Yesterday Nintendo announced its Super Nintendo Classic Edition Console (SNES Classic we’ll call it from here on out). The worst kept secret in videogames instantly became one of the industry’s most anticipated releases, with gamers clamoring to get their pre-orders in. With 21 titles included in the mix, we decided to take a look back at them all – ranking them in terms of enjoyment and what gamers can expect from them.
Special Mention: Star Fox 2 – While I’d love to say I’ve ever played Star Fox 2, I have not. It’s inclusion is a huge surprise and adds one of the most interesting vaporware titles from the industry to the SNES Classic console. Because of this though, I feel it would be rather silly to try and rank it based on this – but I’m oh so curious to give it a try.
20. Kirby’s Dream Course – It’s fair to say that Kirby’s Dream Course is one of the more eyebrow raising inclusions in the collection. Not because it’s a surprise, just because there were oh-so-many other games I suspect people would rather have had on the console. Kirtby’s Dream Course really isn’t all that great unless you’re playing with friends – even then it lacks any truly memorable moments. It’s a quirky golf game that works best as a multiplayer slog. I suspect it made it into the collection based on its multiplayer chops. Arguably the weakest of the consoles lineup.
19. Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts – Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts is a visually impressive SNES title, with a lot going for it in terms of enjoyment. It’s a tough as nails side-scroller that challenges gamers and will likely frustrate a good number of modern players who aren’t used to that kind of difficulty curve. The only real negative is that it locks away its final boss behind an arbitrary “finish the game twice” requirement – an awful attempt to pad out the games run time.
18. Kirby Super Star – Hugely successful upon its initial SNES release, Kirby Super Star is generally well-regarded by classic gamers – even if it suffers from a touch of the “being too easy”. The game is visually delightful, using every possible color to maximum effect – likely looking amazing when it rolls up in HD. That being said, don’t be surprised if you give this game one decent play through then never return. It’s nice, but just too easy.
17. Super Punch-Out – One of the better sports titles on the SNES, Super Punch-Out will likely divide those who buy the micro console. For some, it’s a nostalgic trip back to a time when sports games required strategy, pin perfect button presses and some of the most interesting characters this side of Nintendo’s console. Fot others though, Super Punch-Out will be a frustrating reminder of a series that demanded perfection, a game that, in the later levels, can mercilessly down you. The controls still hold up for a SNES game and the graphics work for the most part. Definitely worth a look.
16. Contra III: The Alien Wars – Arguably the height of the Contra series, The Alien Wars takes what made the previous games so enjoyable and jacks it up to 11. With destructable environments and some of the best level design in the series, there’s plenty for gamers to get involved in. The action is intense and the flip between top-down and side-scrolling really helps to break up the action. It’s a wonderful homage to a series that was firing on all cylinders when this title released.
15. Super Castlevania IV – Another series that arguably peaked on the SNES, Castlevania IV is a delightfully hard entry that managed to challenge and engage in just the right amounts. It’s also this game where the series whip mechanic finally gets fully realized – allowing you to swing through levels and changing the way gamers approached the world. The controls are also much tighter here, finally delivering a solid experience that doesn’t frustrate.
14. Earthbound – Earthbound’s inclusion was a must for fans of the series, which has enjoyed a huge amount of love in modern times. The game takes the standard RPG format and flips it on its head – playing with the gamer and changing the rules constantly. The story floats between dark and humorous, with numerous in-jokes for kids of the 1990’s. It’s a glorious game that deserves all the love it’s given – and is certainly one of the games you’ll fall head over heels for when you unbox your SNES classic console.
13. Star Fox – The original Star Fox hasn’t aged the best, but it still provides a hugely enjoyable last from the past on the SNES. perhaps most interestingly, thew game set the foundations for the series (Which would be greatly improved on Nintendo 64). I’ve never been a huge fan of Star Fox, but as a technical achievement on the SNES, it’s a great outing and certainly one of the more noteworthy titles from a technical standpoint.
12. Secret of Mana – Ask some people and they’ll tell you Square’s Secret of Mana is one of the best RPG’s of all time. While I wouldn’t go that far, it certainly has a lot going for it on the SNES. Beautiful visuals, fun gameplay and some of the best co-op on the SNES, it’s easy to see why this game had to be on the SNES Classic console. Certainly one of the best third-parry offerings on the console, by considerable margin.
11. F-Zero – When it comes to racing games on the SNES, gamers had two amazing choices. While a lot of people throw their hat behind Super Mario Kart, F-Zero is a revolutionary game in its own right. Blisteringly fast, hard to master and with some of the harshest learning curves on the SNES, it’s not a game for the faint hearted. But the core mechanics hold up well, with F-Zero proving a delightful counterpart to the system’s other major hits. If you want to know what real speed on the SNES feels like, F-Zero should very much be your first port of call.
10. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars – One of Nintendo’s forgotten classics, this game arrived in the shadow of Nintendo 64’s release, pushing focus away from it. Yet it’s arguably one of Mario’s most fleshed out games. The story is laugh out funny at points, with hilarious twists on the franchises notable tropes. The isometric gameplay also lends the game a unique feel in the series, allowing the RPG elements to come to the forefront. This game still deserves a sequel, but getting some of that much deserved love within the SNES Classic Console will be a great start. You owe it to yourself to play this title.
9. Street Fighter II Turbo – Among the mountain of Street Fighter II spinoffs, it’s arguably Street Fighter II Turbo that steals the show on the SNES. Upping the pace and adding in neat little touches, the game feels much quicker than its earlier siblings, delivering an intense multiplayer experience. The only downside to these changes comes in the form of button mashing, which Turbo encourages. It means that purists to the franchise may scoff at this being the only Street Fighter on offer – but it’s well worth a look regardless.
8. Yoshi’s Island – At a time when Mario ruled supreme, pushing him into the supporting role and allowing a dinosaur to take his place seemed incredibly fool-hearty. Yet Yoshi’s Island is one of the SNES’s best platformers, shaking up the established Mario format and delivering a wonderfully unique adventure that charms and excites in equal measure. Thanks to incredibly fun level design, Yoshi;s Island also has an air of challenge to it that other platformers on this list do not. Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
7. Donkey Kong Country – The start of Rare and Nintendo’s amazing run in the 1990’s, Donkey Kong Country is a tour-de-force platformer that screams quality. It’s use of pseudo-3D graphics allows it to stand out among the crowd, impressing and delivering one of the platforms best experiences. The game also comes packing a heap to do, with an impressive collection of collectables for you and a friend to dive into. Many fans claim that this was the best title in the Donkey Kong series – it’s certainly the most impressive iteration of the DKC brand for my money.
6. Mega Man X – Depending where you sit, Mega Man X is arguably the best in the series (We’re saying that a lot on this list, but that shows just how rich the SNES lineup of top end titles was). A revitalization for the series, the game changes up enough to keep fans happy and delivers one of the more interesting experiences for a top series on the SNES. The upgrade system was a revolution back in the day, allowing you to customize your Mega Man as you saw fit. It’s a delightful title, well worth your time. I would say, it’s not as strong as some of Nintendo’s first-party offerings, though the fact Nintendo bothered get this game onto the SNES Classic indicates they know how important it is.
5. Super Mario Kart – Of course this game had to be on the SNES Classic Console. While its later iterations may have improved the formula no end, Super Mario Kart remains hugely enjoyable with friends. It’s in the nature of the gameplay where it excels, offering a heap of fun and weapons that you can use to beat your opponents. It’s a local multiplayer legend – and with good reason. Arguably will be the multiplayer experience for most gamers who invest in the console.
4. Super Metroid – We’re at that point in the list where any of the games could top the pile and not feel out-of-place. Super Metroid is an amazing game, beautifully crafted and widely adored. Nintendo’s decision to flesh out the original Metroid’s mechanics payoff, creating one of the more tense atmosphere’s on the console. Samus Aran looks amazing, controls beautifully and delivers the exploration fans craved. It’s a difficult game at points – the game doesn’t make any bones about raising the difficulty. But Super Metroid is a beautiful title, easily the best thing in the Metroid series (There I said it) and is iconic in its influences.
3. Final Fantasy III – One of the greatest videogames ever committed to cartridge. Final Fantasy III (Or VI if you’re in Japan) is the perfect blend of old and new that balances all those aspects so wonderfully – then it’s hard to look beyond FF6. The game comes packing some of the greatest video game narrative ever committed to cartridge – with a world that’s brimming with personality and characters that feel right. The mechanics are perfectly balanced, the game play is tight and a wonderful balance between battling and plot development means you’re never left hanging for too long. It’s the culmination of everything that makes Final Fantasy so great – the centre piece of a franchise that at it’s best – is one of the best RPG adventures out there.
2. Legend of Zelda: Link To The Past – Without Link to the Past, The Legend of Zelda series would be very different beast. It sets the tone wonderfully, delivering an RPG experience that stands the test of time. Graphically it’s among the best on the SNES while at its core, the mechanics that underpin the outing remain exciting to this day. An exhaustive number of items help you along, as you dive into the two versions of Hyrule. The story may not be the most complex, but it helps invest the gamer in this world. Alongside Final Fantasy III, this is the RPG double-header than any gaming fan needs to try.
1. Super Mario World – I said it in our Top 20 Nintendo Games list and I’ll say it here, this for me is the best game Nintendo have ever put out. The first 16 bit Mario is a wonderful outing for fans and newcomers, oozing charm and delight across the board. It may not have the story chops of Link tot he Past, but it firmly delivers in the gameplay realm; making a strong case for being the greatest platformer ever. The introduction of Yoshi, new power ups and more underlines why SMW is brilliance.