After a few intense years of a console war with the Sega Genesis, Nintendo’s SNES pulled out as the best 4th generation home gaming console. Slick controls, superior graphics, and a larger library games helped give the SNES the advantage. But, while the hardware was superior in the 1994, that same hardware is downright ancient today. Most of that huge library games simply does not hold up over time. A few gems, though, are as great to play today as they were 20 years before.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – This is the Zelda game that just about defined the direction of the franchise from that point on. It introduced game play concepts and items that would continue to appear throughout the series. The game, the world, and even the graphics, hold up so well that a direct sequel, A Link Between Worlds, with nearly identical game play and graphics, was released in 2013.
Where to Find – This game was re-released on the Wii Virtual Console.
Final Fantasy VI – Released in the U.S. as Final Fantasy III, this game was the culmination of the series on 2D platforms. The game had over a dozen characters, an epic story, one of the most memorable villains in video game history, and even the destruction of a world. The graphics take full advantage of the SNES, which means they are arguably better than early Playstation and N64 graphics. Furthermore, the story and game play innovations are so unique that no other game in the series can compare to this 16-bit masterpiece.
Where to Find – Versions of this game, thankfully sans the original’s game breaking bugs, are available on the GBA, PSN, and Wii Virtual Console.
F-Zero – Racing games tend to hold up pretty well as it is. For example, Mario Kart 64 is pretty much as amazing a game as Mario Kart Wii. But, F-Zero is something special even when judged by that standard. Sequels to this game play nearly identically, including the smooth, if sometimes challenging to control, driving controls. Graphics improve, but the original holds up well against its direct sequels and even holds up well against modern racing games, where futuristic racing is rarely seen.
Where to Find – Luckily a Wii Virtual Console version of this game exists, because the original is something of a collector’s item.
Super Mario World – If you’ve never seen this game, simply look at screen shots of its Wii and Wii U sequels, New Super Mario Bros. Wii and New Super Mario Bros. U. The two games pretty much look like they stole game play, levels, boss fights, and even graphics directly from their SNES predecessor. When best selling games are almost perfectly mimicking a 20 year old game, you know the original is something special.
Where to Find – You can play a slightly modified version on the GBA or buy this game from the Wii Virtual Console.
Chrono Trigger – Even 20 years later, Chrono Trigger still tops most lists of greatest role playing game of all time. That alone speaks to how well the game has aged. In simplest terms, no other game role playing game has told as enchanting a story or included such groundbreaking game play concepts. The graphics hold up well enough to modern games and the new cut scenes in remakes are absolutely gorgeous.
Where to Find – The original is available on the Wii Virtual Console. The updated version with anime cut scenes is available on PSN. Additionally, a remake with both the cut scenes and new dungeons is available on the DS.