The Super Nintendo features one of the largest and deepest game libraries in console history. The top-end talent that paces the system’s greatest titles is nearly unmatched, but the sheer amount of quality games that were released during the console’s lifecycle is unbelievable. With the recent resurgence in popularity for the SNES in the used game market, more and more titles that were once under appreciated such as Rock N’ Roll Racing and Batman Returns are now in the mainstream light and are receiving recognition. While most quality titles are no longer great secrets, there remain some great titles to slip through the cracks and that’s the case for the following 10 games, which are real hidden gems. They are among the SNES’s best games but are very seldom discussed or mentioned anywhere.
Prior to finding their niche and being acquired by Sega in order to develop the 2K series of sports games, developer Visual Concepts created quite a few Super Nintendo titles, including an entire series which centered on clay animation. These clay titles included the enormously popular ClayFighter series. That 2D fighting series did not age gracefully, and the competitive genre has seen superior titles arrive since then. However, another title in the clay animation line was released by Visual Concepts, and somehow this title slipped through the media and is not often discussed among quality Super Nintendo titles to play. That’s a shame, because Claymates is very different from ClayFighter, with the only resemblance being the clay animation style of art. Claymates uses that clay animation to morph the playable clay ball into the various transformations the player desires. It’s a unique platforming adventure with clever abilities and offers a fair challenge. Claymates is a true sleeper hit.
9. Goof Troop
Capcom’s action-puzzle game based on the Disney property is a clever romp through five separate worlds, each of which feature an epic boss. The areas require significant backtracking, but the puzzles are mostly unique and are very clever. The result is a captivating adventure game which requires real logic in order to complete. In addition, the game is also playable in a co-operative mode. That’s right, Goof Troop allows two players to play simultaneously, where one player controls Goofy and the other player controls Max. Goof Troop is a highly polished game that succeeds throughout the playing experience. A neat fact: Goof Troop is designed by Shinji Mikami, the lead developer of the original Resident Evil title. The parallels between Resident Evil’s puzzles and Goof Troop’s puzzles are actually very easy to spot after playing both games. Mikami’s future involvement in the Resident Evil series, as well as being a key contributor to Capcom properties such as Viewtiful Joe and Ace Attorney, have earned him the status of a legendary developer, yet somehow Goof Troop continues to go undiscovered.
A series known as “Puzzle-Bobble” in the arcades and anywhere outside of North America, Bust-A-Move is an entry into a somewhat popular series. However, this Super Nintendo hidden gem went relatively unnoticed during its initial release and the series has now been dormant for a while. Gamers who have yet to experience developer Taito’s addictive puzzle game need to quickly remedy that issue. Bust-A-Move features a lengthy single-player campaign that is incredibly challenging. Of course, the gameplay is also very fun as the joy of shooting bubbles is indescribable. The puzzle game is unique in that not only do players need a strategy for placing their various-colored bubbles, but they also need to be accurate with their shots and creative with gravity. This combination makes Bust-A-Move surprisingly deep in terms of gameplay. While the single-player campaign features a wealth of levels, the competitive multiplayer mode’s hectic matches will leave a longer-lasting impression.
7. King Arthur’s World
One of the console’s best games to make use of the SNES mouse peripheral that came bundled with Mario Paint, King Arthur’s World is a strategy game somewhat similar to the Lemmings series. Clearly, strategy games are ideally suited for a mouse, and King Arthur’s World embraces that fact. However, the game still supports a controller pad and allows unit management to be handled with a cursor. The controls are certainly made easier with the use of a mouse, but it’s nice to know that King Arthur’s World is fully playable without one, given how difficult it may be to find the somewhat rare SNES peripheral nowadays. King Arthur’s World is an addictive strategy game where players guide King Arthur and his army across various obstacles and enemies in order to reach a destination. A heavy emphasis is placed on unit management as players will need every starting member of their army in order to defeat the increasingly difficult bosses at the conclusion of each level.
6. The Lost Vikings
Prior to being known as Blizzard Entertainment, the famous Warcraft and Diablo developer created seven games that were released on the Super Nintendo. Even more interesting is the fact that the three earliest titles in that line were released prior to Blizzard renaming their brand and are thus published under Blizzard’s founding title, Silicon & Synapse. One of those titles published under Blizzard’s old name is The Lost Vikings, a puzzle-platform game that blends genres in superb fashion. The Lost Vikings is a clever adventure title that features outrageous comedy and some of the most hilarious dialogue of the generation. The game spawned a sequel on the Super Nintendo, and realistically either game could place on this list as both titles are quite similar. The nod here goes to the original, which manages slightly more charm than its sequel, but both titles are worthy of much more recognition than they receive.
