Staff Picks: Top 10 SNES Games We Want on Virtual Console

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

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Virtual Console

When EarthBound was finally released on the Wii U Virtual Console, there was jubilation all across the Internet. And after the jubilation died down, we were left with one question:

What’s next?

For many EarthBound fans, the answer was clear: Mother and Mother 3. Heck, Clyde Mandelin, the guy who did the fan translation of Mother 3, has actually offered his work to Nintendo for free. But when you step outside of the Mother franchise, you see that there are many, many games that have yet to grace the Virtual Console. When this list initially started as just a general games-we-want-on-the-Virtual Console list, we came up with a list of well over 150 games that hadn’t even released on the Wii’s VC.

So with that, we decided to split up the list into several lists, separated only by console. And since it was an SNES game that sparked this line of thought, we will begin with that system.

However, before we continue, there are a few ground rules:

  1. The one-game-per-franchise clause is in effect. There will be mention of other games that were made for this system, but only one will be on the list. There can be exceptions where a franchise that saw many similar games can be listed, like the Super Bomberman series and the NHL games. (Relax, there are no sports games on this list.)
  2. This list isn’t just for games that are not on the Wii U Virtual Console. Any game that appears on the Wii’s VC is off-limits, as well.
  3. No IP that is currently held by either Microsoft or Sony can make the list due to the legal wrangling it would take to get the game onto a Nintendo console again. Therefore, no games like Killer Instinct are allowed.
  4. While I’m not completely sure what the issue is with the Donkey Kong Country games, we will refrain from listing them. While I’m sure those are games we’d all love to see make a triumphant return, leaving them off allows us to list another game you may not have thought of.

And with that, here is our list of the…

Top 10 SNES Games We Want on Virtual Console

Honorable Mentions

  • The Lost Vikings games
  • The Super Bomberman games
  • Sparkster
  • Tetris Attack (while the Tetris name may lead to legal issues, they could rebrand it as Yoshi’s Puzzle League)
  • Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
  • LAST CUTS: Ys III: Wanderers from Ys and Soul Blazer

Here we go with our list…


10. Secret of Evermore

Virtual Console

The only game in Sqaure’s line-up created by their North American developers, Secret of Evermore begins our list. It also began the video game career of composer Jeremy Soule, known later for his work with the Dungeons & Dragons franchise, the Guild Wars games, and The Elder Scrolls series.

Despite having a similar name as well as similar mechanics to Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore is separate from the Mana series. Instead of being set in the world of Mana, it is set in the world of Evermore. Actually, it starts out on Earth in the small town of Podunk, USA. It’s here that our protagonist comes across a laboratory and, through unfortunate circumstances, gets sent to Evermore.

And from there, you travel through the four realms of Evermore, trying to find a way back and meeting up with scientists from Earth who experienced the same mishap 30 years prior. On top of that, the game—while looking like a JRPG of the era—has a very American feel to it, with cultural references that are more familiar to a North American player than other JRPGs of the time.

9. Demon’s Crest

Virtual Console

The third and final game in the Gargoyle’s Quest trilogy, this game took everything that made the first two games great and put them on steroids. Firebrand can now change abilities with the different crests that he finds. You can fly, swim, cling, and fight your way to the final battle with the demon Phalanx.

On top of the cool new abilities, there’s the amazing soundtrack, the wonderful gothic art style, and a massive map to travel. And while it does have some slowdown, along with some cryptic hidden spots in the game, we still feel it deserves a spot on the Virtual Console, just like the Game Boy game that started this series.

8. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island

Virtual Console

One of my personal favorite games from when I was a kid—and probably the game I spent the most time playing—this wonderful spin-off of the classic Super Mario World has still not received a proper release on the Virtual Console. And yes, I say that knowing full well that the 3DS Ambassador’s Club received the GBA port of the game. That could make things interesting when Nintendo decides which version to bring to the VC.

Regardless, Yoshi’s Island is one of the greatest games to have graced the system, with one of the most memorable fights with Bowser (Baby Bowser in this game), some of the best artwork on the system, and a slew of creative and colorful villains. I get the feeling this game was so good, it sparked Nintendo to re-work the puzzle game Panel de Pon into what we in the West know as Tetris Attack, complete with characters and bosses from Yoshi’s Island (well, except it has the grown-up Bowser).

