N-Europe's Top Ten SNES Games
Posted 10 May 2019 at 19:15 by Glen O'Brien
With two different consoles sorted for the N-Europe top tens, we’re moving to the NES’s younger and more super brother. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System released for Europe in 1992 and went on to be the most successful console of its era, despite the competition it received from the Sega Mega Drive. The SNES had a few tricks up its sleeve (other than the great games it had) including easier to interface processor chips and that ever so fancy Mode 7 to help provide depth to a game.
But this article focuses on the most important aspect of consoles, the games. So, once again, I’ve asked the N-Europe Forum to help determine a conclusive list of the ten best games that the SNES has to offer. With a few restrictions, such as remakes of older games and compilation titles of older games being banned. So with that small print that’s the same size as most of the text in this article out of the way, let’s find out what the SNES top ten is.
One of the first titles for the SNES is a new venture for Nintendo at the time. An Amateur Flight Simulation games that tasks the player with mastering a selection of aerial vehicles in a variety of acrobatic tests, mostly flying through wings and landing in a specified area. Pilotwings is a game that seems relaxing on the surface, until you actually play it and end up swearing at the screen because your landing was slightly off. But that’s why it’s great!
"Catchy music, pseudo Mode 7 3D goodness and quality game play. I replay this all the time. 100x the charm of the 3DS sequel. Ahead of its time." – Ronnie
The sequel to the hugely successful Donkey Kong Country didn’t even have Donkey Kong playable, which was a pretty bold move. Instead, Diddy Kong and his girlfriend, Dixie Kong has to travel to Crocodile Isle to rescue Donkey Kong from Kaptain K.Rool. What follows are 52 levels of platforming goodness, amazing music and lots of alliteration.
Donkey Kong Country 2 is a fine example of how to do a game sequel, building on the base of the original in ways that make it feel very fresh. It’s also got the closest thing to the word “crap” that you’d ever see in a Nintendo published SNES game, which is always a plus.
"While the first game had the graphical power, DKC2 had the gameplay to match. The boss fights are actual boss fights, there are plenty of bonus challenges to undertake in order to fully complete the game and unlike the first game you are actually awarded for your efforts with a secret world complete with a secret final boss fight in order to truly complete the game." – GenericAperson
In a possibly short sighted attempt, Capcom decided to title its spin-off Mega Man series with the Roman numeral for 10. Mega Man X may not be the 10th Mega Man game, but it is a shining example of an action platformer. This game has a lot of similarities to the original Mega Man games, but boasts tighter controls and a lot more gameplay changing upgrades hidden throughout the levels, which encourages some backtracking. Mega Man X may not have hilariously bad box art, but the gameplay is just as solid as it was back then.
No comments about this one from our voters. So, I’ll say that the thing that stands out most about this game is its expertly crafted opening level. A perfect blend of situations that teach you basic movement skills and combat mechanics that also give you an idea of what you might be able to do in the future and a small hint of the plot. All opening levels should strive to be at least as good as Mega Man X.
What? No comments for Mega Man X... sorry Glen but in that case I'm going to have to step in and make that right with a totally not copy and pasted review taken from an old edition of the gone but not forgotten VC Weekly, it really is our only option here. (Sam)
"Undeniably the Mega Man series is one of Capcom's most popular franchises but after eight numbered titles in succession the developer decided to try something a little different, in doing so they created the Mega Man X series which would go on to become the most popular era of Mega Man to date, thankfully the first entry in the excellent evolution of the series is now available on the Virtual Console (and now on the New 3DS) to be enjoyed by a new generation of gamers and most likely enjoyed again by those who have already experience its brilliance.
