The lineup of SNES games that is available to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers has come in for some criticism from folks who apparently only want games they’ve heard of — but take some time to explore the library and you’ll find not only numerous big hitters from the platform, but a bunch of hidden gems that are well worth taking the time to get to know.
And with well over 50 games to check out, there’s sure to be something that appeals from among this lot, for sure!
Interesting puzzle game that involves planning a route across a perilous environment and safely detonating bombs without trapping yourself.
Decent beat ’em up from Jaleco with some amusing comic-style onomatopoeia when you give enemies a good slap. Second in the Rushing Beat trilogy.
Breath of Fire
Classic RPG action from Capcom, and the beginning of a series many fans would love to see come back.
Breath of Fire II
It’s a direct sequel to Breath of Fire, unfolding 500 years later. Don’t expect any radical reinventions here, but it’s still a solid RPG.
Caveman Ninja: Joe & Mac
There was an odd trend of prehistoric-themed games for a brief period in the ’90s — Data East’s SNES platformer was one of the better ones.
Part of Interplay’s series that featured digitised Claymation models, this platformer is thankfully a hundred times better than the woeful Clayfighter games.
Little-known SNES platformer from Data East, and another prehistoric-themed game. If you like Joe & Mac, you’ll dig the smooth action of this.
One of the most graphically impressive games on the SNES, this Ghosts ‘n Goblins spin-off platformer with light RPG elements is a great time.
Donkey Kong Country
Rare’s famous SNES platformer featuring digitised 3D models of Kong and co still holds up well with its smooth gameplay and solid stage design.
Donkey Kong Country 2
It’s Donkey Kong Country, again. If you beat Donkey Kong Country and want more, here you go.
Donkey Kong Country 3
Shaking up the formula a little with some mild adventure game-style elements, Donkey Kong Country 3 is another solid platformer from Rare.
Rubbish fighting game by Telenet Japan’s subsidiary Laser Soft. Not particularly worth bothering with.
The stylised visuals of this famous SNES RPG may be an acquired taste, but its incredible influence on modern gaming culture cannot be underestimated.
Earthworm Jim 2
Earthworm Jim 2 is still a looker today, with some wonderful animation, but its disjointed game structure makes it hard to really get into.
Legendary Mode 7 SNES racer from Nintendo. Not the best in the series, but still a fun time with distinctive handling.
Data East’s shameless Street Fighter II knockoff, which they got into a lot of trouble with Capcom for. Worth a punt if you don’t have a copy of SFII handy.
The Ignition Factor
Excellent but difficult action-adventure game in which you play a fireman conducting various rescue operations.
Solid Euro-platformer with a fairly substantial albeit slow-burn challenge, and a hero who punches things with his dick.
Joe & Mac 2
The core gameplay is similar to Caveman Ninja, but is supported with some very light RPG elements to make this a better console game.
Kirby Super Star
One of the best games in the Kirby franchise, featuring numerous distinct components and a couple of fun minigames.
Also known as Kirby’s Ghost Trap, this is a reskinned version of the first Super Puyo Puyo for SNES, a tricky colour-matching competitive puzzler.
Kirby’s Dream Course
It’s Kirby mini-golf! Fantastic fun both solo and with a friend, this is a SNES game you can easily lose hours to.
Kirby’s Dream Land 3
The beautiful pastel aesthetic of this game kicked off a string of Kirby games that used various artistic materials as inspiration for their overall look.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
It’s the best Zelda game, if you like this one the best.
Magical Drop II
Frantic puzzler from Data East. The Neo Geo versions available in the ACA Arcade Archives series are better, but this is still worth a play if you don’t have them.
Mario Super Picross
A fairly straightforward Picross puzzler. Expect to draw lots of Japanese letters before you get to do anything more interesting.
Natsume Championship Wrestling
Absolute, complete and utter rubbish, but at least it’s better than Pro Wrestling on the NES.
Operation Logic Bomb
Imagine Doom from a top-down perspective and you’re pretty much there. Excellent, atmospheric action-adventure.
Panel de Pon
Better known over here as Tetris Attack, this cutesy block-swapping puzzler is noteworthy for doing something other than the usual falling blocks formula.
The Peace Keepers
Solid beat ’em up from Jaleco, and the third in the Rushing Beat trilogy after Rival Turf and Brawl Brothers.
This showcase for the SNES’ Mode 7 technology still holds up well today with its non-violent and surprisingly realistic flight challenges.
Pop ‘n TwinBee
Quality cute ’em up from Konami. If you enjoyed TwinBee on NES and wished it looked a bit nicer, here you go.
Another caveman game, this time from Interplay. Some solid gameplay in this one, with interestingly varied stage objectives.
A previously unlocalised action-platformer from Telenet Japan. A bit rough round the edges, but decent fun if you enjoy the company’s other output.
Another beat ’em up from Jaleco, this time kicking off the Rushing Beat trilogy. Notable for its unusual scoring system.
The precursor to the excellent Smash Court Tennis games on PlayStation, the arcadey sports action in this is a blast for up to four players.
An elimination platformer from Natsume with an unusual attack mechanic: bouncing a bubble on your head summons different types of sport balls.
While the janky frame rate and simplistic visuals are showing their age a bit, Star Fox is still an excellent 3D blaster with a banging soundtrack.
Star Fox 2
This excellent sequel, previously unreleased until the SNES Mini arrived, provides potentially limitless gameplay with heavy randomisation.
Stunt Race FX
A bold attempt to use the Super FX 3D accelerator chip to make a decent racer. At least partially successful, but don’t expect a super-smooth ride.
Super Baseball Simulator 1.000
Baseball with power-ups. If you’re into the sport, this is probably pretty good, but without a manual it’s nigh-indecipherable for the casual player.
Cracking horizontal scroller from Jaleco. While it lacks the arcade version’s two-player mode, it makes up for it with slick action and great music.
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
Probably the best installment in one of the most notoriously difficult series of all time. You either love it or hate it. I hate it.
Super Mario All-Stars
The first three Super Mario Bros. games plus Lost Levels, all in SNES-o-vision. Opinions are split on if this makes them “better” than the NES originals.
Super Mario Kart
The game that invented a genre. While the flickery Mode 7 graphics are showing their age, the gameplay here is timeless.
Super Mario World
Still one of the greatest 2D platformers of all time, Super Mario World takes Super Mario Bros. 3’s formula and runs with it.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
While the introduction of Baby Mario should probably be considered a war crime, the beautiful crayon aesthetic and wonderful level design make up for it. Mostly.
Still one of the greatest ever exploratory 2D platformers, and dripping with atmosphere. This game hasn’t aged a day, and is an essential play.
Building on the original Punch-Out’s formula with some truly remarkable cartoon-style graphics, this game is once again as much puzzler as it is fighter.
Super Puyo Puyo 2
More Puyo Puyo puzzling, this time a Japan-only release. Bring your Google Translate, because none of the menus are in English.
Human’s take on arcade-style football action unfolds from a visually impressive but somewhat impractical 3D perspective. If you’re cool with that, this is super-fun.
For a long time considered the benchmark for arcade-style tennis games, Super Tennis still holds up pretty well today — though be sure to try Smash Tennis also.
Super Valis IV
While some of the other Valis games are arguably better than this one, this is a solid action-platformer with nice presentation and some creative ideas.
Tuff E Nuff
Stupid name, fairly mediocre fighter, though noteworthy for featuring a tights-clad female character who definitely isn’t Blaze from Streets of Rage.
Absolutely fantastic, beautifully presented cabal shooter, supplanted only by its excellent “Reloaded” version for modern platforms.
The Super NES app is available for free to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers.
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