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Neal's Personal SNES Classic Game Ranking

by Neal Ronaghan - September 29, 2017, 7:41 am EDT
Total comments: 5

The list is subject to change depending on solar flares and stuff, but here's one version of it.

I've spent the last week with the Super NES Classic. You can read about it here. The little SNES is adorable and filled with merriment and fun. Additionally, it's filled with 21 different games spanning the life of Nintendo's second home console. As of the days before the Super NES Classic is available to all, here's my personal ranking of all 21 games, as they are presented on the Super NES Classic.

21. Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting

I don't hate Street Fighter II. That's not why this is at the bottom. It's at the bottom because fighting games just aren't really my jam. I'll probably break this out when a friend's over since it's one of the better two-player games included. Aside from that? I won't think about touching this on the SNES Classic.

20. F-Zero

F-Zero is historically cool. The launch game had some dope Mode 7 visuals and a killer soundtrack. That being said, it's a racing game that only has single-player. The simplicity is fun, but it's a quintessential underdeveloped launch game.

19. Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts

I used to hate Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts with the fire of a 1000 suns, and then I played through it to completion (aka beating it twice) with a friend one summer. After that, I resolved I never needed to play this game again. Cool game that I respect a lot more, but I'm fine having it languish in barely being touched on my SNES Classic.

18. Super Castlevania IV

The way the whip is used is rad. Playing this makes me wish it was a Metroidvania while also making me remember how the more action-oriented Castlevania games were neat.

17. Kirby's Dream Course

That feeling when you nail a hole in Dream Course is awesome. I aspire to have that feeling more often. I'll admit to using the Rewind feature of the SNES Classic more than I'd care to reveal when I played this.

16. Super Mario Kart

So I heard some scuttlebutt that Super Mario Kart could be one of the games that Nintendo brings to Switch with online multiplayer. Really, what I'd want to see is Nintendo do that but make Super Mario Kart a four-player game. Also, when you're playing this in single-player, the computer is cheap as hell. There ain't no egg power-up, Yoshi. Put that garbage away, you filthy dinosaur cheat.

15. Secret of Mana

Like 15 years ago I tried playing Secret of Mana and hated it. After playing a little bit of it, I remember why. The story is essentially just the word "mana" thrown in every fourth word, the text boxes kind of give me a headache, and the early combat is on the boring side. I'm committed to seeing it through (or at least further) this time around and I hope Secret of Mana jumps up this late in the future.

14. Mega Man X

I'm not wild about the Mega Man X series, but I also spent the first 18 years of my life not really liking the original Mega Man games. I'm open to change and maybe this will get a prospective Mana-esque bump if/when I play through it on the SNES Classic.

13. Contra III: The Alien Wars

This game is still so effing metal after all these years. You know you wanna use that laser on that giant turtle's heart. Let's go slaughter some aliens shirtless and listen to Slayer, dudes.

12. Donkey Kong Country

I often have this resolute "Donkey Kong Country actually sucks" belief. While I definitely don't think the SNES DKC games hold up to the Marios of the same era, whenever I revisit Donkey Kong Country, I always come away enjoying it more than I remember or expected. I'll attribute most of that to the dynamite soundtrack, but you know maybe the platforming is real fun, too.

11. Kirby Super Star

Younger Neal would have definitely put Super Star in the top 10. Older Neal still really loves Great Cave Offensive and that weird thing where all the enemies talk to each other as Kirby blows up an airship, but Spring Breeze is a little on the staid side. Fortunately, most of the lesser elements of Super Star are overwhelmed by the sheer variety of modes.

10. Super Punch-Out!!

The NES Punch-Out will always have my heart, but Super Punch-Out is a fantastic game. I have fond memories of beating most of the boxers in outrageously fast times and it'll take some time to get my skills back, but I think I can get back to taking down Gabby Jay in mere seconds again.

9. Star Fox

Honestly, Star Fox is probably lower on the list because the newly released sequel blows the pants off of it. The original Star Fox is still an awesome game with some spectacular music and fun rail-shooting space gameplay.

8. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Blasphemy, right? Sorry, I don't like 2D Zelda as much. A Link to the Past is a fantastic game, but I can think of about seven other games on this thing I like more.

7. EarthBound

The combat system is simple and sometimes boring, but the story and world of EarthBound is still, to this day, unlike anything else I've seen in a video game. I sat down and basically just instantly made it through Onett because I just straight-up dig this world and its peculiar vibe.

6. Final Fantasy III (or VI)

Fitting that this is in the six-hole. Playing through the intro of Final Fantasy VI so soon after playing Final Fantasy V cements the fact that, well, Final Fantasy V is my favorite in the series now. Sorry you had to find out this way, FFVI. I still think you're second-best.

5. Star Fox 2

I wrote a whole lot more about this one so go read that.

4. Super Mario RPG

Super Mario RPG is why I'm even writing on this website, full stop. Sure, I played all sorts of games before Mario RPG, but this game shaped so much of my preferences in games and was instrumental in getting me to start focusing on more than just the surface of Nintendo. Also Exor is a sword who talks. That's weird.

3. Yoshi's Island

Much like my views on Donkey Kong Country, I went through a long stretch of time where I thought Yoshi's Island was overrated. Little did I know, it's because I hadn't sat down with the original version of it in years. Yoshi's Island on the SNES (and only the SNES) is a supreme platformer filled with so many unique and awesome ideas. It's a damn shame no Yoshi game since has come close to its majesty.

2. Super Mario World

As cool as my Yoshi's Island renaissance was, it ain't touching my platforming king: Super Mario World. This is my favorite 2D Mario platformer ever. It's got Yoshi. It's got the cape. It's got crazy secret exits and ghost houses. It's got the Star Road. Super Mario World rules.

1. Super Metroid

I've learned something over the years at Nintendo World Report: we all collectively love Metroid games. Super Metroid might not be the best Metroid game anymore, but it's certainly the first brilliant one. It's stunning how incredible this game still is.



21. Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
20. F-Zero
19. Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts


ShyGuySeptember 30, 2017


ejamerOctober 01, 2017

Your personal opinions don't align perfectly with mine. Obviously, that must mean one of us is objectively wrong, and it couldn't possibly be me!

Silliness aside, the bottom of my list would hold Street Fighter 2, Earthbound, F-Zero and Donkey Kong Country - not that different from what's at the bottom of Neal's list.

Replacements (for me, assuming there would ever be some way to modify the system and replace games) would probably be Mortal Kombat 3, Chrono Trigger, Uniracers and either Actraiser or TMNT Turtles in Time. Most of those stay in the same genre, although the last one is a bit of a stretch. I wouldn't particularly miss any of the cut games.

But the lineup of games "as is" already is pretty awesome.

LemonadeOctober 01, 2017

The list seems about right to me. I would put DKC at number 1 though. I played through that whole game for the first time on the day I picked up the Mini. I always thought it was much worse than 2 or 3, but its actually great. Its just a shorter game.

Im also playing Super Metroid for the first time. Not sure if I like it yet.

KhushrenadaOctober 02, 2017

Thinking back to the first time I played Super Metroid, it was actually on a computer emulated ROM copy. I vaguely recall seeing the box cover at movie / game rental stores growing up when SNES games were on the shelves but nothing about the cover had interested me to take a further look at it. I kind of recalled their being a comic about it in Nintendo Power but, again, I was more interested in Mario and other characters to pay much attention to it. It wasn't until the GameCube era that I really become more aware of the franchise because of Smash Bros. and then hearing so much talk and praise about Metroid Prime.

I had seen my brother playing a bit of the Super Metroid game on his computer (since he's the one that had gotten into computers and learned about downloading games through emulators.) So, I finally gave it a shot and started playing it one day when I had the time. It was interesting. I didn't realize the significance of the opening part of the world as being a callback to the original NES game. I did find the exploration and finding power ups to be compelling enough to keep playing the game. I think the turning point may have been after the first main boss. By that point, I was really into the game and finding more upgrades to go back and unlock other areas and being able to keep expanding that world.

