The 10 Best Super Nintendo Games to Buy in 2018

See why these top titles have redefined the gaming industry

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The Super Nintendo (SNES) was the best-selling console during the 16-bit era despite showing up late and competing against some of the biggest names in gaming at the time (mainly Sega Genesis, Atari Jaguar, NEC Hudson Soft TurboGrafx-16 and SNK Neo Geo). Before the PlayStation (PS1) capitalized on the gaming market by embracing the compact disc (CD) and securing third party licenses, the SNES finished with a library of over 721 titles and some of the most diversified genres and groundbreaking games.

Some of the titles have tested the trials of time and are still enjoyable to play today, while others showcase capabilities that demonstrated extraordinary gameplay factors that pushed the limits of its era. You’ll find pieces of gaming history here that laid the groundwork for titles you see today and some that live on through huge fanbases and petitions but will never see a sequel or remake. Still, if you just want to play a fun SNES game that lives up to today and even beat out its modern-day remake equivalent (we're looking at you, Ninja Turtles) and ported titles, there’s that too. Take a look below for the best SNES games to purchase today.

Best Overall: Super Mario World

It’s a hard choice, but Super Mario World is the best Super Nintendo game on the list because it was way ahead of its time in 1990. It had an incredible physics system of running and jumping, catchy tunes and fun addictive gameplay. Super Mario World has 96 levels, includes a power-up called the “Cape Feather” that allows you to fly, introduces Yoshi that you can ride on and features huge creative diversity (and maybe even a few hidden secrets).

Super Mario World is a side-scrolling platform game that has players navigate through an overworld system with several paths that connect to fortresses, ghost houses, forests and other places. Each level Mario plays in is filled with numerous obstacles and enemies that require players to traverse the stage by performing jumps, running and evading or defeating enemies that range from walking bombs, football players to man-eating angular fish. Super Mario World also contains a multiplayer option where two players take alternating turns as Mario and Luigi while they navigate through levels.

Best for Racing: Super Mario Kart

The game that started the kart craze, Super Mario Kart is the first in its series that features a cast of eight Mario characters such as Mario, Luigi, Bowser, and Toadstool who all race against each other in go-karts. The best racing game for the SNES includes multiple modes (single player, multi-race cups with three difficulties, time trial modes, and multiplayer modes).

Super Mario Kart features four different cups with a total of 20 unique tracks filled with sharp turns and wide curves that allow players to slide around and dodge numerous obstacles from the Mario series. Each track is littered with coins that increase kart speed, turbo boost tiles, jumps and various power-ups that give weapons such as shells, stars and bananas that can be used against other racers. The multiplayer modes let players simultaneously take part in cups, race head-to-head in one-on-one matches or engage in a battle mode where players attack each other with power-ups until the three balloons (representing their health) that surround their karts are popped.

Even back as far as the '80s, Nintendo wanted to experiment with 3D capabilities using polygonal graphics, and Star Fox was one the first games to get it. Star Fox is the first title in the Star Fox series — a rail shooter space game where players pilot an aircraft and play as the leader of a mercenary team of animals who must defend their home world from being destroyed by an evil monkey scientist’s army of invading forces.

Star Fox was the first game Nintendo created that used a Super FX graphics acceleration coprocessor powered GSU-1 chip that displayed three-dimensional models with polygons. The games 3D visuals allow a third-person view and first-person cockpit perspective revolved around aerial combat. Players will get to perform fast maneuvers through loops and other obstacles, dodging and deflecting lasers, as well as shooting down both destructible environments and enemies, including spaceships, robots, and extraterrestrial creatures.

Best Challenge: Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country is a standalone side-scrolling video game featuring everyone’s favorite ape in a tie. The game became a huge commercial success for its beautiful pre-rendered 3D graphics, quirky soundtrack, exciting challenge and unique gameplay that has you slapping and toppling over enemies with the chance to ride giant frogs and rampaging rhinoceroses.

Donkey Kong Country isn’t just a single-player platform game with 40 different, action-packed, side-scrolling levels but allows for two players as well (in both a cooperative team mode that operates via a tag team system and a competitive mode to see who completes each level the fastest). The challenging SNES game has players perform various tasks in themed levels such as swimming, riding in mine carts, being blasted out of barrel cannons and swinging from vine to vine. Players start off with only six lives (though can get more via points and items) and lose a life if they get hit by an enemy or fall off the screen, providing a difficult challenge that’ll get players gripping their controllers and sweating.

Best for Roleplaying: Chrono Trigger

Considered one of the best role-playing games in existence, Chrono Trigger was designed by what Square developers called the “Dream Team," where the creators of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Dragon Ball all came together to make an unforgettable video game. The story involves a group of adventurers who must travel through time to prevent an evil alien set on causing a global catastrophe.

