We ransacked the entire catalog of SNES games to find the best play value to grow your retro collection. (April 2020)
As retro game collecting goes, Super NES game prices seem to be unaccountably high. It would make sense if the SNES flopped and only a few were made, but that’s definitely not the case. Nintendo sold more than 49 million units worldwide, with 721 officially licensed games released in North America. (SNES games list on Wikipedia)
Despite the console’s high supply level, it still manages to command steep prices on a lot of its games compared to the NES, Atari 2600, Playstations 1 and 2. Maybe it’s because there were just so many excellent games that are now in high demand. Or maybe I just suck at math. Nah…
It could also be due to the fact that some of the most iconic third-party SNES games (Earthbound, Final Fantasy III, Secret of Mana) were intended for audiences older than the average SNES player in the 90s. Fewer of those games were made, and now mature collectors are ready to re-experience (and keep forever) those harder-to-find classics. It seems that, to a large degree, the SNES catalog is defined by its incredible library of RPGs. So yeah. You’ll find very few RPGs on our list of 50 Best Cheap SNES games.
The point is that, for someone wanting to know how to start a retro game collection, Super Nintendo games may seem like a luxury only for non-ghetto collectors. But there is still plenty of greatness for the classic console, much of it for under $20 for a loose cartridge.
Please note this is my (Ghetto Gamer) personal guide to collecting SNES games and it is based on my experiences. As always, my opinion is probably influenced by nostalgia and I’ll share some stories about these games. But overall, I’ve tried to find the best cheap SNES games that are objectively playable and at a minimum can be considered “Pretty Good.”
If you’re new to retro collecting, and have more general questions about where to find the best deals and about collecting retro games, check out our Ghetto Guide to Collecting Retro Games. I’m also required to let you know I’ve got affiliate links throughout this post and if you buy one of these games from my links, I’ll get a few cents.
All are welcome to disagree, agree, comment, or connect and share about this post on Twitter. And one more thing: These are in no particular order. So don’t get butt-hurt if your fave isn’t where you think it should be. Enjoy!
Best Cheap SNES Games (Under $20)
Super Nintendo’s Mode 7 is in full display here. If you didn’t know, Mode 7 was a display function that allowed the SNES to show sprites stretched out and manipulated to create zoom effects, or create vast (completely flat) landscapes that fade into the horizon. Players see a LOT of horizon in Pilotwings.
There is a wide variety of gameplay modes and different vehicles and plenty of challenge later in the game. It’s definitely worth a look.
Street Fighter II
One of the first great fighting games, Street Fighter II rocked us all in the arcade. The kids would line up their quarters to be the next challenger. There was always one kid would dominate the machine. And it definitely wasn’t me.
So when Street Fighter II came to the SNES, we all jumped on it. You could battle your friends or the CPU opponent. And it changed gaming forever.
For SNES collectors, there are plenty of versions of SFII: World Warrior, Champions Edition, Super Street Fighter II, Turbo… There is plenty of debate over which is best, but TBH, any of them will give you a good time for a miniscule price.
F-Zero was a launch title with the Super NES, and was my favorite racing game until Mario Kart came out. Along with Pilotwings, F-Zero was a perfect means of impressing audiences with the Mode 7 capabilities of the SNES.
Somehow, despite the game’s inherent flatness, the bright colors, bitchin’ tunes and fluid controls make it a fun one to this day. If only it had been able to support multiplayer…
[Get it at GameStop]
Movie tie-ins have a bad reputation. Usually they are a rush-job cash-grab with little value beyond experiencing a little more of a movie you like. But Judge Dredd is different. It’s a mazelike platformer with great graphics and sprawling maps. There’s a real challenge and plenty of secrets to keep you busy.
Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure
Like a lot of us “gamers of a certain age,” I was a huge fan of Pitfall! for the Atari 2600. My sister and I used to play the crap out of it at our Grandma’s house. There was nothing else to do there.
