The 10 Best Super Nintendo (SNES) Games

Daclaud Lee reviews some SNES RPGs that he loved during his childhood in the 90's!

Super Nintendo RPGs
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10. Robo Trek

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Robotrek SNES

– The story starts out with an inventor and his son, who are robotics experts. This game had a lot of cutesy graphics, and was obviously targeted towards a younger audience, but the coolest thing about this game was that you were able to build robots, arm them with weapons, armor and attributes and make them fight.

For an RPG, the storyline was pretty good. At the beginning you roam around town, striking up conversations with people and eventually you get the plans to create your own robot after you find out your father, the inventor Dr. Akihabara was kidnapped by a crazed gang of terrorist called the Hackers, looking to take over the world.

The game is turned based and the speed of the robot was determined by how many upgrades you put into it. You had the option to name your hero and create up to three robots, which were pretty much just clones of each other. The only thing I didn’t like about this game was the fact that every robot was pretty identical. Sure you could equip them in many different ways with weapons like hammer, swords, axes and a variety of guns but in the end, all the powerful weapons just made each robot a clone of the other.

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You could only control one robot at a time, so it was kind of pointless to have three.

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the graphics were actually pretty good back in the old days


9. Lufia and the Fortress of Doom

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Lufia and the Fortress of Doom SNES

– The game starts out with four heroes named Maxim the warrior, Selan the mage, Guy the warrior and Artea the archer. These characters are maxed out and you have to fight a group of bosses (the four Sinistrals with them). Everything happens for a reason, so there’s no need to be alarmed at what happens. Then we switch and you play a different hero who vaguely resembles Maxim…

There are four main characters in the party, each one color coordinated. These characters are pretty much stuck with you until the very end. You get our red headed hero, Lufia the mage, Aguro the warrior and Jerin the Elf archer. The story is pretty straight forward and the story line was captivating enough since you had to mysteriously constantly confront the four Sinstrals that were defeated by the previous party ages ago.

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I wasn’t a fan of the fight scenes in Lufia, they were very Dragon Warrior like, and I personally thought that they could have done better

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Very Dragon Warrior like was Lufia and the Fortress of Doom

8. Paladin’s Quest

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Paladin’s Quest SNES

– I don’t remember there being an actual “paladin” in the game so I’m rather confused by the name. This was a pretty good RPG for it’s time due to it’s resemblence to Dragon Warrior and the fact that it featured alien races.

We begin the game with two heroes, a boy named Chezni and a girl named Midia. The coolest thing about this game was the fact that it was based in a futuristic, alien world, filled with different races of humanoids that aren’t stereotypical “fantasy” or RPG in general. It is clear that even the main characters aren’t exactly “human” but instead some alien race called a “Lafury” that resembles humans when you click on the stats box.

There are a myriad of characters that you can meet and add to your party, which made this game very enjoyable based on the amount of characters you can recruit, each one being a different race with different equipment and abilities. The coolest thing about this game is the fact that you have access to nearly all the NPCs you meet at end game, so the party combinations are endless. The only downside is that you can’t upgrade NPC equipment and the lower level ones pretty much become obsolete as the story evolves so you’re better off with some of the later characters.

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The graphics were original and very creative. I have not seen anything like this since. Paladin’s Quest certainly captures the alien atmosphere as intended.

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Again, very Dragon Warrior inspired, but at least Paladin’s Quest included colorful backgrounds.

7. Arcana

arcana The 10 Best Super Nintendo (SNES) Games

Arcana SNES

– Arcana had really good graphics for the time and was a 3-d dungeon crawl type of game. You begin the game as Rooks, a cardmaster and Sylph, your first card elemental, a green, winged sprite who uses air magic (I know everyone is probably thinking that this is going to be like Yu Gi Oh, but it’s not). Shortly after we meet Ariel and Tiffa (yeah like the Final Fantasy 7 chick with big boobs, only with two “f”‘s). After chapter 1 you meet other characters including a dwarf named Axs and a healer named Salah. In chapter 3 you meet Darwin, who is an elf and a better fighter than Rooks. The very final party consists of Rooks, Tiffa and Darwin as well as a card elemental (at this point you get 4, including Ifreet a fire elemental, Dao an earth elemental and Marid a water elemental).

