Top 10 SNES Games in my Backlog
The Super Nintendo is one of the earliest consoles I can remember playing. I was playing Game Boy around the same time, but as far as my first TV-connected video game console, it’s either Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis. I have tons of fond memories of playing games like Yoshi’s Island, Donkey Kong Country 2, and Super Mario RPG on the system.
There are still a slew of great SNES games I missed out on though. Some classics, like Chrono Trigger, I also missed out on, but plan to play on a different system (see the Top 10 DS Games in my Backlog for details on that!). Others never came out in North America, so essentially didn’t exist for me since I couldn’t just go online and read about them. With that in mind, here’s my list of the Top 10 SNES Games in my Backlog!
ActRaiser is described as a city-building simulation and platforming game. That is a very intriguing combination of genres! It sounds like this is accomplished by having different gameplay segments for each genre, rather than somehow blending them into a single gameplay phase. Still, it sounds interesting enough to warrant a try someday!
9. Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War
The 4th game in the Fire Emblem series, Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War was released for the Super Famicom, and also came to Nintendo’s Virtual Console on the Wii, Wii U, and 3DS. All of this was exclusive to Japan, however, and the game still hasn’t seen an official English release, though there are fan translations available.
Genealogy of the Holy War might be responsible for some of the features that the West wouldn’t see until Awakening. Namely, it was the first game to feature multiple generations of units. You can pair up units, and they later have a child who will inherit things from their parents. It’s also known for having extremely long chapters, and that plays a part in making me a bit hesitant to start it. Still though, it’s a game I’d like to try someday, and maybe by the time I do there will be a remake of it on Switch or something!
8. Breath of Fire
I’ve heard good things about the Breath of Fire series, at least the first few entries. Fans of the series would probably prefer to pretend the free-to-play, microtransaction-filled Breath of Fire 6 never existed. But the series had strong roots, beginning on the Super Nintendo as a JRPG with some novel ideas. Like most JRPGs of the time, battles are turn-based and initiated as random encounters as you explore. Characters in your party can have special abilities that they use in the overworld to overcome different obstacles, allowing you to reach new areas for example. Your party members are also all anthropomorphic in some way, or can transform into an animal form. It sounds like a varied cast of characters, which is always intriguing.
7. Shin Megami Tensei if…
An early spinoff of Atlus’s Shin Megami Tensei series, “if…” takes the gameplay of Shin Megami Tensei, but reduces the scope to a single high school settings. Taking place at the fictitious Karukozaka High School, the plot follows a player-named high school student after their entire school is drawn into a demon-filled world called the Expanse. Several of the player character’s classmates are also trapped in the school. Depending on which of these classmates you side with, there are several paths and endings to the game.
The high school setting was received so well that it played large role in inspiring another spinoff series a few years later - Persona. As the inspiration for the Persona series, “Shin Megami Tensei if…” is definitely on my radar. It received several ports to other platforms over the years, but all of these were available only in Japanese. It wasn’t until 2018 that it received an English fan translation by Aeon Genesis.
Terranigma is an action RPG for the SNES that follows Ark on his journey to resurrect the Earth. The game never received an official North American release, but it did receive and English localization and release in Europe and Australia. The absence of a North American release is likely due to poor timing. The game was published by Enix in Japan, but by the time the English localization was finished for the PAL region, the US Enix subsidiary had been closed.
I’m very curious to try out Terranigma. It’s definitely an interesting case due to its PAL and Japan exclusivity! The action RPG gameplay also sounds pretty fun!
5. Secret of Mana
The first game in the Mana series to be labeled as such in the West, Secret of Mana is actually the 2nd game in the series. The first game, for the original Game Boy, was just called Final Fantasy Adventure in the West, to capitalize on Final Fantasy name recognition. Secret of Mana features real-time action battles instead of the prevalent turn-based system of the time. In it, the player and their companions fight monsters and more on their quest to save and world, and re-energize the Mana Sword.
Secret of Mana is available on so many platforms. There’s even a full 3D remake from 2018 for PS4, PC, and PSVita. That version has very mixed reviews on Steam though. I’ll likely end up picking up the “Collection of Mana” version on the Switch. It’s a compilation that includes the aforementioned “Final Fantasy Adventure,” Secret of Mana, and the third game in the series (which had never before been released in English!), Trials of Mana.
4. Shin Megami Tensei
Edit: I’ve since played this one, and it’s a very fun, retro dungeon crawler! Some parts are a bit trying, like a high encounter rate and some non-obvious things you need to do to advance from time to time. But on the whole, it’s a very enjoyable game, and definitely one worth playing if you’re interested! You can read more of my thoughts on it here, spoiler-free.
