All images courtesy VG Museum
Considering Nintendo's bizarre decision-making process, it's nice to hear that the company may be doing the correct and obvious thing and releasing a SNES Classic this holiday season. Here are the games I'd put on it if I were in charge.
Now, I should point out that the existence of a mini-SNES is not official yet, but it's being reported by Eurogamer, which blew the Switch wide open before its unveiling, so… maybe? Super Nintendo nostalgia seems, these days, to be much more powerful than the longing for the days of 8-bit, so such a product could be far more successful than the NES Classic. (That's assuming that Nintendo doesn't manufacture a half-dozen of them and sell them at a single Wal-Mart in Poughkeepsie, which I'm not ready to rule out yet.)
The following is not just a pie-in-the-sky wish list of games I liked as a 90s teen. I respect you too much to inflict that upon you. This is a real attempt at crafting a feasible list of games that Nintendo could re-publish in 2017. So as much as I agree that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time or NBA Jam were pivotal elements of the SNES experience, Nintendo's highly unlikely to want to pay for those licenses again.
And as much as I'd like to, we can't just load the whole damn thing up with Square Enix RPGs. So I've tried to balance out the genres, the mix of first- and third-party software, and single-player versus multiplayer gaming.
1. Super Mario World
2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
3. Super Metroid
The SNES only had one (traditional) Mario, one Zelda, and one Metroid, and not only are they three of the best games on the system, they're quite frankly three of the best games on any system that they're available on. Shoo-ins, the whole group of them.
The SNES is home to one of the most personal, touching, brilliant role-playing games ever made. Maybe it will even get some new fans by being included in this collection! We can only dream.
5. Super Punch-Out!!
Closer in aesthetic and gameplay to the original arcade games than the NES version, Super Punch-Out!! continues the series' long-held traditions of rhythm-based, pattern-matching boxing action and lighthearted ethnic stereotyping.
6. Donkey Kong Country 7. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
I only ever played the first DKC and wasn't a big fan, but I'm putting it here for you, Rareware fans. Plus its supposedly better sequel. But not the third instalment. This is all you get.
8. Kirby Super Star
9. Kirby's Dream Land 3
10. Kirby's Dream Course
Kirby is a surprisingly popular franchise, so I feel pretty good about three of the SNES Classic's slots being taken up by his games, especially since they're so diverse -- Dream Land is a traditional adventure, Super Star is a collection of mini-games, and Kirby's Dream Course is actually a wonderful spin on miniature golf.
11. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island 12. Star Fox
Here's where we get into potential trouble, as Nintendo has never re-released any of its games that originally used the Super FX coprocessor chip. Licensing issues, perhaps? Either way, the release of the SNES Classic should be good enough reason for Nintendo to get all that worked out, because these two games really should be on there. (This would also be a great time for Nintendo to finally release the canceled Star Fox 2, now that I think of it.)
Launch games ahoy! Not the fondly remembered classic that Super Mario World was, but still good (and, again, balance out our genre diversity a little more).
15. Super Mario Kart
This reminds me that, unlike what it did with the NES Classic, Nintendo really, really needs to get some extra controllers into the market for SNES Classic. Playing Mario Kart alone would be a bummer.
16. Tetris Attack
I know I said that there won't be any games with licenses that Nintendo has to pay for, but hear me out: This brilliant puzzle game never should have had Tetris in the title to begin with, so this is a perfect time for Nintendo to do its own ROM hacking, take out the T-word, and rename this to Yoshi's Puzzle League.
The NES Classic's game library was just about half Nintendo, half third parties, so I'm keeping that balance for my list. Ideally, Nintendo would deal with as few third parties as possible for this system to keep the business end more manageable. Here are the four outside software makers I think they should be working with this time:
17. Demon's Crest
18. Final Fight 2
19. Mega Man X3
20. Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
From Capcom's massive stable of Super NES classics, I'd suggest these. There are many Street Fighter games on the SNES, but you really only need one, so let's go with the classic Turbo. I'd suggest the first Final Fight if the SNES version wasn't such an unholy mess; the sequel at least has a two-player mode! I figure one Mega Man is enough, so X3 is probably the best pick. And then there's the wonderful Demon's Crest.
21. Super Castlevania IV
22. Contra III
23. Castlevania Dracula X
24. Gradius III
Konami, for all its major flaws, is at least all-in on Virtual Console, so it should be rewarded with four slots on the SNES Classic. Like the NES Classic I think it should have two Castlevania games and one Contra. Gradius III gives the SNES Classic a single outer-space shmup, although you could swap this out with Axelay if you like.
25. Wild Guns
26. Pocky & Rocky
I have a soft spot in my heart for plucky li'l Natsume, and I think two of its SNES games would help to round out the lineup here and add in some two-player goodness: Wild Guns is a cooperative shooting-gallery type game with a Western aesthetic, and Pocky is an adorable top-down scrolling shooter starring a priestess and her tanuki pal.
27. Secret of Mana
28. Final Fantasy VI
29. Chrono Trigger
Square Enix, Square Enix. You're the big question: will you play ball? Japan's premier RPG publisher put the original Final Fantasy on the NES Classic (and Final Fantasy III on the mini Famicom released in Japan), so it's clearly not against having its products included on these devices.
I'm fairly sure it would let Actraiser, a brilliant combo of Castlevania-style action and town-building simulation, go for a song. But Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy III, and Secret of Mana? One thing's for sure -- when would-be buyers say that they'd kill for a SNES Classic, these are the games they're saying they would do a murder for.
And that's my 30. For the statisticians among you, some numbers:
- Games with multiplayer: 14/30.
- By genre (roughly): 12 Action, 2 Action/Adventure, 1 Fighting, 1 Puzzle, 4 Shooting, 4 RPGs, 5 quote-unquote "Sports," and 1 Magically Undefinable.
- Games that have already been released on some platform's Virtual Console in the U.S.: 26/30.
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to let me know; just please don't say Shaq Fu.