No game on the SNES Classic is bad. It is an exquisitely selected, if incomplete, collection of some of the best games for the system that dominated the ’90s. That doesn’t mean we can’t rank them, however! So, from ‘least’ to best, here are the games to play.
21. Kirby’s Dream Course
This golf game is likely the deepest cut out of Nintendo’s vaults by a wide margin, and if you’ve never tried it, it’s a fun, if wispy, take on teeing up.
20. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
This unforgiving platformer broke a lot of controllers back in the day, and it’s just barely this side of unfair even by Nintendo standards. But hey, dying is fun!
19. Super Punch-Out!!
This is just Punch-Out!! with better graphics, really. That said, if it’s not broken, why fix it?
18. Contra III: The Alien Wars
Konami’s upgrade of their beloved run-and-gun series, where you play two macho men killing lots and lots of aliens, remains a blast. But there’s not as much to it as some of the other games on here.
16 and 17. Star Fox and Star Fox 2
These games are of a piece, and the never-released Star Fox 2 has some much-needed depth. But these were as much tech demos as games, and it holds them back a little.
15. Mega Man X
Mega Man’s run and gun platforming never went out of style, so current gamers might find this feels a bit dated after twenty years of refinement. But it’s still one of the best in the genre.
14. Final Fantasy VI
The classic RPG still holds up, but it fades into the background a little bit compared to some of the RPGs on here.
13. Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
There’s some debate as to whether this is the best home version of Street Fighter II, but as fighting games go, it’s still a classic, and still much better with a friend.
12. Kirby Super Star
By far the friendliest and lightest of the ’90s platformers, this won’t challenge your thumbs nearly as much as some of the others on here. But it’s a finely tuned good time.
11. Super Mario Kart
The original party game is just as fun as you remember, especially with a friend. But it’s not quite the best racing game on here.
10. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Nintendo’s riff on the classic JRPG stands out, still, as a clever twist on both Mario’s platforming and turn-based RPG battles. It takes a little getting used to, but it remains a neat take on the genre.
For the hardcore racers, there’s no franchise like Nintendo’s futuristic racer, and it holds up even now.
8. Super Mario World
Sure, it’s a classic platformer, and arguably the game that kept platformers front and center as fighting games caught on. But, and we know this is a controversial opinion, Nintendo did better over the course of the SNES’ life.
7. Super Castlevania IV
This isn’t quite the game that put the “Vania” in “Metroidvania,” but it’s a strong bid for one of the best games in the series.
6. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
There’s not much to say about this classic action RPG, except that you’ve probably already played it, which is the only reason it’s so low on this ranking.
5. Donkey Kong Country
Rare’s reinvention of Nintendo’s first game got a lot of praise for its graphics, but it’s also one of the best, most tightly designed, platformers ever made.
4. Secret of Mana
One of the most beloved RPGs of the era just had to be on here, and it’s even better than you remember.
3. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
All of Nintendo’s platformer experience culminated in this, arguably the best platformer Nintendo has ever made.
Most of Nintendo’s games were polished to a high sheen and reflected the company ethos. EarthBound was different, a game that started as a smart-ass satire of video games but over the course of play evolved into a deeply personal, deeply felt story about the complex way kids see the world.
1. Super Metroid
There was nothing quite like this game when it arrived, and it stands out even today for its mix of puzzles, action, and exploration. In many ways, this is where modern gaming began, the proof that depth was not only possible, but that it mattered.