Providing you've played a Mega Man game before then you should feel instantly at ease with this title for it retains the same basic mechanics from the early games only in a refined form, you still run 'n gun as before but this time you can now hang on to ledges plus jump up walls - not to mention upgrading your weapons along the way – all of which are very welcome additions along with the absolutely perfect controls which are incredibly responsive. Starting off is still a simple case of picking a stage, to do this you must pick a 'Maverick' – the replacement name for 'Robot Master' in previous games – and away you go to the stage of your choice; there is of course as always an order which will enable you to progress faster due to each boss having a weakness to the others weapons which you acquire but the fun of it all is discovering that route for yourself.
There's a lot to love about this game including the boss battles themselves which seem rather dynamic as they will constantly keep you on your guard, you'll need to put a bit of thought into defeating them at times which is a welcome change from bosses in games these days which can seem painfully easy in comparison. It never feels unfair though as there is a balance which is maintained throughout which ensures that you'll never be annoyed at the game for very long, only at yourself as you analyse your performance and try to work out various strategies in your head to try next time which adds a tonne of replay value.
As you might expect the visuals are of a very high standard indeed featuring some of the nicest graphics ever seen on the SNES or even in the history of the series, the actual character model of 'X' is realistically rendered featuring some genuinely astounding animation which really sets it apart from other side-scrolling platformers. Thankfully the classic chip-tunes of the original games haven't been forgotten about as that same style is present and correct with some nice touches only made possible by the SNES hardware, there are some truly fantastic tunes here in addition to the sound effects which are also of the high quality fans have come to expect from the series.
If you like Mega Man then you'll absolutely love the 'X' series, given that this is the first with the precursor attached to it that's highly regarded as one of the best then you should really invest in this title as it's an excellent starting point or indeed a fantastic way to reignite your love for the franchise if you haven't played a Mega Man game in a while. Clearly this can't come recommended enough on its own merits but the relatively cheap price alone compared to buying the original cartridge should be enough to persuade you into purchasing this outstanding title.
Verdict : Mega Man at its most masterful." - S.C.G
The number seven spot goes to the sixth Final Fantasy game, which was titled as the third in America. Confused yet? Known these days as “Final Fantasy VI”, this is the biggest Final Fantasy game at the time. It sports a complex plot, a sprawling overworld and 14 playable characters that each has their own reasons for fighting against an evil empire. This game is memorable for its recurring motif of opera and the fine arts which ends up culminating in the most awe-inspiring final battle that the SNES would ever see. Final Fantasy VI is an RPG that has to be played to be believed.
"Memorable characters, enthralling music, innovative events (who could forget the opera scene!) with a huge and sprawling world. A magnificent RPG!" – WackerJr
"The gameplay is pretty straightforward, but it does an excellent job in characterizing each character, mostly through their jobs/skills, but also through their stats or Esper progression (like how Sabin is terrible at magic due to being a muscle head). Finally, the sprites are super expressive and the soundtrack was composed by Nobuo Uematsu. The journey's worth it due to that alone.
For being such a grand journey, this game has earned its place in the video gaming pantheon." – Jonnas
Donkey Kong’s first outing on the SNES (Although he’s not that Donkey Kong, don’t ask) is a proper milestone in the history of both Nintendo and Rare. Featuring ground-breaking usage of pre-rendered graphics to make a visually impressive spectacle that helped keep the plucky SNES swinging when more powerful consoles such as the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn were starting to emerge. Donkey Kong Country may just be the reason we saw some of the late SNES games even happen.
A few choice words about DKC? Not a problem! (Sam)
"Almost twenty years ago on November 24th 1994 Donkey Kong Country was finally released in Europe on the SNES and what a joyous year it was, unfortunately I didn't own Nintendo's glorious 16-bit machine at the time - I had a Sega Megadrive - but I distinctly remember playing this monumental release alongside my best friend at the time who lived next door, it was one of the greatest gaming experiences of my existence as to this day I'll never forget the magic of playing it co-operatively; for a platform game you have to understand that this was relatively uncharted territory at the time so what was achieved here just by having one player control Donkey Kong with his trademark 'DK' tie with the other player assuming the role of Diddy Kong complete with his 'Nintendo' cap while you went on an adventure to recover your banana hoard from King K. Rool and the Kremlins was nothing short of show-stopping brilliance which to this day is hard to top.
