I considered doing a more in-depth look at the Super Nintendo now that it’s been 20 years since it came out, but you know what? All of these 20 year anniversaries are making me feel old. Let’s just agree that the 90’s were an amazing time for games and move on, shall we?
What’s that? You want some SNES-related shenanigans? I can’t call myself a video games journalist without doing some sort of piece about this anniversary, you say? Well, fine. You twisted my arm, and the SNES is my favorite console anyway, so here comes a list of the Top Ten SNES Games flying right at ya!
10. Super Mario Kart
I love to wax all philosophical about how video games are so much more than points, or explosions, or beating your friends. I can write for days about how the games of today are doing so many new and interesting things with story and character, and how emotional that can be when developers get it just right.
But you know what? It could be argued that you rarely need that. Games, first and foremost, are supposed to be fun. And when I think of Super Mario Kart on the SNES, I think of nothing but pure, undiluted fun. There have been very few racing games over the years to capture my interest, but Mario Kart did that for hours upon hours. Like so many Nintendo games, especially ones on the SNES, everything about this game is just tuned to perfection. The controls are tight and responsive, the music sticks with you for hours after playing, and the game just looks great. While some games that used Mode 7 heavily haven’t aged well, there’s something enduring about Super Mario Kart. It remains my favorite entry in the series, and like Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! on the NES, this is a game that I have to pop in for a few minutes anytime I turn the SNES on.
9. Super Street Fighter 2
Possibly the only game on this list to have the word “super” in the title that isn’t a direct relation to the SNES itself, Super Street Fighter 2 on the SNES is my favorite version of SF2. Sacrilege, I know. Here’s the thing: I felt like SF Turbo was lacking in characters, and I didn’t like some of the changes made to the game when they released Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo. But the SNES version of SSF2 is a wonderful mash-up of those two games. You get the characters of SSF2T, but you can bring the speed up to the level of SF Turbo. But my real reason for loving this particular version so much is sillier than even that. This was the final game where Ken had his standing forward knee. Combined with his new 3-hit flaming Dragon Punch, I was able to pull off the “Rack Dragon” combo, something I learned from my cousin. The “Rack Dragon”, as you can imagine, is a combo where Ken knees his opponent in the junk and follows it up with a flaming Dragon Punch. And if that’s not a reason to love this game, I don’t what is.
8. Zombies Ate My Neighbors
A lot of these games have made this list because they bring back fond memories of spending the summer with my cousin, renting a game, and playing the hell out of it for a week straight. Zombies Ate My Neighbors is one of those games. Whenever I think about games that I want to see get a XBLA/PSN sequel or remake, this is always close to the top of the list. This game just oozes personality, and every level is packed full of secrets, gadgets, and power ups. I really dig the riff on 50’s B-movies, and this is one of those gems of the 90’s that proved that Lucasarts could make interesting games. We were still a few years away from the company becoming nothing more than a Star Wars game factory. Zombies Ate My Neighbors never really set the video game world on fire, even though it got a sequel of sorts in Ghoul Patrol. Luckily, the game is on the Virtual Console, so if you’ve never heard of it before and you own a Wii, buy it. Love it. Thank me later.
7. Demon’s Crest
Ah, Demon’s Crest – the third entry in Capcom’s Little Franchise That Couldn’t. To be honest, I don’t know how this incredible game even exists. While Gargoyle’s Quest on the Game Boy was a moderately successful game, Gargoyle’s Quest 2 for the NES came out too late in that system’s life cycle to really catch on. The same was true for Demon’s Crest, which continues the story of Firebrand, the “gargoyle” (read: demon) first seen in Ghosts ‘N Goblins. This game deserves to sit on that pedestal with Super Metroid and Super Castlevania IV. In some ways, this game almost did “Metroidvania” before Symphony of the Night came along and gave us that most unfortunate portmanteau. This is a game that any fan of action/platformers should experience, and it is number one on my list of Capcom franchises that I want to see come back from the dead.
6. The Lost Vikings
One thing that the 16-bit era did well was putting personality into their characters. This seems counter-intuitive, however. Shouldn’t we have more personality in characters today, with their star-studded voice acting and performance capture? Absolutely. But somehow, even though there was much less to work with on a technical scale, the games of the Genesis and Super Nintendo days had characters that just popped off of the screen. The Lost Vikings is one of those games, and it shouldn’t be a surprise, considering that it is an early Blizzard title. The time-displaced Vikings—Erik the Swift, Olaf the Stout, and Baleog the Fierce—featured a staggering amount of animation for the time. Little touches, like puffs of breath coming from the winded Erik’s mouth or Olaf picking his nose and then looking at his finger really made this game special. Like so many other games on this list, The Lost Vikings had great graphics and a wonderful soundtrack, but this game was also very, very funny. I still smile when I think about the first time I had Odin himself berate me on my 10th time trying a level.
What’s your favorite SNES game? Let us know in the comments below!