After the huge success of last year's NES Classic (aka NES Mini), it was a foregone conclusion that Nintendo was going to follow it up in some way-- especially after it was discontinued a few months back. Speculation ran rampant whether the next "plug-and-play" console from Nintendo would be an NES-based successor, or whether the company would jump to their 16-bit juggernaut, the Super NES, the next time around.
Well, on June 26th, Nintendo put all theorizing to bed when it officially announced the Super NES Classic Edition to be released this September in North America and Europe, with the Japanese version following in October. The console, with an MSRP of $79.99 in the U.S., will come bundled with two wired controllers and 21 pre-installed SNES games. Like the NES Classic, the game lineup covers a variety of genres and also includes games from third-party companies in addition to Nintendo's own in-house SNES titles.
As with any such product, there is sure to be a range of reactions to the included game lineup. Some will choose to only focus on what wasn't included, while others will fall more on the side of just being excited about getting so many great games for such an affordable price. Some games are definitely better than others, which is what this list will elaborate on.
Here is Every SNES Classic Game, Ranked From Worst To Best.
21 Kirby's Dream Course
Of all the Kirby games released for SNES, Dream Course seems like an odd inclusion over the straight platformer Dream Land 3 or the puzzle game Kirby's Avalanche. The latter in particular would've been a great addition as puzzle games is one genre that the SNES Classic sorely lacks.
Perhaps it is because of Dream Course's absence from the Kirby Dream Collection for Wii that Nintendo wanted to include it here-- although Avalanche wasn't in that compilation either, and again, that would've been the better choice between the two.
It isn't that Dream Course is a bad game. In fact, it is pretty fun; a unique take on miniature golf featuring Kirby as the ball and his enemies as the "hazards." It's the closest thing to a non-racing sports game on SNES Classic, and for that reason alone Dream Course ends up being a worthy addition to the collection-- although it's also the weakest one by far.
SNES' famous "Mode 7" effect gave a convincing impression of 3D space and movement even though it was a bit of a fake-out. The first game to highlight the fancy tech was launch title F-Zero, a racing game where hovercraft careened around arenas in a post-apocalyptic future. It was definitely one of the fastest racing games ever made at that point, and its pseudo-3D blew minds in 1991.
However, all that fancy trickery came at a price-- most notably, the lack of multiplayer. For a racing game to only have single-player support is borderline unforgivable, especially today, where the visual effects are no longer impressive enough to make us forget that we have to play it alone.
In fact, you barely even race against AI opponents in F-Zero, more competing for better lap times than improved pole position. It makes the game a rather lonely experience-- fitting for its setting, but not as a racing game.
Chances are, most people who grab an SNES Classic will play it a couple times to scratch their nostalgic itch for it, and then just stick with...
19 19. Super Mario Kart
There is no denying that Super Mario Kart is a classic. The game that kicked off one of the most beloved and best-selling franchises in video game history. It also took the bare bones F-Zero and fleshed it out to not only include multiplayer and a full cast of characters, but multiple game modes-- including the fan-favorite battle mode. The only trade-off was that the actual racing was slowed down quite a bit, but on a crowded course full of characters dropping banana peels and throwing shells around, nobody was calling Super Mario Kart dull or unexciting.
So why such a low ranking on this list? Super Mario Kart just hasn't aged very well compared to some of the other games here. And after Mario Kart 8, which many consider the best game in the franchise, going back to the original is extremely difficult. The game's iconic courses have also since made appearances in other MK games in true 3D-- making the flat originals tough to appreciate anymore.
Many gamers will still get a fair amount of mileage out of SMK, especially in multiplayer, but it just lacks the timelessness of much of the SNES Classic's lineup.
18 Donkey Kong Country
Gamers of a certain age all remember the first time they laid eyes on Donkey Kong Country. The graphics seemed too good to be true, and nobody could believe that the aging SNES was capable of producing such gorgeous "3D rendered" visuals. Of course, there was a whole lot of complicated backdoor trickery that made DKC look so good, and it's a lot easier to see the wires now, so to speak-- but there's no denying how mind-blowing the game looked at the time.
