Retro Gaming

The 37 Best SNES Hidden Gems You Probably Missed

We're rediscovering SNES's underrated gems, proving that gaming brilliance can lie beyond mainstream hits.

Retro Alex


From Super Mario World to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, the SNES was the birthplace of iconic titles that defined gaming for generations. However, beneath the surface of these blockbuster hits lies a treasure trove of hidden gems—games that didn’t bask in the limelight but shine brightly with unique charm and innovation.

In this post, we’ll go through our favorite, lesser-known yet remarkable SNES games. Let’s get started.

Platformers

The platforming genre on SNES was much more than Mario and Donkey Kong. Here are some underrated platformers that deserve a spotlight.

The Lost Vikings

This game revolves around three Vikings – Erik, Baleog, and Olaf – each with unique abilities that must be used strategically to solve puzzles and complete levels. Erik can run and jump, Baleog can fight enemies with his sword and bow, and Olaf can block attacks and float with his shield. The game combines platforming with puzzle-solving in a unique way, requiring players to switch between Vikings to progress.

Sparkster

In this fast-paced action game, players control Sparkster, an opossum knight equipped with a jetpack and a sword. The game is known for its high-speed platforming action and vibrant levels. Players navigate through various environments, utilizing Sparkster’s jetpack to reach new heights and combat enemies with his sword. The game also includes challenging boss battles and diverse level designs.

Skyblazer

Skyblazer features a mythical warrior on a quest to rescue a sorceress and defeat an evil warlord. The game combines traditional platforming with special magical abilities and varied environments. Players must navigate through levels, defeat enemies, and overcome obstacles using a combination of jumps, attacks, and special powers.

Aero the Acro-Bat

This game stars Aero, a circus bat who must navigate through levels filled with trampolines, tightropes, and cannons. The gameplay focuses on precision platforming and acrobatics, as Aero spins, dives, and bounces through circus-themed environments. The game also features unique enemies and challenging boss fights.

Plok

In Plok, players control the titular character on a quest to recover his stolen flag. Plok can throw his limbs as projectiles to attack enemies, a unique mechanic that adds a puzzle element to the platforming action. The game is known for its bright, colorful graphics and inventive level design.

Honorable Mentions for Platformers

  1. Joe & Mac: A prehistoric adventure with cavemen heroes. Its colorful graphics, humorous tone, and cooperative gameplay option make it a unique experience.
  2. Hagane: A fast-paced, ninja-themed platformer known for its difficulty and detailed graphics. Its blend of traditional and futuristic elements creates a unique atmosphere.
  3. Rex Ronan: Experimental Surgeon: An educational game with a unique theme of battling tar and nicotine inside a smoker’s body. Its unusual concept and engaging gameplay make it memorable.
  4. Rocky Rodent: An often-overlooked game where the protagonist uses his hair to fight enemies and solve puzzles, offering a twist on traditional platform mechanics.
  5. Zool: Originally introduced as a rival to Sonic, this fast-paced platformer features an alien ninja in a world inspired by candy and toys.

Role-Playing Games (RPGs)

Beyond the widely acclaimed RPG titans like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger lies a treasure trove of RPGs that didn’t quite capture the mainstream spotlight. Whether you’re a seasoned RPG veteran or a curious newcomer, these underappreciated titles are sure to provide a fresh and enchanting experience.

Terranigma

This title is an action RPG set in a world that mirrors Earth. Players embark on a journey to resurrect the planet, traversing both an underworld and an overworld. The game combines real-time combat with a deep narrative and exploration. The protagonist, Ark, evolves throughout the game, gaining new abilities and interacting with a dynamic world that changes based on player actions.

Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals

A prequel to the original Lufia, this RPG blends traditional turn-based combat with puzzle-solving dungeon crawls. The game is known for its intricate story, engaging characters, and challenging puzzles. It features a unique capsule monster system, where players can capture and train monsters to fight alongside them.

Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen

A tactical RPG with a strong emphasis on strategy and character management. Players lead a series of battles in a quest to overthrow an empire, making crucial decisions that affect the game’s outcome. The game features a complex alignment system and multiple endings, adding to its replay value.

Breath of Fire II

This sequel to Breath of Fire introduces new characters and an expanded world. The game focuses on turn-based combat, exploration, and a story centered around the protagonist Ryu, who seeks to uncover his past and battle a growing evil. The game includes a unique township building feature, allowing players to create and manage their own town.

Robotrek

In this unique RPG, players design and customize their own robots to battle enemies. The game combines traditional RPG elements with a robot customization system, offering a blend of strategy, combat, and personalization. Players explore a world filled with puzzles and enemies, upgrading their robots with new parts and abilities.