Mayan Adventures doesn’t quite live up to the original, but it does offer excellent graphics and animation and some pretty fun exploration. Considering it’s one of the cheapest SNES games around, it’s definitely worth the price.
Buster Busts Loose
As usual, Konami takes no prisoners. Even in a kids’ game.
Tiny Toon Adventures was my favorite cartoon at the time. And Buster Busts Loose really does the show justice. All the favorite characters are there, and they are nearly cartoon-quality.
But the challenge is real and I have yet to beat this game even after 20+ years of trying. Don’t worry though, the difficulty is due to that unforgiving Konami level design only. The controls and gameplay are great.
Stunt Race FX
One of the handful of SNES games that used the Super FX Chip, Stunt Race was revolutionary in its use of high-quality (for the time) polygons in a 3D environment. But the resolution and framerates were both pretty small and didn’t make for a great play experience.
Oddly, Nintendo chose to bring this game back into the spotlight when they launched their Switch Online SNES lineup.
Stunt Race isn’t terrible, and it offers a pretty unique take on the racing genre. If you can forgive abysmal framerates, you will have a good time with this one.
Every 90s kid grew up with this movie. It was great, and it spawned a cottage industry of dino T-shirts, lunchboxes, coloring books, and of course a handful of video games.
Jurassic Park for allowed players the option to use the SNES Mouse to navigate the many computers and terminals throughout the game, as well as using PC-style navigation in the first-person shooter sequences. Of course back in them days, PC navigation was a far cry from the streamlined WASD movement we enjoy today. In this game you literally roll the mouse forward to move forward and left/right to rotate. It’s much easier to just use the controller indoors.
Regardless, Jurassic Park is really a decent game and well worth the price tag.
Disney’s The Lion King
Another great platformer based on classic animation. The graphics are great and gameplay is tight. However, like many of these games, the difficulty could be maddening. Especially for a kid.
Still, The Lion King is a well-made title that should yield a good amount of fun relative to its paltry price tag.
Another staple of 90s culture, Mortal Kombat did what Street Fighter didn’t. By capitalizing on the blood craze of the era, Mortal Kombat became an incredible success.
And by including a blood code, Sega’s version outsold the SNES by a wide margin. In fact, until Mortal Kombat II came out in all its bloody glory on the SNES, Sega’s Genesis had a pretty tight Fatality Grip on the US console market. But Nintendo was very concerned about their reputation as a family-oriented company and chose to replace Mortal Kombat’s signature blood with what I assume is sweat? The result was weird.
In a lot of ways, Mortal Kombat II is superior, but the original is still a lot of fun. Pick up both Mortal Kombats and a Street Fighter II and you’ll already have a great multiplayer SNES collection for cheap.
Mortal Kombat 2 or 3
Take your pick. Or get both?
I’ve listed these together, but separate from MK1, because they are so similar in graphics and play style. Nintendo realized how foolish it had been to disallow blood from the original Mortal Kombat port, and MK2 hit the SNES in all its gooey, gory glory.
The biggest difference between MK2 and MK3 is the set of characters you have to choose from. Choose wisely.
Jurassic Park 2: the Chaos Continues
Ocean’s follow up to Jurassic Park has heavy Contra vibes.
Taking a completely different approach than its predecessor, Jurassic Park 2 was a Nintendo exclusive that took you and a friend on a side-scrolling shoot-em-up through the long-abandoned dinosaur park. Everything’s out of control and it’s up to Dr. Alan Grant and his plus-one to get the park back under control.
You can choose between non-lethal or lethal ammo. Meaning you can choose to mow through hordes of dinos with an uzi, or with a high-powered syringe gatling gun. But if you kill too many dinos, it’s game over. So pick carefully.
This game features some pretty great—if repetitive—graphics and impressive Dolby Surround Sound digitized noise effects.
Oh yeah… it’s also insanely difficult. But overall, it’s a quality game and definitely justifies its price.
