Nintendo has one of the hottest gifts of the holidays on its hands with its recently-released NES Classic, a miniature version of the company’s original home console that has been selling out everywhere since it was released on November 11. Clearly, nostalgia for retro Nintendo products is alive and well among the gamers of the world, but why should they stop with just the NES? The next logical step would be to release a mini version of the NES’s successor, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Assuming Nintendo takes the exact same approach, this would mean that the SNES Classic would come with a selection of 30 pre-installed games. While opinions will surely vary wildly among individual fans, we’ve picked 30 classic SNES titles that we believe have to be included on a hypothetical SNES Classic’s hard drive.
*Note: Some of the games included on this list, including ones from third parties and sports titles, may very well be ineligible from being included due to licensing issues or what have you. Just remember that this is a wishlist and that if Nintendo were to ultimately release this product, it would be up to them as to what games they could and could not include.
30. Star Fox
Star Fox hasn’t aged all that well (really, the only game in the franchise that has is Star Fox 64), but considering how influential it was, it arguably deserves a spot. The Mode 7 graphics were state-of-the-art at the time and it was actually only the second three-dimensional game developed by Nintendo, so there is little doubt that Star Fox was an important release for the company. Besides all that, it’s a fun arcade shooter and was our first introduction to one of Nintendo’s flagship (though often overlooked) franchises.
29. Zombies Ate My Neighbours
A creative top-down zombie shooter with smart level and weapon design, Zombies Ate My Neighbours is an early LucasArts gem that is infinitely more enjoyable in two player mode. It helps that the game was released long before zombies began dominating pop culture and overstaying their welcome, as Zombies Ate My Neighbors certainly had its own unique style. Presented in a goofy B-movie format, ZAMN not only featured enemy zombies to take down, but also a number of other enemy types reminiscent of those found on the big screen, including a giant baby boss. Plants Vs. Zombies certainly owes a debt to this one.
Totally underappreciated in its day, EarthBound now has an enthusiastic cult following and is recognized as one of the finest RPGs on the SNES. The only game in the Mother series to see a North American release, EarthBound puts players in the shoes of Ness — who is much more well-known now thanks to his many apperaances in the Smash Bros. franchise — as he sets out on an adventure that features phychedilia, riffs on American culture, and even a prophetic alien named Buzz Buzz. EarthBound’s inclusion would no doubt add a nice dose of weirdness to the SNES Classic library.
Ridiculously fast and insanely difficult, F-Zero is old school gaming through and through. Featuring the first appearance of Captain Falcon — who, for the record, is both a futuristic race car driver and bounty hunter because of course he is — F-Zero was in some ways a racer too ambitious for the hardware it was on, as the game’s blistering speed pushed the Super Nintendo’s Mode 7 capabilitie to their limits. All-in-all, F-Zero is a nice alternative to the much more forgiving racing found in something like Super Mario Kart and still offers a true test for player reflexes and endurance.
26. Super Castlevania IV
While it’s certainly not the greatest Castlevania game ever made, Super Castlevania IV is still a fine entry in the series all the same. A reimagining of sorts of the original Castlevania for the NES, Super Castlevania IV follows returning protagonist Simon Belmont and his trusty whip, aptly named The Vampire Killer, as he takes on Dracula and the forces of darkness. Featuring excellent platforming action and a killer soundtrack, this one represents the pinnacle of Castlevania on the SNES and deserves a spot on the list.
Plus, that expanded whip cracking mechanic was ridiculously satisfying.
25. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time
Still one of the finest co-op beat ’em ups of all time, TMNT IV: Turtles In Time is simply a blast to play, especially with a buddy in tow. A port of the popular arcade brawler, Turtles in Time remains one of the most authentic Ninja Turltes games ever made, capturing the spirit of the cartoon perfectly. Featuring simple but responsive brawling gameplay and a time-hopping premise that sees brothers Leonardo, Ralphael, Donnatello, and Michaelangelo visit the dinosaurs, the wild west, and even the distant future, Turtles in Time is simply a fun video game and sometimes, that’s enough.
24. Earthworm Jim
Impressive animation and tight platforming gameplay are just a few of the reasons Earthworm Jim was adored in its day and the most impressive part is that it still holds up really well by today’s standards. While there were certainly better platformers released on the SNES, Earthworm Jim holds a special place in many gamers’ hearts due to its zany premise and off-beat sense of humor. This is a game in which the main villain was named — and this is no joke — Queen Pulsating, Bloated, Festering, Sweaty, Pus-filled, Malformed, Slug-for-a-Butt. They just don’t make games like this anymore (sidenote: it’s criminal that we haven’t gotten a new Earthworm Jim game since the 90s). It’s also hard to find many games that cast you as gun-toting earthworms in powerful space suit armor, so it also has that going for it.
