In addition to the fun, quirky gameplay, Actraiser also features a score by legendary video game composer Yuzo Koshiro, and his talent for creating memorable, fast-paced tunes was in full swing here. As soon as you start playing, and hear stage 1-1's pounding beats, you know you're in for a treat.

  • 21

    Pilotwings

    Nintendo

    There weren't many games that offered the freedom of flight in the 16-bit era, but Pilotwings let players soar the skies like a leaf in the wind. Boasting jaw-dropping (for the time, anyway), graphics, this flight simulator is a tightly tuned experience. It's challenging, to be sure, but the challenge is a fair one. Failures just don't feel like failures with Pilotwings, as players will usually end up thinking back on their mistakes and dedicating themselves to not making them again. If only we did that in the real world!

  • 20

    F-Zero

    Nintendo

    Long before Captain Falcon was Falcon Punching people off of the face of the planet, he was piloting a kickin' rad car and hauling falcon across the finish line. F-Zero melds its unique tracks, sci-fi aesthetic, and fast, challenging gameplay to create a game that is the crème de la crème of the racing genre. Most racing games that followed took notes from F-Zero, so without it, the landscape of racing games would have shaped up quite differently. That's reason alone to give it a spot on our list of the 25 Best SNES Games.

  • 19

    Earthbound

    Nintendo/Ape/HAL Laboratory

    Every suburban kid with an active imagination likes to think that there's something sinister lurking in his or her neighborhood. What if those nice Mormon boys who're always handing out pamphlets have actually been mind-controlled by an evil statue? What if that taxicab has a taste for human flesh? What if hippies attacked? Earthbound melded suburban dread with traditional RPG gameplay and wrapped it up in a bow of quirky characters and writing. Few games are so boldly, unrepentantly funny as Earthbound. Many have tried to capture that same magic, but it's hard to force a game to boing boing like a Mr. Saturn, or be happy happy like the Happy Happy People. Weirdness like this only comes from the soul.

  • 18

    Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts

    Capcom

    Get ready for a game that is punch-you-in-the-kidneys, steal-your-lunch-money-and-give-you-a-swirlie-during-gym-class hard. Arthur may be strong of arm, but he's slow of foot, and it'll take every bit of courage and fortitude you've got to guide him through the game's devilish traps. Once you're victorious, and have slain the final boss, that's where the real kicker comes in -- you're only half-way done. That's right, the game forces you to go back to the beginning and beat the entire game again using a new weapon. Then, and only then, does the game bow down to your superior skills.

  • 17

    Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island

    Nintendo

    There's something infectiously cheerful about Yoshi's Island's jaunty tunes and storybook aesthetic. Playing the game makes you feel as if you're traveling through a child's storybook, one that's well-loved and covered in innocent crayon scribblings. It helps that the gameplay is as tightly tuned as you'd expect from a Mario title, and manages to frequently find ways of keeping thing fresh. One level will have you transforming into a helicopter to fly an obstacle course, another will have you playing as an invincible baby Mario, and another shrinks you down and forces you to fight a boss from the inside!

  • 16

    Super Mario All-Stars

    Nintendo

    In a way, mentioning this almost feels like cheating. It's like an HD re-release from an era before HD re-releases. Within a single cartridge is the original Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 2, the Japanese Super Mario Bros (dubbed Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels), and Super Mario Bros 3. Some special cartridges even went so far as to also include Super Mario World! This is a game jam-packed with games — some of the greatest that the NES had to offer. Who said NES games wouldn't earn a spot on our list of the 25 Best SNES Games?

Categories: Lists, Retro Games
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