AD&D Eye of the Beholder
Back when Dungeons & Dragons was still Advanced, it spawned countless epic trilogies of PC games. With interfaces designed for mouse-and-keyboard play, developers had a hard time effectively porting these to consoles.
But when the SNES Mouse came into being, a whole new opportunity for PC-style games cropped up. Eye of the Beholder is an absolute classic RPG. Be warned though, that if you’re going to get lost without a guide. Unless you do what we all did as young’uns and sit in front of your screen with a pencil and some graph paper and track every single step.
And of course you can play this with the standard controller, too. The mouse is kind of a pain, let’s all be honest.
The Super FX Chip promised to revolutionize gaming. And Star Fox was its flagship title.
And while Star Fox was definitely fun for its moment, it’s hard to say that gaming was revolutionized. However, the Super FX Chip did allow some nifty 3D graphics on the SNES—like in the case of DOOM—and allowed for some otherwise interesting effects in games—like in Yoshi’s Island.
If you can forgive the painfully slow framerates and chunky polygon graphics, Star Fox is worth owning and playing.
Another classic fighting game. Sure, it’s a gutted arcade port. And yeah, a lot of people prefer the Genesis version (which is also pretty gutted). But if you like fighting games, it’s nice to have another cheap option for multiplayer.
It’s hard to call this an actual Tetris game, since Nintendo totally eschews the classic block-twisting formula in favor of color-shuffling squares. But it’s a really fun puzzle game in its own right, and it actually tells a bit of a story. Bowser has returned and cast an evil spell over all the Yoshis. Only the classic green Yoshi is spared. To break the spell and return order, you have to… you know… arrange blocks.
Makes sense, right? Regardless, this is one of the cheapest first-party SNES games you can find. It’s super-colorful with lots of eye candy, great music, frantic head-to-head gameplay and everyone’s favorite dinosaur!
Here’s another SNES port of a PC game. The Lemmings were quite popular at the time, spawning countless sequels and spinoffs on all kinds of home gaming systems.
This port was definitely decent. And the 125 short levels have a way of pulling players in. And the lemmings’ many gruesome deaths are pretty entertaining as well.
Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions
The 16-bit era was amazing for those who were there. Game developers could finally recreate our favorite cartoons in almost the same color palettes we were used to seeing them. And in nearly the same resolution.
Daffy Duck: The Marvin Missions features beautiful cartoon-quality graphics and animation, along with digitized sounds from the classic cartoons. The graphics look fantastic and the gameplay is tight. This game is quite long though, and really challenging at times. Capcom was ruthless as ever.
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
One of the more divisive Final Fantasy games, (if it even IS a Final Fantasy game) Mystic Quest is the only Final Fantasy SNES game for under $20.
There are two reasons to own this game.
- You are a Final Fantasy fan and need it for your collection.
- You (or a young family member) want an easy, easy, easy game to pass some time.
Mystic Quest was introduced to the western gaming world as an “Entry-level role-playing adventure.” The belief (in Japan) was that western audiences just didn’t get RPGs, so this game was released as a sort of training adventure for those who were interested, but needed a long tutorial to understand the genre.
Sounds like a bad premise to me, as I was rocking Dragon Warrior long before 16-bit RPGs hit the shelves. And I played Mystic Quest, too. It was the first Final Fantasy game I ever played all the way through and, even though I was never challenged once (even as a kid), I enjoyed the story, graphics, and music just fine.
It’s a quality game, certainly. But holy moly is it a cakewalk!
This is a really unique twist on the racing genre, and it features some pretty impressive (for the time) pre-rendered 3D graphics.
Instead of the typical racing game’s race toward the horizon, uniracers takes an entirely 2D approach, pitting sentient unicycles (not sure how I know they’re sentient, but…) against each other in the style of a 2D platformer. During jumps you can rotate your cycle along the X, Y, or Z axis, creating Tony Hawk-esque combos to earn points and speed up your racer.
There are quite a few courses, though they are often hard to distinguish from one another, and you can play against the computer or a human opponent. The action feels super fast, even without Blast Processing.
