The SNES has a ton of amazing games. But when you turn your eye to the Japanese side of things, that’s when you truly realize how deep and phenomenal the library is. On September 8, 2006, I began an “Obscure Super Famicom Impressions” topic where I posted my two cents on a slew of obscure Super Famicom exclusives. The topic was well received and stirred much retro gaming discourse. 10 years later I revived my topic to post a personal top 50 list. I’m now converting that list over
- This isn’t a top 50 *BEST* list. Rather, it’s a top 50 favorite list
- There will be no (action) RPGs on this list. As best as I could, I kept this list restricted to games that any non-Japanese reader can enjoy
- To qualify for this list, the game can’t have an official American release
- All these games have links for their own review if you wish to read more
Let the top 50 countdown begin!
Everyone knows about the Capcom Mickey games on the Super Nintendo. But did you know there was a non-Capcom Mickey game released only on the Super Famicom? Developed by GRC (who also made Trouble Shooter for the Genesis), Mickey Tokyo Disneyland is worth a look.
Navigate through various sections of the famous Disneyland theme park. Red balloons send Mickey zipping around. Blue balloons can be flicked at enemies or dropped on unsuspecting suckers. It can also be set down as a paperweight or as a jumping boost. The color scheme, the classic Mickey look — it all works. The control is a bit rigid, though. Still, a nice game to play on a lazy rainy day.
Boasting a rich colorful look, Marty McFly uses his trusty hoverboard to thwart the likes of Biff, Griff, rogue cops and other assorted baddies. The classic Back to the Future overture is perfectly replicated. Chill inducing worthy.
The game does have its share of flaws, though. The control takes some getting used to and there’s a bit of slowdown here and there. But there’s just something about this game that I enjoy, warts and all.
#48: VIOLINIST OF HAMELIN
Violinist of Hamelin (AKA Hamelin no Violin Hiki) is a puzzle action platformer where you play as Hamel and guide a girl named Flute safely through each level. Picking up Flute and tossing her through pillars of stone is not only encouraged, it’s necessary! Flute can transform into 16 different forms (after the appropriate icon has been collected). Each has its own special purpose and using the right one at the right time is key to success.
Poor Flute gets quite abused!
Her expressions are priceless!
Daft only developed three SNES games — two of which are entries #48 and #49 above. This next game completes Daft’s SNES trilogy. Based off the manga, Nangoku is a platformer that uses a level up system like you would find in an action RPG. There are eight kooky worlds to navigate with all manner of bizarre enemies to kill. There’s even a character that looks an awful lot like Link, hmm.
There’s a slight bit of dialogue in this game (as is the case with Violinist of Hamelin) but it won’t hinder a non-Japanese reading gamer from progressing. However, there’s a fan translation floating out there if you want to get the full experience.
#46: SUPER GENJIN 2
Everything Super Bonk should have been! The sprites are smaller so maneuvering Bonk around is much improved in comparison to his first SNES outing. He can also slide now. Some “new” transformations abound that were not present in Super Bonk such as the thief, who can throw the smiley faces as projectiles. Visuals are colorful and pleasing to the eye.
Super Genjin 2 does Bonk proud.
#45: POWER SOUKOBAN
Published by Nintendo on New Year’s Day 1999, Power Soukoban added an action-oriented modern twist to the classic old Soukoban formula. Not only are there puzzles to solve but you now have to fend off enemies. Your fireballs take out enemies as well as move stones.
There are even bosses! Frankenstein and Medusa to name but two. Power Soukoban is a fun action puzzle game that brings an interesting new twist to a proven formula.
#44: GHOST SWEEPER MIKAMI
Based off the anime/manga by Takashi Shiina, Ghost Sweeper Mikami reminds me of the countless action platformers we saw on the 8-bit NES back in the day. If you’re into that sort of thing, then definitely give it a look. Packed with atmosphere, it’s slightly goofy yet somewhat spooky. Perfect to play on a cold, stormy night with all the lights turned off.
Evil spirits, zombies and all assorted manner of monsters have popped up all over town. Armed with her trusty magical baton and athletic agility, it’s up to Mikami to sweep the streets and clear out the demons and demented. Just a good old fashioned fun solid action game akin to the kind we saw in the late ’80s to early ’90s.
You might remember Hammerin’ Harry from the arcade scene of the early ’90s. Running around in pseudo-Super Deformed form crushing everything in sight with a big ol’ mallet? Sign me up!
It’s also Japanese bonkers. From fighting a man dressed in a cat suit to knocking the hell out of octogenarians, Ganbare Daiku no Gensan promises a wacky experience that is certainly enjoyable while it lasts.
