The SNES is my favorite system of all time, and one of the many reasons why I love it so much is because of all the great multiplayer games. While there are a ton of amazing 2-player SNES games, the focus here is specifically on Super Nintendo titles that allow 4 (or more) players to duke it out (or in some cases, work together). There’s something about being in a room with a group of friends playing the same game together. There’s an innocence and magic to it that will never fade away.
I have so many fond memories of the many party sessions I’ve had over the years with the SNES. It’s fitting that I’m writing this article so close to Christmas as the holiday season tends to bring people together. It’s the perfect excuse to bust out the Super Nintendo and play some old (or newfound) favorites with your loved ones.
I LOVE ME SOME FOUR-PLAY
First, make sure you have one of these multitap adapters. There are lots of models but these are just a few examples.
You’ll need one if you wish to play any of the following games with 3 or more friends.
There are many great 2-player SNES games out there, from Super Mario Kart to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. The list goes on and on. That’s a
story article for another day. For now the focus is squarely on games that allow 4 or more to play. There’s always room however to quickly acknowledge those that didn’t quite make the cut but are noteworthy nonetheless. The following 3 games deserve a shout out since they each support up to 3 players. Not quite 4, last I checked anyhow, but close. Hence, my honorable mentions are as follows…
CRYSTAL BEANS: FROM DUNGEON EXPLORER
Funky subtitle aside, Crystal Beans is a simple and enjoyable overhead action RPG with elements similar to Gauntlet. It has 8 characters (of varying classes) to select from and best of all, it supports up to 3 players. It only came out in Japan but there’s an English translation patch available for those interested. Not the best game but it can easily eat up a weekend or two especially if you have a few buds willing to join in.
There’s a reason why Secret of Mana is so revered within retro gaming circles. Even 25 years later, it resonates with an entire generation that grew up glued to the screen vanquishing the latest creatures and critters. Doing it with 2 friends by your side, at a time where a 3-player mode in an action RPG was unheard of, made the experience even more irresistibly awesome.
Seiken Densetsu 3, AKA Secret of Mana 2, came out exclusively in Japan. Thankfully, an English fan translation has allowed gamers worldwide to experience this phenomenal action RPG in all its glory. On top of that, a 3rd player option was graciously added in as well.
4 OR MORE
In this article (that I’ve wanted to write for over a decade now), I’ll share some of my favorite SNES party games. I’ll also list some I’m not too crazy about knowing that everyone’s mileage will vary. Some games listed are super well known while others are a lot more obscure. Not every 4+ player game on the SNES has been cited; the list is far too long so I’ve chosen only those that I wish to highlight. With that said, let’s dive in!
I remember seeing Bakuto! Dochers in the pages of EGM in 1994 and being excited. A Bomberman clone but with cute animals? Sold! It does some unique things: 3 hits to die, 20 battle zones (although many look samey) and cannon fodder enemies litter the field even in the 4-player battle mode. But sadly, it’s just not fun. It’s hard to botch the Bomberman formula but somehow Bakuto! BOTCHERS managed to do so
A homeless man’s NBA Jam, Barkley Shut Up and Jam isn’t very good but it can be a guilty pleasure. If you and your buds have a burning desire to use Charles Barkley and a bunch of fictional playground legends, this could be your jam. Pun partially intended.
Bomberman meets Mario Kart… kinda. The closest thing to that on the SNES, anyhow. Battle Cross is a 6-player single screen racer, although only 5 humans can play (kind of a shame they didn’t take advantage of that sixth slot). There’s a lot to like here. Whether it’s the cartoonish graphics, the insane customization, or the pure satisfaction of placing a land mine underneath an overpass to blow up unsuspecting foes, Battle Cross is a hit at retro gaming parties.
BOMBERMAN B-DAMAN SERIES
The great Ric Flair once said, “To B-Daman, you gotta Beat-Daman! WOO!!” Many folks know about the great Super Bomberman titles on the SNES, but not many know about the B-Daman series which came out only in Japan. It deviates from the classic formula but still has its own 4-player battle mode. In the first B-Daman game, players can’t die. Instead, the goal is to score as many hits as possible within the time limit. It’s not nearly as fun as the classic Bomberman titles but that’s a given thanks to the restrictions at play here, such as being conformed to your side of the wall and having limited movement.
