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11 Games Missing from Nintendo's SNES Classic

Nintendo put together an impressive list of titles for its next miniaturized retro console, but several must-play games failed to make the cut.    

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I’m sitting at my computer today, writing about video games for a living, because of the NES. The formative experience of walking into a friend’s basement and hearing the peppy notes of Super Mario Bros.’ World 1-1 theme is forever burned into my brain. That particular nostalgia aside, the Super NES is my favorite console and hosts one of the finest libraries in the industry’s history. If you don’t believe me, take a gander at the list of titles baked into the Super NES Classic, announced by Nintendo earlier today for a September 28 release date.

Eighty dollars—and the luck of Tyche and Fortuna combined, unless Nintendo ships more units than it did for its now-discontinued NES Classic—will get you 21 first- and third-party classics from Super Mario World, Super Metroid, and Zelda: A Link to the Past to Mega Man X, Contra 3: The Alien Wars, and Secret of Mana. While stellar and arguably stronger pound for pound than its NES Classic brethren’s, the SNES Classic’s lineup falls shy of perfection.

The following 11 games failed to make Nintendo’s cut when assembling the Super NES Classic’s library. Some of them are inferior to ones chosen for inclusion, but have historical significance. Others are better in some way than those chosen for canonization. All 11 only scratch the surface of games I’d love to play on this latest mini console—a testament to the depth and quality of Super Nintendo’s panoply of titles and the console’s influence on the industry.

Chrono Trigger

Of all the games left behind, this one strikes me as the most surprising. Chrono Trigger is widely regarded as one of Square Enix’s (née Squaresoft) strongest RPGs and a shoo-in on virtually every best-games list written since the mid-1990s. The game’s time-traveling story as well as its charming graphics and soundtrack qualify it for a spot on the Super NES Classic.

Then again, perhaps Nintendo and Square omitted it due to the many ports—especially the 3DS edition—available on other platforms. Or maybe they’re fully aware that diehard fans will buy it again when the Virtual Console service comes to Switch, although that event doesn’t appear to be in the cards until early 2018 when Nintendo rolls out Nintendo Switch Online.

Street Fighter 2: The World Warrior

This is one of those instances where one chapter of history took a backseat to another, and deservedly so. Street Fighter 2 Turbo, the SNES port of coin-op classic Street Fighter 2 Hyper Fighting, is considered by many to be the best version of the game on 16-bit consoles. Even so, that doesn’t diminish the historical significance of SF2: The World Warriors.

During the heated “console” war between Super NES and Genesis, Sega gained ground by marketing edgier characters and games that spoke to teen and adult gamers who considered Nintendo’s more colorful mascots and software too juvenile for their tastes. Landing the premiere console port of Street Fighter 2, the game that single-handedly brought arcades back from the brink of obsolescence, was a major get for Nintendo and for SNES players. While the game is slower and less robust than SF2 Turbo, it holds a special place in my heart as an adult who held it up as a shining example of Nintendo’s superiority during many a heated playground argument.

Mortal Kombat 2

The absence of any of the four Mortal Kombat titles ported to Super NES—the first, second, third, and the latter’s Ultimate flavor—doesn’t surprise me. Nintendo’s loosened its kollar quite a bit since its moratorium on bloodshed in favor of sweat in the original Mortal Kombat on SNES, and the Klassic line of konsoles seems targeted at families who would blanch at all the head-slicing, arm-tearing, torso-exploding antics in Midway’s sequel, as much as collectors and old-school players.

Nevertheless, the SNES version of Mortal Kombat 2 warrants a mention. Not only does it remain a fan favorite among MK faithful, it marked a turning point for how Nintendo approached its draconian publishing restrictions. After the Genesis version of the original Mortal Kombat outsold the SNES port by an order of magnitude thanks to Sega’s and Acclaim’s under-the-radar addition of a blood “kode,” Nintendo let Midway and Acclaim off their short leash for the sequel. The outcome was a home konversion every bit as gory and vibrant as its arcade kounterpart.