As far as the actual game itself, well-- DKC isn't anything remarkable. Underneath its beautiful veneer lies a very by-the-numbers (and at times even sub-par) platformer, especially on a system that is home to the excellent Super Mario World. The sequel fixed a lot of the issues with the first game and was a much better-made adventure overall, and that should've been the game to be included in this collection. But sometimes historical significance wins out, and as such, we get the inferior original instead.
It's still a good game and worth revisiting, but knowing that a far-better sequel and excellent modern reboot exist definitely sours the experience a bit.
17 Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts
The NES Classic included that system's port of the arcade classic Ghosts 'n Goblins, so it's only fitting that the SNES Classic include follow-up Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts. The difference this time is that the included game isn't a shoddy, hastily-done port of an arcade game. It's built for ground up for the system, and it shows-- Super G'nG is an extremely well-made side-scroller that hearkens back to a very specific era of action gaming and captures it wonderfully.
The G'nG games definitely aren't for everyone; they are notoriously difficult and don't suffer gladly any gamer who isn't willing to give their full attention and manual dexterity. Fortunately, the SNES Classic will more than likely have save states like its predecessor, which will allow gamers to save at any point and pick up where they left off, being able to cheat the game's life and continue systems. This means that anyone has a shot to actually get the game finished.
It's only because Super G'nG is sharing space here with some of the absolute best side-scrollers of all time that it didn't rank higher. In a lesser collection, it might've been the star of the show.
16 Kirby Super Star
This is more like it-- the definitive Kirby game for SNES. It's not as big of a deal which game was chosen as the "second" Kirby game on SNES Classic since they included the puffball's best game from the system. Super Star is unlike any other Kirby game in that, rather than having one main conceit, the package contains seven different main modes and two more sub-modes.
However, this is no minigame collection of games that are each only fun for five minutes on their own. Most of the main modes could've easily been slightly fleshed out into their own full-fledged game and still been a solid release. One of the modes-- Spring Breeze-- is basically the entire game of Kirby's Dream Land, only with better graphics and enhanced play mechanics.
Other modes include another platformer, a Metroid-style adventure game, a naval battle game, and a competitive eating game. Milky Way Wishes in particular definitely could've been its own SNES Kirby game with little else done to it to make it a complete game, and is far more ambitious in scope than any of the other modes. The icing the cake is two fun-- albeit very simple-- multiplayer modes.
15 Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
Street Fighter II, no matter the version, is one of the most timeless games ever made. It is about as close to perfect as video games can get. Many a Super Nintendo was sold just so people could play one of the first home versions of Street Fighter II, and the game was synonymous with the SNES for years despite subsequently being brought to other platforms.
Purists have their own specific versions of SFII and its many spin-offs that they consider the best, and there are certainly many to pick from. Super Street Fighter II might have been the more mainstream crowd-pleasing choice for SNES Classic as it is the one that added four new fighters to the mix as well as other enhancements. But SFII Turbo: Hyper Fighting, the game that is on SNES Classic, is no slouch either, and is certainly a step up from vanilla Street Fighter II.
It might not look as pretty as some of the recent HD remakes or newer console versions that are much closer to arcade-perfect, but it's still a dynamite version of a dynamite game that is a welcome addition to any collection of classic games.
14 Super Castlevania IV
Super Castlevania IV is a lot of things-- remake of the first Castlevania, showpiece for the many visual tricks the SNES is capable of, and perhaps most importantly, one of the last "traditional" Castlevania games before the series started veering into "Metroidvania" territory. It's also a fantastic side-scrolling action/adventure game that is a great entry to a series that sadly seems to be on indefinite hiatus.
Castlevania IV remains unique for a few reasons, the most notable of which is the way the whip handles. Rather than strictly being used as a straight-ahead weapon, the whip possesses realistic physics and can be swung around freely, which is an interesting novelty that no other entry in the series ever repeated.