The sequel, Bakukyu Rennpatsu!! Super B-Daman, is an improved effort but still feels like a lightweight novelty. Players are no longer restricted to rails and can freely move about. The goal is to push all the other people off the field and be the last (bomber)man standing. It’s nice to see them try something different but you’re better off sticking to the classic Bomberman games.
Of all the games on this list, BS Out of Bounds Golf is perhaps the most fun and cutthroat party game of them all. It’s a blast and has to be experienced with 4 players. The amount of sabotaging and trash talking that naturally occurs is a thing of beauty. And because players take turns, there is ample opportunity to scout and plot out your plan of attack. It’s one of those special games that anyone can pick up and play, and it will appeal even to non-gamers. A magical unicorn, indeed.
CAPCOM’S SOCCER SHOOTOUT
Not the best soccer game on this list, but a very competent and enjoyable one. Most noteworthy of all, Capcom’s Soccer Shootout has an indoor mode where the arena is shrunken down and the ball bounces off the wall for continuous play. Intense mode, especially with 4 players!
CHIBI MARUKO CHAN: MEZASE MINAMI NO ISLAND
A strange 4-player game where you throw balls at the opposition in various arenas. Simple but loads of fun. Quirky games like this with oddball Japanese humor are always a guilty pleasure. Chibi Maruko Chan: Mezase Minami no Island is rather obscure and (sadly) rarely talked about. Check it out if you’re looking for something a little different for your next retro gaming party.
Speaking of not getting enough love, Coron Land is another obscure Super Famicom oddity that rarely ever gets mentioned. Blow and throw bubbles. It’s quirky and charming in its own unique way.
If you’re like me and have fond memories of playing pickup basketball from way back in the day, then Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop is sure to take you right back to your blacktop days. There’s a clunky 5-on-5 full court mode but the 3-on-3 street ball mode, being half court and having less sprites onscreen, is where Dream Basketball shines brightest. A rare gem for those not opposed to playing arcade-like sports games that are a quarter of a century old.
FIGHTER’S HISTORY: MIZOGUCHI KIKI IPPATSU!!
This is the only fighting game on the SNES that allows 4-players to play with a tag out feature. Pretty neat! Besides, who doesn’t want to play as Karnov?
Part Zelda and part Arkanoid, Fire Striker contains a 2-on-2 mode where teams of two battle for supremacy. The physics are a little off but it’s still a blast.
With over 115 wrestlers ready to be used and 800 different moves at your disposal, Burning Pro Wrestling is quite the package. It features real athletes from many different styles such as Puroresu, Lucha Libre and K-1 just to name a few. Play as or beat up the likes of Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Sting, The Undertaker and many more. The Battle Royal features up to 18 wrestlers and a grand total of 6 wrestlers can litter the ring. Fun stuff!
GO! GO! DODGE LEAGUE
As if you can’t tell from the screenshot above, Go! Go! Dodge League is loosely based on dodgeball and doesn’t follow the conventional rules of the sport. It’s not the best game around but it has enough wacky Japanese charm to put a smile on your face.
HAT TRICK HERO 2
Originally set for a US release as Super Soccer Champ 2, it was eventually scrapped. Released only in Japan as Hat Trick Hero 2, this is a fast scrolling arcade brand of soccer that features super power kicks. Worth a look if you love retro 4-player soccer games.
INTERNATIONAL SUPERSTAR SOCCER DELUXE
The best soccer game on the SNES, hands (feet?) down, is made even better when experienced in glorious 4-player mode.
Even more outlandish than NBA Jam and arguably just as fun, Looney Tunes B-Ball is a sheer blast. Name another zany basketball game where you can drop a 16 ton weight on someone’s head or summon lightning to zap suckers into smithereens… you can’t!
