Nintendo finally answered the cries of Switch Online subscribers and introduced Super Nintendo games to its vault. With added online features, the ability to rewind and fix your mistakes, and save states that let you return to the exact spot you last saved, we didn’t just get some long-awaited 16-bit classics but some new ways to experience them.
While games such as Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is included, we found that many of our favorite games are still not included in the introductory lineup. With that in mind, here are 20 SNES games we want to see added to Nintendo Switch Online.
Super Castlevania IV
Before the series was turned into a Metroid-like with endless corridors and ability upgrades, Castlevania achieved a perfect simplicity with Super Castlevania IV. An early Super Nintendo game, the action-platformer is essentially a remake of the original Castlevania, but with several improvements. Jumps are easier to make, Simon Belmont’s whip is more useful, and the game’s use of the console’s Mode 7 technology gave certain areas a pseudo-3D effect that wasn’t possible on previous consoles. Even today, it’s still a stellar action game.
Contra III: The Alien Wars
The Contra series is notoriously difficult, and Konami didn’t disappoint with Contra III: The Alien Wars. Just as difficult as its predecessors, the only game in the series on SNES also happens to be one of the best. The game’s gorgeous sidescrolling action looks better than ever with the 16-bit upgrade, and certain levels switch to a top-down perspective that almost feels like a modern twin-stick shooter. Its uber-machismo and buff main characters are certainly a product of their time, but there’s no denying the game’s quality.
Final Fantasy VI
Who cares about the upcoming Final Fantasy VII Remake when we can play the better game on SNES already? Final Fantasy VI is a sprawling and ambitious role-playing game that shifted from the fantasy settings of previous games to a steampunk-inspired dystopia. Legendary villain Kefka and a moment that changed the entire world contributed to its acclaim, and its huge cast of playable characters gave players endless choices for tackling a particularly tough encounter.
Perhaps the only traditional role-playing game on SNES even better than Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger is the result of a dream team coming together. Alongside key members of the Final Fantasy staff, Chrono Trigger featured Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama as a character designer, giving the game a distinct look from Square’s other titles. Its move away from random encounters, time-traveling mechanic, and a morally ambiguous antihero all make it one of the greatest video games ever created. Plus, how can you not love a game that has a chivalrous frog knight who just wants to prove his worth?
TMNT: Turtles in Time
Licensed games today are usually terrible, but back in the early ‘90s, they could end up being completely awesome. That was certainly the case with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, a beat-‘em-up action game that gives you the ability to play as all four of the titular turtles. With two-player cooperative play, as well, it’s the perfect choice for friends to enjoy on the couch together. If you really want to make it a perfect game night, have some peanut butter and sardine pizza, while you’re at it.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
A predecessor to the Paper Mario games, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars proved just how versatile the portly plumber could be, especially when Nintendo collaborated with Square. A turn-based role-playing game that kept the charm of the main platforming games, it didn’t simply retread the ground over those titles and included several characters to help Mario in his party. Though later games like Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door have stolen the spotlight, we can’t forget their roots.
Mega Man X
The Mega Man series had arguably outstayed its welcome by the time the SNES rolled around, but Mega Man X helped to give it a new lease on life. An action-shooter and platformer like the previous games in the series, it added additional story beats and starred an entirely new character in a futuristic setting. Sequels followed, even as the original series continued with new installments. While later games began making the odd choice to explore 3D to limited success, Mega Man X feels like Mega Man at its peak.
Super Mario All-Stars
These days, it’s basically expected that games from the previous generation will get a shiny new coat of paint when the newest consoles come out, but this isn’t actually a new concept. Super Mario All-Stars takes the original three games, plus Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, and gives them a 16-bit makeover. They aren’t quite as iconic as in their original forms, but there is no denying that the upgrade made Super Mario Bros. 2 substantially prettier. What remains is the games’ classic Mario platforming, all in one convenient package.
Donkey Kong Country
There have been rumors swirling for years that Shigeru Miyamoto didn’t like Rare’s Donkey Kong Country, but the legendary designer insists they’re not true. We certainly hope not, because the platformer remains one of the most striking games released for the SNES. Turning 3D models into 2D sprites for a unique, pseudo-realistic visual style, the game managed to separate itself from just about everything else on the console. Its difficulty, particularly during the mine cart levels, is legendary but it’s a testament to its quality that Donkey Kong Country Returns and Tropical Freeze followed the same basic formula to success so many years later.
Secret of Mana
Forget that terrible modern Secret of Mana remake ever existed, because the original action-role-playing game is one of the most compelling games of all time. Combining Square’s knack for storytelling and world-building with more active combat, it helped to spawn a wave of imitators, despite not actually being the first game in its own series. Its simple top-down gameplay has stood the test of time, as well, as have the best games of the 16-bit era, and its soundtrack is packed full of certified bangers.
