Today saw the announcement of the SNES Classic, Nintendo's follow-up to the highly-demanded and now out of production NES Classic of 2016. A miniature and standalone version of the classic Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the console will come bundled with 21 SNES game and two classic SNES controllers. There's no need to purchase additional games, as it can only run the 21 included anyway. Instead, the SNES Classic offers a one-purchase device collecting the best games the platform has to offer. All it takes to get one is $79.99 USD and the presumed luck that will be necessary to find the limited-quantity console at retailers come September 29.
At $79.99, prospective SNES Classic owners are already going to receive outstanding value. That's less than $4 for iconic games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, and so many more. It even features the previously unreleased sequel to Star Fox, a game collectors would likely have paid much more than $79.99 for. That said, it's difficult not to imagine just what games might have been added if the SNES Classic lineup was 10 games larger. At worst, this list can provide a foundation for a potential SNES Classic 2 in the years to come.
10 Chrono Trigger
It's the one game that everyone reading through the SNES Classic's line-up knew was notably absent: Chrono Trigger. Chrono Trigger is perhaps the definitive JRPG in gaming history. Chrono, Lucca, Marle, Frog, Robo, Ayla, and Magus are characters whose names should be familiar to every game player. Bringing the game to the SNES Classic could have introduced an entirely new generation to the game, though JRPGs are still well represented on the console by Final Fantasy 3 (aka Final Fantasy 6), EarthBound, and Super Mario RPG.
To be fair, for those who really want to play Chrono Trigger there is already an option. The game was released for iOS and Android devices in late 2011, early 2012. Chrono Trigger was also released on the original PlayStation. Though its several ports in recent years might also be why it's not on the SNES Classic list. That didn't stop Nintendo from adding Mega Man X or Street Fighter 2, though. There's also the off-chance that Square Enix didn't agree to share because it's working on its own Chrono Trigger re-release, but that's probably just the bitter disappointment of the game not being on the SNES Classic talking.
9 Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest is arguably the best game in the entire franchise, though Nintendo clearly couldn't just pass the original Donkey Kong Country over. There'd likely be no complaint if Nintendo doubled up on Donkey Kong though. Diddy's Kong Quest enhanced the striking visuals of its predecessor, while iterating and improving on the platforming and level design that's made the franchise memorable throughout the years. And who could forget the assorted new members of the Kong family introduced in Diddy's Kong Quest?
Nintendo could very well have even gone farther and included Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! as well. The third game in the franchise proved just as high quality as the previous two games, but struggled as a result of being launched after Nintendo had already released the Nintendo 64. Inclusion on the SNES Classic would have been great for both Donkey Kong Country sequels, but maybe keeping solely the first game will lead players into finding its follow-ups digitally on another platform – if Nintendo sees fit to release them in the years to come.
8 Final Fantasy Fantasy 2 (Final Fantasy 4)
Count Final Fantasy 2, known as Final Fantasy 4 in Japan, as a most curious omission on the SNES Classic. That's not to say that Final Fantasy 3, also known as Final Fantasy 6 in Japan, doesn't deserve its place – quite the contrary. It's more that Final Fantasy 1 was part of the NES Classic line-up and that the absence of Final Fantasy 3 is notable. It almost seems like Nintendo came to a choice of which of the two to include and they figured Final Fantasy 3 was the better game to feature, which is fair.
If there were more games included on the SNES Classic, however, Final Fantasy 2 would have to be a priority. The story of Cecil the Dark Knight is one of the Final Fantasy franchise's most emotional and powerful, and the first in the franchise to embrace the epic, cinematic nature that most associate Final Fantasy with. Final Fantasy 2's curse is living in the shadow of Final Fantasy 3 and Final Fantasy 7. It would have been an outstanding addition to the SNES Classic. Luckily, it's currently available on PC and mobile devices, should fans want to check it out.
7 Earthworm Jim
In retrospect, it's obvious why Earthworm Jim isn't included on the SNES classic: it would put all the other games to shame. Alright, so maybe it's less that and more that Earthworm Jim's 2D run and gun gameplay hasn't aged as comfortably as most other SNES games. That doesn't change the fact that Earthworm Jim is one of the most hilarious games of the 90s, representative of an era of Saturday morning cartoons, boy bands, and music videos. Earthworm Jim is absurdity in motion, which perhaps means it's just too grand a game for the SNES Classic.
The premise of Earthworm Jim is ridiculous. Jim, an earthworm, recovers a super suit that gives him a humanoid body with which he sets out to rescue Princess Whats-Her-Name. Yes, the princess rescue trope is absolutely intentional. Jim's insane adventure is an excellent parallel to Mario's more standard platforming fare, which is why Earthworm Jim would fit so well on the SNES Classic. Alas, the game's initial exclusivity on the Sega Genesis likely lowers its chances with Nintendo to near-zero. It is available on the Wii, if any gamer is eager to give it a try, though.
