The Super Nintendo was one of the earliest scenes for incredible JRPGs. Developers poured their hearts and souls into extracting every ounce of potential from the beloved 16-bit machine, creating amazing role-playing adventures that fans still discover and play to this day. With so many must-play experiences, it is very hard to narrow down a definitive list of the very best SNES JRPGs, but we took a crack at it anyway. Here are the top ten SNES JRPGs.
Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride
It’s a shame that Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride never made it out of Japan until its DS remake so many years after its run on SNES. That’s because Dragon Quest V: Hand of the Heavenly Bride was one of the most ambitious JRPGs on the SNES, chronicling the life of the central hero from childhood to adulthood. An addictive monster taming system matched with the game’s intriguing approach to JRPG storytelling to build a wonderful, wonderful game that took far too long to release worldwide.
A fantastic action RPG, Terranigma is widely beloved thanks to its expansive, engrossing main quest, perfect difficulty progression, smooth, smooth combat, and much more. Despite never taking off to the same degree as other titles on this list, it is very telling that love for Terranigma spread so far and wide when the game was never even officially released in the United States.
Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen
A challenging top-down strategy RPG that is a bit more hands-off than standard turn-based fare, Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen has earned its reputation as a masterful fantasy experience. Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen is a strategy RPG that involves arranging your army, giving your soldiers some basic instructions, and then watching them duke it out in a grand battle for land. A rare experience with a cult following, Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen is an adventure that more RPG fans need to embark on.
Secret of Mana
Secret of Mana is one of the most immersive SNES JRPGs, sending text-filled menus and turn-based combat to the backseat in exchange for real-time battles and intuitive equipment management. Many players have exceptionally fond memories of this unique title, especially those of us who got the chance to try out the three-person multiplayer mode.
Final Fantasy IV
A hugely influential adventure, Final Fantasy IV is nowadays remembered as one of the first major steps forward for JRPGs in the SNES era. That’s a well-earned legacy. With one of the earliest successful attempts at an Active Time Battle system (later perfected in Chrono Trigger – remember that later), Final Fantasy IV caught players’ eyes with its enjoyable strategic clashes, and then kept them glued to their seats with an expansive, colorful world and some impressive early attempts at many Final Fantasy conventions that we know and love today. As one of the earliest displays of what a SNES JRPG was truly capable of accomplishing, many of us hold fond memories of Final Fantasy IV as one of the first truly great games within the genre.
Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals
While Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals does not carry the same superstar followings as some of its brilliant peers on this list, it’s still a beautiful title that every JRPG fan should take for a spin. On top of the usual components that make a winning JRPG, like a strong plot, likable characters, and beautiful music, Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals has some of the most interesting gameplay in the genre. Drawing inspiration from the likes of The Legend of Zelda, the game hosts several tool-oriented puzzles and challenging enemy encounters that keep players engaged and focused. Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals bites off a whole lot, but it mixes a host of genres together beautifully to create a joyous experience.
Super Mario RPG
The precursor to some truly excellent RPGs starring everyone’s favorite Italian plumber, Super Mario RPG is a wonderful time. While often overlooked, the game is good for a whole lot more than a most-wanted Super Smash Bros. character even today. You can’t go wrong with Super Mario RPG’s winning recipe of hilarious writing, a great crop of minigames, and a colorful romp through a JRPG oozing with Super Mario flair.
Earthbound is the most widely accessible of one of Nintendo’s most underutilized franchises. Its colorful, quirky attitude pairs with a fun turn-based battle system to craft an experience that is incredibly hard to put down. It’s too bad that this is still the last major Mother title to release outside of Japan, because Earthbound captured all of our hearts and refuses to let go. It might be a bit controversial as the runner-up of this list, but the game was just too full of wit, charm, and fun to be placed any lower. Plus, it’s one of the only JRPGs I’ve ever played that lets you automatically dispatch low-level enemies while grinding, and that’s worth a few points on its own.
Final Fantasy VI
Originally released in the United States as Final Fantasy III in 1994, Final Fantasy VI is a classic story of rebellion, an evil empire, and an iconic clown antagonist. With expansive party customization that allows players to fully craft their approach to combat, an excellent narrative, and beautiful pixel art and sounds to boot, Final Fantasy VI hits on all notes in delivering a heartfelt, awe-inspiring, and truly epic adventure. The best of the Final Fantasy SNES outings, Final Fantasy VI is rightfully remembered as one of the best in its series right alongside Final Fantasy VII.
Of course, Chrono Trigger is number one. What else could possibly take its place? There are tons of fantastic, worthwhile games on this list, but Chrono Trigger is the definitive SNES RPG. The game thrives behind its lovable cast, its addictive Active Time Battle system, and some truly elegant music. Additionally, it’d be a crime not to emphasize how time travel elements go so far to emphasize the game’s plot and setting. Trekking through all corners of time from prehistoric villages to post-apocalyptic wastelands conveys a unique sense of scope that is unmatched across the SNES.
Author Bio: Ana Sz.
It all started in my friend Sophie´s house playing Super Mario Bros. NES was basically my first love. I’m a fan of retro games, especially RPGs and Platforms. This passion got me to create Myemulator.online where I write reviews for all the games I use to play with.