Super Street Fighter II: Turbo
How many fighting games are still being enjoyed decades after their release, even as newer entries in the same series have released? When you nail classic 2D fighting as well as Capcom did with Super Street Fighter II: Turbo, it’s understandable that people would want to keep playing it. More complex fighting gameplay and the introduction of Akuma helped to make it one of the best versions of an already massively-influential game, and we’ve been practicing our Shoryuken punches ever since.
Why play a role-playing game with traditional fantasy tropes when you could just set it in a regular town? Why use a sword when you can use a baseball bat and a yo-yo? EarthBound flipped role-playing games on their head and satirized the genre itself, long before contemporary games such as Undertale poked fun at common tropes. Despite this, it didn’t exist as mere parody, with its own bizarre mythos turning the story into something very dark and experimental by the closing hours. It’s certainly worth playing in 2019, even if you only know about it because of Super Smash Bros.
Mario Paint helped show just what was possible in a video game when its creators handed over control to players. Its namesake creation tool for visuals was impressive, especially when paired with the SNES mouse, but this isn’t why we feel it should be included on the Switch’s free game lineup – that honor belongs to the music creator. Using icons and bars of sheet music, players can compose full chiptune-style songs. It’s such a robust feature that it is still being used for this purpose today, and it would be perfect for musically-included people to make tunes while on the go. How else are you going to create a perfect version of the latest “Old Town Road” remix without having your computer handy?
Excited for Cyberpunk 2077 and want another video game adapted from a tabletop role-playing game? Look no further than Shadowrun, which combines elements of cyberpunk with more fantastical role-playing tropes. Rather than use a turn-based battle system, it takes place in real time and from an isometric angle, but it retains statistics and the deep storytelling we associate with role-playing games. Just seeing its version of the future and take on hacking computers is reason enough to give it a spin, as well as the ridiculous number of sunglasses-clad characters you’ll talk to during your adventure. How bright is the sun in the future?
Back when “He’s on fire!” was a literal expression, NBA Jam ditched all pretenses of realism and shot for something that was actually fun to play. Two players on each team face off against each other to perform the most ludicrous plays, slam-dunking the ball and actually catching fire when performing well. There have been attempts to bring back the series since, but the original NBA Jam exists as a perfect snapshot of the ‘90s – over-the-top, silly, and radical. It would have been perfect if Michael Jordan actually ended up in the game.
R-Type III: The Third Lightning
Crazy shoot-‘em-up games have died down in recent, but they were at the height of their popularity when the SNES was thriving. R-Type III: The Third Lightning is one of the best sidescrolling spaceship shooters ever made, with tons of different power-ups for your ship and terrifying, enormous enemies to destroy. It didn’t try to reinvent the wheel because the foundation from previous R-Type games was so strong, but it showed how iteration could sometimes be just as important as innovation.
Mortal Kombat II
A game that is known just as much for its extreme violence and controversy as it is for its actual merits, Mortal Kombat II did not get popular solely for its gore. Midway’s classic fighting game introduced several characters not in the original, including classics like Kitana and Kung Lao that are now staples in the franchise. That being said, it did build on the Fatality system, and unlike the SNES version of the first game, the sequel featured gore. Genesis fans had one fewer talking point when arguing with other kids on the playground, though they really shouldn’t have been playing either version of the game yet.
An early platforming game to combine jumping mechanics with weapon-based combat, Earthworm Jim was originally released for the Genesis, but retained most of its content when being moved to the Super Nintendo. Filled with charm and one of the more unique protagonists in video games at that point, its science-fiction world and humor helped to make it a great choice for the entire family, and it spawned numerous sequels. The original, however, retains a special place in our heart, especially with those snappy sound effects and grooving bass.
A slightly less-gory fighting game developed by Rare, Killer Instinct developed a cult following on the SNES for its deep combat system, relying on combo attacks and the infamous “combo breaker” move to force players to shift to defense at a moment’s notice. It included some of the best characters in fighting game history, including Cinder, Glacius, Riptor, and Sabrewulf. Including it on the Nintendo Switch could be slightly difficult because the franchise and Rare are now owned by Microsoft, but the company has shown a willingness to work with Nintendo in the past.
Long before controversies over city size limits and online-only gameplay, the original SimCity somehow made city planning a fun activity for all ages. You are given free rein to design your city as you see fit, and in the SNES version, certain Nintendo-specific characters and properties are introduced. SimCity showed that you didn’t need a screen filled with monsters or a princess to save in order to have fun playing a video game, and it did it on a console that was certainly not designed with that type of simulation experience in mind.
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