#42: SUPER TEKKYU FIGHT!
At a cursory glance, Super Tekkyu Fight! appears to be a Bomberman clone. But it’s actually quite different. For starters, players can take up to eight hits. Instead of bombing the competition, you attack them with a spiky chained ball.
It’s no Super Bomberman but Super Tekkyu Fight! is certainly a solid alternative when you’re in the mood for something in the Bomberman vein but with a twist.
#41: THE FIREMEN
Developed by HUMAN, best known for their Fire Pro Wrestling franchise, The Firemen is like Die Hard if you replace the terrorists with fire and the firearms with a water hose. It’s winter 2010 in New York and a high rise is burning. It’s up to you to rescue the victims and clean up the mess. Shoot in eight directions as well as strafe and lock.
THIS GAME IS ON FIRE! Sorry…
#40: GO GO ACKMAN
Based off the manga by Akira Toriyama, Go Go Ackman is a traditional action platformer starring a very non-traditional anti-hero. And therein lies the charm. Fend off enemies by way of swordplay, boomerang and even some gun slinging. The game is short and not very challenging, but damn is it fun.
Besides, it’s pretty hilarious shooting cute little angels right between the eyes. God bless Japan, you crazy bastards you.
#39: BATTLE CROSS
Battle Cross is a six player single screen racer. At first glance it appears to be a mix of Mario Kart and Bomberman. It doesn’t have the smooth and excellent gameplay of either but it’s a riot to play with four friends.
Weapons are strewn about the courses. Nothing satisfies like tossing a missile at someone or dropping a mine underneath an overpass that conceals the explosive. Fun for a retro gaming party night.
#38: LITTLE MAGIC
Single screen action puzzle games have always been a pet favorite of mine. They’re so simple yet complex. In Little Magic you control a young witch-in-training named May. The goal is to transport the fire stone to the pedestal of each level as well as guide May to the exit gate.
Things start out basic but progressively increases in complexity and difficulty. Later levels introduce warp points, spikes, gaping holes and even enemies. With 100 levels in all, you won’t beat this overnight. If you enjoy staring contemplatively at the screen until inspiration breaks through with the resolute “AH-HA!” then Little Magic is right up your alley.
#37: RENDERING RANGER: R2
Full of explosive mayhem that would make even Arnold proud, Rendering Ranger: R2 is an action-packed game that switches between Turrican-esque run ‘n gun stages and a horizontal space shooter. There are several different guns and each one can be powered up.
You also get three bombs to use. The bombs regenerate slowly through an energy bar at the bottom, meaning you can use one early on and gain it back by mid level or so. Speaking of the bombs, they’re not generic as they were in Contra III. Each gun actually has its own unique bomb. Good stuff.
#36: POKO NYAN!
Poko Nyan! is a platformer based off the 170 episode anime show that ran from 1993-1996. This game is clearly geared toward kids with its super colorful visuals and extremely easy gameplay. It’s got a charming protagonist that can transform into various other critters at any time. This includes a kangaroo that can jump super high, a bird with unlimited flight and a hedgehog that can do a spin attack (hmmm). It’s a perfect game for kids or anyone who is still, deep down, a kid at heart.
The set pieces are gorgeously drawn and usually have many tiers. You can kill enemies by simply dropping off a ledge and bouncing off their heads. This is deceptively satisfying. There’s something innately charming, whimsical and innocent about Poko Nyan! that takes me right back to my early childhood years.
More than just a cheap cash cow attempt, Super Bomberman Panic Bomber World is an admirable foray into the puzzle genre. Connect three or more like color pieces horizontally, vertically or diagonally. In addition, you get unlit and lit bombs because Bomberman. Once you fill up your power bar you get a mega bomb that will cause all kinds of havoc. The chain combos you can pull off are pretty insane!
And of course, being a Bomberman title, there’s even a 4 player mode. The classic Bomberman battle tune is even replicated nicely here and fits the urgency of the falling piece action to a tee.
Keeper is a puzzle action game jam packed with charm and a healthy dose of brain-bending conundrums. Players control an adorable Gizmo-like creature. Your goal is to clear the 5×5 grid of all the stones. Match three or more stones by same color or same shape. There are four modes of play including a fun co-op and 2 player versus mode.
Keeper is a keeper. Sorry, I had to.
#33: ARAIGUMA RASCAL
This game is based off Rascal the Raccoon, which was a Japanese anime series based on the 1963 Sterling North autobiographical novel entitled “Rascal, A Memoir of a Better Era.” What other SNES game can claim it was based off a 1963 classic American memoir?
