Shack Chat: What is your favorite Mode 7 game?

With the recent release of Nintendo Switch Online's SNES app, the Shack staff decided to list our favorite games that use Mode 7 technology. Please take a look.


Nintendo Switch Online recently launched an SNES app for the hit hybrid handheld home console, and it got the Shack staff feeling pretty nostalgic for those old days of 16-bit soundtracks and sweet Mode 7 graphics. As is tradition, Shacknews editors put together our thoughts in this handy dandy Shack Chat for your reading pleasure. Which games made our list of favorite Mode 7 titles? Please take a look.

What is your favorite Mode 7 game?

F-Zero - Asif Khan, Still plays F-Zero

F-Zero was a Super Nintendo launch title that really showcased the new 16-bit technology. Mode 7 was on full display in the game, as players zoomed around at 400 km/h and higher with boost power. The level design was brilliant in the game, creating a nearly 3D feel to the racing gameplay. This was truly showcased in the post Grand Prix video, embedded above. My mind was blown the first time that I saw the Fire Stingray make turns as my times for each level scrolled by. 

F-Zero is the SNES game that I played for the most hours, completing all Grand Prix races on Master difficulty. While there are tons of awesome Mode 7 titles like Star Fox, Pilotwings, and Super Mario World, I still hold F-Zero to be my favorite. It was the first game that I fired up on the Nintendo Switch Online SNES app when it launched last month. 

Terranigma - Brittany Vincent, Senior Editor

Terranigma was also known as Tenchi Sōzō in Japan.
Terranigma was also known as Tenchi Sōzō in Japan.

When I first played Terranigma, I was truly impressed by the hulking overworld and its jaw-dropping visuals. It felt like the most expansive map I had ever traveled on, and this was far before games like Final Fantasy VII blew my mind with huge areas to explore. The Underworld map in particular had some of the coolest effects in the entire game, and I still stand by that use of Mode 7 as one of gaming's most impressive. If you ever have a moment, be sure to check out that area in motion as opposed to a simple screenshot. It will really sell you on it in a big way. I had never seen anything like it in a game to such a degree when I happened upon it.

Yoshi's Island: Super Mario World 2 - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Editor


Mode 7 was used more sparingly in the Super NES' final days, as consoles were starting to shift over to the next generation of graphics hotness. But Yoshi's Island had some novel uses for Mode 7 graphics that pushed the envelope in ways that the first batch of SNES games couldn't fathom. It's more than just that rotating overworld map of the island, too. Let's look at one of the most memorable uses of Mode 7 in this game.

I'm talking about the boss battle against Raphael the Raven, one of the most novel boss fights to come along at the time. The idea was that you were literally running around a sphere as the background actively shifted around. It was mind-blowing (as well as slightly dizzying) and one of the coolest boss encounters in the game. Mode 7 might have been on the way out, but it went out on a high note.

Star Fox - Blake Morse, Can do a barrel roll

Do a barrel roll!
Do a barrel roll!

While there were a lot of titles on the SNES that incorporated Mode 7 graphics that would end up in my top tier list of best games ever I feel like Star Fox is the one that really captures the true essence of what it was all about. It was such a unique perspective on the space shooter genre. While a few Sega arcade titles had done a similar view with games like After Burner and Thunder Blade, they didn’t have the fluidity or proper depth perception to make gameplay feel solid. I feel like Star Fox also gave us a glimpse of what to expect from the next generation of consoles as well. Definitely one of the finest, smoothest examples of Mode 7 to be seen on the SNES.

Super Castlevania IV - David L. Craddock, Longreads Editor

Other games such as F-Zero and Super Mario Kart arguably made better showpiece games for Nintendo’s Mode 7 tech. Those titles hinge on Mode 7; without it they--and the franchises they spawned--wouldn’t exist.

Super Castlevania IV’s usage of the tech is more calculated. In one level, players must navigate a series of jumps within a room as the room rotates around them, kind of like being inside a cement truck’s mixer as it turns ‘round and ‘round. The rotating background doesn’t directly impact gameplay, but it does augment the already-spooky atmosphere by making it trippy and surreal. Another level has players hanging from hooks while the screen rotates 90 degrees again and again.

Sure, other games put Mode 7 front and center, but Konami’s approach of using the tech to enhance levels and visuals was, to my mind, a slicker approach.

 Super Mario Kart - Greg Burke, Lives in the mines

One of the launch games for the Super Nintendo. Even though I never personally owned one, I would play this game a lot at my friends house, especially the battle mode. I remember always getting in fights over Toad, since he was clearly the fastest.

It’s hard to believe how far games have come in 27 years. The technology just has gotten so much better, but I’m really glad I was able to grow up during such a great console cycle that has given me so many great memories. 