5. Pocky & Rocky 2
The Pocky & Rocky series is a top-down, shooting video game developed by Harvest Moon developer Natsume. It’s a real hidden gem, as even the most avid Super Nintendo fans oftentimes have never heard of this seemingly-obscure game. That’s an absolute shame because this well-animated, colorful game will draw players in and offers special effects such as rain and thunder that were well ahead of its time. The game still looks great today and is one of the most well-animated Super Nintendo games around. Fortunately, the gameplay stands up to the graphics, where the addictive properties of a shooting title combine with simultaneous co-operative support to make this one of the more interesting titles on the Super Nintendo. Pocky & Rocky 2’s co-op play is the highlight of the game, but the title does enough things well in every area to merit a playthrough for everyone. It’s a mystery why the series went by with such little fanfare.
4. Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen
Ogre Battle has spawned several sequels and continually receives high praise from critics, therefore making its inclusion as a “hidden gem” somewhat difficult to gauge. While it may have a dedicated following, the fact of the matter is that this title is not very well-known within the gaming community at large and is an underrated property. Fans of Ogre Battle are vocal, yet the series has never soared in popularity, likely because it is a game that caters mainly toward a niche market. It’s not difficult to see why Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen is a hidden gem in today’s landscape. The game is one of the rarest titles in North America and copies of cartridges are routinely sold during auctions for over one hundred dollars. Therefore, not enough people have had the pleasure of playing this hidden gem, which continues to float under the radar.
3. E.V.O.: Search for Eden
E.V.O. was an early Super Nintendo title published by Enix that managed positive reviews but only a mild reception, and has since slipped into anonymity. E.V.O. is forgotten since the Super Nintendo console would go on to release such a vast and wide variety of quality content. However, E.V.O. shouldn’t be missed and it stands tall among one of the greatest console libraries of all time. Prior to merging with developer Squaresoft, Enix created this wonderful prehistoric game that spans a period of over a billion years. E.V.O. is a side-scrolling action game with platforming and RPG elements. The game deals with evolution and is innovative in providing players with choices for how to evolve. Earning evolution points can sometimes be a grind and evolution powerups are lacking in-game descriptions, but despite these flaws holding E.V.O. back from perfection, it’s an incredibly fun game that combines several genres in expert fashion.
2. Tetris Attack
Tetris Attack goes underappreciated to this day, owing to two significant factors working against its favor. Firstly, the title was released in North America during August 1996, a mere month prior to the launch of Super Mario 64 and the Nintendo 64 console. The hype for the N64 was immense, and the PlayStation 1, which was already out, was quickly beginning to receive national attention. A late SNES puzzle title stood no chance to gain recognition during this release window. The second reason Tetris Attack remains a hidden gem is its status as a puzzle game during the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis generation of gaming. There were literally hundreds of puzzle games released at the time, as the genre was abused and overdone. Tetris titles in particular had grown out of favor. What many gamers missed is that Tetris Attack bares very little resemblance to the Tetris game its name borrows from. It’s an addictive two-player puzzle game that managed to remain unique amidst a sea of clones and is produced by Fire Emblem developer Intelligent Systems.
Known as “Unirally” in PAL regions, Uniracers is the SNES hidden gem that every gamer must pick up and try. The gameplay involves racing in 2D environments on a unicycle, but what differentiates the title from other racing titles is its stunt system. The game places an emphasis on performing stunts by allowing unicycles to go faster after successfully completing a stunt. Stunt moves are mapped to the various control buttons on the gamepad and the combinations become deep and addictive to discover. Aside from the fast-paced races, there are also stunt tracks. These extreme stunt areas give players a pre-defined time limit to perform stunts, and points are awarded based on the stunt’s complexity. Players must soar high in the air in order to unleash ridiculous combinations that will score them the necessary points to complete the level. The variety in the levels, which switch from racing to stunt scoring, allows the game to avoid becoming boring. Uniracers is an exciting game with style that has aged remarkably well and deserves to be played by everyone that missed it.