Some of the very first stages are genius from the infamous Minecart Madness where never before has gaming with just one button felt so tense, to Stop & Go Station where you need to time your progress inbetween hitting barrel switches which turns the stages enemies 'Off' for a short time before they come back to life again; even some of the Stage names are genius like Vulture Culture or Elevator Antics to some which have awesome alliteration including Forest Frenzy, Millstone Mayhem and Temple Tempest.
Regardless of title though each stage will task you with several objectives including most notably collecting each of the 'K-O-N-G' letters which seem to be simple to find in the first few levels but if doesn't take very long before they become rather illusive, there will most likely be more than one stage where you end up near the end with just 'K-O- -G' or 'K- - N-G' and you'll be scratching your head wondering just where that last annoying missing letter is. There are also nemerous bonus stages to find which can be accessed via some well hidden barrels or even some which you can only get into if you enlist the help of one of your animal buddies who are ever useful, for instance you have Rambi the Rhino who can charge through enemies but if you run into certain walls then you'll end up in a banana collecting bonus area; there are other better ones though such as one where you control Enguarde the Swordfish in an underwater collectathon plus there are even other associated animals including Expresso the Ostritch, Squawks the Parrot and my personal favourite Winky the Frog all of whom you'll need to call on if you want to discover everything.
Controlling your chosen character thankfully is a joy because of the pinpoint precision which is offered by the SNES controller - this VC version supports all expected inputs though I'd recommend the Super NES Classic Controller for authenticity - as you can pull off some really incredible moves including Roll and Cartwheel Jumps for D.K plus Diddy respectively which you will need to execute with aplomb if you wish to get those collectable which are perilously placed over a gap which you would otherwise fall down using a normal jump; If you're playing single player then grabbing a DK Barrel will give you the opposite character to which you selected plus you can swap at the touch of a button which is useful for certain sections.
When it comes to Visuals the style used was nothing short of pioneering as no game before had used the Advanced Computer Modelling technique to such stunning effect, Rare invested heavily in the technology to make these visuals possible to it's just as well that it ended up working with such success as the graphics used in the game just wouldn't have been possible otherwise. Indeed the prospect of the game ever being re-released in HD or 3D is an intruiging one but I honestly don't think there is a way that it could be done without compromising the original look so personally I'm just grateful for being able to run through Jungle Japes enjoying that beautiful environment coupled with the astonishing level of animation that's been preserved to this very day.
Music score one of the best in videogame history thanks to David Wise who ultimately really 'is' Donkey Kong Country personified in the sense that his music elevates the entire experience to an unfathomable level of bliss way up there above the jungle tree-tops and beyond with every track composed by him being a unique masterpiece with some truly spine-tingling tracks from the opening stages, minecart sections, a jovial overworld theme - that piano - plus of course those two words... 'Aquatic Ambiance' are all I need to type as that marvelous music comes flooding back into memory.
An Absolute must-play by anyone who claims to be a gamer, Donkey Kong Country is a classic now just as it always has been, an absolute masterclass in how to create the perfect platformer and it still will be in another two decades, so when everyone is gaming on and Ultra HD 16k Bio-Organic LED display or a head-mounted device, I'll be more than happy if I can still play the definitive version of this 16-bit classic on whichever Nintendo machine I own, or failing that the original SNES game; advancements in gaming may transpire over time but those moments spent playing as D.K and Diddy will always be mine as the cart will never die, always heavenly to hold remaining pleasing to the eye.
Verdict : Donkey Kong Country remains the undisputed king of platformers." - S.C.G
Square’s second entry in this top ten is a colossal force in the RPG genre. Chrono Trigger is a relatively short RPG that ditches traditional random encounters. And yet it turned out to be one of the most spectacular RPGs in gaming history. Fun, interesting characters, an engaging plot about time travel and a soundtrack that is utterly timeless (Don’t you dare groan) cements Chrono Trigger as one of the finest games on the SNES. It also has the coolest frog ever and I will fight you over that.