It’s kind of weird. But it’s a lot of fun. It would be interesting to see this franchise resurrected with modern, full-3D graphics.
Gotta have some shoot-em-ups on the list. Super R-Type continues the long R-Type tradition of smearing your puny ship across all kinds of space madness and crushing your bloated ego. But if you like a challenge, and don’t want to waste money, give this one a shot.
Super Star Wars
The Super Star Wars trio is at best challenging, and at worst straight up masochistic.
The first one is probably my favorite, and I can actually make it a whole entire half of the way through the game. The Empire Strikes Back, though? No way. Can’t even finish level 1.
If you think you’re good at games and you crave a challenge, check out any of the original Super Star Wars games for SNES. They’re pretty cheap, well-made, and infuriatingly fun.
Another classic shoot-em-up series makes its SNES debut as a launch title.
Like with most launch titles, it is cheap, fun, and a great representative of its genre.
The object of the game is to shoot them up. All of them.
NBA Jam Tournament Edition
NBA Jam was a blast in the arcade. But not just the arcade; it was also great fun at most any Pizza Hut you visited in the 90s. Bless you, Pizza Hut in the 90s.
If you’re not nostalgic for it, NBA Jam won’t be as fun. But if you play it like an anthropologist, you’ll have a good idea of what it was like to be a 90s kid. And who knows? You may just become an addict like the rest of us!
The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse
As usual, Capcom was out to destroy children with punishing gameplay in a happy-fun package. Seems like Konami and Capcom were in a contest to see what favorite childhood franchises could crush the most young egos.
Magical Quest looks great. Like a lot of 90s games, it really looks like you’re playing a cartoon. The controls are slick. It’s Capcom, after all. But despite all of that, you’re in for a serious whoopin’. Capcom in the 90s did not care if you were an innocent child. You better git gud.
The kinda-sorta follow-up to Super Smash T.V., Total Carnage reuses a lot of what made Smash TV great: novel (for the time) twin-stick controls, over-the-top blood and guts, intense top-down multiplayer co-op action and tons of loot.
Total Carnage attempts to take Smash T.V. out of a one-room-at-a-time recording studio and into a Commando-style battlefield. It doesn’t work as well, but it’s still pretty fun with a friend.
A classic beat-em-up! And an example of how well an arcade port can actually be done.
With big, detailed character sprites, great animation and responsive controls, this is a great beat ‘em up. There’s just one problem. It’s single-player only.
If you want to team up with a FInal Fight buddy, you’re going to have to splurge on Final Fight 2 or 3. They are each many times more expensive than the original, so weigh your options carefully.
Movie tie-ins tend to stay cheap. It’s like the games’ popularity is based on the movie’s popularity. In the case of Alien 3, that’s our good fortune, because this game is legitimately good.
You play as Ellen Ripley, clearing out the Fiorina 161 prison colony of its unwanted inhabitants. And there are tons upon tons of those inhabitants.
Choose from a wide range of weapons to eliminate a wide range of aliens in a mission-based complex that sprawls far and wide.
It’s hard to overstate how big this game is. There is much to keep you busy across 6 stages consisting of several missions each.
The biggest drawback to this game is how repetitive the stages become, with their limited “realistic” color palettes and just tons and tons of unforgiving xenomorphs. But for its price, Alien 3 hits very hard with a glut of quality gaming content and serious challenge.
Another beat-em-up with big, beautiful sprites!
This one is also single-player only, but what are you going to have? Two Batmans? Batmen?
This one is extremely popular thanks to the graphics and gameplay, but it is pretty tough and can get repetitive. Which is saying a lot for a beat-em-up.
What do you do to an evil race of space fish? Shoot ‘em up!
This is relatively easy for a shoot-em-up. Which, for a lot of us ghetto gamers, is a good thing. Basically, an “easy” shoot ‘em up is still pretty hard for a regular game. This one is definitely quality, though. Especially for the price.
Disney’s Goof Troop is included on so many “SNES Hidden Gems” lists that it can probably safely be removed from them.