ActRaiser is one of the SNES' best games, moreso considering there's really been nothing released like it since. It mixes simulation gameplay, as the player helps drive back monsters so his people can rebuild and flourish, with 2D action platforming sequences as the user delves into dungeons to scour the world of monsters more directly. Even ActRaiser 2 drops the simulation gameplay to focus on pure 2D action platforming, leaving ActRaiser to standout in its design choices.
Unfortunately, ActRaiser remains once of the few excellent classic games from the SNES to never receive a modern rerelease, beyond a limited European mobile run. It's one of Enix's stray titles that Square Enix seems to have forgotten about in the merger. Nevertheless ActRaiser is excellent and while it may not be featured on the SNES Classic, it's certain to return to the spotlight in time. Maybe it just needs a stone statue shaped like a winged warrior to inhabit with its essence, first?
5 Sunset Riders
It's time to begin considering some games that may not be as iconic as Chrono Trigger or Donkey Kong Country, but were practically built to be re-released on an SNES Classic with two bundled-in controllers. Sunset Riders is that game through and through. It's a side-scrolling run and gun where the player and a friend play as cowboys shooting down ruffians hanging out of windows or drinking in the saloon. Sunset Riders is one of the best two-player arcade experiences on the SNES, though that's a scratch that Contra 3 may already be itching.
4 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
If Sunset Riders isn't the best co-operative arcade game available on the SNES, then it's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time. Truth be told, the fact that one of these games is not on the SNES Classic is a shame. Turtles in Time is a beat 'em up where players get to pick from Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo to battle Krang and Shredder's army throughout time. There's even a versus mode where players can pit turtle against turtle, as if these heroes in a half-shell were fighting over the last slice of pizza.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time was only ever released on arcade and SNES, which makes it a prime SNES Classic candidate. Its omission also means there's little hope of playing it these days. At the very least, Ubisoft did create a remake in 2009 with updated 3D graphics. The remake, understandably, was nowhere near as well received as the classic arcade game with its pixelated sprite visuals, though.
3 Mortal Kombat 2
Continuing this run of multiplayer games that would be perfect for the SNES Classic's two-controller set-up, Mortal Kombat 2 is another excellent game from the SNES-era. Mortal Kombat likely lost priority on the SNES Classic due to Street Fighter, and that would be because Mortal Kombat was known more as a Sega platform brand. That doesn't change the fact that Mortal Kombat 2 is one of the best fighting games ever made, and one that was very popular on the SNES, too.
Scorpion, Sub-Zero, Sonja Blade, Johnny Cage and the gang have been absent from Nintendo platforms for far too long. The SNES Classic may not change that, but if any more spots open up on the platform then it might be time to welcome those old friends from Mortal Kombat 2 back into the fold.
2 NBA Jam: Tournament Edition
Of all the sports games released on the Super NES, the one that fits the SNES Classic format the best is NBA Jam: Tournament Edition. No disrespect intended to Tecmo Super Bowl or Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball, which are both incredible games, but NBA Jam's qualities are perfect for sitting down for 15 minutes and having an exciting game. When considering nostalgia-rich, SNES-era multiplayer games, NBA Jam has to be at the forefront.
Choosing the Tournament Edition over the standard edition of NBA Jam may be controversial, but it's probably the right choice. Most nostalgic game players will be more familiar with the standard, which was much more widely distributed as an arcade game. The Tournament Edition should surprise a lot of people, with its vastly more diverse roster of players and creative gameplay options. It doesn't play exactly the same as the original NBA Jam, but it's familiar enough to please everyone.
1 Super Mario All-Stars
Let's close this list out with the Nintendo first-party game/collection everyone should have expected on the official SNES Classic list. No, it's not Mario Paint. It's Super Mario All-Stars. This compilation packaged together several NES games: Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels, Super Mario Bros. 2, and Super Mario Bros. 3. It's without a doubt one of the best products available on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and is absolutely deserving of being on this list.
That said, it's understandable why it was left out. It is technically just three NES games and not an SNES game. All three of the titles collected are also already available on the NES Classic, and we can all agree that Nintendo doesn't need to cause any more controversy regarding that product. Nevertheless, of the games that could be put on the SNES Classic, Super Mario All-Stars would understandably be a popular choice. It's certainly deserving of its place on this list.
The SNES Classic is available starting September 29 and will retail for $79.99 USD. It will feature 21 games and two classic Super Nintendo controllers, with longer cords than the NES Classic controllers featured. Expect it to be extremely limited in quality, so fans should be at the ready for whenever preorders go live for the console.