23. Secret Of Mana
A RPG that often gets overlooked, Secret of Mana is now regarded as one of the SNES’s finest. A sequel to Final Fanasy Adventure for the Game Boy, Secret of Mana made a name for itself among RPG heavyweights primarily due to its deep and addictive battle system, which combined real-time action with timed attacks. Tactical, beautiful, and featuring co-op play for up to three players, this is one role-playing game that stood out from its contemporaries and is worth rediscovering today.
22. Mortal Kombat II
While Street Fighter is the better overall fighting franchise, Mortal Kombat was right up there with it for a time, especially on the SNES. Mortal Kombat II is arguably the best entry on the console, introducing the violent fatalities that made the franchise so popular, while also featuring a ridiculously good stable of fighters. In many ways, you could even call MKII the best game in the entire series, as every facet of its design played to what made Mortal Kombat so viscerally enjoyable to begin with. Mortal Kombat II also managed to destroy its predecessor in terms of overall quality, as it looked and played better, and also didn’t neuter the whole experience by censoring the violence.
21. Mega Man X
Mega Man X took everything that worked in earlier Mega Man titles on the NES and brought the whole thing to bear on the more powerful SNES. While not as difficult as previous titles, Mega Man X introduced a ton of gameplay improvements that would become series hallmarks, including dashing, wall-jumping, and special weapon charging. Offering a blueprint on how to make a great 16-bit action-platformer, Mega Man X is in many ways the best Mega Man game ever made and that earns it a spot on this list.
20. NBA Jam
NBA Jam is not an authentic recreation of professional basketball and yet, it’s still one of the most entertaining basketball games ever made. NBA Jam is all about style and sports heroics, which means that it reguarly turns into a contest between superpowered basketball players. Which, for the record, is awesome. 2-on-2 arcade basketball has never been better. It’s NBA Jam, son!
19. NHL ’94
One of the finest sports games of its generation with a surprisingly sophistacated gameplay engine to boot, NHL ’94 helped define how sports games looked and played in the 16-bit era. Although getting it to work involved having to purchase the Super Nintendo’s Super Multitap device, four player gameplay was one of the main draws of NHL ’94 and helped make it one of the console’s standout multiplayer titles. Many would argue that Madden ’94 should get the nod, but we believe NHL to be the superior game.
Fun fact: NHL 14 threw in a NHL ’94 mode to celebrate the game’s 20th anniversary. The mode replicates NHL ’94’s audio, visuals, and controls and is a real treat for fans of the original game.
18. Tetris Attack
One of the best puzzle games ever released, Tetris Attack is actually a reskinned version of a game known as Panel de Pon in Japan. When Nintendo brought it to North America, they used assets and characters from another popular SNES title, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. In fact, the game doesn’t actually have much to do with Tetris at all, to the point where Henk Rogers of The Tetris Company has actually expressed regret over allowing Nintendo use the license. Despite not being a true Tetris game, Tetris Attack is still every bit an addictive and enjoyable puzzle game, especially if you’re playing in two-player mode. Featuring a clever dual panel-switching mechanic, Tetris Attack has some of the most heated competition of any puzzle game and should be an essential part of the SNES Classic library.
Fun Fact: Tetris Attack was remade as Pokemon Puzzle League for the Nintendo 64. Fittingly, it’s also an incredibly addictive and fun puzzle game.
17. Super Bomberman
Bomberman games really haven’t changed all that much since the 16-bit era, which probably helps explain why Super Bomberman still holds up so well. An absolute blast (pun intended) with four players, Super Bomberman was actually the very first SNES to officially support four players, which helped make it a multiplayer favorite on the console. While later Bomberman titles are certainly more visually dynamic and have added many different modes, Super Bomberman is a pure distillation of what makes the series special, primarily due to its inclusion of Bomberman Battle Mode, which is the definitive mode in the series. Trapping your friends in a corner with a well-placed bomb is a gaming rite of passage and Super Bomberman stands as the SNES party game for that reason.
16. Harvest Moon
When it comes to farm simulators, we have Harvest Moon to thank for essentially creating an entire video game genre. Although working the land sounds like a video game snoozefest, Harvest Moon is surprisingly fun and the first entry in the series still holds up to this day. Planting seeds, harvesting crops, and other farming activities shouldn’t be this addictive, but as more recent farming games like Farmville and Stardew Valley have proven, never underestimate the power of a good agricultural simulation. There are certainly better games in the SNES library, but few can match the blissful relaxation of Harvest Moon, which should be a shoe-in to be included on the SNES Classic’s library.
15. Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts
Think the Dark Souls games are challenging? They’ve got nothing on the controller-breaking frustration of Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, which is legendary in gaming circles for its high degree of difficulty. A sequel to the also bone-crushingly difficult NES title Ghosts ‘N Goblins, Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts retains its predecessor’s steep challenge while improving things quite dramatically in the visual department. While the game’s high degree of difficulty will certainly be a turn off for some gamers, if you can endure the challenge, you’ll find a well-assembled platformer with a charming horror/medieval vibe.
14. Kirby’s Dream Land 3
While we were tempted to give the nod to Kirby Super Star given its immense value, at the end of the day it’s a collection of Kirby minigames and not a full-fledged Kirby title. Kirby’s Dream Land 3 was released very late in the SNES life cycle, hiting shelves in 1997 after the Nintendo 64 had already been on the market for a year, but it is arguably the best pure Kirby game on the SNES and for that reason, we have to give it the edge over Kirby Super Star. Kirby’s Dream Land 3 is more of a refinement of the series’ tried-and-true gameplay sensibilities and while it isn’t often considered to be one of the best Kirby games, it still plays well and showcases why Kirby games continue to be one of Nintendo’s most charming and enjoyable franchises.
A wholly unique game that feels like a mash-up of two very different genres — action platforming and city-building — ActRaiser doesn’t get enough credit for being one of the SNES’s most original titles and deserves a chance to be discovered (or rediscovered) by a whole new generation of gamers. Published by Enix and developed by Quintet, ActRaiser still stands as a blueprint for how to successfully marry two seemingly disparate game genres (and has some great boss fights to boot) and is a cult hit that deserves to reach a wider audience; something that the SNES Classic would make possible.
12. Contra III: The Alien Wars
Contra is one of the most beloved retro franchises in the action genre and Konami truly pulled out all of the stops when it came time to release an entry on the SNES. While Contra III: The Alien Wars doesn’t really change up the formula of its predecessors in any significant way, it’s a relentlessly fun action game that never lets up and is also a blast to play in co-op. Featuring ridiculously huge bosses, a synth-heavy rock soundtrack, and pretty much every kind of “extreme” gameplay situation you could imagine, Contra III certainly never takes itself too seriously. As the Alien Wars subtitle suggest, this third entry in the series trades in its references to 80s action staples such as Rambo for sci-fi, with nods to franchises such as Terminator and Star Wars.
A flight-sim game, Pilotwings certainly isn’t a game that appeals to everyone, but it’s hard to dispute its influence on the SNES, especially from a graphical standpoint. One of only three games available when the SNES first launched, Pilotwings is often considered to be the ultimate tech demo for Nintendo’s 16-bit console. The game used the Super Nintendo’s Mode 7 capability to simulate 3D graphics, which in turn made Pilotwings a pretty convincing flight-sim for its time and offered a nice challenge for would-be pilots. Admittedly, there are many superior games in the SNES library, but based on historical significance alone, Pilotwings deserves a spot on the list if a SNES Classic becomes a reality.
10. Chrono Trigger
The SNES was a bastion for fantastic JRPGs and Chrono Trigger remains one of the greatest. Many games from the 16-bit era do not stand the test of time, but Chrono Trigger has aged like a fine wine and deserves to be called a masterpiece. The game itself is RPG nirvana, delivering an excellent battle system and interesting time-hopping narrative that has no less than 13(!) endings, an incredibly ambitious feat for a game released in 1995. In some ways, Chrono Trigger represents the end of a JRPG golden age, as it was not only released near the end of the SNES’s life cycle, but also counted a number of legendary game designers among its development team, including Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy), Yuji Hori (Dragon Quest) and Akiria Toriyama, the creator of Dragon Ball.
9. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
It’s Super Mario in a RPG co-developed by Square and Nintendo; how could you not include this game? This is one of those games that shouldn’t have worked out as well as it did, but somehow, it totally did. Plus, it has Mario and Bowser working together for the first time. Much like ActRaiser, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars combined two genres that should have had no business working so well together, as Square and Nintendo’s collaboration married Mario platforming with RPG elements. While it seems ridiculous to refer to any Mario title as a “cult” game, Super Mario RPG arguably qualifies, especially since it introduced two lesser known but beloved characters in Mallow and Geno. This is the stuff video game history is made of, folks.
8. Super Metroid
Enough good things can’t be said about Super Metroid. A near-flawless masterpiece dripping in atmosphere, this is easily Samus Aran’s finest 2D adventure and one of the most influential games of all time. ‘Metroidvania’ has become an increasingly popular subgenre of 2D action/adventure games in recent years and pretty much all of these games owe an immense debt to what Nintendo accomplished with Super Metroid. Highly replayable and still one of the SNES’s finest games, Super Metroid is truly a landmark achievement that has already cemented itself as one of gaming’s masterworks. Plus, is there any other game that has as many memorable, terrifying boss battles?