Pretty much every Castlevania game is good, and most of them will always be easy to revisit no matter how old they get--and Castlevania IV is no exception. It's certainly the better of the two SNES Castlevania games, and the right one to include. Thankfully, Nintendo and Konami didn't repeat the mistake that NES Classic made by leaving out the best Castlevania game for that platform (which is obviously Castlevania III).
For a long time, Earthbound was one of the holy grails for SNES collectors, and those who found even a used copy of the game for less than a hundred bucks were extremely lucky. Even as other valuable SNES games like Chrono Trigger eventually got cheaper as they were finally re-released in various forms, Earthbound only existed in the U.S. as an SNES cart for 18 years.
It was finally given a Virtual Console release on the Wii U in 2013. Even then, it was a few bucks more than the typical SNES game, suggesting that Nintendo still placed an extra bit of value on the title. Having it here on the SNES Classic is definitely both a treat and a great value.
Earthbound is a fairly straightforward-- and extremely old-school-- RPG in terms of mechanics, but where it shines is its unique setting, charming characters, and quirky story. It takes a gamer with a certain tolerance for very archaic JRPG trappings to still be able to appreciate the game, but its huge charm definitely helps to make up for the aimless wandering and obtuse objectives. Hopefully, the SNES Classic comes packaged with a guide like previous versions.
12 Star Fox
While 3D, polygonal graphics didn't fully take off on home consoles until the PlayStation/Saturn/Nintendo 64 generation, it was dabbled with on the 16-bit systems, most famously with Star Fox for the SNES. Touting the "Super FX Chip," Star Fox relayed an impressive and believable sense of 3D flight and movement. It was also one of the first 3D flight combat games on consoles, introducing many players to a whole new genre they hadn't seen before.
One of the things that made Star Fox stand out from other games in the genre was in its personality and cast of characters, starring anthropomorphic animals in a sci-fi setting and going for a fun, campy-- even if perhaps unintentionally so-- vibe. Gamers have just as much nostalgia for the hilariously garbled speech of Fox McCloud and his animal allies as they do for the groundbreaking visuals.
The game was so popular that a sequel was made for the SNES, but was unfortunately canceled, despite being practically finished, in order to shift the focus to the N64. If only there was a way we could play a finished version of Star Fox 2...
11 Super Punch-Out!!
While most gamers are familiar with Punch-Out!!'s Mike Tyson-led NES debut, many people don't realize that the franchise actually started out in arcades all the way back in 1983.
Back before Nintendo became primarily associated with home console gaming, the company was actually a very cutting-edge arcade manufacturer, and Punch-Out!! was one of the most graphically-impressive arcade games of the era. While the NES version was no slouch in the graphics department, sporting character sprites that took up half the screen, it wasn't until the series moved to the SNES that it got much closer to replicating the arcade originals-- and it only took 11 years!
Super Punch-Out!! takes the timing- and rhythm-based boxing action against the over-the-top, cheating, politically incorrect boxers of the previous game and cranks it all way up. In addition to the huge graphical overhaul, the game is just much deeper overall, and requires more thought and strategy than the original. As a result, it is fair amount more difficult, but also more rewarding for people who put in the time and learn the ropes.
Super Punch-Out!! was so good that it took Nintendo 15 years before itx made another installment to the series.
10 Mega Man X
When Mega Man fans are discussing which game in the franchise is the best, the battle is typically between Mega Man 2--which was on the NES Classic--and Mega Man X, the first installment in the character's first major spin-off series. With Mega Man X's inclusion on SNES Classic, owners of both of Nintendo's plug-and-play consoles will have access to two of the best action games ever made, Mega Man or otherwise.
Besides the improved graphics that the jump to the SNES allowed, Mega Man X introduced new moves for the robot, such as the ability to dash and climb walls. Unlike vanilla Mega Man, X can also upgrade his abilities and armor, giving him increased power and new moves beyond the weapons absorbed from felled bosses.
While the Mega Man X series would eventually overstay its welcome and grow stale just like the regular series did, it began just as strongly, and this first game is a great example of that.