"To this day, Chrono Trigger is still among my Top 3 RPGs ever. It's funny, since the game avoids some usual conventions of the genre, but it also nails everything it sets out to do.
Not only does it feature a compelling time travel plot (with multiple eras and locales), character and monster designs by Akira Toriyama, and music by Mitsuna and Uematsu, it also features fast paced battles (no random encounters), fast paced plot (no journeying across the globe), incredibly memorable characters, and a willingness to toy with its own conventions (like when a cat just waltzes into a battle).
And if that wasn't enough, there are several substantial side-quests (most of which offer some development or closure to your party members), some legitimately surprising plot twists, and multiple endings. A lot of work was put into this game to make it shine brighter than any other, and the stars aligned to make it so." – Jonnas
The beginning of the most successful spin-off series in Video Game history laid a solid foundation for the many games that would follow it. Super Mario Kart is a racing game with the twist of using various items to sabotage other racers and effectively cheat your way to first place. Another fine showcase of the SNES’s Mode 7 capabilities and split-screen multiplayer capabilities make this the quintessential cartoon racing game that would be emulated many times over the years, which is always flattering.
"A big part of my love of gaming comes from this gem. The music, the colourful visuals and the best Rainbow Road track ever made, fact. Back in the days when a lightning bolt was genuinely rare and surprising. My older brother and I bonded over this game growing up." – Ronnie
The Super Nintendo’s opening gambit is an endlessly replayable Mario Platformer that showed off just what the SNES had over its 8-bit ancestor. More colourful, more musical and more levelly(?), Super Mario World features a lot of improvements over the NES outings, like a much welcomed save feature. The soundtrack somehow manages to be varied despite being mostly rearrangements of one song and it introduced Yoshi, the pet every kid wished they had. Mario’s fourth outing was a solid title for any SNES library.
"The game was very special from the off with different paths to take and secret exits but the moment that I remember vividly until this very day is one where I wasn't even playing the game. My brother's friend was up at our house while our parents chatted for a bit and they sat and played Super Mario World as Mario and Luigi while I watched on. They were going through Vanilla Dome (it all seemed much harder back then) and stumbled upon the Red Switch Palace when my mind started thinking back to the first level of that particular area and the little red marks. I encouraged them to stop pushing forward and go back to that level to see what it was all about and seeing the secret area and going off in a completely different direction through the map almost blew my mind. What other secrets was this magical game hiding?" – nekunando
"The art style just struck a really big chord with me. I was amazed at how huge and fun the game was, and I appreciate everything it tried to do. Plus, again, it just looks so darn good! The games I love always tend to have something special about them visually, because I can't help but view everything through an artistic lens. (They have to be fun to play as well though, that usually helps)" – Sofiz
Much like Super Mario World before it, Zelda’s SNES entry strived to use the console’s power to its advantage to give a vaster world to explore and an adventure unlike anything people had seen before. A Link to the Past (“Triforce of the Gods” in Japan) is the game that would have many influences on future Zelda games, such as items found in dungeons being integral to that dungeons design and even has recurring villain Ganondorf show up… in dialogue only. Oh well, it still counts!
