The Super Nintendo is home to one of the greatest video game libraries of all time. Despiting succeeding the NES in less than a decade, the SNES marked a massive shift in how video games were treated by developers. With stronger hardware to work with, devs could not invest in deeper storytelling.
More importantly, games could afford to experiment more in terms of presentation. This led to a natural increase in not only story quality, but ending quality as well. The Super Nintendo has some of the greatest video game endings of all time. Passionate, creative, and sometimes strange, some SNES endings went above and beyond.
10 Yoshi’s Island
From start to finish, Yoshi’s Island stands out as one of the best looking games on the Super Nintendo. Using an almost crayon esque sprite texture with a bright, vibrant color palette, it’s hard to find fault in Yoshi’s Island’s presentation. It only gets better as it goes on, as well, culminating in a beautifully presented finale.
From the final stage itself, to the battle with a giant Baby Bowser, and the poignantly somber credits, Yoshi’s Island takes full advantage of the Super Nintendo in order to march towards one of the most memorable video game endings of all time.
9 Mega Man X
Capcom had intended Mega Man X to function as the Classic series’ more narrative driven older brother. Mega Man X might be surprisingly light on story with that in mind, but it’s one of the best examples of visual storytelling in gaming— allowing the player to experience the arc of the story with nary a word of dialogue.
While the X series’ endings became routine by Mega Man X3, the fact that the first game ends with the main character very carefully and tactfully lamenting on the perpetual cycle of violence is an almost shocking note to end an otherwise not particularly dark platformer.
8 Super Mario RPG
Square has a lot of great RPGs on the Super Nintendo. Hell, pretty much all the best RPGs on the Super Nintendo were developed primarily by Square. The prospect of a Nintendo/Square Super Mario crossover these days seems like a dream gone bye, but it happened once before and it was amazing.
Super Mario RPG’s story may not be too high stakes or novel, but it’s well told, has amazingly presented cutscenes, great boss fights, and an ending that honestly just shows off how powerful the SNES really was. The end credits are Square’s way of making the most out of a first party Nintendo budget.
7 The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past
Playing A Link to the Past right after the first two Zelda games really puts into perspective the technological leap from the NES to the SNES. The Legend of Zelda and The Adventure of Link both quietly and quickly end with Link reuniting with Zelda, thus saving Hyrule. A Link to the Past goes above and beyond.
Link fights Ganon in the center of his pyramid, kills him, enter the Sacred Realm to find the enormous Triforce, and wishes for the world to be restored. What follows is a long look at Hyrule coming back together after Link’s victory. It’s one of the most earned victories in gaming, closing out on the image of a lone sword in a lost forest.
6 Final Fantasy VI
What makes Final Fantasy VI’s ending so special is the fact that players can trigger it less than halfway through the World of Ruin. As soon as Setzer joins the party with his airshop, players can tackle the final dungeon with Celes, Edgar, and Setzer alone. Or players can hunt down the rest of their party and battle Kefka whenever they’re ready.
The ending dynamically changes between who is or isn’t in the party, and watching the ending liven up as more characters are recruited is fun to see. Plus, it certainly helps that the final boss against Kefka is one of Final Fantasy’s best and that the ending sequence is appropriately engaging.
What makes Earthbound’s ending so great is just how in control players are of the experience. Upon returning to present day Eagleland, Ness is free to explore the world at his leisure. Players can do whatever they want in this portion of the game, including exploring enemy-free dungeons.
Every single NPC has new dialogue so it’s worth making the effort to talk to everyone. Seeing how the world has changed since Ness saved it really puts into perspective the scope of his quest. Best of all, should Ness drop off Paula at home, he can ride the bike in areas where he was otherwise barred.
4 Live A Live
Upon clearing every scenario in Live A Live, a new scenario will be unlocked depicting the life of Oersted, a fairly traditional knight. Over the course of his story arc, however, Oersted’s life falls apart and he ends up compromising on his ideals. This all escalates into the final scenario where it’s revealed that Oersted was the main antagonist all along.
Ending a game about the cycle of life and death with one of the main characters falling to evil is a powerful note to end on. Better yet, players can actually play as Oersted in the finale, ending the world in the process.
3 Super Metroid
Super Metroid’s story doesn’t have a single line of dialogue. Silent and eerie, the plot is told only visually. Players need to pay attention to their surroundings, explore, and try to piece together what’s going on. This naturally results in players really feeling like Samus, to the point where Samus’ escape from Zebes ends up all the more thrilling.
It’s a far more epic version of the first game’s ending, but it also has elements of choice. Samus can choose to save her animal friends from earlier in the game or not. Of course, neglecting them will ensure Samus’ escape, but isn’t saving them the right thing to do after they saved her so often? Regardless of the end result, it’s an unforgettable end to an unforgettable game.
2 Chrono Trigger
As a game with 12 distinct endings to close the game on, there’s no way any discussion of the best video game endings can go on without mentioning Chrono Trigger. The fact that the game can technically end mere minutes into the story is a testament to how much care Square put into the multiple ending scenarios.
Chrono Trigger has so many and they’re all mostly unique to trigger. It’s even possible to leave Chrono dead and outright complete the game without him in the final party. If that’s not enough, Lavos can even win in any of the major battles, ending the game with his domination.
Considering Terranigma only released in Japan and Europe at the very end of the Super Nintendo’s life cycle, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s a particularly underlooked game. At the same time, it’s one of the SNES’ best. Easily the best action RPG on the system, Terranigma has one of the most captivating endings in gaming.It tugs at the heart in all the right ways, ending on a very mature note that most games would find a way to shy away from. Terranigma is one of the most beautiful games on the SNES and any fan of the medium owes it to themselves to play it at least once.