Honorable Mentions for RPGs:

  1. Shadowrun: Set in a cyberpunk future, Shadowrun blends RPG mechanics with adventure game elements.
  2. Illusion of Gaia: An action RPG following a young boy named Will who embarks on a quest to stop a comet from destroying the world.
  3. Brain Lord: This RPG focuses on dungeon exploration and puzzle-solving. Players navigate intricate labyrinths, battling enemies and solving puzzles to progress. The game includes a companion system, where players can find and utilize creatures with different abilities to aid in their journey.
  4. Live A Live: This RPG features multiple storylines set in different eras, from prehistoric times to the far future.

Action Games

These underrated action titles showcase a range of styles, from side-scrolling adventures to top-down epics, offering a diverse array of challenges that still resonate with gamers today. For those eager to explore the depth of the SNES’s action game library, these hidden gems are a perfect starting point.

Blackthorne

In this cinematic platformer, you control Kyle Blackthorne and navigate through an alien world to reclaim his heritage. The game features methodical, cover-based shooting mechanics and intricate level design. Players must solve puzzles and defeat enemies using strategic movement and precise shooting.

Cybernator

In this mech-based action game, players pilot a powerful combat suit through various missions, battling enemies and giant bosses. The game stands out for its detailed sprite work, destructible environments, and multiple weapon systems.

Demon’s Crest

A side-scrolling action game where players control a demon named Firebrand in a dark fantasy world. The game blends action with exploration, allowing players to upgrade Firebrand’s abilities and discover new areas.

Hagane: The Final Conflict

A fast-paced action game featuring a ninja protagonist equipped with an array of weapons and acrobatic moves. The game is known for its challenging difficulty and fluid combat system.

The Firemen

Set in a burning building, players control firemen tackling flames and rescuing civilians. The game stands out for its unique premise, cooperative gameplay, and strategic approach to firefighting.

Honorable Mentions for Action Games:

  • Run Saber: In this action-platformer heavily inspired by Strider, players take on the role of cyborgs with impressive acrobatic skills, fighting through diverse and challenging environments.
  • Phantom 2040: Based on the animated series, this action game has a futuristic setting where players control the Phantom, exploring a large, interconnected world.
  • Pocky & Rocky: A top-down shooter set in a whimsical version of feudal Japan.
  • Wild Guns: A gallery shooter set in a sci-fi western world.

Puzzle Games

These titles demonstrate the SNES’s capability to host games that not only entertain but also sharpen problem-solving skills. Each game on this list represents a hidden facet of the SNES’s diverse library, proving that the console was a powerhouse for brain teasers and strategy games alike.

Tetris Attack

As highly addictive puzzle game where players match colored blocks to clear them from the screen, this title includes various modes like endless, puzzle, and competitive multiplayer. Despite its misleading name (not a traditional Tetris game), it’s celebrated for its challenging puzzles and engaging gameplay.

Zoop

In this unique action-puzzle game, players control a small triangle that must shoot at advancing shapes to clear them. The game is fast-paced, with a simple yet addictive gameplay loop. Zoop stands out for its simplicity and addictive nature.

Pushover

In this puzzle game, players control an ant tasked with rearranging dominoes to trigger a chain reaction. It features intricate level designs that require strategic planning.

Wario’s Woods

Combining puzzle and action elements, players help Toad clear monsters and bombs from the playing field. The game involves arranging these elements to create combos and clear the screen. As one of the last NES titles and also available on SNES, it’s praised for its twist on the puzzle genre but hasn’t gained widespread recognition.

Yoshi’s Cookie

In this puzzle game, players match Yoshi cookies in rows and columns to clear them. It offers both a puzzle mode with set challenges and a more dynamic action mode. While it carries the Yoshi brand, this game is often overshadowed by other Mario-themed titles, despite its enjoyable puzzle mechanics.

Honorable Mentions for Puzzle Games

  1. Bombuzal (also known as Ka-Blooey): A strategic puzzle game where players detonate bombs in a specific order to clear levels without getting caught in the blast.
  2. Panel de Pon: This fast-paced puzzle game challenges players to match panels of the same color to clear them from the board. It’s known for its intense multiplayer battles.
  3. Uniracers (Unirally in Europe): A unique game where players control a unicycle in fast-paced races, performing stunts and tricks to outpace opponents. It’s a blend of racing and puzzle-solving skills.
  4. Pac-Attack: A puzzle game that combines traditional Pac-Man gameplay with falling-block puzzle mechanics. Players must navigate Pac-Man to eat ghosts among the falling blocks.

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