Even though I disliked using the keyboard as a controller and found it rather awkward, I was so into the game by that point that even a poor control scheme couldn't stop my desire to play through to the end and collect everything. And when it was over, I wanted more. My memory is a bit fuzzy on this but I'm pretty sure the next game I played in the series was Metroid: Zero Mission. Blockbuster had a copy on sale for a pretty cheap price which helped seal the deal. It was so nice being able to play that with regular controls than on a keyboard and since Zero Mission is also one of the best Metroid games in the series, my Metroid fandom was skyrocketing. The game also had a copy of the original NES Metroid on it. I tried playing it but after Super Metroid and Zero Mission, I just couldn't get far into it. The same thrill and level of design just wasn't there for me so I needed to find another way to get my Metroid fix. I believe that's when I bought Metroid Prime.

I was kind of wary of it since I'd never really played an FPS at that point and although I'd heard people call it a First Person Exploration game, I was still leery as to how well I might do at it and if it would be the same experience. I recall playing that game for at least a month. There was a learning curve to the controls and I took my time exploring things but I was blown away once again by another Metroid game. I couldn't believe that Metroid wasn't Nintendo's top selling franchise.  Pretty much every game I was playing in the series was spectacular. At some point during all of this, I also bought Super Metroid off eBay in a complete package that came with the box and manual because I liked to have things complete for my growing game collection. I was lucky that such a package wasn't that pricey at that point in time. Playing it on actual Super Nintendo without glitches and a proper controller made the experience much better as I worked at getting my time down on the game.

Metroid Prime 2 and Metroid Fusion followed thereafter. Both were good but both suffered from having to follow what had come before. MP2 had various enemies/assists that were reused from Prime 1 which made it seem like less of a fresh experience. Metroid Fusion is also quite good and I'm probably more positive on the game than when I was first playing it but I found it kind of odd with the sectioned off areas resulting in smaller worlds/maps and the mission based gameplay it seemed to have. I got Metroid Prime Pinball because suddenly my Metroid options were fast diminishing. I thought about hunting down a copy of Metroid 2 for the Game Boy but never got around to it since I was beginning to cool on my Metroid fandom. I think I was even hoping for a remake of it or had heard others talk of how it should be remade a la Zero Mission at this point. It had burned to bright and the formula was becoming quite clear. I was also getting into the Zelda series at that point and more focused on growing my GameCube collection along with the DS whose software library was also growing at this point plus there were other GBA games I was purchasing since the DS could play those also.

Metroid Prime 3 came and I enjoyed another kick at the Metroid can but it didn't grip me quite like Prime 1 and even 2 had. It was also close to a point where I started falling out of gaming and becoming much more interested in movies and watching all manner of classic and new films. As such, I've yet to actually play Metroid Other M. I'd also missed out on Metroid Prime Hunters for the DS because the reaction on it seemed to be kind of negative with it being very linear and more about the multiplayer than the single player. I finally picked up a copy a year or two ago but haven't played it yet. I did download Metroid 2 from the VC when it was released a put a little bit of time into it and took out the first couple metroids in it but, like the original NES game, it was the not the kind of Metroid experience I craved. Picked up Federation Force around March this year but have yet to put anytime into it. However, I did grab Samus Returns and have almost completed it right now and I am mildly hyped at the prospect of Prime 4. I need to see some actually footage instead of a logo to be fully hyped like Samus Returns when I watched the trailer for it on the 3DS but a purchase is pretty much assured at this point.

That's my history of the Metroid franchise and experience. Still some stuff I need to play in it but definitely am a fan. And it all started with that Super Metroid experience with an assist from Smash Bros. Melee and it's Metroid content to make me curious enough to try it. I'm not saying you'll end up down the same Metroid rabbit hole I experienced for awhile. (But it was a pretty cool experience at the time!) It could be that you don't care too much about it. It never gripped my brother like it did me. It may not be very flashy or too exciting at first yet if you like the vibe of the lone hunter exploring hostile caverns for power-ups and to fight evil then there's a good chance the game will win you over before too long. As I said before, I think by the time I fought my first boss, the game had finally won me over and I couldn't wait to keep playing and seeing what other surprises lay in store. So, keep chipping away at it and maybe the same compulsion will grip you too.

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