The Spiders Lair’s 25 Essential Super NES games every gamer should play

It’s high time I start up some controversy with a list of the MUST play games for the greatest game console ever made.

Here you go. In no particular order.

1. Super Mario World

Not only is this my personal favorite video game of all time, it’s an absolute treat to play. It basically took everything that was great about Super Mario Bros. 3 and beefed it up into a 16-bit masterpiece. Also it gave the world Yoshi so you can’t beat that.

2. Super Metroid

While the first game broke ground on the NES, the sequel shattered all expectations. This is by far the most important story-driven action-adventure sci-fi thriller from the 16-bit era. It’s also the only Metroid I have ever beaten so there is that. Even though it is 2D this game feels like a movie.

3. Donkey Kong Country

Take the Sony Playstation, remove the CD-ROM and shove a 32-bit looking 3D-animated video game onto a 2D 16-bit cartridge with amazing damn-near CD-quality music and you got yourself a game gamers keep returning to year after year.

4. Mega Man X

I’ll say it. This is the perfect Mega Man game, hands down. If you only play one game in the franchise this is absolutely the one to pick. It has has a great balance of zones, difficult but not impossible bosses, fantastic music, neat settings and it’s not nearly as convoluted as its sequels nor as simple yet extremely difficult as its predecessors. It’s by far the best Mega Man game ever. Oh and it absolutely shines on the 16-Bit SNES.

5. Super Castlevania IV

By now you are wondering if this list will contain anything you didn’t already know to play? Well if you purchased a Super Nintendo and weren’t planning on playing this game then you made a mistake buying the system in the first place.

I don’t know what to say that hasn’t already been said before. This game is everything you’d ever want in a horror game. It’s everything you’d want in an action/adventure game. It’s everything you’d want in a side-scrolling, 2D game. Personally I think Symphony of the Night is the superior game but since this is a SNES list this is the game to get.

6. Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

There are Zelda games and there is A Link to the Past. This is the perfect blend of suspense, action, puzzle solving and story telling. It’s before the timeline became all Doctor Who timey whimey. The simplistic nature of this beautifully told story that sucks the gamer into a world you absolutely must experience is unmatched even to this day.

7. Final Fantasy III

There is an unhealthy debate among video gamers over which FF is better, this one or its PSX sequel. Regardless of where you fall on that ridiculous debate, there is one truth and it is you MUST play this game before you die. Up till this point not only was Final Fantasy an obscure franchise, console Japanese RPG’s themselves were little more than oddities only hard core nerds new about. This is the game that turned my passing interest in Zelda games into an obsession with D&D and similar fantasy games.

This is one of those rare masterpieces that illustrates you don’t need fancy realistic graphics to tell a heart-felt and charming story. This is the game that proves less is more.

8. Super Mario Kart

What can I say, this is where the whole phenomenon got its start. If you are going to buy any Nintendo console chances are extremely high you’ll only do so after that generation’s Mario Kart has been released. It is absolutely no different here. This isn’t necessarily the best racing game on the system, but it is a truly must-play game for the platform.

This was the game that took Mario and friends from being recognizable by kids the world over to becoming international superstars.

9. Star Fox

Whether or not the game holds up compared to modern 3D shooters is irrelevant. If you are going to purchase a Super Nintendo system you owe it to yourself to play the game that showed Sega you can do amazing graphics without an expensive add on. Never mind the historical context, this game is worth owning for the novelty of playing a game on your SNES that looks and feels like it could have been an early Playstation release, years before the Playstation even existed!

10. Sim City

You are going to have people tell you to play the PC version or any number of sequels. I am going to tell you pff! This is not only the version that features Nintendo characters, which is a neat bonus, it’s also the only version that features the unique gifts that make the game extra enjoyable. It adds a layer of fun to the game you don’t get in other versions. I highly recommend this game as it is my absolute favorite version and a blast to play.

11. Cool Spot

Technically you could get this game on the Sega Genesis and I’d give you a thumbs up. But either way if you haven’t taken the time to play this side scrolling, platforming love letter to 90s marketing then you’re truly missing out. This game is a must play because it’s fun as hell, cute as a button and totally rad 90s nostalgic.

12. Super Star Wars

There’s a bad habit of games on the SNES being enhanced remakes or upgraded ports of NES games. While this is certainly the case here too, it’s probably the best example of that being done right. The game is hard as hell which retains that NES-hard gameplay you’ll no doubt throw a controller or two at the wall. It also fully captures the spirit of Star Wars while letting you explore the worlds in a nostalgic 2-D environment. It might not be the absolutely best game based on a movie but it’s certainly a shining example of how licensed games can actually be pretty damn good.

13. Super Mario RPG

I shouldn’t have to explain why this game is essential. Take two popular franchises, put them in a blender, crank up the graphics to near-PS1 levels and you got yourself a game that proves why the Super NES is probably the greatest game console of all time.

14. Super Mario All-Star

Sounds familiar right? Another Mario game. Except this time you take the three amazingly fantastic original 8-bit NES games, slap some brand spanking new 16-bit paint on them and enhance the gameplay with save states and customizable controls and you got yourself a game you can’t miss. Enjoy.

15. Spider-Man/Venom: Maximum Carnage

Oh sure you could also play this on Sega Genesis but since you’ve already invested in the SNES you might as well get this version. And hey even if you already do have the Sega copy, this is still worth owning.

16. Killer Instinct

Not exactly a Mortal Kombat killer but certainly a game worthy of your time. Beautiful graphics for the system. Fantastic game play, great characters and fun fatalities (if you can pull them off). ‘Nuff Said.

17. Robocop versus Terminator

Another one of those games you could technically get on the competition, which is fine just as long as you experience it in some fashion.

18. Donkey Kong Country 2

It’s quite Rare, (see what I did there?) for a sequel to surpass the original but this game does so in every single way. If you are going to play SNES you are absolutely going to play DKC games.

19. Knights of the Round

Not exactly a hidden gem but certainly underrated classic. I highly recommend this port if you can’t get access to the arcade board. Even if you can it’s an addicting action game worth every pixel.

20. Kendo Rage

Now this is a hidden gem. I discovered it as a kid and it will blow you away if you’ve never played it. This is one of those fantastic anime titles people often overlook.

21. Super Bomberman

It’s easy to label any random bomberman game on whichever console you own as a must own party game but it’s still true. This game is no exception. You will need a multitap and additional controllers but if you invest in those items it is a real treat.

22. Kirby Superstar

There’s a ton of great Kirby games out there. This is just another amazing game in a fantastic franchise.

23. Super Mario World 2 Yoshi’s Island

The sequel/spin off that launched it’s own on-going franchise is mandatory gaming for every person who wants to be called a Nintendo fan.

24. Super Game Boy

Before you point out this is an add on that lets you play Game Boy carts let me remind you this is also a game itself. It has plenty of activities you can dabble in without inserting a GB cartridge.

25. Mario Paint

You don’t even have to be artistic to enjoy this MS Word predecessor with a fun Nintendo twist. The game that single-handidly justified the existence of the SNES mouse.