Let’s start, as all sensible human beings do, with some caveats. This isn’t a list for a console that’s been announced, nor is it a list of the ten best games that appeared on the Super Nintendo – or Famicom if you’re regionally inclined. This is my list, for a hypothetical console. Well, it’s currently hypothetical, but if you’re Nintendo you should totally be making it already – and it’s rumoured that you are doing so. But being Nintendo, there’s every chance they won’t, because they don’t want your money, and are probably too busy thinking about how to make a living amphibian into their next console’s Koopa Kontroller.
1. Super Mario World
Ok, to be fair Super Mario World has appeared in every incarnation of the Virtual Console, not to mention having been ported to the Game Boy Advance, and really you might think you can live without it, but in reality you clearly can’t. It’s still arguably the best 2D Mario game of all time, and it’s worth it for the noise you make when you jump on Yoshi alone. Besides that, wondrous level design, iconic music, and a sprawling game map all make this a game that you should revisit at least every twelve months, just to remind yourself how magical games used to be.
2. Zombies Ate My Neighbours
If you thought Super Mario World was too obvious, then you might be surprised by this second pick. Before zombie’s were too much of a thing – yes, I know about George Romero – there was Lucasarts’ Zombies Ate My Neighbours. At the time it seemed as though only Lucasarts got how to make humorous games, and ZAMN showed that off in spectacular style, with your water pistol-wielding character trying to outrun the shambling undead hordes – and giant spiders, babies and disembodied heads amongst others – while saving a bunch of very silly victims in the process.
In my head I think the gameplay should still hold up today, though I’ll doubtless be proven very wrong, and now that Zombies are everywhere in popular culture, it’s liable to be even more popular, right?
3. Tiny Toons Adventures: Buster Busts Loose
Forget all of the licensing issues that this would undoubtedly bring, Tiny Toon Adventures was amongst the best cartoon shows of the nineties, and Buster Busts Loose was a perfect rendition of the show in video game form. Bright, colourful, and ever so slightly silly, the platform action was a hell of a lot of fun, and took you across a range of episodes, jumping from the Wild West to taking part in an American Football game. There’s also no chance of listening to the music without singing “They’re tiny, they’re toony, they’re all a little looney”, which for some may be an added bonus/horrific problem.
4. Sunset Riders
Thus far it feels as though Nintendo just need to make a deal with Konami – old Konami though, not the Kojima-hating Pachinko-loving Konami that we have now – in order to get the SNES Mini’s lineup right. Featuring the most garishly clad bunch of cowboys this side of Manchester’s Canal Street, Sunset Rider’s awesome Wild West Contra has some of the best 90s game music you’ll hear, mixing Western themes with hyperactive synth-pop. It even has some early digitised speech which will sound even better now than it did then (probably), making it an all-round winner.
5. NHL ’94
The nineties was the last time hockey games were any good. The purity of EA’s arcade hockey titles have been lost in the last twenty years, as they overcomplicated things, changed the graphical style or viewpoint, when all we really need is the ability to see the puck, slide around the ice, score a goal and slam our opponents into the glass. Sure, those pencil pushers at the NHL had EA remove the fighting, but chances are that they’d have had to have green blood on Nintendo’s console anyway, so no real loss. And let’s face it, EA have never turned money down in their entire existence, so licensing it for the SNES Mini should be a piece of cake.
6. Star Fox
Star Fox was a technological marvel. Utilising the Super FX chip – Nintendo had it sussed by being able to add “super” to everything – this was the first console game to feature three dimensional polygons and it did so with real style. Slapping some adorable animal characters into scenes that could have been taken from Star Wars was also a winner, and this was undoubtedly one of the games you could show off to your Megadrive-owning friends with glee.
7. The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past
“Obvious!” I hear you cry, and yes, it is, but the behemoth that is the Zelda series still relies on the legacy of this game. The success of Breath of the Wild in updating the formula makes the idea of returning to A Link to the Past even more attractive nowadays, and aspects like your expanding skill set, epic dungeons, and the series’ wonderful musical themes are present here in all their glory. Never mind that, Nintendo deserve kudos for using the word “omniscient” in the opening crawl.
8. Earthworm Jim
Earthworm Jim was a real hero. Boasting one of the ‘great’ origin stories, which literally amounts to a worm wriggling into a space suit, his worm-y abilities such as using himself as a whip, a rope, or a helicopter, were full of comedic character. The game’s irreverent sense of humour stretched throughout, from trying to protect a space dog, who would mutate and come back to attack you if you failed, to a bungee-jumping boss fight, and even the ending came back to bite you in the ass.
9. Chrono Trigger
This needs to be here, as I’ve never played Chrono Trigger. I know it’s sacrilege not to have played it, particularly when I’m a huge RPG fan, and it’s since appeared on umpteen other formats – I could be playing it on my phone right now – but I’d already moved onto saving for the Sega Saturn when Chrono Trigger came out.
To me it feels as though it needs to be played with a SNES controller in hand, and if the NES Mini is anything to go by, the addition of save states and visual filters will mean I might be able to get as close as possible to playing it in its original state. I’ll give myself a slap on the wrist, RPG fans, don’t you worry.
Poor F-Zero. There’s an alternative world where its eighth edition is getting a deluxe release on the Nintendo Switch, and Captain Falcon is Nintendo’s mascot, but that’s not our world. Ridiculously fast, incredibly cool, and making great use of the SNES’ Mode-7 capabilities, the original F-Zero brought a purity to the futuristic racer that few have since understood. Featuring some of the most challenging race tracks around, F-Zero players would sneer at Mario Kart owners in the playground, safe in the knowledge that their reaction times were much much faster, and that none of them needed to shove a red shell up their opponents tail pipe in order to win.
So that’s our little selection, but since the NES Mini featured 30 games, what else do you think Nintendo should include on the prospective SNES mini?