The coolest thing about this game was the characters and the original concept of a cardmaster who uses cards as spells (move over Yu Gi Oh).  Okay fine, I’m not gonna lie, it was the gal on the cover’s boobs that made me want to play this game!  It was a way for a preteen boy to get his rocks off before porn hub and the ability to purchase Play Boy magazines!  All jokes aside, the character designs were some of the creative and best I had ever seen within an RPG and I really liked how these characters were developed at such an early time. The only thing disappointing about this game was the fact that you could easily get lost in the elaborate mazes throughout the game.

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The character art was not bad, and I actually liked looking at the heroes’ portraits. The only thing I did not like was the dungeon like atmosphere that was obviously inspired by Eye of the Beholder.

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This was a typical fight scene. Once again, great card graphics for a game made in the early 90’s (we’re talking 1992 here).

6. The 7th Saga

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7th Saga SNES

– This game was just pretty bad ass. You start out with only one character, but you got to chose from seven: Wilme an alien, Kamil a human, Lejes a demon, Ovlan a dwarf, Lux a robot, Valsu a cleric and Esuna an elf. Depending on who you chose, you can also find a suitable partner to take along out of the six remaining others. You have to be careful who you chose because depending on the character you picked, meant that you have to eventually fight the others.

I remember my favorite party was Wilme and Lejes; Wilme for fire magic, high HP and high attack while Lejes was the magic user doing heavy damage. I remember I was able to take out monsters really fast, but the lack of healing meant that I wasn’t able to stay alive long during boss battles unless I leveled up significantly. I’m sure there are much better options (like having Esuna with Kamil for a more balanced team), but these two just looked really damn cool paired up because they were demonic looking!

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Fights were usually one on one or one against many (that is until you get your second companion, then you had two characters)

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Once you get two dudes, you would be able to kick some ass!

5. Breath of Fire

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Breath of Fire SNES

– Breath of Fire was a great game, but not as epic as Final Fantasy, it can be comparable in many ways because of its memorable cast of characters. You start out with Ryu, our hero with blue hair who like most heroes is pretty well balanced in the physical and magical department. What makes this hero more bad ass than the rest is the fact that he can change into dragons (and several of them too)!

We meet our cast of characters fairly quickly, the first being Nina, a winged beauty who is a speed fighter/fencer type of character who can turn into a bird, then we meet Bo, a hunter/archer type of character with a wolf’s head. Bo can hunt wild animals when not in combat for meat. Eventually we will also recruit Karn, a thief with an interesting ability where he can fuse himself with three other characters (Bo, Ox and Gobi) to produce a stronger creature (the downside of using this ability is that the other characters can’t gain EXP), but this skill is necessary in order to pass through certain areas of the map.

Speaking of Gobi and Ox, you recruit them next. Ox is a big, bull headed dude with a huge hammer, and is super strong. You actually need Ox’s strength to be able to break through walls. Gobi is a fish man who and only with him can you travel under water. The last two characters you meet are Bleu, a Lamia/Medusa type of chick who shots arrows and is the best mage in the game and Mogu, a short badger-like guy with huge claws, whom you need to dig up stuff like buried treasure. These two you get very late in the game, but are very well worth the wait.

I personally thought the ending was kind of weak, but the entire game was fairly engaging and was really fun to play.

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This was a typical scene in Breath of Fire.  The graphics were not too bad for the time.

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Breath of Fire had 8 Characters with all different abilities! That was a lot for an RPG!