TMNT IV: Turtles in Time - Chris Jarrard, Neon Night-Rider

If you are a regular reader of Shack Chat, you’d know by now that if there is any possible way that my answer can be Turtles in Time, it will be Turtles in Time. I don’t know exactly how Mode 7 works, and, to be honest, I can barely read at a fourth-grade level but some clever developers used it to make the SNES port of Turtles in Time.

Use of Mode 7 is not extensive in Turtles in Time since there isn’t much need for background rotation. With Mode 7 only being able to deal with backgrounds and not sprites, its ability to be implemented into most game was limited. In the case of the Ninja Turtles debut on the console, one level was ideal for some Mode 7 goodness. 

Dubbed Neon Night-Riders, the level put the turtles onto hoverboards to fight Foot Clan grunts, who also happened to have hoverboards. The level had the hoverboards constantly moving along a grid of tracks and the path of movement would often shift, with the end of the level moving horizontally in a boss fight against Krang. This level had everything good about F-Zero, plus Turtles in Time mixed in, so it is clearly the defacto best Mode 7 game.

MechWarrior - Sam Chandler, Guides Editor

Mechwarrior on SNES used Mode 7 in a pretty great manner.
Mechwarrior on SNES used Mode 7 in a pretty great manner.

You can’t really go past a MechWarrior title. In 1993, Super NES owners were blessed with an updated version of the MechWarrior game that launched on PC. This new version utilized Mode 7 for the first-person sections, and it’s an incredible use of this technology. Being able to move around the environment, all while battling other mechs, was marvel on the SNES. Plus the between-mission segments where you upgrade your mech and hash out your fees were pretty great.

Super Mario Kart - Bill Lavoy, Hunter

I’m with Greg all the way. Super Mario Kart. Part of this is because the other game I recall playing that would qualify is NHL Stanley Cup, which is fine, but I remember being addicted to Super Mario Kart. The problem was, I didn’t have a Super Nintendo, so I only got to play when I was at my friend’s place. This led to him being annoyed because I’d just want to come over and play Super Mario Kart. I can’t say I’m choosing Super Mario Kart because of its use of Mode 7, but I think it’s clear the game used the technology better than NHL Stanley Cup.

Jurassic Park - Donovan Erskine, Intern

Welcome, to Jurassic Park!
Welcome, to Jurassic Park!

Ocean Software’s Jurassic Park is the best game to use the Mode 7 graphics. Following the release of the blockbuster film, Jurassic Park hit SNES in 1993. Playing as Dr. Alan Grant as he tries to survive the madness that is Jurassic Park. I love the design of the dinosaurs in this game, the retro graphics give them a look different from what we see in the film. And, to be honest, I’m a sucker for any Jurassic Park content. 

Super Metroid - Josh Hawkins, That guy that does things

Super Metroid is one of the greatest games of all-time and it definitely used Mode 7 in innovative ways.
Super Metroid is one of the greatest games of all-time and it definitely used Mode 7 in innovative ways.

Growing up, I can still remember huddling under my blanket, playing Metroid Fusion on my Game Boy Advanced. However, it wasn’t until a few years after discovering the series on Game Boy, that I was able to go back and play through the original on the SNES. It was fantastic, the way that Nintendo blended everything together, and to be quite honest, I was in awe of how they brought the story and the world together into one moving piece with hardware that at the time was as dated as the SNES had become.

Super Metroid, while not the first Metroid game that I ever played, will always stand out as one of my favorite SNES games. Looking back on the limited time that I had with it (I was finally pick it up and play it at a friend’s house on their SNES when I was around 10 years old), I wish I’d had more time to really dive deeper into it and log the same amount of hours that I logged into Metroid Fusion when I would spend so many nights huddled underneath my blanket, trying to see what happened next.

The SNES era was a glorious time for video games and despite all of the advancements that we’ve made up to this point, some of the classics on Nintendo’s iconic system will never, ever be beaten.

Do you agree with our picks? Did we leave something off that is making you angry? Do you think we are a bunch of jaboofers? Let us know your favorite Mode 7 game in the comments section below.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 4, 2019 2:00 PM

    Shack Staff posted a new article, Shack Chat: What is your favorite Mode 7 game?

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      October 4, 2019 2:34 PM

      ActRaiser! I only remember it being used to zoom into the map but it’s still my favorite out of all the games that used the technology.

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        October 4, 2019 2:34 PM

        Well, not counting Link to the Past.

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          October 4, 2019 2:54 PM

          No love for Yoshi's Safari?

          But seriously, Final Fantasy VI had some great Mode 7 use as well despite it not being it's primary focus. The use of art use in the sequences was dramatically improved over the two earlier SNES FF games and the sunset version honestly looks pretty good even today.

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      October 4, 2019 2:52 PM

      one of these games is not like the others.

