We all have fond memories of playing games on the consoles of yesteryear, don’t we?
Unfortunately, most of the time when we actually go back and play those games, we realize there’s a reason we left that technology behind forever.
But the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) was really just that — super.
It gave us gaming gems that stick with us to this day, and beyond the warm fuzzies it gives us to go back and relive those glory days, these games are still legit.
Whether you want some intense gameplay, a compelling storyline, or just need a laugh, here are some SNES games that are well worth jumping back into when you’re sick of 6-year-olds kicking your ass on Fortnite:
For a high-speed fix: F-Zero
F-Zero was an in-house futuristic racer, and like most of Nintendo’s in-house productions, it has always been super fun in all of its incarnations.
The original came out for the Super Nintendo in 1990, and many of the elements it introduced went on to be incorporated in other Super Nintendo games, like Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. Which those franchises went on to, you know, be awesome.
F-Zero revolutionized 3D gaming with its super smooth delivery and was one of the first racers to really capture the delicate balance of controlled chaos that Nintendo has come to master.
And it’s still fun. One of the most fun things to do is to see how far you can launch yourself into oblivion. And for just about $20, you can get your hands on an actual cartridge.
For the weirdo: Earthbound
Earthbound was a truly off-the-wall RPG that received horrid reviews from Nintendo Power.
It’s gone on to become one of the most beloved SNES games of all time since then.
It’s set in modern times (or at least, early ’90s modern times), giving it a familiarity that most RPGs lack. And Earthbound tried some really interesting features, like auto-battle—a battle interface where you only see the enemy—and sneak attacks. And you get to fight everything from a tree to ghosts to the most menacing alien in history.
It’s also apparently one of a trilogy of games, called the Mother trilogy, of which Earthbound is apparently the second entry. I knew nothing of this when I first played this game, and it in no way hampered my experience. It’s easily a stand-alone story.
Like pretty much any RPG, there are some truly stupid things that occur, but I gave up on Final Fantasy XV because I spent so much damn time in menus, so it’s not like things have necessarily gotten better.
There really is no RPG in history with this cool of a storyline. Without any spoilers, let’s just say it truly is worth your time and will not go where you think it’s going to go. The dialogue is entertaining and witty, and the world itself is oodles of fun to explore.
If you’ve never played this one before, I’m sort of jealous that you can experience it for the first time. But even if it’s been a while, revisiting Earthbound is always a good idea.
Getting your hands on the actual cartridge has become cost-prohibitive, but thankfully Nintendo included it in the SNES Classic Mini.
For skydiving: Pilotwings
Besides the way too complicated Microsoft flight simulator, Pilotwings was the perfect way for kids to get their flying fix.
From hang gliding to flying a biplane to flying a jet pack, there’s plenty to love about this classic simulator. But let’s be honest, the real fun is in plummeting toward the earth and not necessarily deciding to open your shoot.
For a system released very early on in the home console era, it really gives you an exhilarating sense of speed. Plus, the music rocks.
Replay value runs a bit short once you earn your licenses, but as GTA proved years later, it’s always fun to just jump towards the ground from unreasonable heights for a minute or two.
You can find Ebay for cartridges around $10.
For the hardcore RPG fan: Chrono Trigger
I’ve already written about Chrono Trigger, so I won’t gush even more here. Just suffice it to say: it’s one of the greatest RPGs of all time, and it holds up nearly 25 years later.
For the sake of simplicity: SimCity
Building a city is fun.
But damn, take any number of simulation games and they’ve just gotten more and more complicated, requiring more and more of your time to do anything meaningful.
Super Nintendo kept life simple in its iteration of SimCity. Meaning, the building of your city is intuitive and easy, despite the fact the SNES version actually added more options than the PC version from the time.
Not to mention, it’s much easier to just save your game the old fashion way, turn it off, and return to it at your leisure, rather than fire up a simulation that requires 30 minutes just to get loaded.
There are also some sweet Easter eggs in this edition, like Bowser attacking the city instead of Godzilla.
You’ll have plenty of fun trying to not go bankrupt or starve your citizens with this all-time classic SNES game. Grab a copy from eBay for around $10-$20.
For the soundtrack: Rock N’ Roll Racing
Before there was Twisted Metal, there was Rock N’ Roll Racing.
This combat racer felt like a total novelty, which it is, but it actually also featured some pretty fun gameplay. You got to choose from a silly cast of characters coming from races across the imagined galaxy, including a dude named Cyberhawk and a very clear Chewbacca ripoff.
It was no Forza by any means, but you also had a certain level of customization available, choosing from three types of vehicles and several colors, and had the ability to earn money and upgrade your vehicles.
You could pick up different types of power-ups along the way, blow up your opponents, and get blown up yourself. Rock N’ Roll also revolutionized real-time AI commentary with gems like, “RIP FADES INTO LAST!”
But what makes this game really fun to revisit is the excellent soundtrack of 16-bit classic rock greats. Including, but not limited to:
- “Born to be Wild” — Steppenwolf
- “Paranoid” — Black Sabbath
- “Bad to the Bone” — George Thorogood
The one downside is the playlist isn’t that long, so you end up hearing the same songs over and over again. But how does Black Sabbath not make a racing game more fun?
Unfortunately, this one has become a bit of a gem, so you’re going to shell out around $40 for the cartridge on eBay. And if you have the Game Boy Advance version? Just sell it now and put your kids through college.
For no good reason: Aerobiz
I was terrible at this game.
I bankrupted countless airline businesses, time after time. And you know what? I don’t care! It was fun, damn it!
Sort of like SimCity, Aerobiz gets excellent replay value because it’s a fun simulation game without the absurd complications that have come in recent years.
Especially at the outset, all you have to do is pick where in the world you want to base your new airline, and then get to work building your empire. You get to be the CEO, even assigning specific people with terrible haircuts to negotiate on your behalf.
Want to jack up prices for your flights? Go ahead! Want to buy a hotel in Rome? Do it! Want to name your Airline “ButtAir International”? Do it!
Be terrible at this game. That’s what makes it fun.
You can find copies of the cartridge for under $40, but watch out for accidentally getting the sequel, Aerobiz Supersonic, which foolishly adds more options.
For the wannabe god: ActRaiser
Part action platformer, part simulator, ActRaiser really had it all. Plus, people worshipped you.
No, seriously. They bring you gifts … of course, they also come to you begging for help with monsters that are destroying their crops. Greedy bastards.
You split time between helping your worshippers build up their villages while protecting them from monsters and demons, and fighting said monsters with boots on the ground (plus swords and power-ups and stuff).
It’s a super fun balance that is rewarding as hell, and well worth playing through again. If you really want to, you can get through the whole thing in a matter of hours, so the commitment’s not huge. But when you’re a god, what’s the rush?
The Super Nintendo was really an amazing console when you get right to it. There are plenty more games worth revisiting, but we’ll save that for another post — time to go save the world, and stuff.