Araiguma Rascal puts a unique spin on your typical falling piece puzzler. As Rascal you grab one jar at a time and maneuver your way through the field. There are three different 2 player modes to boot. The graphics really invoke the spirit of Wisconsin (the setting of the memoir). There’s a vintage feel to the visuals. It all adds up to one extremely adorable and appealing package.
#32: BS SHOCKMAN
Unlike the other games on this list so far, BS Shockman, or BS Kaizou Choujin Shubibinman Zero, was never officially released on cartridge. Slated for a Super Famicom release back in 1994, it was instead relegated to the Satellaview device (a downloading service in Japan in the ’90s). Players can combine to unleash super special tag team attacks in the 2 player mode. Raita and Azuki also have their own special moves.
Featuring only eight stages, the game is short at 45 minutes or so. It’s also quite easy. Other than those blemishes, it’s a very fun game that feels like a mix between a traditional platformer and a beat ‘em up.
The SNES isn’t known for having very many dark and mature titles in its library. However, Majyuuou (AKA King of Demons) definitely qualifies as such. At first glance it appears to be a cross between Castlevania and Resident Evil. While it doesn’t live up to such an enticing combination, it is a rather fun and sordid romp through hell. The imagery is unlike anything else you’ll find on the SNES.
You start out in human form armed with a gun and a giant Hadoken-like blast. At the end of each level an orb allows you to transform into a savage beast. There are four forms in all. Abel’s sprite is a little small but the game features a good amount of details to compensate. It does an excellent job of sucking you into its decaying and decrepit underworld. A fascinating foray through the depths of hell.
Weirdest Super Famicom game ever? Think Pocky & Rocky on acid. A strange alien force looks to cast its iron fist over the entire universe and two brave but bumbling souls set out to save the day. Their names are Baka-dono and Baka-ouji, which translate to Lord Stupid and Prince Stupid. You can’t make this stuff up. This globe trotting adventure features 10 stages in all. Battle rotting zombies in a cursed Japanese village one minute and the next contend with crazy curry plate chucking madmen in India.
EVERYTHING EXPLODES. Elephants? They explode. Stray chickens? They explode. Japanese shoji screens? Yep, even inanimate objects explode. It’s way over the top and all done with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek with a wink to boot. You can also morph into your deceased steroid-injected father. ‘Nuff said, really!
#29: GHOST CHASER DENSEI
This is the best Super Famicom beat ‘em up to never leave Japan. Sure it’s got many of the beat ‘em up tropes. Three characters to pick from. One well-balanced, one strong and one weak but quick. Charging fat bald guys. But a few neat things help it stand out. This includes blocking, special tag team moves and a meter for your special moves that’s separate from your health meter.
Ghost Chaser Densei is a top notch beat ‘em up that takes one back to the halcyon days when beat ‘em ups ruled the arcade scene.
The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse brings back a lot of fond memories for many of us. Capcom’s sequel The Great Circus Mystery was solid but somehow missed that magical “it” factor that the original had in spades. In December 1995 Capcom released the final game in the trilogy and returned to form.
It was Minnie Mouse out and Donald Duck in. The classic costume system returns but this time the suit powers differ for Mickey and Donald, making it worthwhile to sample both characters. Of course, that classic refined Mickey gameplay you’ve come to love returns (including the lovely snatch-a-block-out-of-thin-air-and-heave-it-at-the-bad-guys formula). Some of the animations, particularly from Donald, are simply priceless.
#27: MAGICAL POP’N
If Zelda were ever made into a platformer, it would probably look something like this. You attack enemies with a short ranged sword but can gain powers as you go along. Stars are scattered throughout the game’s six stages. Collect as many as you can to increase your sub weapon’s ammunition, similar to Castlevania.
Unfortunately there is no password or save system. But thankfully there is a handy cheat code that unlocks a debug menu. Pause the game and press Up, Down, X, Y, Left, Right, A, B, Up, Up. This allows you to tweak with things such as lives, hearts, a God mode and even a level select option. Magical Pop’n is a damn fine game.
Its main strength is versatility. Pick from three different characters. The game is ridiculously versatile as evident by the SEVEN different ways to kill a bad guy. This not only separates it from the me-too crowd of SNES platformers, but it also minimizes repetitiveness while playing it.
Two 2 player modes are also at play — a co-op and battle mode. Rainbow Bell Adventures is easily one of Konami’s more underrated 16-bit gems.
