Nintendo Switch Online and its collection of classic NES and SNES games could mean so much for game preservation, but so far, it hasn’t come close to living up to its potential. At present there are only 49 Super Nintendo games available through the app, with some often being singled out as rather odd choices when the library of SNES classics is so vast (hi, Jelly Boy). The realm of possibilities is, like always, a fun subject to ponder over, so we’ve compiled a list of maybe-less-obvious but totally essential SNES games that deserve their time in the spotlight on the Switch.
Games considered are ones that have not received a recent remaster, nor are they available in some iteration on Steam. They aren’t packaged together as in the Collection of Mana, and mostly have been released in the West before. Not having an available official translation can’t keep me away from my pipe dreams!
Though Human Entertainment’s tremendous Clock Tower never made it out of Japan, it and its sequels have remained a mainstay for adventure game fanatics and is known for popularizing the stalker-based, mostly combatless style of survival horror. Heavily inspired by giallo films of Dario Argento (the protagonist herself being inspired by and named after Jennifer Connelly in her Phenomena performance), Clock Tower follows a young orphan who comes to Norway after being adopted. There she is assailed by a young boy with enormous scissors who stalks her and her friends about the house.
The game itself is a point-and-click, with a cursor being used to control where Jennifer goes and what she interacts with. There’s also eight possible endings, each with their own distinctive paths and conditions taken to achieve them. Clock Tower is a legendary game and deserves its time in the sun again.
Who would have guessed that Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil fame would have found his start in designing licensed Disney games? It’s no wonder Goof Troop is such a studied iteration on A Link to the Past. Released just a month after Link’s own island adventure in Link’s Awakening, Goof Troop is something of a co-op tropical action-adventure caper where players control Goofy and his son Max as they solve puzzles and throw bombs on their way to save Pete and PJ from pirates.
Goof Troop is an excellent multiplayer experience, especially for existing Zelda fans (or anyone looking to bond with their kids Goofy-style). It’s a great deal simpler than an actual Zelda game and certainly a lot shorter, making it a brief traipse that could fill a weekend afternoon. It’s a true hidden gem in the licensed Disney game conversation usually dominated by Disney’s Aladdin and The Lion King.
Hagane is Ryu Hayabusa’s cyborg cousin, and he’s out for revenge. A true essential for fans of Ninja Gaiden and Shinobi, Hagane: The Final Conflict is a suave and stylish action platformer that deftly merges ninjas and cyberpunk. Hagane uses swords, chains, shurikens, grenades, and magic on his path of destruction against the Koma clan.
Though not many would venture to say Hagane trumps its ninja platformer brethren, it’s a true hidden gem and considered a lost game in the library. Copies of Hagane sell online for exorbitant prices, and its availability on the Switch could be the only way many could experience the game today.
The Harvest Moon series (now known as Story of Seasons) found its humble beginnings on the SNES, where it laid its seeds for an entire generation’s soon-to-be rural dreams. The game’s premise will echo as familiar for anyone that’s played one of the later entries or Stardew Valley: your grandfather has passed away and left you as the sole proprietor of his ranch, meaning you’ll be spending the rest of your days tilling the field and milking cows.
The original Harvest Moon might be scant in content in comparison to future entries, but it’s a charming experience and one not a lot of dedicated fans of the series have had the opportunity to play. It’s an interesting history lesson for the now ubiquitous farm simulation genre.
The Goemon series is one of many neglected Konami franchises, which is a shame given how underrated it’s gone in the West. The Legend of the Mystical Ninja may not be the first in the series, but it was the first to make it out of Japan, and it’s inarguably one of the best action-adventure games the SNES has to offer. Combining brawler elements with action-platforming, Mystical Ninja was ahead of its time in its rendering of a highly interactable world brimming with life. There’s a ton of kabuki-style spectacle and enjoyable mini-games to keep you here for a while, so it’s a bit puzzling why the series didn’t catch on until Mystical Ninja Starring Goemon released for the Nintendo 64. A port of Mystical Ninja would be a great opportunity to bring back an iconic IP and a wonderful reintroduction to gaming’s funniest thief.
I’m just going to say it—it’s about time we revisit Pac-Man 2. Maligned for its bizarre departure from near-perfect arcade game to side-scrolling adventure (it owes more to Pac-Land than the original arcade classic), Pac-Man 2 features a fully realized world in which Pac-Man owns a home, has a family, and is conspired against by his old ghostly enemies. There’s a bit of a Saturday Morning Cartoon aesthetic to it all, and it’s mostly notable for its humor and the lengths to which you can torture Pac-Man on his own turf.
It’s a very odd game that may not be for everyone, but introduces enough off-kilter mechanics to make it stand out against point-and-clicks of a similar vein. You have to at least respect Namco for being unafraid to do something totally unasked for with one of gaming’s most recognizable figures.
While the remaster of the original Pocky & Rocky, Pocky & Rocky Reshrined, is set to hit the PS4 and Switch later this Fall, there’s been no word on whether its sequel will receive a similar treatment. Pocky & Rocky 2 is one of the cutest pick-up-and-play co-op games available on the SNES, and expands on the original by introducing a retinue of new playable characters complete with individualized abilities and mechanics. It’s a sequel in the truest sense, and new fans will sorely be missing out on an arguably superior game if it goes without a port of its own.
More than just a novelty, Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up in the vein of Final Fight. Featuring some truly impressive animation for the SNES, Pretty Soldier is a silly romp through Sailor Moon’s first season where up to two players are tasked with taking down the Dark Kingdom. It’s a game with a lot of bombast and not one to be dismissed just because of its nature as a strange licensed game genre mash-up. Besides, who doesn’t want to judo flip a bunch of buff zombies as Sailor Mercury?
It’s tragic that Quest’s legendary Ogre Battle series hasn’t seen the light of day other than a few ports here and there since 2002. Though Let Us Cling Together never made it to the West in its original iteration, its PlayStation and later PSP versions secured its place as one of the most beloved strategy RPGs out there. Let Us Cling Together is an epic journey underscored by an alignment system which affects the classes you are able to access for your party members.
It’s a longshot to hope for a port available on Nintendo Switch Online, but it would be more than welcome as an addition and would spruce up the rather thin selection of RPGs available currently.
There are several RPGs for the SNES that rank among the console’s most underrated games, and Terranigma is no exception. Developed by Quintet (known for their Soul Blazer Trilogy which features Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, and Terranigma), it’s a rather surreal and cosmic game in which you single-handedly mold the Earth’s rebirth. The game features character designs courtesy of manga artist Kamui Fujiwara, who brings a sense of whimsy and mystery to an already esoteric game.
Though any of Quintet’s works would fit in nicely on the Switch, Terranigma is considered by many to be a SNES must play especially for fans of action RPGs. If you loved Secret of Mana or any of the old Ys games, you’re missing out on Terranigma!
Austin Jones is a writer with eclectic media interests. You can chat with him about horror games, electronic music, Joanna Newsom and ‘80s-‘90s anime on Twitter @belfryfire