7Secret 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.
6Super 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.
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.
4Final 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.
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.