#25: POP’N SMASH
Heisei Inu Monogatari Bow: Pop’n Smash, to give it its full proper name, is a game you rarely ever hear about. And that’s a shame. Imagine a mix between Pong and Breakout, then add in typical Japanese wackiness and shenanigans. Pop’n Smash is centered around canine Bow. “Bow Wow” was a Japanese manga created by Terry Yamamoto. It enjoyed a lengthy run from 1992 to 1999. There was also a 40 episode anime series that ran from 1993-1994.
The objective is to bat the ball into your opponent’s goal zone. Along the way there are obstacles such as breakable blocks, pots and even bombs to add a little extra spice. Choose from several different characters and stages. Players can make dramatic diving saves as well as cross over into the opponent’s playing area. Select different tools to hit the ball that range from a tennis racket to a mallet to even a branch. It’s one of those games that anyone can pick up and enjoy. Pop’n Smash is a smashing good time!
Sanrio Smash is similar to the previous game, Pop’n Smash, but it plays slightly better. Choose from four Sanrio characters and 20 different stages. It’s cutthroat and competitive as can be. There are power-ups to sway the tide of battle one way or the other. There’s also a super shot that players can unleash once they’ve charged their meter.
Sanrio World Smash Ball! is a smash. Sorry. It’s a ball. Damnit. Look, it’s pretty dang good, OK? So get it if you can, or something.
#23: SPARK WORLD
Spark World is a fun Bomberman clone. Each player is able to sustain two hits — this makes for lengthier battles and gets rid of the embarrassing “Oops I accidentally killed myself 10 seconds in!” moment.
Some slight twists abound. The boxing glove power-up icon allows you to punch your OPPONENT rather than the fuel barrel (bomb). When a round concludes, a stats screen shows you who killed whom. This can lead to some temporary 3-on-1 allegiances when one player killed everyone else the previous round. Good times.
#22: SUPER BOMBERMAN 5
Did you know there was a Super Bomberman 3, 4 and 5 for the SNES? They came out only in Japan (part 3 also came out in Europe). These sequels are perhaps most notable for adding a fifth bomber to the mix but they also feature a whole new slew of bombs and gimmicks.
The mad bomber option in part 5 takes on brand new stakes. If you kill someone as a mad bomber you get to switch places. It brings a whole new intensity to mad bombing! There’s also a hidden bomber to unlock, the Golden Bomber.
Other than Tetris, I consider Puyo Puyo the most classic, pure puzzle game. It’s where skills reign supreme and luck doesn’t play as big a role as it does in most other puzzle games. You know the formula: connect four or more like color pieces. Send garbage blocks over. Yup, there’s a reason why there’s a new Puyo Puyo Tetris mashup coming out soon for the Nintendo Switch!
4 player mode rocks.
Eat your heart out, Kirby’s Avalanche.
#20: SD F-1 GRAND PRIX
Best described as Super Mario Kart meets a cast of Chuck E. Cheese’s rejects. If you were sad back in the mid ’90s that there was never a Super Mario Kart 2 on the SNES, then well, SD F-1 Grand Prix certainly won’t fill that void but it stands as a solid alternative and an adequate companion piece to Super Mario Kart. Choose from 10 different cutesy animal drivers to compete all around the world in a variety of interesting and cool looking race tracks.
You have your standard 10 player Grand Prix mode but the Crash Mode features power-ups such as projectiles. And as expected, there’s a 2 player mode where you can select one of four battle courses to duke it out. As far as Mario Kart alternatives on the SNES go, this is the cream of the crop.
Culture Brain’s Super Baseball Simulator 1.000 developed a semi-cult following among SNES players in the early ’90s. Did you know Culture Brain went on to release four Super Famicom exclusive sequels? My favorite of which is the second one, which features cute chibi ball players.
The crazy power-ups that made the first game so unique and fun are back. The charming visuals are reminiscent of EarthBound, perfectly matching the game’s wackiness and absurdity. So if throwing lightning-infused fastballs is your thing, grab a mitt and PLAY BALL!
Dossun! Ganseki Battle is a Columns-esque puzzler that feels like a precursor to Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Pieces disappear when three or more like pieces touch. Connections are formed either vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Characters attack each other when chain combos are dealt. Their sprites enlarge as they attack — it really gets you into the fighting spirit!
There are two ways to win a match. The player’s screen fills up or their health meter is fully depleted. To make things even more interesting, the five different types of pieces each serve a different purpose when matched. Competitive and cutthroat, Dossun! Ganseki Battle is Columns meets Puzzle Fighter with a medieval theme. A winning formula for sure!
#17: ROCKMAN & FORTE
Capcom released this on April 24, 1998, for those who couldn’t afford a 32-bit system. Pick between the Blue Bomber and relative newcomer, Forte (AKA Bass), who made his debut in 1995’s Mega Man 7. Forte can double jump, dash and shoot in all directions (except straight down). Other improvements include stunning visuals (it almost looks like an early 32-bit title) and a proper save system is now in play. About friggin’ time, Capcom!
