Come on, 16-bit fans, gather ’round. It’s time to do another ranking for the amazing and timeless Super Nintendo System. However, This time, we are focused on the best SNES games you can pick up and play on your Switch right now. After all, if you are paying for the Nintendo Switch Online service, you already have access to a great library of retro games!
Here are the ten best SNES games you can play right now on Switch through their online service.
10. Harvest Moon
Let’s start off by taking it way back to a time before farming simulators were a dime a dozen. The original Harvest Moon, released late in the SNES lifecycle (the N64 was already out!), still sold well and was a harbinger of things to come.
It’s true that fans of more recent farming simulators may find the original title to be on the quaint side, but all the popular elements are there. You play a character who inherits a farm, and it’s up to you to grow crops and raise animals. You’ll need to interact with locals in town and, after dark, at the bar.
Fans of Harvest Moon didn’t have to wait long for another release, Harvest Moon GB, and then eventually Harvest Moon 64 when the series caught up to the era’s current hardware. But if you want to play around with the beginnings of a genre, you can’t go wrong with spending some time in the SNES Harvest Moon game.
9. Star Fox
Star Fox isn’t just a fantastic rail shooter; it’s also the first Nintendo game to use fully polygonal models and environments. And while it may look pretty outdated by today’s standards, it was pretty mind-blowing at release. The Super FX graphics chip included in the cartridge allowed the game to achieve this high mark and set the tone for what the Nintendo 64 continued.
The game is short and sweet, but it is loaded with charm. It takes place in a distant planetary system called Lylat, which is full of various anthropomorphic animal people. Foxes, of course, but also birds, rabbits, frogs, and more. As Fox McCloud, you pilot an experimental starship called the Arwing to battle against the evil scientist Andross and his army.
Fun fact: Star Fox 2 was in active development after the first game was released but it was eventually cancelled. Some ideas and concepts were moved over to Star Fox 64 for the Nintendo 64. But, finally, in 2017, Nintendo officially released Star Fox 2 along with its older sibling on the Super NES Classic Edition console.
8. Breath of Fire 2
Unfortunately, there aren’t many SNES RPGs available on the Nintendo Switch Online service, but thankfully Breath of Fire 2 is here to fill up those RPG desires. It’s an underrated classic with a fairly long main quest, a solid turn-based battle system, and a pretty captivating story for a JRPG of the time.
By far, the coolest thing that BoF2 offers is a pretty robust town-building feature. You can recruit NPCs to populate your town. They have distinct jobs they perform, and you can invite them to live in houses in your town that you can build through currency donations to carpenters. You can also invite special Shamans to reside there, and recruiting them to your party gives other characters extra abilities.
The game was originally released in Japan the same week that the PlayStation console came out. Despite that fierce competition, the game sold well and garnered great reviews.
7. Super Mario Kart
Usually, “Super” in the title meant that there was a predecessor that came before it, but Super Mario Kart is actually the first entry in the series. And, yes, it is still absolutely worth playing!
It introduced one of the most popular series of Mario games ever, and the roots are strong. Sure, it’s slower-paced and definitely not as vibrant as future titles, but it still feels like Mario Kart. It features singleplayer and multiplayer modes with split-screen capabilities, making it a great couch co-op experience. There’s also a battle mode where players are simply racing around to demolish one another.
The original game’s roster was quite a bit smaller, with only eight characters available. You can play Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Donkey Kong Jr., Bowser, Koopa Troopa, and Toad. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to racing, and if the computer is controlling them, they have special powers they can use to ruin your day.
6. Super Mario All-Stars
Super Mario All-Stars is hands down the best repackaging of a game series in Nintendo history. Taking the first three Super Mario Bros. games for the NES and applying 16-bit graphics to them was absolutely genius. I never play the originals anymore because these versions are available. They really do breathe new life into the older games.
I could go on and on about how Super Mario 2 is my favorite game in the series, but I’ll spare you the hot take. Instead, I’ll talk about how faithful the All-Stars remake is to the original games. They play virtually identically, just with enhanced visuals.
As a bonus, Nintendo threw in an enhanced version of Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels, which was the Super Mario Bros. 2 that Japan got. Nintendo decided it was too hard and similar to the original Super Mario Bros. for us picky Americans, so they reconfigured a game called Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic to be the Western sequel.