Chrono Trigger was one of the few games at the time to include multiple endings, plot-related sidequests focused on character development, intricately designed pixel graphics, a compelling story and a unique battle system. The overhead 2D RPG has players explore various cities, forests and dungeons in an overworld realistic map where they talk with locals, buy items, solve puzzles and encounter various enemies. Chrono Trigger uses an “Active Time Battle” system — a staple in Final Fantasy games — where players take action for their characters once a personal timer hits zero, giving them a sense of character speed as they employ defenses, attacks and cooperative techniques to take down enemies and ultimately level up.

Runner-Up, Best for Roleplaying: Super Mario RPG

Super Mario RPG is Mario’s first roleplaying game developed by legendary Square features Final Fantasy elements and has you fighting alongside Bowser. The story involves a mysterious giant sword that falls from the sky and lodges itself in Bowser’s castle; Mario investigates and finds that an evil enemy named Smithy — hellbent on creating a world of weapons — has stolen seven star pieces that make people’s dreams come true.

With its 3D-rendered graphics, catchy soundtrack, humor and simplistic gameplay, Super Mario RPG manages to capture the hearts of Nintendo fans with charming characters, a big world and an even bigger story. The isometric 3D RPG platformer game has players adventuring in different towns and wilderness areas, gathering information and items and diving into turn-based battle sequences that trigger when Mario comes into contact with an enemy. There was never any real sequel to Super Mario RPG except spiritual successors that never quite caught the same magic that players to this day still dream for.

Most Talked About: Earthbound

“This game stinks!” was a foolish marketing ploy that Earthbound was given during its 1995 release in America, paired with a humungous box that just seemed so unconventional along with simplistic graphics. Despite its initial failure, Earthbound was revived in 1999 when Super Smash Bros. featured its main character as an unlockable fighter that piqued the interest of inquiring gamers.

Earthbound is a game you have to try. In fact, it’s still being talked about today, 20 plus years later. The quirky action role-playing game stars a young boy named Ness who investigates a meteorite crash in the middle of the night, gains psychic power and is told by an insect from the future named “Buzz-Buzz” that a demonic alien entity has corrupted the souls of every living being on Earth. Ness is then told that he is destined to save it along with three other kids from around the world. Phew! But really, Earthbound is an example of a video game that’s so much more than just…a “video game." Its personality shines through its environments, dialogue, characters you empathize with, music, aesthetics, far-out enemies (New Age Retro Hippie and Spiteful Crow, to name a few) and what some consider to be the best writing for a Nintendo game ever. 

Best Beat-‘Em-Up: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time

Originally an arcade game, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time was ported to the SNES as one of the best side-scrolling beat-‘em-up games where players play as one of the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The action-packed game allows you and another player to fight side-by-side as you take on Shredder and his foot clan army.

In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time, players are sent back to various time periods, including the 1800s and a prehistoric era where they fight everything from ninjas, robots, pirates and menacing alligator bosses. The game offers players a large array of moves and attacks that can cater to anyone’s strategy, including running, slide sweeps, jump kicks, spin moves and even picking up and throwing an enemy at the screen. Gamers who want a thrilling arcade challenge with exciting gameplay should definitely pick this one up and see how far the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have come.

Best for Boxing: Super Punch-Out!!

With the success of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo sought out to expand a more intriguing and detailed arcade boxing game with Super Punch-Out!! for the SNES. The exciting boxer game breaks all the rules and features a unique set of quirky characters from clowns to kung fu masters that players have to seriously strategize against in order to win.

Dodge, hook, duck, jab and do all sorts of moves as Little Mac in Super Punch-Out!!, a game where an amateur boxer pursues the big dream of becoming the World Video Boxing Association champion. Players fight from a transparent behind-the-back perspective and are given three minutes to knock out their opponent by performing a series of maneuvers, including charged power shots and rapid attacks. The colorful and cartoon-like game is easy to play but hard to master, giving players a simple gameplay format with a high replay value as they progress to defeat and find the weaknesses of 16 boxers in four circuits.

Best for Two Players: Kirby Super Star

Kirby Super Star is an exciting and easy-to-learn 2D side-scrolling platformer that allows for two players on a screen to be part of the action. Players play as Kirby, a delightful pink creature that can inhale enemies and absorb their powers.

In Kirby Super Star, players can create a helper by inhaling certain enemies, copying their abilities and magically reproducing a character out of thin air. At any time, a second player can jump in and assume the role of the helper, who can fight alongside Kirby in six different exciting subsection episodes of the game. The game comes with two mini-games that also have a multiplayer option, too: Samurai Kirby is a time-based quick draw event where players hit a button as soon as a signal is given and Megaton Punch has players press a series of buttons to see who can punch the biggest crack in the planet.