The SNES was a workhorse of a system in its heyday, complete with amazing RPGs, racing games, and much more.
Unfortunately, not all the best games are accessible today for a whole host of reasons. With the magic of modern SNES emulators, you can catch up on some of the gems you missed along the way or do not have access to any longer.
I’ve come up with a handy list of what I feel are the 10 best SNES emulator games that you should play, whether you are a retro gamer or a younger person looking to catch up on some amazing gaming history.
I created this list in no particular order, and I only put games on this list that you are better off emulating for one of the following reasons:
- The title is too rare or expensive to find today
- The translated version of the game never made it to U.S. or the version that came along sucked
- A good or fun game was overlooked in its time and deserves some spotlight
Like O.J., I’m just saying if I did emulate some games, these would be the ones to play. I’m not saying I have or that you should. Remember, emulators have dubious legality, and I don’t want Nintendo to kick down your door and curb stomp you for playing old games.
Cool? Cool. Let’s get to it.
10. Mega Man Soccer
Mega Man Soccer is definitely one of those good and fun games that didn’t get a whole lot of love back in the day.
The game was interesting to me because the story was so convoluted and the soccer matches were made a lot more interesting by the presence of special attacks that could freeze or otherwise incapacitate opposing players.
Also, the various game modes (including multiplayer) let you do a quick match or sit through an entire tournament, so you could spend hours killing time in this game or just play a quick match.
Is this a good soccer game? Hell no. But it has that NBA Jam or Mutant League Football sort of charm and it comes loaded with a lot of familiar characters from the Mega Man universe.
9. Harvest Moon
Back before we had farming simulators that put you in the driver’s seat of a tractor, we had the humble Harvest Moon. The premise of the game did not sound like a formula for success: you take over your grandpa’s farm, build a farming operation, get married, and make friends in the nearby town.
No swords, no dragons, no fire. But it worked and it was great.
Still, Harvest Moon is one of the best SNES emulator games because it’s really fun, introduced people to farming sims, is somewhat difficult to find today, and too many people missed out on it.
After all, the PlayStation 1 launched soon after its release, brought a bunch of new games, and made late releases on the SNES fly under the radar.
Imagine a less complex Stardew Valley or Farmville with a story and a dash of magic. The game can be unforgiving to newcomers, but I am fairly confident you can find a guide.
Harvest Moon did lead to a more popular sequel that probably gained a lot more attention because it was on the newer systems.
8. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
Looking at a list of the best SNES emulator games, you’re bound to find that many of the most popular downloads are RPGs. In fact, I would say that SNES RPGs were almost a problem for the system— the amazing RPGS drowned out the less-popular titles.
That is precisely what happened to Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals.
This prequel to the original Lufia game put you in the shoes of the original heroes, updated the gameplay and graphics, and was a very good RPG in its own right.
However, it was drowned in the tsunami of RPGs released on SNES. Not helping matters is the arrival of PlayStation 1 and Nintendo 64, both of which took attention away from these late-comers.
Either way, you should check out this game because it’s a load of fun and it is a good palate cleanser from other similar games.
7. Chrono Trigger
Chrono Trigger is arguably one of the best RPGs ever made, but it’s not that easy to get your hands on an original copy of the title. Since it is such an amazing game and it is so difficult to obtain, it’s definitely a title that should find its way into many SNES emulator game libraries.
Sure, you can find a port of Chrono Trigger on just about every system out there, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting the same game. The original has a certain charm about it that kinda wears off with new translations and polished graphics. Or maybe I’m just an old curmudgeons.
You’ll want to play Chrono Trigger for it’s wonderful story, creative gameplay, and beautiful artwork. Personally, I don’t think the game is the best thing ever, but I recognize its spot as a solid number 2 on the system.
6. Killer Instinct
The fighting game, Killer Instinct meets two of the criteria I used for including games on this list. The game is somewhat expensive as far as old games go and it’s fun as all get-out.
