The Super Nintendo was the birthplace for an entire generation of players being introduced to the idea of role-playing games. Turn-based RPGs arrived in full force on the SNES and gave rise to numerous classic franchises as well as timeless masterpieces of which every fan of the genre should experience. With a Super Nintendo Mini rumored to be in the works after Nintendo ceased production on the NES Classic, Nintendo has a chance to give players access to titles they may have never had the chance to play. Especially ones the never made their way to North America. Let’s take a look at the ten RPGs that we hope to see.
One of the maybe, lesser known action style RPGs on the SNES, Terranigma was a fast paced combat focused title with a focus on memorable dungeons and puzzle solving. This was also the first Super Nintendo RPG I personally ever played that quenched my thirst for having a main character you could equip with different weapons, armor and items. Terranigma was a title I had to emulate to experience as it never made it to North America. Nintendo releasing an SNES Classic Edition would be a perfect opportunity for Nintendo to give some love to titles were which were unavailable to western gamers at the time.
9: Seiken Densetsu 3 (Secret Of Mana 2)
The first title I ever emulated, and actually the entire reason I was compelled to start emulating titles in the first place. Secret Of Mana (Seiken Densetsu 2) is on this list because, of course it is. The sequel never made it to North America and it is a damn shame more people have not been able to play this game. It did everything a sequel should do in terms of gameplay design. This title added more characters to choose from, each with unique abilities and their own overlapping story arcs which led to lots of replay value to explore new story lines. It also introduced a day night cycle, as well as a weekly time cycle which corresponded with magic spells being more effective depending on what elemental phase you were in. Certain events only happened during night or day as well which was a fun mechanic I honestly can’t remember if I saw in any other SNES games.
8: Final Fantasy V
Another title that didn’t make it to North America until it was ported to the Gameboy Advance and Playstation 1. Final Fantasy V has a robust job system that allows you to essentially customize your entire parties classes to suit your play style rather than adhering to preset classes. You were also able to combine abilities from several classes to create hybrid characters with multiple fun combinations. While maybe not the most memorable story and characters, Final Fantasy V still managed to be a solid RPG with a great battle system at its’ heart.
7: Secret Of Evermore
Developed by the North American division of Squaresoft at the time, Secret Of Evermore had almost everything in common with its’ predecessor, Secret Of Mana. The defining difference was in the writing, characters and overall presentation, which was very different in tone than what you might have come to expect from the Japanese style of RPGs coming out at the time. A science fiction romp through space and time, a boy and his dog traverse the world of Evermore, which has 4 themed areas to explore. The dog companion was especially fun, allowing players to control him as he changed form in every new region of the game, for example, changing into a wolf in the prehistoric area, and a laser wielding robot in the futuristic setting. Compared with other Squaresoft entries, Secret Of Evermore falls a bit short, but comes loaded with charm and great level design.
6: Super Mario RPG Legend Of The Seven Stars
Quite possibly the strangest RPG available for the Super Nintendo, Super Mario RPG melded the turn-based combat and stat building of typical RPGs for the time with Mario characters set in a story driven setting not previously seen within the Super Mario franchise. This also marked one of the final titles Squaresoft would release for Nintendo before moving over to Sony and creating Final Fantasy VII, which is still considered one of the best RPGs ever made. Super Mario RPG had fun turn based combat that allowed the player to time additional button presses when attacks landed to deal extra damage. This title also marked the first time the player could have Mario and Bowser on the same team fighting common enemies which was tons of fun. The general script and characters played out in a wacky sense, but managed to be fun the whole way through while introducing great new characters like Geno, who is a doll possessed by a celestial spirit from Star Road. Unfortunately this title never received a true sequel, however spiritual successors came in the form of Paper Mario series, and the Mario and Luigi titles.
5: Secret Of Mana
Truly the title that cemented the action oriented RPG for fans of the genre. It has everything you could have wanted from this kind of game back then. Great characters, awesome setting, memorable music and a fun, yet challenging combat system that melded brawler style combat with RPG sensibilities. Thinking about it now it may well be the reason I am still so obsessed with this type of gameplay to this day. The main hero in typical fantasy fashion, pulls an ancient sword that unleashes a primal evil laying waste to his hometown. Despite destroying the monster he releases, he is cast out by his townspeople and set on a quest to restore power to the Sword Of Mana and save the world from the evil empire. Typical fashion for most RPGs these days, but back then it was a grand quest of discovery and ancient power. Still a title that deserves to be experienced.
