games / Columns

The 8 Ball 11.06.12: Top 8 SNES Games

November 6, 2012 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome to yet another edition of The 8 Ball. On today’s docket is my list of the Top SNES games that came out. As opposed to my PS1 list, this will be a bit more conventional, but I’m sure a few notable omissions will rile up the various commentators and such. Ah well, let’s begin:

8. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers


MMPR had the distinction of being a licensed-based game that wasn’t completely embarrassing. It wasn’t the first, by any means, but it struck a chord with me (at the time) for being a decent enough action-platformer, that looked good, and approximated (fairly well) the overall feel of the tv show. Plus, it *did* have the distinction of actually making Billy (the Blue Ranger) actually worthwhile, due to his lance being a multi-hit spinning death-weapon. You can pretty much just mash Up and X with him for the entire game, and get through most of it unscathed.

7. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars


I had played other RPG’s at the time, but Mario RPG is probably the one I can really remember getting into. It took popular Mario characters, added a few new ones in, and made an epic feeling RPG for you to undertake. The graphics were delightful, the battle system required your participation, and it had a lot of clever nods and in-jokes to other Mario/Nintendo games. It’s a shame that Square and Nintendo’s partnership didn’t last, because this was the culmination of their collective work in the SNES era. Geno was awesome as well.

6. Mega Man X


Mega Man X brought the Mega Man franchise into the 16 bit era. With a new Mega Man, came new abilities, new allies, and new enemies for you to deal with. The levels, and music were a particular stand out, and unlike a few games later in the X series, it wasn’t pandering, or deeply disappointing. There was also a nice helping of secrets and upgrades to unlock, chief among them unlocking Ryu’s Hadouken which laid waste to any enemy it touched. While Mega Man X4 is still my favorite in the series, Mega Man X 1 is where the ball started to roll.

5. Super Metroid


For as much of a fan I am of the “Metroidvania” gametype, I originally didn’t like Super Metroid at all. At the time (like 1995), I didn’t understand what you were really supposed to do, how you were supposed to progress and so on. As I matured though, I began to look at the game with a very favorable eye. The core gameplay is solid, the music is catchy, and it’s just fun to explore and fill out the map as much as you can. The game did a poor job of telling you what to do next (outside of a vague map update), which is probably where a lot of my early frustration came from. The Speed Booster was a lot of fun to enjoy as well.

4. Donkey Kong Country


The original Donkey Kong Country was a masterpiece (at the time) of visual graphics and artistry. Donkey and Diddy looked great as they rolled around the levels, which everything in the game having a nice CGI look to it. The way the day turns to night at the end of the first level is still an incredible effect, considering the overall scope of the game. The gameplay was solid enough, jump on enemies, collect bananas, etc., but there was a simple joy in the game of finding new secrets in levels, that kept you exploring as much as you could. DKC2 and DKC3 added more gameplay stuff, as well as superfluous characters (Kiddy Kong, anyone?), but the original Donkey Kong Country is the purest form of the game series.

3. Kirby Super Star


I was a big fan of the original Kirby game on the Gameboy, and a fan of the NES version as well. They made two different Kirby games on the SNES, this one and Kirby’s Dreamland 3. Dreamland 3 had more of the animal stuff, but was very slow, and incredibly boring. Conversely, Super Star was exciting, and fresh. With over two dozen powers to explore and use, you could approach combat different each time. Add to that, with 7 different gameplay variations, and two subgames, and Kirby Super Star is really the best Kirby package in quite a long time.

2. Super Mario World


The game was a pack in title, for a reason. It deftly showed off the power of the new hardware while easing you into a unique, albeit familiar world. The game is probably double, if not triple the length of Super Mario Bros 3, with a ton of secrets to discover and multiple paths to take. The core of the Mario gameplay was distilled down so much in this game, while paradoxically adding a trove of new features, as to make this game one of the best packages on the SNES. Plus, Blue Yoshi was dope. All other Yoshi’s are worthless compared to him.

1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past


It’s the top game for a reason, this is ostensibly the *perfect* Zelda game. While other have come and gone, it always comes back to this game for tracing how the Zelda series really got started. It really says a lot when Nintendo is still copying this game’s framework, 20 years later, for even their new Zelda games. Where to begin: the expansive overworld, the myriad of sidequests to undertake, the superb music, a ton of weapons/items to use against a variety of enemies, the list goes on and on. LTTP is the definitive Zelda game with everything you could want at the touch of your fingertips. Add to that, one of the shortest “Time to Sword” metrics, with it taking less than 2 minutes to actually get your sword. It’s not as quick as the first Zelda (which took about 8 seconds, but still, better than the half hour (or more) it took in Twilight Princess.

Games that *should* be on this list

I’m going to do a new little feature, and list a few (to several) games that people will be outraged at me for, for not including on this list. This may/may not become a regular feature, it depends on the topic. Here’s a few: Chrono Cross, Earthbound, Yoshi’s Island 2, Final Fantasy 2 or 3, Starfox, Contra 3, Super Mario Kart, and Super Castlevania IV.

The General Roundup

Well, that is this week’s list. To some of the people from last week, I did consider Tomb Raider and Resident Evil for my list, but, both those games were multi-platform, especially in Tomb Radier’s case. Gran Turismo was also a decent idea, but I never got into it at all. I was never a huge fan of Crash Bandicoot either, except for 3, and even then, it still had too many “running at the camera” chase levels, which always annoyed me. Also, Einhander and Intelligent Qube (while superb games) were a bit basic, even back in 1997/1998.

What do you want the 8 Ball to be about next week?

Top 8 Genesis Games
Bottom 8 SNES Games
Top 8 Open World Games


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Marc Morrison
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