Batman Returns

Super NES Classic’s roster abounds with platformers, racers, and RPGs. One conspicuously absent genre is the beat-em-up. In vogue before Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat uppercutted and Hadokened their way to dominance, beat-em-ups gobbled up countless quarters during the 1990s. Their ubiquity, combined with the relative sophistication of 16-bit hardware, opened the floodgates for a healthy selection of button mashers on the SNES, none of which will be represented on Nintendo’s miniature platform this September.

I’ll argue that Batman Returns was the cream of that crop. Danny Elfman’s soundtrack played overtop beautiful visuals, a utility belt’s worth of gadgets, combo attacks, and context-sensitive moves like grabbing two thugs and bashing their heads together, and throwing evil clowns through storefront windows and against park benches, which bent and shattered on impact. Rocksteady’s Arkham series nailed the feeling of being the Batman years later, but before the Joker held Arkham Island hostage, Batman Returns was the closest we got to stepping into the Caped Crusader’s steel-toed boots.

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest

The inaugural Donkey Kong Country deserves its spot on the Super NES Classic. Before its release in late 1994, consumers and industry pundits had already eulogized 16-bit consoles, engulfed by the shadow of looming 32-bit machines such as Sony’s PlayStation and Sega’s Saturn. Nintendo’s partnership with Rare, forged after Nintendo got a look at the studio’s cutting-edge graphical tech, resulted in Donkey Kong Country. The graphical tour de force showed the world that the Super NES still had gas left in the tank. That being said, Donkey Kong Country was a by-the-numbers platformer. Not bad, just insipid.

And that’s fine. Visuals, not gameplay, was what Nintendo needed to keep players interested in the SNES until its successor, the N64, was ready to ship. Enter 1995’s Donkey Kong Country 2. Secrets were hidden more intuitively, and marked with “B” bonus barrels so you had a landmark to look for instead of throwing barrels at every wall in your path. Diddy’s and Dixie’s abilities complemented each other. Levels were more varied, and the animal friends were more useful.

The sequel’s graphics didn’t turn as many heads, mostly because the original had already raised the bar, but DKC 2’s gameplay was vastly improved, and could give any other 2D platformer a run for its golden coins.

Super Star Wars

Although the original Star Wars trilogy concluded eight years before the Super NES landed on shelves, the “Super” takes on each movie gave fans ample reason to spend more time in George Lucas’ long-ago galaxy. Kids ate up the Star Wars stories, vistas, and characters, while adults enjoyed all three games for the surprisingly high difficulty level they posed.

Any of the three Super Star Wars titles would fit this bill. If I had to pick one, I’d back Super Empire Strikes Back. Luke gets his light saber, and the mix of melee, ranged, and space battles is more versatile than that of the first Super Star Wars.

Final Fight

Capcom’s most notable beat-em-up was much simpler in terms of mechanics compared to Sega’s Streets of Rage or Golden Axe. On the subject of the Super NES Classic, Final Fight was likely excluded since it dropped two-player co-op from the arcade original. Still, the game’s simplicity doesn’t make it any less fun. In fact, sometimes simpler is better.

Final Fight’s straightforward approach to brawling—walk to the right, mash attack to beat up anyone that moves—made it a tonic after a long day of school or work, when you wanted to play a game but your brain felt too mushy to solve a dungeon in A Link to the Past or go toe-to-toe against Dr. Sigma’s final form in Mega Man X.

Super Mario All-Stars

The Super Mario Bros. trilogy got its due on the NES Classic, but Super Mario All-Stars would have been a slick way for Nintendo to add four games—including the Lost Levels, the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2—for the price of one. The bump up in graphics and audio quality benefitted every game in the collection, and frills like a save-game feature, while not strictly necessary on the Classic thanks to save states, elicited a sigh of relief from little kids the world around who were used to leaving their NES consoles on over multiple days and nights while they attempted to dethrone Bowser and Wart.

Mario Paint

Mario Paint was less a game and more a suite of tools that let you paint and compose music. The interface demanded a mouse; as a matter of fact, Nintendo packed in the mousey peripherals with every Mario Paint cartridge.

I bring it up only because it typified the breadth of creativity Nintendo made possible on the SNES. The game still has legs today: Industrious streamers have a knack for recreating contemporary game and TV-show theme music using Nintendo’s breakthrough imaginative title.

Thanks largely to Mario Paint, the SNES became one of the first consoles where users could create content instead of consuming it. It would have been fun to pay homage to that aspect of the console’s history by shipping Mario Paint on the Super SNES Classic.

