While every system has had its own unique role-playing games, no system has had a deeper, more brilliant selection than the Super Nintendo. Not only did the SNES boast one of, if not the, biggest selection of RPGs, it also carried easily some of the best games the genre has ever seen. From the fantastic stories to the endearing characters, from the addicting gameplay to the moving soundtracks, the Super Nintendo stands up as the gold standard for role-playing games. No system, Nintendo or otherwise, has yet matched the sheer brilliance of the Super Nintendo’s wonderful RPGs, and it will take a lot for any future systems to do so either.
So, without further ado, here are the top ten Super Nintendo role-playing games, as voted by the Infendo staff:
10. Terranigma – Never released in North America, Terranigma was an excellent action RPG. Built around a plot rich with good vs. evil, and laden with birth-life-death scenarios, the landscape develops and changes as time progresses within this unique game.
9. Lufia II: Rise Of The Sinistrals – A very strategic battle system, in which groups of enemies are targeted, as opposed to single opponents, makes for tricky, yet rewarding victories in this thrilling RPG. Combined with brilliant dungeons, filled with clever puzzles, Lufia 2 is a very strong game. Despite being released second, and title Lufia 2, it actually takes place right before the original Lufia game.
8. Final Fantasy 2 (Final Fantasy 4) – No list is complete without entries from the Final Fantasy series, which was arguably at its peak on the SNES. Rich characters, magnificent plot and a stunning Nobuo Uematsu make this game a must-have RPG.
7. Illusion Of Gaia (Illusion Of Time) – Another action RPG, Illusion of Gaia tells an interesting tale, as you attempt to save the Earth from an incoming comet, carrying evil aboard it. Gaia casts aside many RPG standards, such as money, items and experience points, but the strong level settings and unique gameplay make this another exciting SNES game.
6. Breath Of Fire 2 – Despite being criticized for its high difficulty level, the Breath of Fire series is definitely worth exploring. Not only is the gameplay excellent, with an interesting cast of characters, the fishing mini-games are also a treat.
5. Secret Of Mana – Now we get into the heavy hitters. The top 5 SNES RPGs are all so brilliant, they are arguably some of the best games ever made, any genre, any system. Secret of Mana is a brilliant game, with fantastic graphics, a deep plot and some of the best SNES music ever. An extremely original game, it combined action RPG elements with turn based, allowing players to attack and to pull up a ring of options, including spells and items. Secret of Mana was also one of the only action RPG games to support multiplayer, up to three players when using the Multi-Tap.
4. Super Mario RPG: Legend Of The Seven Stars – The final Mario game released on the SNES, and the final Nintendo/Squaresoft collaboration for several years was an absolutely amazing game. Combining elements of platforming and RPG, with incredible graphics and an outstanding soundtrack, Mario RPG took everyone’s favorite plumber and dropped him into an outstanding RPG that was thrilling from start to end.
3. Earthbound (Mother 2) – One of the quirkiest, oddest games ever made, Earthbound failed critically and commercially upon release, but has gone on to develop one of the most loyal followings of any game. Its following is well deserved, as Earthbound is a sheer masterpiece. Set in modern times, opposed to all the fantasy worlds associated with most RPGs, Earthbound was completely original in many ways. Gone were the dragons, demons and monsters of most RPGs, replaced with aliens, giant bugs and possessed hippies. Our heroes were not knights or wizards, but instead were a group of kids. A clever battle system, a one-of-a-kind plot, and an amazing soundtrack make this a must-have for any RPG fan, and arguably one of the greatest games ever made.
2. Final Fantasy 3 (Final Fantasy 6) – Possibly the finest of the Final Fantasy series, FF3 was an outstanding game. A wide variety of fascinating characters rolled in and out of a brilliant story, set in a magical world. Beautiful graphics, taking full advantage of Mode 7, made this game a big step up from many of its contemporaries. And then there was another amazing Nobuo Uematsu soundtrack. Not only did every character have their own amazing theme song, but FF3 was likely the first, if not the only, game to ever feature a full opera performance. And it was breathtaking.
1. Chrono Trigger – From the second you wander into the Millenial Fair, and that mesmerizing music sweeps into your ears, you know you’ve stumbled upon something special with Chrono Trigger. An incredible cast of characters join you as you journey back and forth through time, attempting to prevent mass destruction by a horrible creature. Chrono Trigger was unique in many ways from many of its contemporaries. It feature multiple endings, a plethora of side quests, and an incredible battle system, blending turn-based and time attacks, and allowing characters to combine attacks/magic for bigger effect. Beautiful graphics and fascinating landscapes were bested only by one of the greatest video game soundtracks ever written. From soft, sad ballads, to pumped up robot rock, Chrono Trigger is as big a treat for the ears as it is for the eyes and the imagination. Without a doubt Chrono Trigger is the finest RPG ever made, and the gold standard all future RPGs should be compared against.