If you have only ever played games that came out in the U.S. then you are missing out on some amazing classic gaming experiences. These are the 10 Best SNES Imports. You can play them in a variety of ways. Many are available in translated form via virtual console or digital distribution services. Others have been translated by fans, and still others can be found as replication carts made by dedicated collectors. Of course, you can always just download the ROM and play them on your PC, which of course, we don't condone... Anyways, let’s take a look at the 10 Best SNES Import Games of all time.
We know the Ganbare Goemon series as Legend of the Mystic Ninja here in the US. But while we only got one game in the series before the SNES moved on, Japan got a ton of them. Ganbare Goemon 4 is one of the most loved of the Ganbare Goemon series taking our intrepid hero to space. This game is part action, part adventure, part platformer, part quick time event, and all crazy. There’s even a boss fight where you play catch with a death star. This nuttiness is one of many reasons why it's on a list of the 10 Best SNES Imports.
The U.S. was introduced to Fire Emblem through Marth and Roy’s inclusion in Super Smash Bros Melee and only after that did we see Fire Emblem titles start to hit our consoles and handhelds. However, in Japan, Fire Emblem was a well-established series with entries dating back to the early NES. Fire Emblem 4: Geneology of the Holy War, was the second Fire Emblem to hit the SNES and is a fan favorite among importers everywhere. The action spans two completely separate casts of characters along two different generations of the story’s history. Many fan translations and replication carts are easily available online for FE fans that are looking to get their hands on a copy.
Super Bomberman 5 may have been the best Bomberman game to come out on the SNES. It’s a shame that it never came out in America. It had a deep single-player mode based on previous Bomberman games, a multiplayer mode that let you design your character and equip special powers and abilities, and it even let you ride on kangaroo bunny… things. The game is easily playable without any knowledge of Japanese fans and is a favorite of Bomberman fanatics, even if they never imported any other titles but this one.
Cho Aniki looks like a joke, what with its absurdly muscular men and overtly homosexual overtones. In reality, the game is actually quite good. The franchise is home to really deep shooters and fighters that are unlike anything we have seen here in the U.S. The strange hyper masculine theme really just comes from the game’s genre, which is meant to be purposefully bad and hilarious. We don’t have the “bad game” genre here in the U.S. so this seems a bit jarring to us. Just think of it as a parody because it isn’t taking itself very seriously and it’s fairly fun after you get past the bulging wall of pectoral muscles.
Bahamut Lagoon is an absolutely wonderful turn-based strategy game that never came to the U.S. It was also one of the first SNES import games to be translated by fans. The game saw you pairing up party members with dragons which then gave them special abilities. You would move on a 2D grid, but then fight on a screen more reminiscent of traditional Final Fantasy turn-based battles. There was a ton of customization options and simply picking out the best dragons to pair with your party was a huge amount of the game’s strategy alone. If you enjoy games like Final Fantasy Tactics, or Disgaea, you will love Bahamut Lagoon.
It’s a shame that the U.S. doesn’t have the parody genre like Japan does. Parodius is perhaps one of the best Gradius style shooters ever to be created, and it’s all a joke! Here you’ll fight pirate cats, penguins, school girls, crab robots, and more, and you’ll control things like flying octopuses and fairies. Nothing about this game is meant to be taken seriously, but the shooting mechanics are incredibly solid. If you can take a joke and want to play an awesome side-scrolling shooter, pick this 10 Best SNES Imports game up.
The Star Ocean series is an amazing series of JRPGs that survives on current generation consoles. However, the first entry in the series never came to the U.S. We got introduced to Star Ocean via Star Ocean II on the PS1, but the franchise actually began on the SNES. Translation patches for this game can be found everywhere, so if you are ok with emulation you can play this on your PC without much trouble. Replication carts are a bit harder to find, but if you search around Ebay long enough you should be able to get your hands on one.
Secret of Mana was amazing and was an incredibly well received game here in the US. So that makes it even more strange that its sequel, Seiken Densetsu 3, never came to the States. This action RPG had you customize your party in the beginning by choosing between a cast of many different heroes. Each hero had their own abilities and each experienced the game in a slightly different manner. This gave the game a ton of replayability. It was worth it to play through multiple times just to see what each different hero’s story was like.
Terranigma may not only be one of the best imports of all time, but one of the best JRPGs period. This is the third game in the well-received Quintet trilogy, the same series that brought us Illusion of Gaia. Terranigma deals with some incredibly dark themes and has one of the most well written plots of any game of the SNES era. The plot twists here would make M. Night Shyamalan explode! If you enjoy extremely well written heart wrenching JRPGs, then definitely give Terranigma a shot.
We close off this 10 Best SNES Imports list with possibly the most fun Tetris game in existence. Tetris Battle Gaiden essentially combines Tetris with RPG and fighting game mechanics. Before a match, you choose a character and each character comes with four different spells. Every so often, blocks will fall with MP in them, and if you clear these blocks you’ll build your MP gauge. You can then use that stored MP to cast spells and screw up your opponent or help yourself. Some spells do things like push all your blocks to one side, giving you a clear line for a Tetris. Others allow you to control your opponent’s pieces for a time. Still others blow holes into your opponent’s stack. It's fun, its strategic, and it’s goofy, a must play for anyone who has ever enjoyed a good round of Tetris.