ActRaiser

Speaking of experimental software, ActRaiser took two seemingly disparate genres and smooshed them together. You played a disciple of God charged with clearing away demons and other ne’er-do-wells so you could then turn your attention to overseeing the construction of villages and cities. The switch between platforming and city building was seamless, and each half of the game was as fun to play as the other.

Pilotwings

You’d be hard-pressed to place Pilotwings in a list of the 50 best games on the Super NES, let alone the top 21. What it lacks in captivating gameplay, it makes up for as a showpiece. Pilotwings was a launch game, a glorified tech demo engineered to show off the power of the SNES’ whizzbang effects such as Mode 7 graphics. Sure, you’d probably only play for a time or two, and for as many minutes, but Pilotwings shines as a historical curio

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty

  • reply
    June 26, 2017 2:00 PM

    David Craddock posted a new article, 11 Games Missing from Nintendo's SNES Classic

    • reply
      June 26, 2017 2:05 PM

      Nice artikle

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        June 26, 2017 2:09 PM

        The joke doesn't work that way! But, "A" for effort.

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      June 26, 2017 2:27 PM

      I wouldn't bother putting licensed titles in there, especially Super Star Wars, that mess just isn't getting remade. Nice list otherwise though. FFII probably should've been added (although Squeenix could probably do their own SNES Classic with their titles if Nintendo would let them, at least in Japan) and still no SHMUPs! Those were huge at the time and yet they're completely absent here.

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        June 26, 2017 2:31 PM

        I'm pretty surprised shmups and beat-em-ups have zero representation.

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          June 26, 2017 2:35 PM

          It's a bit sad given how big those genre's are. Most of the studios that made that kinda stuff aren't around anymore though so licensing is probably hell.

          I would have loved some of Blizzard's back catalog to show up there though. Lost Vikings 1 (and maybe even 2) and Rock 'n Roll Racing!

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          June 26, 2017 9:18 PM

          Turtles In Time 'nuff said.

          But seriously that would've been an awesome addition to this list. The countless hours my siblings, friends and I had on this was insane. I still view it as the best Beat'em Up on SNES.

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            June 27, 2017 6:45 AM

            TMNT 4 was definitely under consideration, but I didn't want the list to go on forever. Even though it could have, because the SNES hosted so many incredible games.

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      June 26, 2017 2:33 PM

      there are some titles I agree with, like Pilotwings for example. But overall I dislike the general feeling I get from everywhere that sounds like "why isn't game a in the lineup".

      I think someone really spend some time making a list and making sure enough stuff gets included. Noone today NEEDS the SNES mini to play these games. It's a great collector's item. Also to someone who cares about gaming history and never played a SNES it's a fantastic collection of games that deliver an excellent slice of the library to get an idea what the system was about (and it DOES include the 4 most important Nintendo games which justify the system on their own, Mario, Zelda, Metroid and Mario Kart of course.)

      They learned and included a 2nd controller. They have the odd unrealeased Starfox 2 in there (which has me really excited) and they even do have FF6 in there.

      I'm really happy with my NES mini and this one seems to blow it away (I was always a way bigger SNES fan anyway so...)

      The way Nintendo is coming back in full swing this year makes me really happy. I hope 3rd parties come around as well and we'll see a new and more successfull GameCube era.

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        June 26, 2017 2:52 PM

        I point out in the intro that the SNESC's lineup is awesome. I also point out that since the SNES is my favorite console, there are games I would love to have seen included. Their absence doesn't diminish its value to me; I just figured I'd write the article because these thoughts have been bouncing around in my brain since the NES Classic became a thing and everyone began speculating that an all-in-one SNES would inevitably follow.

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        June 26, 2017 3:05 PM

        Was Pilotwings actually a good game? I remember it being technically impressive at the time, but was it fun? And more important; would it still be fun today?

        The majority of thos 21 others titles on the list still hold fine today, even over the pure nostalgia factor.

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      June 26, 2017 3:30 PM

      The only one I really agree with here is Chrono Trigger. However, we get Secret of Mana, FFVI, and Super Mario RPG. Can't really complain about that SquareSoft RPG lineup.