4. Final Fantasy 2

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Final Fantasy 2 SNES

– Also known as Final Fantasy 4, this game was just plain awesome! You start out as Cecil Harvey, a dark knight and captain of the Redwings, the airship fleet of the kingdom of Baron. Their mission is to sack a mage town and bring back a crystal. As soon as Cecil questions the king of Baron’s ethics, he is called to another quest as punishment for his insubordination. His buddy Kain is allowed to go with him. Kain is a dragoon with a jump attack that renders him invulnerable to attack while his is in the air.

After fighting a boss you enter the village of the summoners and meet Rydia, who joins your party and replaces Kain. A little walking and you meet Tellah a sage who is on his way to Damcyan castle to find his daughter. Well as soon as they get there, you lose Tellah and get Edward, an emo bard who really has no combat abilities. Then you meet up with Rosa a white mage and Yang, a monk and defend the castle of Fabul. After this is done the group splits up and Cecil meets Polom and Porum, a boy and a girl who happen to be twins, one is a black mage and the other is a white mage. Then you meet Tellah again and ascend the mountains so that Cecil can become a paladin.

Once Cecil becomes a paladin, we meet Yang again and discover the secret of Baron castle where we are joined by Cid, the chief engineer who carries a giant hammer, other than that he has no abilities of worth other than a skill that helps him evaluates an enemy weakness. Edge is the second to last character you meet (the last being FuSoYa, an alien that has a lot of kick ass magic spells, but doesn’t stay with you for long). Edge is a ninja and easily one of the coolest characters in the game.

Unlike every other Final Fantasy game, you get 5 playable characters in your party at a time, which was awesome because the more the merrier and you didn’t have to switch them out to level up. On the downside, you’re pretty much stuck with the final party, which consists of Cecil, Rosa, Rydia, Edge and Kain. Each character brings his or her own special abilities to the table, and you get a very balanced party with a ninja for melee and damage magic, a white mage for healing and ranged attacks, a summoner for heavy duty damaging spells, a ninja for melee and damaging spells and a dragoon for high damage melee attacks.

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Final Fantasy 2 had one of the most detailed inventory screen and story lines.  You could play up to 5 characters at the same time, which was also kind of cool, each party member coming and going as they saw fit.

3. Chrono Trigger

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Chrono Trigger

– This was one of the most anticipated RPGs of its time. Chrono Trigger was the first RPG for the SNES to feature multiple endings.  I remember really loving this game for its detail, characters and story line.  I even bought the soundtrack, which was just simply amazing!

You begin the game as Chrono, a spikey haired hero who fights with a katana and lightning magic. You will eventually meet up with 5 other characters and a hidden character. First being Marle (aka princess Nadia) a crossbow wielding heroine who also uses ice magic, Lucca an inventor chick who uses guns and fire magic. The coolest thing about Chrono Trigger was the fact that you can travel back and forth through time. When you hit the middle ages, you meet Frog (aka Glenn the knight) a warrior with a frog head, who is very similar to Chrono in physical stats who uses water spells, when you enter the future you get Robo a robot who also has high tech abilities similar to magic, and once you reach the prehistoric era you get Ayla, a cave girl who can’t use magic, but has other abilities that do heavy damage. The hidden character is Magus, who actually starts out as a villain and uses shadow magic. Chrono Trigger had multiple endings (17 I believe) and provided an endless amount of game play. When you beat the game, you were able to go through it again with your characters still leveled up so you didn’t have to go through all that tedious stuff like fighting random monsters for EXP. This saves a lot of time! Unfortunately, I did not think the game was worth playing multiple times simply because it got tedious in itself (the main story was basically the same) and I don’t think it was really worth playing again just to see a different ending, but that’s just my opinion.

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Chrono Trigger was a little different from other RPGs and was innovative because you could see the enemies coming, instead of just blindly running into them or having them spawn out of thin air.  This way you could avoid conflict if you were too high level and didn’t want to mess with low level creatures.

