There have been a lot of great games made for the SNES and some notable RPG’s were released for this system. I’ve decided to list my all time favorite RPG’s and explain a little bit about them as well as my reasons for having them high or low on the list. Keep in mind that I am going over the ones I’ve actually played so if you think there is something that deserves to be on this list feel free to recommend games to me. I’m always willing to give a game a try.
Before we get underway there are two games I need to mention. The first is The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. This is one of my favorite games in the Zelda series and one of the best games to come out for the SNES. The Zelda series is considered to be a milestone for the RPG genre and is still going strong today. However I feel that this game is more in league with the action/adventure/puzzle genre than it is an RPG. I also went to the Wikipedia entry for it and it lists it as that as well. For that reason I have excluded it from my list. If it was a part of it I would have ranked it very high on the list so any fans of the Zelda series shouldn’t worry.
The second game I need to talk about is more of an honorable mention. Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest. This is considered the black sheep of the Final Fantasy series as it is a very basic RPG. It was designed with the intention to introduce new gamers to the RPG genre and was made simple and easy to play. This is also its downfall as everything about the game was mediocre. The music, storyline, characters and puzzles were all very basic without too much innovation. There were a few nice things about this game such as how some of the weapons and magic looked and worked but other than that not too much was going for it. It’s playable and can be a fun game if you are in the mood for it so that’s why I feel it at least deserves to be mentioned.
#10 Final Fantasy IV
Originally released here in America as Final Fantasy II this game was a major upgrade to what we had seen in the first game. Everything was bigger and better; the characters, the map, the game play, literally everything was improved. For the first time we were introduced to what Final Fantasy was evolving into. I’ve ranked this one pretty low because it has one fatal flaw: This is one of the hardest RPG’s I’ve ever played. It gets so frustratingly hard at times I can’t help but throw the controller when I get killed. This game was recently ported to the DS with tons of improvements but is still a tough game to play. I don’t mind a challenge but when I get regularly destroyed during the random encounters and not get enough experience points to make it worth it, I tend to get annoyed.
#9 Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
This is your standard fantasy story. Hero sets out on a quest to save the world from a supernatural threat. What makes this interesting is that the storyline is well done. It has your party going through steps a similar team did years before to defeat the same threat. This game does have its problems as there it’s a very straightforward type of game with little to do other than the quest. Also the battle system can get annoying as it’s slow at times and if you have everyone target the same enemy and the first person kills it, everyone else will still swing where that monster was and not automatically target something else. This forces you to pay attention to every random battle that occurs which can get old fast.
#8 Breath of Fire
A game that lets you play as a dragon in the form of a man, this game introduces us to a great series. The cast of characters are memorable, the storyline is engaging and the game play is good. You main character Ryu (man Capcom loves that name huh?) sets out on a quest to avenge his clan as well as restore peace to the land. There are a few twists and turns along the way and the world in which you are exploring is full of life and colorful characters. A drawback to this game is that much like Lufia, the idea of side quests is almost non-existent. There are a few spells and items to look for which is enough to boost it over that game. The only other negative I can think of is that the characters moved too slowly when walking around the map and dungeons.
#7 Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
Talk about an improvement. It shows how much went into this game as a lot of its features were upgraded. What makes this stand out though is that it is one of the first prequels I was introduced to. This game takes place before the first Lufia title and delves deeper into what the hero Maxim did on his quest to defeat the Sinistrals. Thankfully the battle system got an overhaul so it plays much better than the first game. The graphics are much better this time around and there are side quests to keep you occupied. However the North American release had several bugs which were later fixed in the European version. Despite it being a slightly flawed game it still far surpasses the original.
#6 Breath of Fire II
It’s not often the sequels are better than the original but such is not the case with these last two games. BOF II greatly expands what was done in the original and greatly adds to the series. What’s unique about it is that rather than continue with the story of the first, you play as descendents on an adventure several decades and generations later; a theme that would continue on in the later games. This game also features one of the most bold and gutsy plot twists I’ve ever played through as religion, a topic most games avoid, is taken to task. The characters featured in this game are memorable and fun and there are plenty of side quests and secrets to find. This game can be frustrating as some of the puzzles are tricky but overall this game is just awesome. Both BOF games were re-released on the GBA with some improvements and are worth looking for. However only BOF II is currently on the Wii Virtual Consol.