Killer Instinct’s combat was combo-based, so you could land an overwhelming barrage against your enemies and look cool while doing it. The cast of characters was varied and interesting, so you could beat up on your friends in multiplayer as a living flame, skeleton, or a frickin’ raptor.
There is a story, too, if you’re interested. Also, I’m not a betting man. If I was, I would bet you love this soundtrack along with the exclamations from the announcer. C-c-c-c-combo breaker!
Killer Instinct is a solid title that any fighting game aficionado needs to try at least once.
5. Mega Man X3
Was Mega Man X3 an extremely great game? Not really. It is an exceptionally rare, expensive, and fun game, so it’s on the list.
Go look up the lowest price for this game real quick. Actually, just trust me: it’s a lot.
This game is perfect for Mega Man enthusiasts that want to play all the games, people that just want to see what all the hype is about, and people looking to enjoy an interesting story.
That’s all I got. Check this game out to get your action fix.
4.Fire Emblem: Genealogy of The Holy War
The Fire Emblem series has many great entries, and Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War is often recognized as one of the best ever made.
This game never made it to the U.S. on the SNES, so most people would never have the chance to play this game! Fortunately, this title has been translated, and it’s one of the more popular SNES emulator games among tactical RPG fans today.
This game was special because of the rich story, complex battle systems, and generations of characters that pick up the arms of their forebears to continue the war.
This game was ahead of its time, and it’s safe to say any fans of this game would enjoy it.
3. Bahamut Lagoon
What happens when you take some of the most impactful members of the Final Fantasy team, tell them to make a tactical role-playing game, and add Pokémon-like elements with dragons because that was the fashion in 1996?
You get a completely underrated title that doesn’t make it to the U.S. shores. Ha!
You will want to get a ROM of Bahamut Lagoon because it is a unique game that is hard to access in the U.S. and the whole game is a wonderful journey.
This game is begging for a sequel or a remake, but I doubt we’ll see it. Somebody start a petition!
Ever wanted to act out your deity fantasy in a video game but you never found the right mix of building up society and smiting non-believers?
ActRaiser is the game for you.
The basic concept of this game is that you are The Master in the English version of the game. You’re a much more blasphemous title (God) in the Japanese version.
You send an angel out to do your bidding as you attempt to reclaim the world from evil that crept into the world in your absence. There is a whole lot of religious stuff to unpack with this game, but we’re not going to focus on that.
Instead, this game lets you focus on building new towns by inspiring people with your angel or smiting them with a statue that you have brought to life. A golem? Who knows.
This game is very unique in terms of its gameplay. Personally, I think you should add this one to your collection for that fact alone, but it’s also not a very cheap game to buy either.
1. Star Ocean (English)
If you need to know one thing about me, it’s that I love a good RPG. The fact that so many people I’ve spoken to throughout the years have never played the original Star Ocean is alarming.
This game puts you in the shoes of an alien that is contacted by humans while you’re on a journey to save your friends. The humble opening of the game leads to a sprawling story that gives you meaningful choices that impact the game.
The active combat is simply inspired and the supporting skills made leveling actually fun. The “private actions” let you delve deep into characters’ backgrounds by interacting with each one individually in special settings. This game was great for its time and still amazes me today.
Like some other games on this list, Star Ocean was not released in the United States on the SNES, but a remake called Star Ocean: First Departure was eventually released.
Fans of the Star Ocean games should check out this title because it is one of the best games in the series. Lately, the series has trended downward in a rather drastic way.
Final Thoughts on SNES Emulator Games You Should Try
While making this list, I realized that I am very biased towards RPGs because the system had so many great ones that many were overlooked.
That is what it is, though. I can always make another list of great SNES titles that you might want to load onto your emulator of choice.
Also, I want to recognize that the discussion around emulators is nuanced and can provoke passionate responses. Before you start blowing up the comments section by asking me if I would download a car, I ask that you remember that this whole list is hypothetical as far as doing anything that may or may not be legal.