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      June 26, 2017 3:39 PM

      Why won't anyone think of the Metal Warriors :(

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        June 26, 2017 4:35 PM

        It was a pretty great game. A bit niche I think though compared to most of what's on that list.

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      June 26, 2017 4:19 PM

      Ummm, there's a few more than 11 games that aren't on the SNES classic, horrible article.

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      June 26, 2017 4:25 PM

      Yeah, I agree with this list. But, there are just soooo many games that could be added. I'm sure the debates were long and very drawn out about which titles they finally agreed on.

      I'm on the fence about this though. $80 is a bit steep for a nostalgia trip. I may not play all of those games, and I'll certainly put all of 20min max into any of them to realize how hard it is to go back home again. That's a limit of my own time, not a criticism of the Mini itself.

      If they did something like add a jukebox player for every title.... oh.. now THAT might push me to get it. At the least I could listen to old tunes while doing other things.

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        June 26, 2017 4:31 PM

        One thing to keep in mind is that the Super NES Classic, like the NES Classic, isn't for people who follow games regularly and still play and enjoy retro games. If I wanted to, I could download an emulator and ROMs for each of the 21 games to be included on the console, and plenty more, right now. Or I could boot up my Wii or Wii U and play them on the Virtual Console.

        The Classic boxes are for casual fans who probably haven't played or thought about the NES or SNES in years. They'll probably never get their hands on one due to scalpers, but they're still the audience Nintendo wants to reach. Players who will hear of the Super NES Classic, think, "Oh, man, Super Mario World! I love that game!" and then get sucked back into Nintendo's ecosystem and run out to buy a Switch. Which they also won't be able to find.

        But, you know. Ideally, that's what Nintendo wants to happen. ;)

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          June 26, 2017 4:34 PM

          You're right. It's hard to keep that perspective. These are games we all loved, so it colors our POV.

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      June 26, 2017 4:29 PM

      On Chrono Trigger: "Then again, perhaps Nintendo and Capcom omitted it due to the many ports"

      Wrong company, man.

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      June 26, 2017 4:30 PM

      It's bizarre they put Star Fox 2 which has never been released. So that makes it so even more collectors will want it.

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      June 27, 2017 7:22 AM

      Chrono Trigger is definitely the most conspicuous omission. Aside from that I feel like they already have a pretty solid lineup.

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        June 27, 2017 7:27 AM

        Agreed, though I am disappointed by the lack of shmups and beat-em-ups. Those genres were in vogue during the 16-bit era, and the SNES had some great ones.

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          June 27, 2017 7:31 AM

          Turtles in Time would be amazing for the collection.

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            June 27, 2017 7:33 AM

            I think the reason it's not in there is because of Konami.

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              June 27, 2017 7:36 AM

              That's my guess, too. I considered including TMNT 4. I had it, and have fond memories of playing it both with friends and solo. As a huge TMNT fan, though, Turtles in Time paled in comparison to other beat-em-ups on SNES--namely Batman Returns--and especially the original TMNT arcade game, aka TMNT 2 on NES. Growing up, I hoped that Konami would port the arcade game to SNES. Same graphics as the coin-op version, with the NES version's longer stages and extra levels.

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              June 27, 2017 7:38 AM

              They have Contra III: The Alien Wars on there, surely they can reach some sort of deal if they try.

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                June 27, 2017 7:40 AM

                Super Castlevania IV is also on there, both are Konami titles.

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                  June 27, 2017 7:53 AM

                  Yes, but I meant it in the same way as why Chrono Trigger is missing. Nintendo had hit the cap on what they were willing to pay each dev and still sell the thing for $80. Also, they'd need to get the TMNT license back.

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          June 27, 2017 7:41 AM

          Heh yeah they could have tossed Gradius 3 in there somewhere.

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        June 27, 2017 7:41 AM

        This is why I wish there was some way to expand the library on these things. :(

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          June 27, 2017 7:43 AM

          not legal but someone haxor the NES classic and loaded every NES games on there, might happen with this too.

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      June 27, 2017 7:30 AM

      Great choices, David!

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      June 27, 2017 7:36 AM

      UN Squadron should be there too

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      June 27, 2017 7:40 AM

      Pilot Wings was such a dumb game.