Notoriously considered one of the toughest Mega Man games around, there are sadly no E Tanks here. However, you collect bolts throughout and can purchase upgrades and power-ups at Auto’s shop. In addition to bolts, you’ll also find CD’s strewn about the stages. Collect up to 100 to view character bios. Rockman & Forte has divided the fanbase but for my money it stands as a fine Super Nintendo swan song for Capcom.
#16: PUZZLE’N DESU!
Move a cute little blob thing around the screen and clear the field of all its blocks. Blocks disappear when three or more of the same color touch. You can only push. Pushed blocks travel until coming into contact with another block or obstacle. Things start out simple but later puzzles get downright brutal. The timer adds a sense of urgency. It’s quite the rush completing a puzzle just in the nick of time!
The main story mode also allows three friends to join you. But the best thing is the 4 player battle mode. There are 10 battle arenas to pick from and most of them are littered with various gimmicks that would make any Bomberman title proud. Pushing a block across the screen to crush a loved one never felt so damn good. Puzzle’N Desu! is one of the best party games you’ve probably yet to play. Charming and addicting as hell!
#15: BS ZELDA
The NES classic Legend of Zelda gets a remake of sorts on the SNES. It was available on March 30, 1997 in Japan via the Satellaview only. Of course, since then there’s been hacks and fan translations. SNES players can now experience BS Zelda in all its glory. An awesome take on the NES classic but with spiffy 16-bit souped up visuals. You can even now switch items and weapons by using the shoulder buttons!
#14: UMIHARA KAWASE
The closest thing to Bionic Commando on the SNES? Umihara Kawase. You control a school girl who wears a pink backpack. For reasons unknown you find yourself in a strange world full of towering platforms, ledges and mutant marine life. Somewhere in each level lies the exit and it’s your job to safely reach it. You do this by performing various tricks with your elastic rope. Delightfully weird in that ever lovable Japanese sort of way, Umihara Kawase is a total blast to play. Much of the fun comes in figuring out how best to utilize the rope in any given situation. Using momentum and understanding the rope’s physics all come into masterful play.
At first glance it appears to be a budget title, but don’t let its basic looks fool you. What lies underneath is a complex game that hooks and reels you in (sorry). It’s always fun to see what the next twisted level will look like, as well as what new sea creatures may be milling about. Figuring out how to reach the exit is addicting. The music and sound effects fit the game to a tee; it does a good job transporting you to this bizarre alternate universe. A dimension where sea creatures are mutated, veggies are overgrown and magic stand alone doors are tucked away at the oddest heights and places. The game world is so strangely captivating — it’s like you’re deep in some twisted recurring nightmare. A nightmare, mind, that plays like an absolute dream.
#13: CLOCK TOWER
Clock Tower was a cult favorite among PlayStation owners in the late ’90s. But did you know Clock Tower and Scissorman originated on the Super Famicom? A point and click horror adventure, players are flung into a creepy mansion on the outskirts of town. Something is clearly not right as your party drops one by one. You feel a haunting presence stalking your every move. The hair on the back of your neck stands up as you hear the snip-snip-SNIP of the one and only…
Like a good slow burn, Clock Tower works on building up the tension with little teases here and there. It’s not a loud in your face affair, so it may be a little too slow paced for some. But for the patient player who appreciates a good story being built brick by brick, Clock Tower delivers the scary goods. You never know for sure where Scissorman may pop up, but when he does, it’s ON. The heartbeat races a little faster and palms start to sweat as you run madly to find a hiding spot somewhere in the creepy mansion. It’s the perfect game to play on a stormy night!
#12: SUPER SOUKOBAN
The classic gameplay of Super Soukoban is as simple (yet complex) and pure as it gets. You’re in a cluttered warehouse and it’s your job to move boxes into their designated position. There is no timer; however, there is a step limit. By pressing the shoulder buttons you can rewind or fast forward previous steps. So if you mess up you don’t have to restart the level completely. Knowing that you can always backtrack and erase any error is such a boon. The early levels start out very basic but soon give way to some mind tingling terrors. Seeing levels transition from large sprites to very small sprites can be intimidating!
Later on there are even boxes already darkened, which indicates the box is already resting on a purple dot. You can still move these darkened boxes in many cases, but you have to figure out if you’re meant to or not. There are 300 levels in all and rumor has it launch day buyers are still stuck on level 289 to this very day. To boot, there’s a level edit option and a 2 player mode with 10 different characters to select from.