9 Contra III: The Alien Wars
After the divisive Super C, the Contra series came roaring back with this excellent third installment, considered by many to be the best in the franchise. It would be the last time Contra was in indisputably top form, before the team would fracture, half of them making the flawed gem Contra Hard Corps and the other half putting out the iconic Gunstar Heroes (both for the Sega Genesis). As far as Contra's progression into the 32/64-bit era, well-- the less said about that, the better.
In addition to being expertly-crafted action games, the best Contra games are also some of the most enjoyable co-op experiences of all time. Chances are, that second packed-in SNES Classic controller is going to get the most use because of this game, as it is infinitely replayable with a friend.
Whether it's burning giant flies with flamethrowers, hanging from missiles, or avoiding a Godzilla-sized version of a Terminator, Contra III is one iconic setpiece after another, interspersed with some of the tightest run-and-gun gameplay ever. And the amazing sprite work still impresses 25 years later, making for one of the best-looking games in this collection.
8 Super Mario World
It's a testament to just how great the SNES' library is that Super Mario World is only the eighth-best game on SNES Classic. SMW is one of the greatest platformers of all time. The debate over what is the best 2D Mario game typically comes down to this game and Super Mario Bros. 3.
After SMB3's rather bite-sized stages, Super Mario World's levels felt enormous; each an adventure unto itself, packed with branching paths, multiple exits, and just a grander overall feel than the NES was capable of. From the introduction of Yoshi to the screen-filling enemies, SMW packs one innovative surprise after another, and gamers spent months and months exploring every nook and cranny of the game to find its many secrets.
Even those that have squeezed every last drop of content out of this game-- and maybe even did so multiple times over-- will likely be all too happy to start Super Mario World over for the umpteenth time when they bring their SNES Classic home and not stop until they've turned the game completely inside out yet again.
7 Secret of Mana
Developer/publisher Square was absolutely on fire in the '90s, from its stellar SNES output to its solid PlayStation lineup. While its most famous franchise is easily Final Fantasy, the company was also responsible for some other well-loved SNES games. Chrono Trigger-- which is sure to be frequently mentioned as one of the SNES Classic's biggest snubs-- is probably Square's most beloved non-Final Fantasy SNES game, but a close second to that is Secret of Mana.
The simplest way to boil down Secret of Mana is to describe it as Zelda, only with more magic and a heavier RPG focus-- as well as three-player co-op! While Zelda wouldn't dabble in co-op until the heavily streamlined Four Swords, Secret of Mana let you team up with friends years before that, and without sacrificing anything about the main game.
It's currently unknown how or if the SNES Classic will offer three-player support, but it'll most certainly allow at least two people to tackle this grand adventure together. Those looking for a great co-op experience on the SNES Classic that offers a bit more to chew on than Contra III will have dozens of satisfying hours to spend with Secret of Mana.
6 Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
While Nintendo and Square seemed to be BFFs during the 16-bit era, the latter was all too ready to fly the coop and join Team PlayStation in the latter half of the '90s, creating much bitterness on Nintendo's end. As something of a last hurrah between the two companies before they would spend years at odds with each other, they teamed for Super Mario RPG, largely created by Square by mostly featuring Nintendo characters.
And what a mutual parting gift it was! Super Mario RPG often stands alongside the best RPGs of the era, utilizing the uniqueness of Mario and co. to take the RPG formula to some interesting places. It would be the first time that Mario and Bowser would team up, as well as one of Princess Peach's most meaty playable roles ever.
Super Mario RPG would eventually branch off into two different spiritual successor series, Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi, with the latter being the closest to sticking with the feel and vibe of SMRPG. However, in spite of various installments in both franchises being quite acclaimed, none have managed to top the original Mario role-playing game in the minds and hearts of fans.
5 Yoshi's Island
Mario and Donkey Kong creator Shigeru Miyamoto was reportedly unimpressed with the work that developer Rare did on Donkey Kong Country and specifically wanted to do the exact opposite type of game with his next release. In particular, Miyamoto wasn't a fan of DKC's realistic computer animated look, and the most obvious way he chose to distance Yoshi's Island from it is to go as far to the other end of the visual spectrum as he could.