7. Super Street Fighter II
The fact that Capcom’s Super Street Fighter II is still regarded as one of the greatest fighting games ever made really makes it an easy game to highlight to be included on the SNES Classic’s library, but this sort of statement really doesn’t do the game or its influence justice. It’s hard to remember now, but good console fighting games were hard to come by back in the early 90s and the fact that Street Fighter II was able to deliver an arcade quality experience at home was a true feat of technical wizardry. Okay, so it wasn’t quite on par with the arcade version, but it was about as close as you could get at the time. Setting all that aside, you’re left with one of the tightest, balanced fighting games around and one with a perfect roster of fighters. Hadoken!
6. Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy III (technically Final Fantasy VI — Square’s numbering was super confusing with its early North American releases) is the best entry in the series to hit the Super Nintendo and is widely considered to be one of the greatest RPGs ever made. Featuring an engrossing story, well-written characters, and some of the most memorable music of any video game ever, Final Fantasy VI is a must-play title that belongs on a SNES Classic. In fact, the quality of FFVI’s characters and story were so ahead of their time that they still rival those of many modern video games, which proves that fancy cinematics and graphics will only get you so far. In the end, its the quality of the writing that truly matters and this is something that FFVI had in spades.
5. Donkey Kong Country
Sure, Donkey Kong Country doesn’t pack the visual punch it once did, but it’s still one of the finest looking games in the SNES library and an exceptionally well-made platformer to boot. Recasting Donkey Kong as the hero this time, Rare’s platformer is often credited with helping save the Super Nintendo. Released right around the time that Sony’s PlayStation came along and introduced gamers to an era of 3D visuals, DKC’s eye-popping visuals proved that the SNES still had some life left in it. Honestly, you could throw in any of the three DKC games Rare developed for the SNES since they’re all great games in their own right, but given that the first game is the only one that actually lets you play as Donkey Kong himself, it’s the logical choice (even if Diddy Kong’s Quest is arguably the superior game).
4. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
A beautiful game that truly shows off the Super Nintendo’s capabilities, Yoshi’s Island still stands as one of the greatest 2D platformers ever made. Giving players full control of Mario’s trusty steed/dinosaur Yoshi, this sequel to Super Mario World helped define many of Yoshi’s moves and traits, such as the flutter kick and egg throw. While Baby Mario’s crying was admittedly grating, Yoshi’s Island made up for this design quirk by featuring impeccable level and puzzle design, and remains one of the most beautiful games in the Super Nintendo’s library. If Nintendo doesn’t include this one, they might as well just scrap the mini SNES entirely (assuming it even comes to fruition, of course).
3. Super Mario Kart
Super Mario Kart may be the first entry in the long-running Mario spin-off series, but many gamers still consider it to be the best. In retrospect, putting Mario and his Mushroom Kingdom pals (and enemies!) behind the wheel of a bunch of go-karts was a stroke of genius, resulting in one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises. While it would have been easy to write off Super Mario Kart in its day as a shameless cash-grab piggybacking off the popularity of the Mario name, the truth is that it’s actually one of the more influential racing games out there, introducing concepts like power-ups and also helping popularize arcade racers. This one’s a no-brainer and would definitely help Nintendo sell a ton of additional SNES controllers!
2. Super Mario World
The fact that Super Mario World was packed in with the original SNES release makes its inclusion here obvious, but it’s also important to remember that it is simply an incredible game that is synonymous with the SNES. The fact that Nintendo was able to release a follow-up to the incredible Super Mario Bros. 3 that actually lives up to that game’s legacy may be the most impressive feat at all. With its colorful expansion of the Mushroom Kingdom, not to mention the introduction of Yoshi, Super Mario World was many gamer’s introduction to the SNES and signaled that Nintendo’s new console was truly the next step in video games. How can you not love this one?
1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past
Nintendo fans would absolutely riot if A Link to the Past wasn’t packed in with a mini SNES release. Building upon the design of the original Legend of Zelda for NES and refining and improving it in every way, A Link to the Past is not only a perfect sequel but in many ways is a perfect game. Everything from the controls to the dungeon design to the music are impeccable and even though the Zelda series has long since moved onto 3D visuals, many fans still consider this to be the definitive Zelda experience, even in a world that also includes Ocarina of Time. Arguably the greatest Super Nintendo game there is and one of the most influential games of all time, A Link to the Past is a timeless experience that deserves to be played and enjoyed by every generation.