Flashback Friday: The Top Ten Super Nintendo RPGs

The Super Nintendo is without a doubt one of, if not the, greatest home video game console ever to hit store shelves. The system’s diverse library and charming graphics made the SNES a must-have for any gamer during its heyday.

The SNES saw countless great releases across virtually every genre. From platformers to racing and fighting games, the SNES had something for everyone. RPG fans were especially spoiled by the SNES, receiving dozens of titles that are still considered the best ever released within their respective genre. Take a look below at the ten best RPGs found on the Super Nintendo.

10 – Breath of Fire II:

breath of fire 2

Capcom’s follow up to the original Breath of Fire was released in 1994 and wowed just about everyone who got their hands on it. Breath of Fire II featured traditional turn-based combat, a sweeping epic of a story, and a well-realized fantasy world.

In addition to the traditional elements found in the game, Breath of Fire II also featured a ‘monster meter’ that allowed players to prepare for the game’s random battles. Breath of Fire II is fondly remembered as a traditionalist’s RPG.

9 – Lufia 2:


Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals is a prequel to the original Lufia and throws players into an engrossing origin story of a war between mankind and the god-like Sinistrals. Players controlled an ancestor of Lufia’s protagonist as he follows his destiny to destroy the Sinistrals.

Lufia 2 improved on the first game by removing random battles – instead opting to display each monster onscreen, which allowed players to prepare accordingly for battle and eventually became a standard feature in many other franchises. Lufia 2 also threw countless puzzles at the player that changed up the traditional formula of the RPG genre.

8 – Final Fantasy IV:


Released early in the SNES’ life, Final Fantasy IV absolutely wowed RPG fans when it was released. The game’s lengthy plot, pacing and absolutely brilliant main character Cecil were the miles ahead of the competition when FFIV was released.

Similar to other Final Fantasy entries, FFIV featured the traditional turn based combat that the franchise is known and loved for, while adding the exception ATB system to add new depth to battles.

For its innovation and remarkable gameplay elements Final Fantasy IV is revered to this day as one of the best in the franchise.

7 – Illusion of Gaia:


Illusion of Gaia is an interesting title for a number of reasons. The 1994 RPG featured a pseudo-historical world that mentions both historical characters and real-world locations such as the Great Pyramids, while still managing to be grounded firmly in fantasy.

Illusion of Gaia had players control a man named Will as he traveled the world searching for mystical statues that will allow for him to save the planet from a massive comet. The game’s plot brought Will on a lengthy journey that is utterly unforgettable.

Illusion of Gaia was also unique at the time of it’s for eschewing the traditional RPG elements of experience points and even equipment, instead opting to give the player permanent stat increases in the form of jewels.

6 – Terranigma:


Similar to Illusion of Gaia, Terranigma takes place on a fictionalized version of Earth and tells the tale of a boy named Ark as he is swept into a struggle between God and the Devil. Terranigmas story is a twisted epic of religious and philosophical themes that touch on countless interesting topics, making it loved for its ability to engross the player.

Terranigma featured an entertaining real time combat system that many SNES RPGs became known for and hosted a deep stable of interesting characters, locations and enemies, earning it unanimous praise and a permanent spot as a cult-favorite SNES title.

5 – Secret of Mana:


Secret of Mana is one of the best received games of all time and there is no denying that all of the praise it receives is completely warranted. The game featured a number of elements that set it apart from the rest of the RPG pack and, thanks to its, thrilling combat and remarkable narrative; Secret of Mana is undoubtedly one game that everyone must play.

Secret of Manas magical world and they player’s journey to save the Mana Seeds – and subsequently the world – was made all the more engrossing because of the game’s ability for three players to play together simultaneously.

4 – Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars:


Nintendo’s beloved mustachioed plumber, Mario, and his first foray into the RPG world is easily one of the quirkiest entries on the list. Super Mario RPG took the tried and true formula of the Mario franchise and jumped on its head.

Super Mario RPG succeeded in bringing the vibrant world of the Mushroom kingdom to life in a way that Mario’s previous platforming efforts never could. The game’s humor and downright witty writing, combined with masterfully tuned turn based combat earned Super Mario RPG universal praise.

Not only did Super Mario RPG take the Mario name in a different direction, but it also marks the first time Mario’s longtime enemy Bowser was cast in a much more friendly light.

3 – Final Fantasy VI:


1994 was a great year for RPGs, but Final Fantasy VI absolutely stole the show when it hit shelves. Considered by many to be the very best offering in one of gaming’s longest running franchises, Final Fantasy VI is very much deserving of its praise.

Final Fantasy VI is loved for its world-spanning (and destroying) plot, numerous memorable party members and for having one of the most chill-inducing villains in video game history. Final Fantasy VI’s opening moments cast a perfect glimpse into what gamers should expect from the game – a completely memorable and deep RPG experience that is expected of the Final Fantasy series.

2 – Chrono Trigger:


Chrono Trigger is one of the most talked about and beloved games of all time. Any discussion surrounding the greatest video games is sure to contain more than a few mentions of Chrono Trigger.

Chrono Trigger’s story literally spans thousands of years and tells the tale of the world’s undoing at the hands of the being Lavos. Armed with Epoch the time machine, Chrono Trigger’s cast travels throughout numerous time periods – past, present and future – as they seek to solve the destruction of the world.

Chrono Trigger features many staples of the RPG genre, as well as the ATB battle system of Final Fantasy. Chrono Trigger is a RPG unlike many others, and one that is worth playing over and over again.

1 – EarthBound:


EarthBound is the standard of storytelling that every game after its release should be held to. The emotion, satire and humor contained in the game’s exceptional script are an example of gaming’s best writing.

EarthBound tells the tale of Ness and his companions as they travel to stop the great Giygas from destroying the world. EarthBound’s world is one that is a nod to American pop culture that still holds up almost a decade after the game’s release and one of the best realized worlds in video game history.

The quirks and charms of EarthBound have earned it a level of cult-following that few games ever achieve; playing through this RPG is more than a must.

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Tags : retroRPGsSuper NintendoTop Ten Lists
Raymond Porreca

The author Raymond Porreca

Raised on classic role-playing games, Ray’s eternal quest for the next great game has led to him playing everything he can get his hands on. With a passion for every facet of the video game industry, Ray aims to keep readers informed and entertained with every word he writes.