"I can remember hearing about this legendary game long ago but indeed it wouldn't be until after playing the astoundingly good Ocarina of Time on the N64 that I would then get to play the 16-Bit classic known as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, but when I did finally get around to playing it for the first time on an original SNES... I was simply blown away by its brilliance. That classic intro with the 3D Triforce pieces coming together and merging to the tune of that now iconic jingle, as the logo comes into view, with the "clink!" of the sword and those last few triumphant notes as you bask in the glory of the full title screen lets you know that you're about to experience a stone-cold classic and that's even before it tells you the story of how things came to be, before you even get to enter your name on the screen accompanied by the beautiful fairy's fountain theme. Once you do get to press start, that's when you really get to appreciate this adventure of a life-time." – S.C.G
"The game that is arguably one of the best Zelda games ever made. The music, the overworld (both light and dark) and the puzzles were refreshing." – Jimbob
"An absolute classic and a real lesson in level design. Brilliantly expanded upon the NES original in every way, and that moment when you realised just how huge and expansive the game world was is one of gaming’s great highlights!" – WackerJr
Metroid might have missed out on the first two console top tens, but it makes it N-Europe debut in spectacular fashion by topping the SNES list. Super Metroid is a game that drips with atmosphere, secrets and top-notch gameplay. It may also have scared a 4 year old Glen with its intro alone. Once I got over that though, I discovered a game that to this day is still just as great as it was back then. It’s a game that’s so influential, it’s presence can still be felt to this day in a smorgasbord of modern titles. Any gamer owes it to them to experience this game, even if Space Dragon Ridley is the wrong colour on the box art.
"You cannot deny the impact this game had on the rest of the Metroid series. A game which turned the series from good to great, a very well designed game which is still very playable even to this day. The fact that all 2D Metroid games and even the Prime series used this game as its template tells you all you need to know, yet it also has done stuff that hasn't been seen since like the stackable weapons." – GenericAperson
"This title is responsible for putting Samus and the Metroid series in the spotlight, fixing itself as a firm favourite in the minds of gamers for decades to come. While the original Metroid proved revolutionary for its time and Metroid II did its part to expand on the lore of the series in addition to showing what could be done on the humble Game Boy; it's Super Metroid that is the true culmination of every successful element of the series up to that point, with the audio and visual presentation cranked up to the maximum thanks to the 16-Bit hardware of the SNES but not only that, it included one of the best gameplay innovations for its time... a map screen.
While it's easy to dismiss such a simple thing as a map in this modern age, for a game of this type I believe that having a detailed screen to refer to which let you plan where you were next planning on going, seeing what doors you might be able to open with a new power-up you'd just gained or simply seeking out all of those missile upgrades, save rooms or recharge stations, proved to be crucial to not only enjoying but truly understanding and appreciating the game for the masterpiece that it was then and still is to this very day." – S.C.G
"Metroid is one of those franchises that doesn't get the love it deserves half the time from Nintendo. Following on from the NES and Gameboy iterations, it was inevitable to come to the SNES. And what a game we have, the classic formula of exploration continues. You could get seriously lost, but who'd care really." – Jimbob
"Nintendo at their brilliant best with imposing bosses & a gaming world majestically designed." – WackerJr
"The game that created a genre.
A lot of ink was already spent describing the atmosphere, the silent plot, the slow build up towards each boss fight... But it's also really well designed. In the first few hours of the game, you get a small taste of Ridley, a series of caves that teach you how non-linearity works, a noob bridge, a call back to the NES game, a pit you can't escape from just yet, a series of power-ups that change how you control Samus, and a circular path that brings you back to your ship (complete with music change).
And after that, the game keeps one-upping itself. No two areas look alike, no two bosses feel alike, and the game seldom repeats its own ideas. When you add things like the map, the multitude of optional collectables, the smaller secrets (like the Shinespark, or the alternative ways to kill Draygon), and the impactful ending sequence, you really see how complete this game is." – Jonnas
If you'd like to be part of N-Europe's Top Ten game lists, then check out the thread on our forum as while it's too late to choose for the N64 titles, especially as we're almost down to the last decisive moments as the voting closes at midnight tonight 10/05/19 but in any case please stop on by. It will be interesting to see if we get any newcomers voting for the next unannounced Nintendo platform (after the N64 edition) as it's not easy choosing just five games from an entire library to then hopefully go forward to the vote for the final ten, of which you can only choose three from the shortlist.
Exciting times indeed, catch you next time when the article for the best 64-Bit titles on Nintendo's classic platform goes live on N-Europe sooner than you might think.