At any rate, with the All-Stars package, you can play them all with fantastic 16-bit pixely goodness.
5. Super Punch-Out!!
After wearing out Punch-Out!! on my Nintendo, revisiting the game with updated visuals was a blast. Of course, as a kid, I missed the inclusion of Mike Tyson, but some of the other old boxers like Bald Bull and Mr. Sandman make an appearance.
The game is largely the same. You fight as Little Mac as he tries to climb his way through various circuits to become the ultimate boxing champ. While the gameplay is simple, it requires precise timing and good memorization to determine the best strategy to defeat opponents. Easy to learn, difficult to master is the name of the game in Punch-Out!!
The enhanced graphics and large roster of fighters leveled up the Punch-Out!! series on Super Nintendo. But one of the coolest things? Nearly 30 years after release, players discovered a hidden multiplayer mode that allows a second player to control Little Mac’s opponent! A quick Google search should get you the info you need in no time.
4. Donkey Kong Country (Series)
So here was the dilemma while putting this list together. There are three incredibly fantastic Donkey Kong Country games available on Switch through their online service. If I forced myself to only allow one game per ranking here, then three of them would be taken up with Donkey Kong Country games, leaving only seven other amazing games to make the Top 10 list. So I decided to combine them because I couldn’t just include one!
When Donkey Kong Country was first released, gamers were infatuated with the pre-rendered graphics. By using 3D models, Rare, the developer, created an aesthetic that stood out from other SNES titles. The gameplay was tougher than Super Mario World, which drew in a whole other crowd of platforming fans seeking higher difficulty.
The coolest thing about the Donkey Kong Country series is that the games improve steadily as you progress through them. By the time you get to the third game in the series, we think you’ll be just as impressed as we are.
3. Super Mario World (1 + 2)
Are we cheating again in this ranking? Twice in a row? I know, I know… but Super Mario World deserves the same recognition as the amazing Donkey Kong Country series.
Super Mario World 1 was an amazing glow-up for Mario when it originally landed on Super Nintendo Consoles back in 1991. The graphics are absolutely crisp, and the gameplay is incredibly tight. It also introduced our favorite mountable dino, Yoshi, and his enemy-eating, egg-laying activities have been a delight ever since!
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island definitely leaned into how much Yoshi was adored in the first game. In this game, players take control of Yoshi, trying to reunite Baby Mario with his brother, Baby Luigi. The more hand-drawn approach to the 16-bit pixel graphics helped the game stand out from other SNES titles. The game also used the nifty Super FX2 microchip to power some of the special effects.
Overall, the Super Mario World series is a must-play for any Mario fan.
2. Super Metroid
This sequel to the original NES Metroid takes everything we loved about that game and levels it up to truly fit the “Super” moniker. After rescuing the last Metroid, Samus leaves it with a scientific colony for study. But of course, Ridley shows up to steal the baby and hide it on the planet Zebes. Of course, it’s now up to Samus to stop Ridley’s deadly plan.
Super Metroid is another example of how fantastic and timeless good 16-bit pixel graphics can be. While the gameplay is very similar to the original Metroid, it features some non-linearity to the world design that has made Super Metroid a popular game for speed runs.
There are some new features here, too, like diagonal aiming, sprinting, and “Moon Walking” backward while using the Charge Beam. The game also introduced a map to help the players navigate the world. Overall, Super Metroid still feels modern enough to play without feeling like you are being limited by ancient game design.
1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Many fans of the Zelda series consider A Link to the Past to be the best of the Zelda’s before the franchise jumped into the 3D world. And there’s good reason to hold this game in such high regard. It’s not only the best SNES game available on Nintendo Switch Online, it’s easily one of the best SNES games on any list imaginable!
The 16-bit graphics are timeless, the controls are tight, the puzzles and secrets are challenging and fun… There are so many great things to say about this game. It was the first Zelda to feature parallel worlds, and the dungeon design and some of the boss battles were truly perfection. It’s also a pretty lengthy game and not one you’ll likely rush through, especially on your first play.
While the game starts out as a battle to save Princess Zelda from the clutches of the evil Agahnim, it doesn’t take long for the real baddy to be revealed… none other than Ganon.
If you are looking for a fun action roleplaying experience, you really can’t go wrong with A Link to the Past.