#11: SUTTE HAKKUN
Taking control of a strange transparent bird, the goal is to collect the rainbow orb(s) on each level. To do so, one must “suck and blow.” Yes, you’ll suck and blow. A lot. [Insert token dirty joke here]. The colors all serve a specific purpose — click on the review if you want the rundown.
Developed and released by Nintendo on June 25, 1999, Sutte Hakkun is the LAST great SNES game ever. Don’t miss out on it. Being from Nintendo you know it’s good.
Human’s great Fire Pro series began its life on the PC-Engine in 1989. Their final Super Famicom Fire Pro game, Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium, is considered by many as the greatest 16-bit wrestling game of all time. It was revolutionary for its time thanks to its Create A Wrestler mode. You could create and save up to 80 wrestlers. The amount of moves and body types available were equally mind blowing.
The grapple system was based on timing rather than button mashing, so players had to work their way up the move chain. Light, medium and strong attack buttons allow for a natural progression. Super Fire Pro Wrestling X Premium has long since been surpassed by superior sequels. Still, 20 years later it stands the test of time. Besides, it’s pretty cool rocking out on your Super Nintendo as Bobo Brazil.
Whether he was terrorizing trains and ravaging cities, or pummeling rubber suited monsters and saving the planet, Godzilla has a special spot in the hearts of many. Having endured 60+ years and 30+ films and counting, the Big Guy is simply timeless. So growing up you can imagine the clamor for a good Godzilla video game. NES Godzilla wasn’t particularly good. Let’s not even talk about Godzilla 2. Super Godzilla? One of the all time great disappointments. Thankfully, Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen brings justice and a good Godzilla game to the universe.
No, you won’t find smooth crazy combos here but considering the source material (these are giant monsters after all) it’s hard to hold that against the game. Monster roars sound authentic, the sprite work is impeccable, the stages are plucked right out of the movies and the monsters are very accurate in terms of their powers. Of course some things were added or re-imagined. Godzilla never shot his atomic breath in mid-air in the films, but it certainly makes for good times in this game. The fighting engine is nothing remarkable but it gets the job done. Godzilla: Kaijuu Daikessen is a treat for any true G-Fan.
It plays enough like Bomberman to provide a comforting familiarity, yet has enough quirks to differentiate it. Dropped spiked capsules explode after two seconds, sending shurikens flying north, south, east and west. Unlike the explosions in Bomberman, the shurikens won’t kill you. Instead you become stunned for two seconds if you’re hit, leaving you wide open for an opponent’s chain ball to kill you. The chain stretches the full length so it’s possible to sit back waiting for the opportune moment to strike! Send your chain twisting some 20 feet away to pick someone off. Not only is it super satisfying but it adds a devious, vulture-like aspect that doesn’t quite exist as much in Bomberman.
Needless to say, such shenanigans lead to many “Ooh I’ll get you next round!” battle cries and pandemonium. Nothing beats the rush of recovering JUST in time right before the chain ball hits you! The eight various colosseums each have a gimmick. Otoboke Ninja Colosseum is awesome, especially if you can round up three friends to play with. And you have to appreciate any game that features mini Super Famicom icons!
#7: DOREMI FANTASY
Featuring insanely amazing visuals, haunting sound and ultra smooth gameplay, DoReMi Fantasy is one of the finest SNES platformers you could ever play. Milon from Milon’s Secret Castle (NES) is back and better than ever. There are eight themed worlds ranging from the gorgeous Northern Lights to a madcap toy infested universe. The levels are packed to the gills with exquisite detail, quirky enemies, excellent backdrops and some stellar set pieces. The game occasionally foregoes music for ambient sound effects instead. This leads to an atmosphere that is both surreal and bewitching.
Milon’s silly antics and whimsical adventure is sure to sweep you away to a land of awe and wonder. DoReMi Fantasy is one of the best SNES platformers not named Mario.
The Zen Nippon Pro Wrestling series was Natsume’s response to Human’s Fire Pro franchise. It features bigger, brighter visuals and a quasi-chibi presentation. The ring is viewed dead on as opposed to Fire Pro’s ¾ perspective. This makes for a perfect running system which allows you to lay back and pick your spots with running strikes, leading to some riotous Fatal Fourway matches! Budokan has a subtle barbaric sense of black humor. Look no further than being able to bounce opponents viciously off the cable ropes (OUCH) or attacking your rival even after the conclusion of a match. Hell it even features the infamous Flair flop!
