Just recently, Nintendo announced the Super NES Classic Edition, a modern, HDMI-equipped version of the 1991 16-bit game console with 21 games built-in. Those games are among the best available for the platform, deserving of re-release time and time again.
But I'm sure you've already heard of Super Mario World, Earthbound, and Super Metroid, and you may have even played them dozens of times. In fact, I have covered the Top 10 Super NES games of all time previously on PCMag myself.
For a console with over 700 release titles in North America, there are bound to be some overlooked gems. And that's why we're here. In the slides below, I'll focus on a handful of Super NES games released in North America that few people have heard of but are still entirely worth playing today.
There are many more overlooked gems out there—especially Japanese releases that never made it to the US (that will have to wait for another time). If you know of any overlooked and underrated Super NES favorites I didn't mention, I'd love to hear about them in the comments.
Super Adventure Island II (1994)
If you're like me and your like a good "metroidvania"—a genre that emphasizes character progression and non-linear action platforming—then you'll really enjoy Super Adventure Island II, which is perhaps the most overlooked American entry in the Adventure Island series. Players take Master Higgins on an adventure that goes way beyond fruit and includes equipment upgrades like suits of armor and fire swords. A must play.
Secret of Evermore (1995)
If you like Secret of Mana, you may enjoy Secret of Evermore, a little-known action-RPG that eschews sword and sorcery fantasy for a tale set in a unique art deco/semi-gothic modern world. You play as a boy and his dog trying to set things right in Podunk. It's slightly bizarre but very well done, and you're unlikely to forget the experience once you finish it.
Kirby's Dream Land 3 (1997)
After a couple outings on the monochrome Game Boy, a game for the NES, and even a SNES platformer (Kirby Super Star, 1995), HAL Laboratory released one of the most overlooked and underrated entries in the Kirby series: Kirby's Dream Land 3. It showed up very late in the lifespan of the Super NES, so few have ever seen it. Much like Yoshi's Island, KDL3 adopts a playful cartoon/crayon graphical theme, but it provides a deeply fun and well-polished experience.
Pocky & Rocky (1993)
Having grown up with a brother who loved video games (and now being a father of kids who love them as well), I have a huge soft spot for co-op games. Pocky & Rocky delivers a very fun and not-too-hard overhead run-n-gun co-op experience with playful characters and settings. Its sequel, Pock & Rocky 2 (also on the Super NES) is another great overlooked game to play.
NBA Live '96 (1996)
I am not a huge sports fan, but I remember playing NBA Live '96 in the 1990s with four or five people on a Super Multitap, and it was a blast. It felt and sounded like watching a real NBA basketball game on TV, although you were in control of the action. It is unfortunate that so many now overlook these numbered-year EA games. Sure, they churned them out like crazy, but there are some good ones in there. This is one of them.
Ghoul Patrol (1994)
Zombies Ate My Neighbors is one of my favorite Super NES games. So why am I talking about its sequel, Ghoul Patrol? Because, of these two co-op overhead shooters, Ghoul Patrol is the most overlooked, having only been released for the Super NES. Both titles are replete with playful action, a great sense of humor, and just the right amount of challenge for a pair of friends to tackle. Both come highly recommended from me.
The Ignition Factor (1995)
In most video games, it seems like you're in charge of creating as much destruction as possible—blowing things up, shooting enemies, crashing cars. In the Ignition Factor, that popular trope is turned on its head, and you try to undo destruction—by putting out as many fires as possible. It does end up playing much like an overhead multi-direction shooter with fire as the enemy, but the thematic twist makes this a great change of pace for Super NES fans.