Madden Football isn’t the first game I think of when it comes to multiplayer affairs. But the ’94-’98 editions all allow up to 5 players. If you’re craving pigskin of the 16-bit variety, this might do the trick.
MICRO MACHINES SERIES
Race your favorite miniature toy cars around 28 different tracks. These include a pool table, the living room floor and even your neighbor’s flower garden. The sequel, Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament, featured even more vehicles and tracks and was released only in Europe.
NBA Give ‘N Go lacks blazing speed but makes up for it with an impeccable arcade-like feel. The presentation is a slam dunk and the wacky announcer will make you feel like you’re back at the arcades. Give ‘N Go is based after all on Run and Gun, Konami’s arcade smash hit.
NBA HANG TIME
If you can look past its terrible aesthetics, NBA Hang Time gets the job done in 4-player mode.
BOOM SHAKALAKA! NBA Jam and more specifically, NBA Jam: Tournament Edition, rules the roost when its comes to 4-player basketball games on the SNES. Best of all, NBA Jam TE is just as fun to play today as it was 25 years ago.
The NBA Live franchise blends simulation and arcade-like play extremely well. The ’95-’98 editions allow up to 5 players, with ’97 and ’98 featuring 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 modes for more intimate contests.
NHL ’94 is the best of the lot and has 5-player capability. Oddly, only 2 players can play NHL ’95-’97. NHL ’98 went back to 5 players but stick with the original; it’s pure hockey bliss that can’t be beat.
The only 8-player game (!) on this list, N-Warp Daisakusen is certainly a curiosity. Developed in 2008 as a homebrew title, this simplistic melee brawler sets out to see who will be the last man standing.
A Bomberman clone with a delightful twist. Rather than bombs, players set down capsules. Shurikens shoot out in all 4 directions. Get hit and you’re temporarily frozen. You lose only if someone hits you with their ball and chain while being suspended in animation. With a lens geared toward stealth and capitalizing on mistakes, Otoboke Ninja Colosseum makes for a fantastic 4-player romp.
The only beat ‘em up on this list! But sadly, 4 players can only duke it out in a special self-contained mode. Give Peace Keepers some credit but it’s a limited novelty at best. It’s a shame none of the SNES beat ‘em ups allow for 4-player cooperative play but that’s understandable given the hardware limitations.
Up to 5 people can work together to solve puzzles of various kinds. Pieces is perfect for younger and less experienced players such as little nieces and nephews.
An adorable Bomberman clone where you push blocks to subdue your opponents. One of my readers recently dubbed this game “Gnome Squish” which fits it perfectly! An absolute blast in 4-player mode.
My friends and I spent so many Saturday nights back in the summer of 1994 playing this. Frenetic, chaotic and always entertaining, Saturday Night Slam Masters was born to be a 4-player slobber knocker.
SHIN NIPPON PRO WRESTLING ’95: TOKYO DOME BATTLE 7
Not as good or fun as Saturday Night Slam Masters but not a bad alternative. The visuals are on point and it’s always fun to kick some ass with either Great Sasuke or Jushin Thunder Liger!
Bomberman but with cars. It’s super blatant but also super fun. A few slight tweaks here and there, like 2 hits to die, help to make it not a complete carbon copy. Sorry.
Sporting News Baseball holds the distinct honor of being the only North American SNES baseball game to support 4 players. You and a friend take turns batting on offense and on defense one pitches while the other plays defense. And hey, any excuse to play ball on the Field of Dreams cornfield sounds good to me!
Street Racer is no Mario Kart 2 but it’s an admirable effort. 24 tracks, 8 drivers and plenty of zany 4-player modes!
Smash and bash your way to victory in Sunsoft’s melee brawler. Sugoi Hebereke is a bit like Super Smash Bros. in some ways and is worth checking out, especially if you have retro gaming buddies to play it with.
SUPER BOMBERMAN SERIES
Super Bomberman is the classic and quintessential party game on the SNES. All you needed back in 1993 was a copy of this game, a multitap, 4 controllers and 3 friends. My friends and I spent countless Saturday nights back in ’93 blowing each other up and loving every second of it.