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      October 4, 2019 3:04 PM

      Star Fox uses the SuperFX chip, Yoshi’s Island uses SuperFX2. Mode 7 is just the name for the system behind sprite scaling and rotation on the SNES and is used in tons of games including Super Mario World and Zelda:LttP.

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        October 4, 2019 4:33 PM

        I believe Mode 7 specifically refers to the scaling and rotation of the background image of the game. This was used most notable for the track in Super Mario Kart, as well as the Super Castlevania IV tunnel effect as shown in the article, as well as the Chrono Trigger map (and apparently title screen) and several other similar effects. Just rotating or scaling a single sprite (such as Bowser in the clown car at the end or Super Mario World) doesn't require mode 7. (it like helps if you watch part 3 and 4 before this part 5 video)

        I'll agree with you that Star Fox likely doesn't use mode 7, or at least the major 3D effect it employs doesn't use it.

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          October 4, 2019 4:44 PM

          I double-checked to make sure Star Fox used Mode 7 and it did indeed. Otherwise, I probably would've gone with Pilotwings

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            October 4, 2019 5:05 PM

            🤔 Where was Mode 7 used in Starfox?

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              October 5, 2019 12:55 AM

              I think on the planets/map and such. I definitely remember there being zoom and rotation.

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                October 5, 2019 7:03 AM

                The mission briefing?

                I thought so too, maybe, but those assets only scale larger, and some of them cycle a few frames.

                I guess that could be Mode 7. 🤷🏻‍♂️

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            October 4, 2019 6:16 PM

            mode 7 isn't used when rendering polygons. that's the superfx chip

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      October 4, 2019 4:35 PM

      Stunt Race FX wins.

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      October 4, 2019 4:48 PM

      Super Mario Kart

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      October 4, 2019 5:11 PM

      🤔 I think the only time Mode 7 got used in Super Metroid was just during cutscenes where the ship arrives at the space station, leaves the space station, arrives at Zebes and leaves Zebes. Even then, I'm not 100% sure but it looks like Mode 7 because of the amount of scaling that is applied to that ship sprite, and it's the only element on the screen that is scaling and rotating during that time.

      🤷🏻‍♂️ pretty flimsy technicality.

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      October 4, 2019 5:17 PM

      Super Mario Kart is still one of my favorites. I still play it a ton. :)

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      October 4, 2019 6:21 PM

      Yoshi's Island EOT

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        October 4, 2019 6:22 PM

        Shoutout to Ozzie aka the most handsome Shacknews person for correctly using the World 5 boss fight as his example

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        October 4, 2019 6:57 PM

        Playing this for the first time on my switch and it seems fine so far but nothing mind blowing. I'm only though the first world though.

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          October 4, 2019 7:41 PM

          Keep going, the bosses are great and it has the tightest 2D Mario controls outside of SMB3

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      October 4, 2019 6:32 PM


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        October 4, 2019 8:13 PM

        I used to play that Conan game on the Apple ][c in the back of one of my classes, and always found the colors weird about that game because it was doing that stuff. My Atari 800 had a graphics mode just like it, so I knew what was up. haha

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        October 5, 2019 3:31 AM

        The Apple II's quirky graphics and the things programmers were able to do with its very simple speaker gave it a character that I just don't find in the more refined capabilities of Atari/Commodore systems. Love that system

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        October 5, 2019 3:52 AM

        Portrait resolution on a desktop?

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      October 4, 2019 7:55 PM

      Does Final Fantasy 6 count? Although the mine cart sequence is possibly the ugliest background in any major SNES release

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        October 5, 2019 12:50 AM

        Airship in FF6 (maybe 4 too but I may be tripping) is what I came here to say.

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        October 5, 2019 7:00 AM

        FF6 absolutely counts.

        Overworld chocobo riding. Airship flying. Underwater sequence. Any cutscenes involving the airship. Cutscenes with floating island.

        There's oodles of Mode 7.

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      October 4, 2019 8:09 PM

      Contra III if we're talking gameplay-impacting. Just favorite game that has any Mode-7 at all? Actraiser, easily.

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      October 5, 2019 1:01 AM

      Man mode 7. Mode freaking 7. You remember the first time you ever saw that shit? I remember flipping out about mode 7. Zooming and scaling on the fly!?!? I'm playing Zelda ALttP for the first time on the Swotch and my kids asked why the map was all weird. I told them it was Mode 7 and it looks funny now but back in the day it was indescribably amazing.

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      October 5, 2019 5:06 AM

      Hmmm. Several great titles to choose from. I guess it may depend if we're talking games that just had it somewhere in the game (Super Castlevania) or was prominent (F-Zero).

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      October 5, 2019 6:27 AM

      Blake & Ozzie: Why didn't you read the question before responding?

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        October 5, 2019 6:32 AM

        nvm, Ozzie is right and I'm retarded. But at least I'm not Blake.

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      October 5, 2019 7:31 AM

      Secret of Mana

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