The result was a game that looked like children's crayon and watercolor drawings come to life-- and a game that also remains one of the most visually striking video games of all time.
Though originally marketed in the U.S. as the sequel to Super Mario World, Yoshi's Island is very much its own game; playing and feeling unlike a traditional Mario game. Making Yoshi the main character and turning to Mario franchise oddball Super Mario Bros. 2 for many of the enemy designs, Yoshi's Island is a creatively daring and utterly brilliant game that remains one of Nintendo's best.
The SNES Classic will be the first time Yoshi's Island has been available in its original form since it first released 22 years ago.
4 Final Fantasy III
The SNES' Final Fantasy III is actually Final Fantasy VI, and the SNES' Final Fantasy II is actually Final Fantasy IV. For clarity's sake, however, we're going to refer to the games by their North American SNES titles.
Fans seem to go back and forth whether they prefer FF2 or FF3, and there really is no clear consensus which one is the overall 16-bit favorite. The former has been more prolific in the ensuing years, getting several ports, a full 3D remake, and even a direct sequel.
Perhaps it is for that reason that FF3 got chosen to be the franchise representative on the SNES Classic over FF2; simply because it hasn't received as much additional attention since is original release. Even FF2 diehards can't deny that FF3 is one of the most powerful and compelling RPGs of all time, with one of gaming history's most dangerous villains.
We won't spoil the twists in case you haven't played this game yet, and only say that we are jealous if this will be your first time experiencing this magical adventure. There is nothing like your first playthrough of FF3-- not that your second, third, or tenth are much less special.
3 Super Metroid
While the word "masterpiece" should be used sparingly when referring to anything, it is an adjective that certainly applies to only a small number of video games. That said, Super Metroid is, by just about every measure, an absolute masterpiece.
There are few better examples in video game history of a development team that is absolutely firing on all cylinders and is at the top of their game than the team on Super Metroid. There is just so much care, detail, and polish packed into this amazing adventure that it's astounding that it only took two years to make. This game could've been in active development for a decade and nobody would've wondered what took so long.
Super Metroid is another Nintendo game that nailed its execution so flawlessly that the company took years and years before it could even attempt following it up. It would be eight years before the world saw another Metroid game-- but on the bright side, it wasn't at all hard to spend those eight years playing Super Metroid over and over again. Despite its short length, this will be the game on SNES Classic that many people pour the most time into.
2 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Zelda is one of the few game franchises where the release of each new installment is an event, and it's easy to trace that tradition to the release of the third installment, A Link to the Past. After an odd and divisive sequel, the Zelda series came roaring back with one of the best adventures in video game history, a sentiment that remains true to this day.
For years, critics accused Zelda games of basically just being the same game remade over and over again, with LttP being the foundation that many subsequent entries were based upon. But when you're talking about a game like LttP, why fix what isn't broken? Even the series' 3D debut, Ocarina of Time, was more or less LttP from a different camera angle-- and as a result, that game is also considered one of the greatest games ever made.
One of the reasons that people have been loving Breath of the Wild so much is that it made them feel the way they felt when they first played LttP. It just so happens that playing LttP again also recaptures the feeling of playing LttP for the first time.
1 Star Fox 2
Maybe Star Fox 2 isn't technically the "best" game on the SNES Classic. But it gets the nod here because it is by far the most special, and the most historically significant. For those that don't know, Star Fox 2 was nearly complete and all set for a 1995 release before it was unceremoniously cancelled. Worst of all, it was cancelled for a silly reason-- Nintendo didn't want it to compete with its upcoming Nintendo 64 and wanted there to be some distance between the SNES' 3D games and the N64's 3D games.
The tragedy of Star Fox 2's cancellation-- beyond that a team of people spent two years of their lives working on a game that never came out-- is that it is a fantastic game. Many people have played the leaked version of its near-final build, and even in that state it is an impressive game. But Nintendo is finally making good by doing something that it-- and most games companies-- hardly ever do: release a finished version of a cancelled game. And so Star Fox 2 will be on the SNES Classic, and for many people, it alone is worth the price of admission.
Which game are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments!
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