Super Bomberman 2 included a tag team mode. I prefer the original but you can’t go wrong with this one.
Super Bomberman 3 came out only in Europe and Japan. It’s most notable for introducing mad bombers, animal friends (granting you an extra life and special abilities) and raising the player count from 4 to 5.
Super Bomberman 4 was released only in Japan. Like pizza, you really can’t go wrong with any of the 16-bit Bomberman games.
Super Bomberman 5 is my favorite of the 16-bit Bomberman games that didn’t come out in North America. And overall, I’d rank it second only to the classic original.
SUPER BOMBERMAN PANIC BOMBER WORLD
Did you know there was a Bomberman puzzle game on the Super Famicom? And of course, it naturally features a 4-player mode. As the cool kids might say, this game is lit yo. Geddit? Sorry.
I love this game so much that I ranked it #2 on my top 50 favorite obscure Super Famicom games list. Super Family Tennis is full of charm and never fails to leave me feeling satisfied. 4-player doubles is where it’s at!
SUPER FINAL MATCH TENNIS
Developed by HUMAN (creators of the beloved Fire Pro series), Super Final Match Tennis nails down the presentation but something about the gameplay is slightly off. There’s still some merit here but you’re probably better off playing Super Family Tennis instead. Still, it’s nice to have options.
SUPER FIRE PRO WRESTLING X PREMIUM
Speaking of which, Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium is the final and best Fire Pro entry on the Super Nintendo. For the past 20+ years, the fabled Fire Pro franchise has been a staple among wrestling video game fans. While this edition may be primitive by comparison, it was revolutionary back in 1996 and remains just as enjoyable today.
There’s nothing like an intense 4-player Puyo Puyo match. This has the potential to ruin relationships, so proceed with caution.
On the surface it looks like yet another Bomberman clone. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find an interesting alternative. Flip tiles and jump on opponents to stun them, and then attack them with your trusty spiky ball. Super Tekkyu Fight! is an obscure hidden gem worthy of a spot in your retro gaming party collection.
SUPER TETRIS 3
4-player Tetris, bitches. ‘Nuff said!
TINY TOONS WACKY SPORTS CHALLENGE
Due to the hodgepodge of mini games, some have likened this as a precursor to Mario Party. You’ll like this if that’s your thing.
TOP GEAR 3000
Many folks are familiar with Top Gear as it was one of the earlier SNES hits back in the day. Top Gear 3000 on the other hand is fairly obscure, receiving a quiet release with very little fanfare in early 1995. It’s most notable for its quirky 4-player split screen.
Released only in Europe, Worms is classic turn-based artillery multiplayer tactical warfare at its finest. Randomly generated deformable landscapes only add to the fun and strategy of it all. Sure, this first entry in the longstanding franchise may seem a bit outdated to some, but it’s where it all started. I can appreciate that. Besides, who can say no to blowing up worms via TNT?
Earlier this year Monday Night Raw celebrated 25 years. I remember those early Raw episodes well; every Monday night was must-see TV. But I digress. An improvement over WWF Royal Rumble, WWF Raw is the best WWF game on the SNES. But that’s only because we never got WWF WrestleFest!
ZEN NIPPON PRO WRESTLING 2: 3-4 BUDOKAN
The Zen Nippon series gets forgotten about at times, and in my book is right up there with the fabled Fire Pro franchise as far as great wrestling games go. This is the last and best of the Zen Nippon series on the SNES. The Fatal 4-Way match is an absolute riot. Lots of fun await if you and your buddies enjoy classic retro wrestling games.
Nothing will ever replace the sheer joy of playing a game huddled around your buddies in the same room. Not to mention all the silly trash talking and good-natured taunting that comes with the territory. It’s all part of the charm! There’s something special and magical about those gaming sessions that I recall with a deep fondness, and I always look forward to future gaming gatherings. The SNES has plenty of great 4-player games that would steal the show at any retro gaming party. I hope this list serves you well and gives you some new games to try out with your loved ones. Feel free to comment below too — glaring omissions perhaps or games you enjoy best from this list. Happy gaming, and happy holidays!