This is a game that many people missed upon its initial debut. Originally titled Mother 2, Earthbound is radically different than all the games on this list. For one thing it does not take place in a fantasy land with warriors using swords and spells. This game takes place in a modern setting with kids using things like baseball bats and yo-yo’s as weapons and psychic abilities in place of magic. The story also has aliens as the primary threat, and having their influence take control over things in the world such as taxis, and new wave hippies. What really makes this game stand out through is the humor involved. The game never takes itself too seriously and pokes fun at all the cliché things featured in RPG’s at the time. The games main character Ness was featured in the Super Smash Brothers games which made me want to find out who this character was. It took me a while to get a copy of this game but I was glad I did as I was entertained from start to finish. The game can be challenging at times and the limited space for items can make things tough but overall this game is worth playing.
#4 Secret of Mana
This game is notable for several reasons. The first is that unlike all the other games on this list, Secret of Mana does not use a turn based battle system. It allows you to freely control your characters as you can swing the many weapons you can master as well as cast spells on the fly. The music and graphics are also a standout as the game is just a stunning work of art. The story is well thought out and with lots of places to explore this game will take a long time to get through. I guess that’s why there really aren’t any side quests to do, but with a wide variety of weapons and spells to level up there will be no shortage of replay. This game is available on the Wii Virtual Consol.
#3 Final Fantasy VI
Labeled as Final Fantasy III when it came to America this game took us by storm. With a huge cast of characters each with unique abilities as well as a compelling story this game is still considered to be one of the best Final Fantasies ever made. The game has many twists and turns as well as side quests to keep you coming back for more and the music keeps the game fresh. The sprites were designed well and so are the areas you can explore. The cast of characters themselves are what really draws us in as the main villain Kefka goes down as one of the evilest and craziest bosses. Other characters such as Terra, Locke, Mog, Shadow and the rest offer plenty to the game. Plus how many other games can you think of that actually had an Opera segment and made it enjoyable?
#2 Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
This game is like combining chocolate and peanut butter. You wouldn’t think they go together until you try it. Super Mario RPG is a fond part of my gaming past as it had elements I liked from the two genres. Mario in all his jumping glory done in a very colorful and eye pleasing art style goes on a quest to stop the Smithy Gang and restore the Star Road. Not only are new characters such as Geno and Mallow introduced, we finally get a chance to have Peach and Bowser as playable characters. The music and design of the game truly make it part of the Mario series and the elements SquareEnix brought to the table really make this game stand out among the rest. This game is still considered to be one of the best SNES games of all time. Stuffed full of mini games and secrets this game has hours and hour’s worth of entertainment. It was recently added to the Wii Virtual Consol.
#1 Chrono Trigger
This game tackles that all too familiar question of how things would turn out if you went back in time to correct mistakes and misdeeds. The game follows the path of Crono and his friends as they go to different time periods trying to save the world from a bleak future caused by a parasitic creature known as Lavos. There are lots of things that make this game stand out besides its compelling story. The different attacks and spells you can learn along the way are fun and you can combine abilities to have double and even triple team moves. Every choice you make counts in one form or another and can greatly change the outcome of the game. Not only that but the concept of a “New Game +” allowed you to go back and try it again with all your levels and gear from the first game. You’ll need it as you can finish the game at certain points to get alternate endings. The music in this game also makes this an instant classic as each of your party members has a unique theme. Those who have played it are hard pressed to forget the battle theme of Magus or the upbeat tune Ayla is featured with. The only negative I worth mentioning is that it’s a little on the easy side. Other than a few nit-picks here and there this game totally rocks! This game was recently re-released on the Nintendo DS and has some new features such as some new dungeons to explore as well as an arena to train and battle monsters. It also has the video cut scenes that were featured on the Playstation release.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this list. I plan on eventually doing full scale reviews for some of these titles by going deeper into the stories and game play elements. Like I said earlier if there is something missing please let me know.