Three down, seven to go.

About Jeff Neuenschwander

Jeff has been a supporter of the website and campaign since the beginning. Joining in for E3 2012, he worked his way up the ranks quickly, making it to the Editing Manager post at the beginning of 2013. Jeff has a wide variety of tastes when it comes to gaming and pretty much likes anything that is quirky, although his favorite genres are Action, Platforming, and RPG. Outside of gaming, Jeff is a musician, being trained as a trombonist for Jazz and Classical music, and holds a degree in Sound Recording.


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  • GoodGuyJim

    Excellent list. Happy to see Tactics Ogre get an honorable mention, the Ogre Battle series deserves more recognition

  • AlbedoAtoned

    So glad Terranigma was on the list. It truly is a must play game for anybody that likes 16 bit jrpgs and/or action rpgs. The story is moving, on a whole, and even with things you wouldn’t expect. I mean, I never thought I would be saddened by the loss of a mountain goat, but this game managed to move me with such a loss. The combat is fun, because your character has several ways to attack. The game has part where you help different civilizations develop. Even in the beginning, you are reviving the continents. And when you reach land outside of the underworld (you start in the planet) it’s a wasteland, so you have to revive the plants, and animal life. Illusion of gaia was really good too, but to me, Terranigma was much better.

    • Rorshach Sridhar

      Better than Chrono Trigger?

    • Melody

      They’re technically different genres. Chrono Trigger is a turn based rpg with atb elements while Terranigma is an action rpg. Personally though I vastly prefer Terranigma. You don’t play a silent protagonist, he’s actually a bit mischievous though well meaning. Your quest in Terranigma is essentially to revive the earth. It’s actually a very emotional game. It’s the spiritual sequel to Illusion of Gaia which was a spiritual sequel to Soul Blazer, and these games are made by the same developer that made the Actraiser games.

    • Rorshach Sridhar

      Well I don’t think it’s really fair to criticize the “silent protagonist” of Chrono Trigger given the fact that it’s an RPG trope.

      I’ve been meaning to get into the ActRaiser series, though I heard ActRaiser 2 is hated.

    • Melody

      I wasn’t criticizing it so much as just pointing out how I was personally able to be much more personally invested in Ark than I was in Chrono.

      To me, many silent protagonists seem to be there more as a window to the other characters. I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with this. Rather, I do think it has it’s ups and downs in story telling.

      But the events of Terranigma directly involve Ark. He has no real companions to speak of, but he has his friends and his enemies, Early on for instance, he can talk to the plants and the animals and he ends up helping and is helped by a young lion cub. Right at the beginning his actions cause his fellow villagers to turn to stone, this includes his childhood friend Elle. The only other person to survive was the mayor of his town who told him to go to the 5 towers. Reaching the top of these restores several villagers to normal and also revives a continent (you start the game inside of the earth). When he is finished he is tasked with going to the surface to revive the plants, animals and the humans as at first it is nothing but a barren wasteland. Elle refuses to see you off, because she wants to see you off with a smile, but knows she can’t. I can’t really say anything more because it’s really spoilery once you get to the surface.

    • Rorshach Sridhar

      Understandable, but I feel like even criticizing the game for it is like criticizing a comedy film for not being scary. You should be critiquing the trope, not the games specifically if that makes sense.

      Yeah, I’ll definitely play Terranigma if it ever gets moved to virtual console. Part of the problem with SNES cartridges is they degrade over time, so all save data gets lost. There are a ton of JRPGs I want to get into.

    • Melody

      But like I said, I wasn’t criticizing it per se. I was more or less stating a preference. And yeah, the batteries in cartridges can die (albeit that takes quite a bit of time, I still have many of my old snes cartridges that I played the heck out of and their save data is still fine), but they can also be replaced if you know how. Sadly I doubt that it will come to Virtual console, none of Quintet’s other games are on there. Quintet hasn’t released a game since 2002 and seems to be dead. At this point I’d either recommend finding an old snes cartridge or treating it like abandonware. If it ever does get a release, buy it, but at this point I wouldn’t consider it shameful to just play it in any way you can since at best your money goes to somebody on ebay and not Quintet or the publisher (which was Enix before the merge with Square). If you want to be more legit then you could buy the cartridge and dump it that way you don’t have to worry about the save data being lost and as a bonus you’d have the physical cartridge as well.

