Nintendo dropped the A-bomb back in June: The SNES Classic Mini arrives this week, crammed with 21 certified game bangerz. Holy guacamole.
Demand has been so high that Nintendo is shipping more units of the SNES Classic on day one than it shipped of the NES Classic during the whole of last year. In fact, it’s pledged to keep shipping the SNES Classic throughout 2017, rather than make it a limited edition deal.
So yes, the SNES Classic Mini is an absolute beauty (if you’re in Europe) and comes with two little controllers that we’re understandably coveting. But what of the 21 included games? You’re in luck. We’ve managed to use our collective and unrivaled knowledge of video games that your dad used to play to put those classic games in some sort of credible order, from worst to best. Apart from Star Fox 2, because that hasn’t been released before. But you can watch gameplay of Star Fox 2 here if that’s your jam.
So brace yourself. There’s no rose-tinted specs here. We’re going in.
Kirby’s Dream Course
No one is buying the SNES Classic Mini for Kirby’s Dream Course. No one is buying the SNES Classic Mini for an isometric golf game starring a little pink spud. We’re pretty sure Kirby’s just here to increase the game count on this retro console up to 21 because it’s a more psychologically attractive figure to put on the box. Sorry, Kirbs.
The perspective on Super Punch Out is uglier than its use of two exclamation marks in the title. Your boxer obscures your opponent, fading in and out as you land blows. It’s like you’re dancing with a ghost. It’s a fun game, but this is here to kill a few minutes, not the gripping hours you’ll lose to other games on this list.
Donkey Kong Country
Rare is over-rated. There, I said it. I mean Donkey Kong Country looks neat, for sure. But Diddy Kong? C’mon, that little prick is the video game Godzooky. Or Scrappy-Doo. What I’m saying is, if Miyamoto thought this game sucked, I’ll trust his judgement.
Kirby Super Star
Now we’re warming up. The pink spud is back, doing what he does best; floating around like a lingering fart, huffing blocks and puking them out. A collection of hit-and-miss mini games, Gourmet Race is standout here – running and scoffing cakes at the same time is surely an American national sport, like competitive hotdog eating.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
A little bit isometric Mario and a little bit of Final Fantasy. Super Mario RPG is odd but fun. Who knew turn-based battles could work with the little Italian plumber and friends? If you want to be really hipster, this is the game you’ll say you prefer when your mates start the conversation “actually, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is a good game…”
Contra 3: The Alien Wars
I used to read a lot of American comics in the 90s and they were full of Contra adverts that looked rad as balls. Unfortunately I didn’t read any video game magazines – why would you? – so didn’t realise Contra was stupidly renamed Super Probotector in Europe. As a result I completely missed this. What the fuck is a Probotector?
Mega Man X
If you can get over the fact that Mega Man’s head is the same size as his torso I have no doubt you will enjoy Mega Man X. It’s considered one of the best “carts” by SNES “fans” and magazines like Game “Pro”. It’s too easy, too short and is not all that.
Secret of Mana
Secret of Mana is one of the best role-playing games of all time – a fact that is impossible to argue with. It looks amazing, sounds incredible and the original supported three-way co-op, just like yo’ moms.
Holy shit, Mode-7 scrolling was the shit back in 1990. It was the second coming, and if you wanted to sound like you had your finger on the tech pulse you dropped it into game conversations like parallax scrolling five years earlier. Because in F-ZERO, your hovercar looked like it was blazing into the screen, and then you hit the Super Jet and weeeeeeeeeeee.
Yoshi rules and this is the game that put him on the map. Little hand-drawn dino-dude shits eggs and flutters about the place, carrying baby Mario to freedom. Because he understood that even in 1995 being a full-time parent is a revolutionary act in the face of the corrupt and unfair wage labour economy.
Nintendo threw everything at this oddity; a westernised, real-world, simple RPG with cartoon graphics and satirical aspirations. Everyone says they love it now and praise it for being a classic, but on release and after five years of development it hit the shelves with all the grace of a Hall of Meat inductee.
Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is still better than any of those tedious Dark Souls games. Don’t @ me.
Super Castlevania IV
Simon and his whip are the stars of Super Castlevania IV, a side scroller packed tight with action. This is the kind of game I would play in the 90s rather than go to college, eventually hampering my education, long-term career and social life. It’s the reason I live in a shed in Wales, writing about video games. The pay’s good but I haven’t seen anyone in weeks and something smells around here.
This was released as StarWing for us European idiots, which didn’t even make sense because foxes don’t have feathers. Anyway, it was a great on-rails shooter with a cool perspective and looked proper “next-gen” before that was even a thing. The kind of game you were jealous of if you had a Megadrive.
Super Mario Kart
It’s no Crash Team Racing, but Super Mario Kart Is Quite Good And Popular Isn’t It? Probably named one of the best games of all time by people who read Edge magazine. All seven of them.
Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
If Donaldson had written this list he would have put this at number one and who would we be to argue? He’s right in that this is perhaps the best fighting game in all history. It spawned a million imitators, most of which are thankfully six feet under. Play the OG, it’s still got it.
Final Fantasy 3
Apparently this should be correctly numbered as Final Fantasy 6 or something but life’s too short to read wikipedia as to why. I imagine some bore will tell you on a forum somewhere. To be honest I glaze over when someone mentions anything to do with Final Fantasy. It’s a classic apparently. You begin the game as an Onion Knight – imagine the indignity of putting that on your CV, though. That’s a career choice from which you can never turn back.
More evidence that early 90s Nintendo banged out absolute smashers while other companies looked on weeping at their lame mascots. Samus moonwalks, curls up into a bomb-laying ball, fires in all directions, wall jumps, has x-ray vision and grapples the shit out of planet Zebes. Pure gold.
Super Mario World
When I first got a SNES it came bundled with Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World and I didn’t buy any other games for about six months. The year was 1994, I was listening to Mass Appeal and Spoonman, wearing Phat Farm jeans and Starter caps. I felt on top of the world. I was a year away from meeting my wife and maybe this contented outlook on life helped me become the person she was attracted to. Oh yeah, baby.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
You don’t need me to tell you this is the best console action role-playing game of all time because you’ve played it and have nothing but feelings of happiness buzzing in your tum-tum. It’s the cherry on the top of the SNES Mini Classic. It’s the nibble on your ear and the whisper between lovers that makes you blush. A Link to the Past loves you back, forever.