This is really an interesting game. Think of it as a co-op Adventures of Lolo, in a Disney world, with a Zelda: A link to the Past aesthetic. Capcom really nailed this one. Get it before the price goes up!
Super Mario All Stars
It’s hard to beat the value here. Super Mario All-Stars includes 16-bit upgrades of four official Mario games from the 8-bit era: Super Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 2 (US version), Super Mario Bros Lost Levels (Super Mario Bros 2 in Japan), and Super Mario Bros 3!
There is another version that also includes Super Mario World, but it’s a bit pricey for this list. At any rate, you should already have Super Mario World.
For a cartridge that lists at under $20, this is a great deal!
Soldiers of Fortune
Soldiers of Fortune is a classic arcade-style top-down shooter. It plays a lot like Zombies Ate My Neighbors, set in a steampunk world.
As with ZAMN, you can team up with a friend to take down mobs of baddies. Unlike ZAMN, this game is available for just a touch under the $20 range. For that price, this is definitely a quality game that can offer hours of co-op fun.
Donkey Kong Country
Kids today will never understand. Games in the 80s and 90s were just really tough. And Donkey Kong Country stands out among those.
This is another classic title with perfectly retro pre-rendered 3D graphics. Trust me, kids. At the time, they were mind-blowing!
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
Same as everything in the Donkey Kong Country entry, but with a 2 on the end.
Arcana is a dangerously underrated PC-style dungeon crawl.
Please note: I don’t use “underrated” very often. So when I use it, you know I mean it. And Arcana fits the definition perfectly. It has similar gameplay to Eye of the Beholder, but seems to be a bit more streamlined for the SNES.
Characters and spells in the game are represented by playing cards. But don’t worry, it’s not even close to being a card game, it’s a purely aesthetic choice. Perhaps this was to capitalize on the rapidly-increasing popularity of games like Magic: The Gathering. Whatever the reason, it somehow just works!
And unlike Eye of the Beholder, Arcana features an auto-mapping system, which was unusual for the time. You will still probably get lost and may just consider the map a tool to help you as you map the world yourself.
I love this game and could nerd out about it for hours. But best if you just check it out for yourself.
Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts
I’ve mentioned enough times that these old games are difficult. Same goes for this one.
Unlike its NES predecessor, Ghosts ‘N Goblins, this one is at least playable. I’ve made it as far as halfway through the game, so an actual “gud” player should do quite well. The graphics and music are nice, and Capcom knew how to make a nice SNES game, so you can be assured this is a quality title.
Super Punch Out
A brilliant follow-up to Punch Out!! for the NES. There are plenty of new characters, new patterns to memorize and more fantastic character sprites that fill the screen with dread and detail.
Of course it’s hard. But like the original, the difficulty ramp feels fair and doesn’t get in the way of having tons of fun with this one.
Earthworm Jim 2
Groovy! Sprawling maps will keep you busy and incredible, raunchy cartoon graphics will keep your eyeballs satisfied.
Earthworm Jim is definitely a product of the Ren and Stimpy era of animation. There is plenty of weird, gross stuff to look at. The characters are ridiculous, the action is intense and you’re generally guaranteed to have a good time.
Another top-down shooter, published by LJN, based on a Schwarzeneger film. Sounds like a recipe for 16 bits of mediocrity. But ackchually, this game has a pretty good reputation among retrogamers.
Play as Harry (Schwarzeneger’s character, of course). The stages are mission-based, so you have to actually perform actions beyond mowing down hordes of enemies. In fact, you have to watch out for civillians; if Harry kills too many, it’s game over, man!
Super Smash TV
A great port of a great arcade game. Smash TV was a twin-stick shooter way before they were even considered a sub-genre. While games like Commando gave you a rotary stick to shoot different directions, Smash TV bestowed players with an additional joystick to move and shoot freely. And constantly.
This is definitely one of the great multiplayer shooters of the system, and often overlooked as such. Combine that with the over-the-top gore and violence and you’ve got yourself a great game!