This game sort of put Atlus on the map. It featured gameplay elements that would become staples of the Shin Megami Tensei series, such as demon conversation, recruitment, and fusion. There’s also an alignment system for the protagonist, which ranges from Law to Neutral to Chaos. Their alignment changes based on the decisions the player makes, and this in turn affects how NPCs and demons will react to the protagonist.
So, I’ve listed the original Super Famicom Japanese release date here, because this game was not localized when originally released. However, it has had ports to various systems in the decades following its release. One of these systems was Apple’s iOS, and of all the versions that could have been localized, it was finally the iOS port that was localized and officially released in English for the first time in 2014. And that iOS release is still the only way to officially play the original Shin Megami Tensei in English. Though it was also released for Android in Japan, this version was not localized. All this puts me in a bit of a predicament. I don’t have an iPhone, and probably never will, so I don’t really have a way to legitimately play this game. I can buy the iOS version, but I can’t play it on anything! Unless it works on the very outdated iOS version running on my very old iPod Touch 3…but that seems unlikely. There is a fan translation for the Super Famicom version though, and some additional fan patches to remove some irritating aspects of the original release, such as adding a hotkey to open the map. It’s most likely that I’ll be emulating the Super Famicom release with those patches.
3. Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VI was actually called Final Fantasy III when it first released in North America, because it was only the third Final Fantasy to be localized. It’s had numerous ports to other systems since then, which all seem to refer to it as Final Fantasy VI now. On the subject of ports, I’m not entirely sure which version I’ll be playing. There’s a PC port available on Steam. This is a port of the Android version, and both have received a bit of criticism for the changes made to the sprites and UI. However, there seems to be a collection of mods for the PC version to make it more faithful to the original SNES release graphically, so I may give that a try!
Many people are of the opinion that this is the best entry in the Final Fantasy series. As of this writing, I’ve only played Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls, so I don’t have much of an opinion on the series myself. Given its reputation though, I’m certainly looking to experience this one myself!
2. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
Edit: Another SNES game finished! This was a fun one, with some tough puzzles in its dungeons. If you’re a fan of turn-based RPGs and 2D Zelda-style puzzles, you have to check this game out. The worst thing about it is that the North American version is a little buggy, but not in a game-breaking way. Other than that, it’s pure 16-bit RPG fun! You can read more of my thoughts on it here, spoiler-free.
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals features classic JRPG staples like turn-based battles and exploration, but also mixes things up by having dungeons with Zelda-like block puzzles! That sounds like it could be a great combination to me! Furthermore, although battles are random encounters when exploring the overworld, enemy sprites appear on the screen during dungeons and combat initiates when you touch them. I’m delighted to hear this, because I’m not much of a fan of random encounters. Plus, due to the puzzles present in dungeons, it makes much more sense not to have random encounters there since it would interrupt the flow of puzzle solving a lot if it were present.
The story of this game actually serves as a prequel to Lufia 1, also on the SNES. Since Lufia 2 is a prequel, it’s not necessary to have played Lufia 1 to understand it, but maybe doing to adds to the experience in some way. Either way, Lufia 2 seems basically universally regarded as the better game between the two by a wide margin.
Edit: Finished, and I loved it! Check out my spoiler-free review here!
An evil alien force has quietly begun to take over the world. People, animals, and even inanimate objects are suddenly becoming malicious and violent. Only one hope remains, a young boy from Onett in Eagleland with some psychic abilities. He is tasked with stopping this evil alien force by a visitor from the future, who wishes to prevent the dark timeline that it came from.
Earthbound is a huge cult classic, at least outside of Japan. In Japan, it’s actually known as “Mother 2” as it is the sequel to an NES game, “Mother,” that wasn’t released in the West (although it would eventual get a Western release on the Wii U Virtual Console). The tone of Earthbound is often silly and bizarre. The enemies you fight include taxi cabs and piles of vomit. You get to name the main character yourself, but I’ve always referred to him as Ness, because that’s the name he has in the Super Smash Bros. series.
I remember learning about Ness for the first time as a kid when he was the last character I unlocked on the N64 Super Smash Bros.. I had no idea who he was, but he had all these cool powers! Fast forward to when Super Smash Bros. Melee came out, and the intro movie shows him blasting out of a warp hole so fast his shoes leave a trail of fire on the street in their wake. I’m sure as a kid I came up with all kinds of stories in my head about Ness and his PSI powers, and even though I believe he doesn’t actually have all of his Smash Bros. powers in Earthbound, I would still love to see his journey for myself.