2. Final Fantasy 3

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Final Fantasy 3 SNES

– Also known as Final Fantasy 6, this game was the most anticipated game of 1994. With the most intriguing story line and graphics for its time, Final Fantasy 3 was the greatest RPG ever created for the SNES with one of the most sinister and evil villains in video game history (Kefka).  Back in the day I had to go to a music shop in New York just to get the soundtrack, which was simply amazing!

The tale begins with Terra Bradford, a girl with green hair accompanied by two Imperial soldiers named Wedge and Vicks (a little Star Wars reference). Then she meets Locke Cole, a treasure hunter/thief and they proceed to head south to the mobile desert town of Figaro where they meet King Edgar who proceeds to hit on Terra after he helps them escape a skirmish with imperial soldiers. We proceed onward and search for Sabin, Edgar’s twin brother who was studying martial arts in the mountains. The party will eventually split up and then we meet Celes a runic knight who can absorb magic; you get her while you play as Locke. Switching back to Edgar and Terra you recruit Bannon (or rather he recruits you), the leader of the resistance who accompanies the party as well as play a gang of Moogles and use Mog for the first (which is interesting because he has a lot of dance moves that can do some pretty heavy damage). Switch over to Sabin, which is the longest journey, you meet an assassin named Shadow and later Cyan, a knight with a really cool sword technique that he has to power up to use and Gau, a wild boy who has a rage technique where he assumes the fighting style of a monster.

The party will eventually meet up in Narshe, and head off again. Eventually you’ll meet Shadow once again and can hire his services. After a long journey, you will end up at an opera house, and after a very memorable scene involving Celes as an opera star, you get Setzer in your party after you foil his kidnapping scheme. Setzer is a key character here because he owns the only air ship.

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Final Fantasy 3 had really detailed graphics for an RPG.  The battle scenes were just like any other Final Fantasy, but was a bit more interactive.  I remember Sabin’s Blitz attack being set up like a fighting game, so you would have to be able to manually enter the button combinations in order to pull off the correct attack and others such as Strago the Blue Mage and Gao the wild boy, where you would have to deliberately go out to hunt for enemies with him in the party, waiting for them to perform a special attack, so they learn it (that was a pain in the ass and I could never complete the spell or skill collection).  Fun times!  Maybe a waste of time, but when you’re a kid growing up in the 90’s you had plenty of time on your hands because there was no internet!

1. The Secret of Mana

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Secret of Mana SNES

– This game had very high ratings for its time and the graphics and gameplay are still considered innovative. I don’t believe I’ve seen a game quite like it and being two player, it was the closest thing to an MMORPG you could get in 1993! While you could go through the game solo, it was always more fun with a friend.  Even with modern two player games like Dark Souls and Borderlands, you cannot find an action RPG that is so intense and epic as Secret of Mana!  It’s like playing Zelda with your girlfriend!  One of the most romantic things a gamer couple can ever do together!

The main characters were nameless (you chose their names), but you start out with a boy in blue (kind of stereotypical I know) and you stumble upon a sword embedded in a stone while exploring the woods with your two friends. You meet the girl soon after saving her from a band of monsters and later a sprite who appears genderless or could easily pass for either a boy or a girl depending on your interpretation. Each character had similar abilities, but the boy being the fighter with no magic ability, the girl, being a support mage with healing magic and stat enhancing spells, and the sprite being able to cast the offensive and damage spells. Magic is gained by obtaining elemental spirits (water, earth, wind, fire, dark, light, moon, and life). The game play was pretty simple and any character could use any weapon. Each weapon also had a combo system which could be unlocked with each level of advancement. I personally thought this was the best RPG for the SNES mainly because of the replay value. I thought the game had a high replay value because you can always go through it again with a friend and the action/adventure aspect of the game made it more exciting than turned based RPGs because you were constantly doing something.

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So why did I like secret of Mana so much?  Because it was two player!  Look at how cool that was!  One person could use a sword, another the spear and the third a bow and arrow!  Talk about fun times!

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About Daclaud Lee
Daclaud Lee is a resident of Columbus Ohio.

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