Izlain’s rundown of his favorite Sega Genesis games and a recent delve into nostalgia gaming videos have left me thinking, once again, about my beloved SNES console. I played the heck out of the PlayStation in the 90s, but the SNES got my full love. While I reminisced about my history with the console a few years ago, I never did list my all-time favorites from that system. So here are my top 10 picks in no particular order:
As I recall, this was the pack-in game that came with our SNES, and since my brothers and I were flat broke after shelling out $50 each to buy the system, this was the game we played exclusively for a month or two. Fortunately, it was a terrific game with lots of replay value (and a save game feature!). Plus, it looked gorgeous, especially with the new water effects and the vivid, cartoony art style.
Simply put, I had never played such an amazing RPG before in my life. This game had it all: time travel, cool characters, a fun battle system, combos, and a storyline with multiple endings. Ugh, just thinking about it makes me want to load it back up on my iphone. I played so much of this one summer that I almost never came out of my parents’ basement.
It’s a toss-up between this and Symphony of the Night as the best Castlevania game in my book. Either way, Castlevania IV was perfect in almost every way. The whip was responsive and flexible in a fashion that it had never been before, there were loads of different auxiliary weapons, and the setting was awesome to explore. Lots of the new SNES tech made an appearance, such as the rotating room and the swinging chandolier.
This game was ridiculously enjoyable, mostly because it embraced a goofy horror b-movie vibe and went full-out with it. You got to control kids trying to rescue innocents from zombies, mummies, psycho dolls, chainsaw-wielding murderers, aliens, and monsters, while collecting and using a wide variety of inventory items. The weedwacker was my favorite. It was always a great title to play with another person, and still is.
By today’s standards, Starfox probably looks like a low-polygon on-rails shooter… and it is. But back in the mid-90s, this was a mind-blowing ride. It was the first time we had seen 3D on a console and it felt like we really were going around in the third dimension. Plus, Starfox had kickbutt music, branching stages, wingmen, and the birth of “do a barrel roll!”
Oddly enough, I don’t remember a lot of specifics about this game, probably because I played and beat it once and then haven’t returned to it since. However, it was surprisingly fun and used the Mario universe to great effect in making a cool RPG. The combat, combos, and animation were the standout features.
This was one of the titles that was used to great effect to sell the SNES to people. It looked — and played — amazing for the era. The bosses were huge, the special effects all over the place (did that plane just swoop at the camera, fire bomb the ground, and leave me hanging on for dear life?), and the weapons a blast to use. It excels in two-player, although the top-down stages are crud.
Despite throwing three Mario titles on this list, I’ve never been a huge Mario fan — but these were all excellent games on the SNES. Everyone I knew had Mario Kart because it was a perfect game to play with friends. There were tons of unlockables and ways to mess with your opponents. Oh battle mode, how I’ve missed you!
I played a lot of Turtles IV in the arcade and was really pleased to see that the SNES adaptation was spot-on. It was a great side-scrolling brawler, with each of the four turtles boasting their own attack style. Plus, wacky time travel stages!
Street Fighter II, both in the arcade and on home consoles, was a massive, massive pop culture phenomenon at the time. I loved both Chun-Li and E. Honda, mostly because they both had a rapid-fire attack sequence (kicks and punches, respectively). I never knew most of the combos, but I mastered a few of them and really enjoyed smacking my friends around.
Of course, there were plenty of other great games on the SNES, some that I played and others that I didn’t. But these 10 were the ones that come to mind when I look back at the best gaming moments with the system.