      Really though if you bought the snes cartridge, the chances of the battery being dead or dying any time soon is pretty low and like I said it can be replaced.

    • Rorshach Sridhar

      No, I didn’t say SNES catridges “die”, but they certainly do degrade over time in the sense that they lose the ability to save games, which is why modern-day consoles save the data to the console hard drive itself over the disc.

      ActRaiser 1 is on Wii Virtual Console actually, so I don’t think Quintet’s the problem. Nintendo has admitted that they can’t prioritize virtual console because it would take away from their first party game development (why they don’t just hire more people I don’t understand since VC makes them a shitton of money).

      Btw, I was wondering what your thoughts were on Chrono Trigger’s story.

  • Adam

    I always thought Terranigma was a pseudo sequel to Illusion of Gaia and Soul Blazer. I think the game trilogy was unofficially dubbed the Soul Series or something. I’m not going to argue though. I want all three on the VC because they are some of the most creative and touching SNES games out there, but Gaia is the only one I’ve ever been able to play on a console as opposed to an emulator.

    Also kudos for mention Seiken Densetsu 3. It’s an absolute crime that game never officially left Japan. With multiple story directions based on which characters you chose, dozens of class/party options to choose from, and three different final bosses this is one of the deepest and most replayable JRPGs that ever existed.

  • Vinicius

    Excelent list. I didn’t known that Star Fox wasn’t on the VC, I think that it’s because it has something to do with Argonaut. I would like to see them release the previously unreleased Star Fox 2.

  • Nicholas Patrick

    You broke the one game per franchise rule including both Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma. Also I don’t think Starfox can be re-released since Nintendo doesn’t own the rights to the Super FX chip.

    • Brandt Mackay

      The problem wasn’t so much licensing, but rather their VC emulators didn’t emulate the SuperFX chip at all, but the Wii could handle it.

    • Jeff Neuenschwander

      You do realize that the Soul Blazer/Gaia series or Soul Blazer Trilogy or whatever it’s called is about as official as the Zenithian Trilogy is to Dragon Quest, right? There are similar elements in each game but they are not officially related nor are they a franchise, no matter how much Hardcore Gaming 101 wants to argue for it.

  • Square soft in the head

    I would definitely put Seiken 3 at the top of the list. The fact that Square never released this game and continues to not release the game as it remakes every other SNES game, often MULTIPLE TIMES, is beyond comprehension.

  • Cameron Ward

    You guys know that SNES games that use the Super FX chip have a reason to not be on the VC right? Nintendo has said before that they were having issues with putting those games on the VC due to the FX chip

  • Roberto Ruiz Contreras

    There is a Secret of Mana 2 (Seiken Densetsu 3) reproduction cartridge in english, I’m getting that for my RetroN 5, it’s not what everyone including I always wanted… but I just need that game

  • James Best

    After watching the Game Grumps play it, I kind of want SkyBlazer on the Virtual Console

    • Rorshach Sridhar

      Why “kind of”?

  • Elijah Williams

    Lufia 2 deserves much more spotlight than its ever gotten. Easily my favorite game. someone asked me a question a few weeks ago: “If the storyline was removed completely from your favorite game, would it still be your favorite?” my answer is a resounding yes, because even without the solid, admittedly generic storyline, you have some of the best puzzles to ever appear in an RPG, a good turn based combat system, and the greatest dungeon of the SNES era with the procedurally generated 99 floor Ancient Cave.

  • steven

    Seeing as some are japan only I disagree with that part of the list

  • John Ellis

    How about putting Donkey Kong Country back on

  • Stealth

    cool list

  • Aveyn Knight

    Great list. Not sure about the Japanese-only games (we can dream, right?), but it was great to see the likes of Fire Emblem, Lufia, Illusion of Gaia and Terranigma. Those games were awesome.

  • speedracer216

    LUFIA 2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!