X-Men Mutant Apocalypse
Here’s another sidescrolling beat-em-up with great graphics and challenging gameplay.
As usual, Capcom knows what they’re doing, and the comic art style, and characters are on point. All our favorite mutants from the 90s are here: Wolverine, Psylocke, Gambit, Cyclops, and Beast.
Mutant Apocalypse is set up a bit like Mega Man, there’s a level select screen, and each X-Men character has their own level. You can choose which character to use for the final fight against Magneto and each of them has their own ending. Sorta.
Best Cheap SNES Games (Under $25)
Busting beyond the $20 mark just a little bit will bag you some solid gold games for your SNES collection. This is the realm of timeless classics and some of the real defining titles that made the SNES such an enduring console.
One of my all-time favorite shoot-em-ups, UN Squadron is just addictive fun.
Unlike so many other shmups, this one allows your plane to take more than one hit. You have a life bar, rather than just exploding with every single hit. This makes UN Squadron a great shmup for those of us who aren’t super-skilled at these kind of games.
Like a lot of Capcom games, there is a mission select screen to create a less-linear approach to completing the game. There are enemy convoys headed toward your base, too. If they get too close, you’ll have to stop what you’re doing and do a special mission to defend the base.
The ability to upgrade your weapons between levels makes this one even more engaging and fun.
Illusion of Gaia
From Quintet, the incredible developers that made Actraiser, Illusion of Gaia is a truly engrossing top-down action RPG. The main character can move between worlds, trading places with a legendary hero to reach otherwise inaccessible places.
Quintet didn’t develop a whole lot of games during their time, but they definitely put a lot into each of their creations. Illusion of Gaia is one of the few SNES RPGs I ever played to completion and I was totally immersed from beginning to end. You need this one in your collection.
If you think you’re pretty good at games, give this one a try. It’s classic side-scrolling mech combat and it is incredibly challenging.
Indiana Jones’ Greatest Adventures
The eponymous archaeologist hasn’t been known for great action games. His NES attempts have been less than stellar. But his Greatest Adventures seem to be quite good by all accounts.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
The all-time great. The GOAT. My personal favorite game ever.
No SNES collection is complete without this masterpiece. If you don’t already have it, get it right now!
Secret of Evermore
Unfortunately, The Secret of Mana is a bit expensive for this list. I still highly recommend it, but for a more price-friendly alternative, try SoM’s time-travelling cousin Secret of Evermore.
This game features the same great play style as Secret of Mana, with the same graphics engine. It’s not a sequel, though. Just a “spiritual successor,” and it doesn’t have the same haunting, emotional quality to its music. But it is still really a solid play, and one of the better action RPGs if you’re collecting on a budget.
Before Warcraft or Diablo, Blizzard published this little gem.
It’s a side-scrolling puzzle platformer starring three goofy Vikings lost in time and space. They must use their unique skills together in order to progress through the levels. You can play alone or with a friend, taking control of whichever Viking you think can help get the job done.
Super Mario Kart
Mario Kart changed racing games forever. And they’re still making games for this series today.
This isn’t the best Mario Kart game, but it is the original, and absolutely essential for any SNES collector.
Mega Man X
Mega Man’s (well, not the original Mega Man, but a robo-descendant) debut on the SNES, this is a true classic in the platformer genre. With all the classic gameplay you expect from a Mega Man game, but massively expanded gameplay and replayability, this is a great one and one last essential cheap game for your growing SNES collection.
Wow, you’re still reading this? That’s crazy!
I thought I should add that the pricing here is based on Pricecharting.com as of April 2020. I got the idea when I saw that Google’s number-one result for “best cheap SNES games” is a post from 2007 that features very few games that are still under $20.
If you found this article helpful, please share it and link back to it so we can get to the top of Google and actually share helpful info to budding retro collectors who want to enjoy this awesome hobby.
Here’s a good read:Tweet
52 Super NES games that are still cheap