4: Earthbound (Mother 2)
For any fan of Super Nintendo era RPGs, this list is now becoming the greatest hits so to speak of titles fans of the genre have either played or are at least aware of. Earthbound is definitely one of the most unusual RPGs that ever came out for the SNES. You play as Ness, a psychic power wielding young boy, who after investigating the crash site of a meteor, discover the alien force Giygas will spread evil across the world in the future. A time traveling bee arrives and instructs Ness to find melodies for a Sound Stone to stop this reality from happening. Earthbound is packed to the brim with charm and character. The humor in the writing is consistently great and the characters shine. Earthbound also introduced a style of combat which were not random encounters, as battles would happen in a separate battle screen once you came in contact with an enemy physically. Earthbound will most likely be a part of the SNES classic as it remains one of the defining titles for the console.
3: Final Fantasy III (Final Fantasy VI)
There are so many good things I have to say about Final Fantasy III there almost isn’t enough room to do so. I mean, even the intro to this game felt like the beginning of a true gem of a title. Great musical tracks spark up as you watch two soldiers in Magitek armor, a fusion of technology and magic, escort a young girl named Terra, being brainwashed and controlled by an evil empire. There were apparently lots of evil empires present in Super Nintendo RPGs. Terra is freed from her control by an Esper, an ancient race of magical beings who have sealed their powers away by becoming stone statues.
The empire army is led by General Kefka, one of the most memorable and outstanding villans any RPG has ever had, as they seek to wake up the Espers and gain their power for themselves. Throughout the game your party consists of an interesting and varied cast of characters as you seek to regain Terra’s lost memory and stop Kefka’s reign of terror. Final Fantasy III had all the elements you would expect from the other titles in the franchise, and did them all fantastically, but had one especially great aspect. Midway through the game, a year in time passes for the characters, and the actual landscape of the continent changes. Kefka now rules the world with god-like supremacy. Revisiting towns from the earlier game after this setting change was a thrill, and something I would love to see modern games tackle where world altering events take shape and change the world you have become so accustomed to.
2: Chrono Trigger
Obvious choice is obvious right? Chrono Trigger is well-known to anyone familiar with Super Nintendo RPGs and for very good reasons. This game oozes masterpiece from start to finish. Awesome characters from different time periods you visit throughout your adventure like Frog, a knight turned frog by an evil mage, who is still one of my favorite characters in any game. The ability to mix your abilities with party members for awesome team up attacks. Seriously fantastic music, this is still a soundtrack I will put on when I’m in the mood for some 16 bit goodness. Multiple endings, which were admittedly pretty similar, but nonetheless any excuse to replay Chrono Trigger was a good enough reason. Simply a game that deserves to be played if you are a fan of RPGs or honestly, even just being a fan of video games in general should be reason enough to experience this true gem of 16 bit gaming.
1: Mother 3 (Earthbound 2)
Possibly the ultimate title that was never released to North America, fans worked tirelessly to translate and emulate Mother 3. The title was plagued by development hell, initially starting off on the Super Famicom then moving to the N64 and N64DD, then canceled altogether. Later development was picked up for the Gameboy Advance and released in Japan. Technically this is not a Super Nintendo title then and as such, may not meet the qualifications for the SNES classic. Mother 3 was eventually released on the Virtual Console for the Wii U, but this title plays and looks like a SNES game. The main character Lucas is someone whom Nintendo fans should be familiar with as he appeared as a playable fighter in the Smash Bros series. This game ultimately just deserves to be played by fans of the genre and the SNES classic would be a great opportunity to do so. All the fun and wit of Earthbound with fun combat and even rhythm based sections that would have been a blast on the SNES. One of the greatest and most fun 16 bit style RPGs I ever had the pleasure to play I honestly just hope to see this game reach more people.
What do you think of my choices, and what are your choices for an SNES Classic Edition? Let us know in the comments below as we wait to see what tricks Nintendo might have for us if and when they do announce a Super Nintendo Classic/Mini, which is rumored to be gearing up for release later this year.