For many Nintendo SNES remains the greatest console of all time. While it took a while to attain eventual 16-bit dominance, it’s impressive library of varied games, from shooters to RPGs, ensured that it evenutally became the console of choice for most serious gamers. We reveal 10 of the best games to be found on the machine. How many did you play?
Super Mario Kart
We’ve been playing the original Super Mario Kart on and off now for a staggering 13 years and it still remains fresher than a baker’s dozen that’s just popped out the oven.Meticulously designed circuits, a well-balanced range of weapons – including the greatly missed feather – and impressive visuals proved perfectly that there was so much more to everyone’s favourite plumber than simply jumping on wayward Koopas. While the cups provided plenty of fun, it was the stunning time trial mode and sublime multi-player games that kept us constantly going back for just one more go. Thank god Retro Gamer wasn’t around at the time of Mario Kart’s release; we’d have never got the damned magazine finished on time!
Super Metroid is a game that works on a variety of levels. While some marvelled at its motherly themes, stunningly created environments and remarkable attention to detail, others were simply impressed with the sheer amount of crap you could blow up in it. Regardless of how you feel about Samus’s only 16-bit adventure, there’s no denying that Super Metroid remains a staggering achievement that perfectly combines the rush of shooting huge bosses with the wonder of exploring vast new areas like no other SNES game around. Little wonder then that it took Nintendo eight years to come up with a sequel that could do it justice.
The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past
There’s no denying the superiority of Ocarina Of Time, but A Link To The Past remains a wonderfully accomplished adventure that deserves to sit proudly in every SNES owner’s collection. Every dungeon you explore is crafted to perfection, and while they start off easy, you’ll soon be scratching your head over Miyamoto’s deviously designed puzzles. The many weapons you discover are well balanced and every encountered boss is a masterstroke in design. Then of course you have the two unique worlds that Link can eventually switch between, thus making an already sprawling game even larger. Quite simply one of the finest 16-bit adventures ever made.
Contra III: The Alien Wars
Konami released some outstanding titles for Nintendo’s 16-bit wonder, but this cracking effort from 1992 is arguably one of its best efforts. Each level is a rollercoaster ride of destruction and featured the SNES hardware on fine form. Sprites are full of detail, the game’s many bosses a joy to behold, and there’s a ridiculous amount of Mode 7 trickery going on. Add in a fantastic, stomping soundtrack, an awesome array of different weapons and some groovy overhead levels (that can be rotated with the left and right triggers) and you have a run-‘n’-gun title that would be essential on any format.
There’s a host of great shooters available for the SNES, but few can compare to the brilliance that is Konami’s stunning Axelay. From its quasi-3D levels to its utterly amazing music, every moment of Axelay is exhilarating to play through. While the level design and available weapons are worthy of praise, it’s the immense, striking bosses the game constantly throws at you that truly astound. Huge metallic spiders, colossal ED-209 styled mechs and a gigantic lava creature are just a few of the mayors you have to deal with and each is breath-taking to behold. Why’s it’s never been released on the GBA we’ll never know…
Super Mario All-Stars
What’s better than three classic Mario NES outings on one cartridge? Why, three Mario NES games with improved aesthetics and a fourth exclusive title that had only originally appeared in Japan of course! All-Stars’ triple whammy of Super Mario Bros 1, 2 and 3 made it incredible value for money and were great examples of taking old games and updating them for a newer platform. Add in Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels, which was effectively a tougher version of the original game and allowed you to choose from either brother and you had an amazingly comprehensive package. Finally, if you bought the version that came boxed with a SNES you received Super Mario World on the cartridge. Bargain!
It would have been all too easy to go with Squaresoft’s Secret Of Mana, so we’ve decided to focus on this little beauty instead. While Squaresoft’s epic RPG borrows plenty of ideas from the Final Fantasy series, you just can’t help but be impressed by the sheer amount of love that has gone into crafting this astonishing RPG. Although the central storyline is fairly predictable, it soon begins to twist and turn all over the place and introduces plenty of memorable characters and sub plots. The combat system is a joy to use and the use of sound throughout is outstanding. It all combines to create one of the most engrossing RPGs we’ve ever played. Utterly essential.
Street Fighter Alpha II
Capcom’s second Alpha title was released late in the SNES’s life, and as a result, was sadly overlooked by a great many gamers who had moved on to the newer, flashier consoles.
Their loss was our gain however, as it’s easily one the best brawlers on Nintendo’s 16-bit wonder. Great looking sprites, a solid roster of characters, new moves, plenty of additional animation and thumping good gameplay made Alpha II a winner. We’ve no idea why the first game didn’t appear on the SNES, but Capcom more than made up for it with this excellent sequel. An outstanding fighter that deserves to be in everyone’s SNES collection.
The Mode 7 chip was used in countless numbers of SNES games, but never was its appearance more noticeable than in the wondrous Pilotwings.
Taking control of a budding pilot, all the game required you to do was master licences for four different events: Skydiving, Rocketbelt, Light Plane and Hang Glider. While some of Pilotwings’ events could be tricky to get to grips with, the elation you felt when they were finally mastered more than made up for it. Thanks to the excellent Mode 7 effects the sense of scale you encountered as you flew through the air was breath-taking, and wait until you finally get to use the hang glider… Marvellous.
It seems only fair to put at least one quirky Japanese title in the top ten, so our vote goes to the delightful Umihara Kawase. Taking control of an adorably cute little girl, the aim of each stage is simple – avoid the bizarre fishy enemies and reach the door on each exit. Of course, said exit is often out of reach, and with your little tyke not being that great a jumper she has to rely on a handy elastic rope to get her around. Think Bionic Commando but with some decent rope physics thrown into the mix and you have a good idea of what to expect from this enchanting game.
Retro Gamer magazine and bookazines are available in print from ImagineShop