This is because my family moved to Japan when I was five turning six. Over the next eight and a half years, I was brought up in the Japanese public school system.
Though the Super Famicom game lineup does differ somewhat from that of the SNES titles, as you are about to discover, they weren’t that different. My top five list features several games you should be familiar with as a North American.
In any case, here are some of my favorite Super Famicom games.
1. Dragon Quest V
The truth of the matter is that I didn’t know the Japanese language well enough to play any RPGs for a long time. They seemed really boring to me.
Then, one day, I was playing Super Famicom games at a friend’s house. I was getting bored with whatever I was playing, so I finally decided to insert the Dragon Quest V cartridge into the system and give it a try. I was blown away.
I think it helped that the graphics had evolved significantly from the days of DQIII or IV, whose combat screens featured plain, black backgrounds. Dragon Quest V was beautiful by comparison, with colorful terrain backdrops for the combat screens.
I didn’t get very far when I first started playing the game, but eventually I managed to borrow it from a friend and play it all the way through. I seem to recall leveling up many of my main characters to over level 80.
I think I borrowed it again, and duplicated the same feat. Eventually, I bought my own copy and did it again.
I love the fact that monsters join your party in this game. There have been similar features in more recent DQ games, but none of them have been quite as good as V.
2. Zeruda no Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce
This is essentially the same game as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. If you’ve played it before, you probably know why this game is on my list. It is quite easily one of the best games for the Super Famicom/SNES platform, if not one of the best Action-RPGs of all time.
Does the North American version differ from the Japanese version? Not that I’m aware of.
Many of the video game commercials in Japan were quite enticing, but this is one of those few cases where the quality of the game actually lived up to the hype and the advertising.
Challenging puzzles, appealing and colorful graphics, fun gameplay, solid storyline, interesting secondary items and weapons, meaningful side quests… it all came together on this one. Good job, Nintendo.
3. Super Mario World
I know that many people point to Super Mario 64 as one of the turning points in video game history, and though I don't want to take away from that, my favorite Mario game is still Super Mario World. Sequels for this game were doomed from the start, but this one still stands as a timeless classic.
The introduction of Yoshi, Cape Mario, the Star Road, ghost houses, and so many other additions made this game a real treat.
It was also the first time that a Mario game had so many unlockables. It took significant time to figure out how to open every level in the game without a guidebook.
It there’s one thing they should have done, they should have included more of the suits from Mario 3.
4. Super Power League 2
For whatever reason, this is a game that I still can’t stop playing. I think it's my all-time favorite baseball game.
Initially, I figured the transition into the world of 3D would bring more sports games that I would come to love. I’m not saying that there haven’t been some great titles, but if my Super Famicom is hooked up to a TV, I inevitably wind up putting more hours into Super Power League 2. It’s a compulsion, and it’s bad.
I think it helps that I used to watch baseball on TV all the time. Despite the fact that I did not live in the Kanto area (I lived in the Kansai locality), practically all of the Tokyo Giants games aired on local channels, and I quickly became a fan of the team and the players. Super Power League 2 features many of the players from that era.
Of course, it’s also a great game. If you play a full season, the game actually tracks individual player stats. It’s not hard to beat the computer once you know their patterns, but I have not found it to be any less satisfying.
5. Final Fantasy VI
The FF series has turned pretty ugly these days, but there was a time when Square Enix – previously Square – could do no wrong. Both Final Fantasy I and II were fairly primitive and simplistic, but III was graced with a better storyline, IV took the player to a variety of interesting settings including the moon (literally), and V had the legendary Job system that players loved.
Somehow, they outdid themselves with VI, where all of the right elements came together in a cohesive package. The music, the gameplay, the storyline, the characters, the Aeon system… everything about it was compelling and engaging.
Picking a top five list wasn’t exactly easy, and there are so many other games that I love, including SimCity, Pilotwings, Super Fire Pro Wrestling 2, Kawa no Nushi Tsuri 2, Dragon Quest VI, Final Fantasy V, Street Figther II, Front Mission, and many others. My list would probably change depending on the day.
There are also other great games like Super Castlevania IV, Super Metroid, or Chrono Trigger that I never really got to play when I was younger. These would probably make my top 10 list.
What are your favorite Super Famicom/SNES era games?