Similar to the Fire Pro games, winning a grapple is based on timing rather than button mashing. The 19 wrestlers are actual wrestlers from All Japan Pro Wrestling. You got your high flyers, technicians and bruisers. Giant Baba, Kobashi, Misawa, Stan Hansen and so on. Fun stuff!
Konami developed many great games for the SNES back in the ’90s, but perhaps its best kept secret was Tsuyoshi Shikkari Shinasai Taisen Puzzle-dama. It plays like an early beta version of Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo. Select from 10 characters, each with their own block patterns. The combos can get rather insane. It’s not uncommon to pull off 6-7 hit combos even “on accident.”
Maybe it’s not for everyone, especially those used to the pure skill of a Puyo Puyo, but seeing the screen explode in a relentless 10 hit chain reaction combo never gets old. Arguably Konami’s best SNES game that nobody ever talks about.
Released on Christmas Eve of 1993, Tetris Battle Gaiden is the best Super Famicom puzzle game never to hit North American shores. It’s Tetris with a quirky twist. Choose from eight characters. Each has four different skills and abilities. These skills are activated when you acquire points and decide to cash in. To acquire said points, you must clear a line containing a crystal. Each cleared crystal grants you one point, and up to four can be stored. The skills and powers range from defensive measures to offensive attacks.
Another interesting feature: players share pieces from one queue rather than two. That means you can “steal” a piece your opponent may desperately need if you move fast (or in some cases slow) enough. This makes paying attention several moves in advance all the more critical. Few things are as satisfying as “blockblocking” your opponent. To snatch that long tetris piece right before they can is a true thing of beauty. Well, maybe that’s second only to sabotaging the competition with one of your special attacks!
Not content to stop there, two other modes are available: classic Tetris (for the purists out there who prefer their Tetris sans gimmick) and Rensa. Rensa is where gravity is taken into account and pieces fall if suspended in mid-air (except crystal pieces). This can produce some nice chain reactions. These three modes make it feel like three games in one. An amazing game bursting with insane replay value!
In October of 1994 EGM ran a preview on a Super Famicom street ball title by the name of Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop. The funky title immediately caught my eye as did the game pictures (blurry as they were… God were things different back in 1994). I remember thinking I couldn’t wait to play it as soon as it comes out over here. But of course it never did. Years later, 2006 to be precise, I was on the hunt for all my old favorite games, as well as the ones I never got to play but always wanted to. One evening my mind recalled Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop. The rest is history.
Always been a sucker for stats and ratings, and the power bars in this game remind me a ton of the ones from Marvel’s 1991 trading card series. Good memories of a bygone era. It’s a small thing but it just takes me to a happy place!
Sure it’s got your standard 5 on 5 mode, but what really drew me to the EGM preview was the blurry screenshot of a 3 on 3 street ball mode. I was always fascinated by the idea of a 3 on 3 street basketball game. This game didn’t disappoint. While it’s got its fair share of flaws, it’s simply a lot of fun. I’ve never played a basketball game where making a shot was so predicated on timing. Being that it’s from Human, go figure, right?
The 3 on 3 mode is where it’s at. In this mode you can play on two different courts, but Human even threw in some little tricks. On one court if you enter SUNSET or YONAKA (Japanese for midnight) then you can unlock exactly that. There’s a simple yet elegant gorgeousness to these settings that speak to my soul in ways I cannot explain. Maybe it’s because it brings back memories of playing ball with my buddies late at midnight, or even getting up early in the morning playing ball right as the sun breaks over the horizon. Those old school memories wrapped up in this old soul… it touches a sweet spot and takes me back to the days when my friends and I were balling without a single care in the world.
But Human didn’t stop there. At the versus screen if you press on the D-pad it will change the color of the courts. Also, you can pick from four different basketball colors. It’s just cosmetics but these little touches add up. Yeah, call me crazy but we all have that one game that clicks deep in our soul for one reason or another that won’t click with the masses. It’s our special game. Our spirit animal in video game form, if you will.
It’s been 10 years since I bought Dream Basketball: Dunk & Hoop and I still find myself playing it frequently. Did so again recently in honor of Craig Sager’s passing. This game just never gets old for me. And that’s why this completely unexpected “bracket buster” (har har) ranks #3 in my personal book.
We always hear about how great Super Tennis is and how it’s the best tennis title on the Super Nintendo. Super Family Tennis doesn’t get much props. I think it’s even better than Super Tennis. The control is smooth as hell, there’s a four player option and some of the court designs are completely bonkers, filled with amusing gimmicks and sight gags.
Look no further than knocking the ball into a tranquil pond in front of a Japanese Shinto shrine (complete with a traditional Torii gate). Or smashing the ball so hard against a coconut tree that it drops a coconut on a bystander’s head, completely taking the poor sap out. It’s these quirky details that I always enjoy seeing in a video game. It doesn’t make a game but it certainly leaves you with a positive lasting impression.
