The first console that I ever owned was the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), the machine that would kick start my still ongoing gaming career. The year was 1993, and along with the system came Star Fox, which at the time was a big deal for being one of the first real console games to feature 3D polygons. Indeed, my first video game ever being a 16 bit 3D game is not a bad way to start, but wasn't until I got the Sega Mega Drive and a certain platfomer that I really got hooked onto gaming.
While the SNES was my first, I ended up playing the Mega Drive a whole lot more. Still, I have some pretty cool memories with the SNES, not to mention that its library has aged really well from an aesthetic and aural standpoint. Especially the RPGs and platformers, which continue to feel as fresh and relevant today as they did all those years ago.
Without going off the tangent again, I think I will get right to it and talk about my five favorite SNES games. You'll notice the glaring lack of RPGs in this list, and the SNES was home to some of the all time greats. Sadly at the time I didn't really get into RPGs much and my experience with the essential SNES RPGs would be in the form of ports released for subsequent Nintendo consoles.
5. Super Castlevania IV
While it has IV in the title, it really was a remake of the original Castlevania that was released for the NES. I actually did get a NES shortly after I got the SNES, and I thoroughly enjoyed original Castlevania on it, my next one would be Super Castlevania IV and it blew my mind. The game featured a vast improvement in controls and gameplay mechanics (the whip mechanic is the best in any 2D Castlevania), familiar characters and premise, a whole new set of ingeniously designed levels, and one of the best 16 bit soundtracks ever composed. This is easily among the best 16 bit action games ever produced, and still among the best and most playable Castlevania games you can find. Find a way to play it, it's just so awesome.
4. Super Bomberman 2
While Saturn Bomberman carries the unanimous honor of being the best in the series, Super Bomberman 2 is easily the second best. A fast and addictive game with a cool single player mode featuring some interesting bosses and of course a highly re-playable and addictive multiplayer mode. It had a cool look, some appealing and unique level designs, and it was just a ton of fun to play courtesy of the fast pace and truck load of power-ups. Sure it's not that different from any other Bomberman game, but its execution was easily the best.
3. Star Fox
Alright so technically the game I played was called Star Wing (which was the name chosen for the UK release due to licencing issues) but it always has and will be Star Fox. So this was my first video game ever, and what a way to start things off. Graphics were outstanding at the time, and they still look serviceable enough considering that this was on a 16 bit machine. One of the prime examples of on rail shooters alongside Space Harrier and Panzer Dragoon, Star Fox was a very intensely challenging and epic shooter with lots of enemies, great level design and variety (the asteroid belt levels were pretty crazy), humongous 3D bosses that exploded upon defeat (one of the best video game special effects during that era), and not to mention a non-linear pace that allowed you to chose different routes. They may have perfected the formula with Star Fox 64, but the original Star Fox is still a very playable and impressive shooter that will satisfy any fan of the genre. Also it features my favorite and most memorable final boss, and defeating him is among my proudest video game conquests.
2. Street Fighter II Turbo
No fighting game franchise from the 16 bit era enjoyed more success or stood the test of time better than the Street Fighter II series. The contribution that it made to the evolution of fighting game genre can still be felt today, as it laid the very groundwork and foundation that is adopted till this very day. There were many releases for Street Fighter II, and just having the game beautifully converted to consoles was such a big deal. While my first experience with it was Street Fighter II Champion Edition for the Mega Drive, to me and many others the game really felt right at home on the SNES. The console had the prowess to allow the best version of the arcade hit, and not to mention the SNES controller was almost too perfect for it. The original Street Fighter II was groundbreaking, and the final version Super Street Fighter II was wickedly cool with all the new characters and stages, but personally I felt they nailed it with Street Fighter II Turbo. Great game featuring some great music and superb graphics, and the Turbo mode added so much more to an already solid fighting engine.
1. Donkey Kong Country
Being a huge platformer fan back in the day, I never actually enjoyed Mario games and just couldn't enjoy Super Mario World as much as others did back then. To me, the best SNES platformer is no doubt the original Donkey Kong Country (sequels were good but didn't really add anything new to the formula). Great production values in this one, it had some amazing pre-rendered 3D graphics that still look nice enough today, totally frantic and varied platforming action with some levels offering unique mechanics (the mine-cart levels were heart pounding), and there was plenty to see and explore. It was just a very well designed and polished platformer that just kept on giving. Never a dull moment in this one, and I must have completed this massive game over ten times or more. Easily among the crown jewels of the genre, it plays incredibly well, the level design is among the best in the genre still, and the variety is just too generous. Finally, it has a superb, massive, and refreshing soundtrack that had very few peers back in the day.
Well there you have it, my five favorite SNES games. More retro game lists in the future!