The SNES RPGs You Have To Play

Chrono Trigger

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a product of SNES roleplaying game generation. Those were my favorite games of all time and I could play them for hours and hours without getting board. Honestly, this is probably why my eyesight is so poor as I would spend 12-18 hours a day during the summer staring at an incredibly small and incredibly fuzzy television. But it was all worth it.

Here are the games you absolutely must play from SNES, right now. And if you already have played each of these games, we just became best friends.

Warning: Minor spoilers and Squaresoft fan boy activities incoming.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

This shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The Legend of Zelda games are hugely popular and iconic in the RPG genre. A Link to the Past didn’t do a whole lot in terms of ground breaking game play or advancements as it is pretty much played in a very similar way to the original Zelda for the NES.

Still, in this game we are introduced to the dash boots, a much more involved story. It was a very solid game and one that I would gladly sacrifice a day or two to experience again.

The Secret of Mana

To me, this game was legendary. The story is pretty decent, featuring a couple of ragtag allies who travel the world to try reforge a legendary sword to full power in order to defeat a crazy evil. I mean, there is more to it than that, but I won’t spoil it here!

This game plays amazingly. It has action RPG elements, in which you physically move around and swing weapons to attack. As you level up those weapons, you gain the ability to unleash combos (via a “hold to charge” mechanic that when unleashed, performs a series of attacks and maneuvers depending on how long you charged for). With roughly 8 or 9 weapons to choose from, each with 7 or 8 levels of charged combos to earn and use, combat is rarely the same.

Further, the magic system was truly unique. Pressing the Y button opened up a menu that allowed two of your characters to select between loads of “spirits”, each of which let you cast a few spells. These spirits could also be leveled up, increasing the power of the spells they allowed. The magic was varied as well, with all sorts of attack, defense, enhancement, and healing available depending on the spirit and who was casting.

Chrono Trigger

Hands down, Chrono Trigger had some of the best video game music I have ever heard. Every song played seems to perfectly convey and align with the mood that the scene is presenting, increasing immersion in the game ten-fold. Storywise, I don’t think I’ve played a game that handles time travel so well. It features a pretty linear story that takes you through different periods of this world’s history, from prehistoric times to the far (and bleak) future where the game’s antagonist has succeeded in destroying the world.

If there is any game to play from this era purely for the experience, this is the one. It plays wonderfully and is unique in allowing the player to skip a good amount of what would otherwise be random battles in similar games within the genre. Did I mention the character design was done by Akira Toriyama (Dragonball, anyone)? Or that one of the characters is an anthropomorphic frog knight? Play this game, now!

Final Fantasy VI

Final Fantasy VI (or Final Fantasy 3 in it’s American release) is my all time favorite game. Ever. I loved the music, I loved the story, I loved the gameplay, I loved the concepts. I could sit and play this game over and over and almost never lose interest.

Each character in this game was unique in personality and special abilities. Even the character in the game that was supposed to mimic the other characters and never speak showed personality and a special touch that made him stand out. And there were so many characters to play as, with only a few times throughout the game where story mandated you play with specific characters. Even when that happened, you saw them intertwine with other characters and events that eventually led them back on track to the main group.

I could literally talk about this game for hours.

The combat system is your standard Final Fantasy fare. You can attack, cast spells that you’ve learned, use items, etc. In addition to these basics, each character had its own special ability. One character had a collection of tools that he could use with interesting effects, another went into wild trances where he could mimic the abilities of monsters that he ran with, and another had a collection of martial arts moves that he could pull off after inputting a specific combination of key presses on the gamepad, much like a Street Fighter game, just to name a few.

Finally, this game had one of the best villains of all time, Kefka. He was a powerful mix of Batman’s Joker with Disney’s Maleficent. Power hungry, insane, twisted, and murderous, you loved to hate Kefka. And the game gave him most chilling of laughs, it was genius!

Honorable Mentions

Final Fantasy II was a great release that featured some very standard fantasy elements, as well as some twists along the way. Breath of Fire is a good enough game that sees the protagonist gain the ability to transform into dragons! The Lufia series has some fun story to it. And finally, Secret of Evermore is a fun twist on Secret of Mana combat with a cool reagents system and a companion dog that changes appearance depending on where you are in the game to boot.

Do you have a favorite SNES RPG game that I may have missed? Am I dead wrong with my picks? Let us know what you think!

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If it’s a thing and it’s nerdy, this guy wants to do it. Self-taught and self-proclaimed photographer, programmer, and musician, self-described as lazy, indulgent, and pedantic. Give him a task and he’ll do it, except for maritals. Only his wife gets the maritals.

Find Jason on twitter at @jasonkylesmith and on instagram at jasonksmith84

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  • Omg. Where’s Earthbound? One of my all time favorites, mostly due to all the whimsy.

    • Ryan, I could just never get into that game. I don’t know why, I know that it was pretty iconic, I just couldn’t get into it. Given this, and the other comments on Facebook, I’m thinking it deserves a place in the honorable mentions! – Jason

  • Did you play Illusion of Gaia? I have a special place in my heart for that one.

    • I did play Illusion of Gaia, Aaron. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish it because my game broke. Like, physically got destroyed. It was very sad. – Jason

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