The best thing about Super Family Tennis is how fun it is. A total blast with four players, it’s something that your friends or significant other can easily pick up and play with you, even if video games typically aren’t “their thing.” There are 20 characters to choose from, all with varying skills and abilities.
Music is largely absent. Instead, it relies on ambient sound effects. And it works. From the soothing crashing waves of the ocean to the echo chamber sounds of the mountain stage, there is sort of a surreal feel to this game that wouldn’t be the same had there been music.
Its wacky sense of humor, outrageous court designs, smooth control, 20 different characters and surreal sound makes Super Family Tennis a definite smash hit for the whole family.
I have been curious about this game ever since I saw EGM preview it back in 1994. In 2006 I got back into the SNES scene and went hunting for a copy. Much to my chagrin the game was cancelled and never released on a physical cartridge. Alas, it did come out via the Satellaview Broadcast device. And thanks to the modern wonders of technology, it’s possible to experience this fine gem on a real TV. Ah, technology.
So what makes BS Out of Bounds Golf so awesome? It allows up to four players to compete and you have the ability to knock your opponent’s ball out of bounds (hence the name of the game). Of course, knocking their ball out of bounds will cost them precious stroke points. Or even just blocking their path is wicked fun. The battles get competitive and cutthroat like you wouldn’t believe. Also, because one player plays at a time, it’s a more methodical multiplayer experience. I find it works refreshingly well. There’s a ton of strategy, scouting and sabotaging involved here. It’s Schadenfreude at its finest (or worst…)
Select from three different modes.
Then choose from 12 characters, including two felines. Right away that tells you the developer (NCS, who also made Cybernator) didn’t take themselves too seriously. Keep in mind back in the mid ’90s golf games tended to be a little dull. This game, however, was packed with personality and charm.
After selecting your character you get to pick your theme. There are six themed worlds in all, with each having 8 courses. That makes 48 total courses. They range from a beach setting to even outer space. My personal favorite has to be the second world. Here you are mysteriously shrunken down to size and have to work around everyday objects such as coffee mugs, ink spills, giant cereal boxes, tomatoes and more. It’s absolutely bonkers…
What makes this game so much fun is the amount of options you have. Just look at the process of hitting the ball. First, you get to select from a power meter ranging from 1 to 100. This becomes oddly compelling in its own right. It almost becomes like a game within a game. For instance, do you use 47 or 52? 77 or 79? 91 or 94? Sometimes one point off can prove to be the difference between glorious victory and crushing defeat. It’s a thrill to see your ball barely make its way into the hole. On the flip side, nothing is more embarrassing than misjudging the power meter by one point and seeing your ball stop a mere centimeter shy of the goal!
After selecting your power, you then get to choose from one of 17 (!) different strike points on the ball. Much like pool, these strike points will determine the trajectory of your shot. While you’ll be using the dead center shot most of the time, there are times where using the trajectory shots skillfully is essential to winning. Like I said, it’s kind of like a game within a game. You’re not only battling three rivals… you’re battling yourself as well. And it works like gangbusters!
There are even weather effects and power-ups. There are at least 11 ranging from controlling your ball after hitting it to randomly switching all the balls in play. That means you can possibly swap places with a rival who is near the cup and send them way back to the beginning of a course! Sabotage never felt so sweet.
Also, each of the 48 courses have four randomly generated cup destinations. This prevents you from mastering a course simply by memorizing a certain playbook. It speaks to the game’s brilliance that there are nearly 200 possible scenarios. Add in the 17 strike points, the power meter, the wind factor, the power-ups and you get a game that feels slightly different each time you play it.
BS Out of Bounds Golf is a total riot with three friends. Expect a lot of cursing, laughing, cheering and taunting. It brings out the best and worst in people — it’s amusing to see individual personalities come out in their truest forms. There’s no other game quite like this on the SNES. And that’s why this is my favorite obscure Super Famicom game of all time.
There are a lot of good games that didn’t quite make this list, like the Parodius games. You probably didn’t agree with all of my choices but I hope this list was helpful in some way. If you found even just one new game to love from this list, then I’m happy. And remember, I purposely excluded all the awesome Super Famicom only (action) RPGs! The library is amazingly diverse and deep. Some of these games I listed are fairly well known in SNES circles, but I feel there’s still a good bunch of them that remains rather obscure. I hope this Top 50 list serves as a good resource for you and that it helps you to unearth a few new favorites. Until next time, happy gaming!