Like a good many gamers, the SNES ranks among one of my favorite video game consoles ever released.  It is also currently tied with the Gamecube as my favorite Nintendo console due to its two pronged approach of excellent first and third party games.  The SNES is not only home to some of the best installments of many of Nintendo's first party series, but many incredible exclusive third party games from the likes of Capcom, Konami and Square.

So when Nintendo unveiled the SNES Classic and I was one of the lucky ten or twelve people who had the opportunity to get one, I knew I couldn't pass it up.  It's easy to criticize the plug and play console for what games aren't included in it (the lack of Chrono Trigger, the best JRPG ever, is particularly egregious), but I still think the library Nintendo curated is incredibly strong, giving representation to numerous franchises and genres, and generally including most of the must play games from the 16-bit era.

Prior to purchasing an SNES Classic, I had only played about 12 of the games included on it, so I knew the system would be a great way to replay some favorites, discover some classics from yesteryear and get my Nintendo fix, since I'm holding off on purchasing a Switch for a little while longer.  I've really been having a blast rediscovering these games or playing them for the first time so far; I was born right around when the N64 was showing up on store shelves, but I can certainly appreciate why many of these games are so beloved.

To this end, I've decided to do what many before me have already done and... make a rankings list for all 21 games included in the mini console.  It's far from the most original idea I've come up with, but as someone who wasn't even alive during the SNES era and is home to many unpopular opinions, I thought a list like this might make for an interesting read.  So put away your rose-tinted googles (you won't need 'em for many of these games) and let's get started!

Most of the games on this cute little thing are stone cold classics, so this wasn't an easy list to make.

21) Super Ghouls 'N Ghosts

Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts was one of several early life SNES third party games that were a direct sequel to an NES title that slapped a "super" prefix into the title.  Unfortunately for Capcom's first SNES effort, "super" is one of the last words I'd use to describe this game.

The Ghouls 'n Ghosts franchise is perhaps most noteworthy for its oppressive, unrelenting difficulty, being one of the franchises to help birth the phrase "Nintendo hard" in the 80's and early 90's.  Players assume the role of Arthur, who isn't very befitting of his legendary name, can only take two hits before dying, and is unable to effect his momentum after jumping - if you jump, you have to commit.  On his journey to rescue the princess, you'll encounter all many of ghoulish threats and pitfalls, and due to the jump physics, you have to make your way through the levels methodically, thinking before you jump and utilizing the weapon most effective for the environment and enemies being fought.

I should note I have no qualms with challenging video games, and think that they're the heart of a lot of the best games the gaming industry has to offer.  However, I feel as though much of the "difficulty" of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is based around memorization.  The game rewards the player with the most time and patience, not necessarily the right skills.  After dying over and over and over again (and receiving a lot of unnecessary Game Overs along the way) you'll eventually begin to memorize things like the level and enemy layouts, enemy behavior, and the location of certain helpful items. The key to conquering many of the levels in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is simply memorizing where a lot of your threats and the means of conquering them are.  And frankly, that's not my idea of a good time.  Getting my ass handed to me dozens of times until my hands eventually develop muscle memory and I can make it a few minutes further in a level personally feels like a waste of time, when I could be playing a more consistently enjoyable (and still sufficiently challenging) platformer like Super Mario World, or Donkey Kong Country instead.  Throw on top of this the giant middle finger the game throws your way when you beat the "last level" for the first time, and Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts doesn't feel as though it respects the player's free time.

I'm sure some gamers will get a great feeling of satisfaction from sticking with Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts until the end and emerging triumphant, but I personally would rather spend time with any other game on the SNES Classic Edition.

20) Star Fox 2

Star Fox 2 was a major factor in many Nintendo fans deciding to hunt down an SNES Classic Edition down, and who could blame them?  Star Fox is an IP Nintendo has never quite handled with the respect it deserved, and now Nintendo was offering fans a chance to play an installment in the beloved franchise that had never been officially released before; in a way, it was almost like a brand new Star Fox game!

I too was excited to experience Star Fox 2 for the first time and I'm sorry to say that it's only... okay.

Star Fox 2 adopts the basic gameplay of its predecessor - you control an anthropomorphic animal as they fly a jet through space, shooting enemies along the way.  However, the similarities with the first game end here.  While the original Star Fox was a linear on-rails shooter, Star Fox 2 incorporates strategy elements not unlike 2006's Star Fox:  Command, as players have to balance between defeating the main villain's forces across a variety of planets, and protecting their home base from missiles that will continue to advance towards it in real time during air combat.  This adds a nice layer of strategy to the experience as you have to decide whether to play it safe and clear the overworld of missiles, or continue to push the fight towards the enemy.

The problem with Star Fox 2 is that it hasn't aged particularly well; Nintendo originally cancelled the game because they felt its polygonal 3D graphics, while impressive by SNES standards, made the console look underpowered compared to the Sony Playstation.  And they were right... Star Fox 2's 3D models are devoid of any textures, and the game feels as through it runs at a solid 15 frames per second, so the gameplay is impacted as well.  What's more, compared to the original Star Fox, Star Fox 2's music fails to impress, and the experience as a whole feels a bit disjointed.  It'll likely take you a solid half hour to figure out how the game works, and by the time you're competent at it, the credits are already rolling.  While the game begs replaying its short and concise campaign on its higher difficulty level, it's difficult to justify playing it again over Star Fox 64 or Star Fox Command, the former of which is basically an improved version of Star Fox 2, and the latter of which makes better use of strategic elements.

Star Fox 2 was a worthy addition to the SNES Classic, and playing this lost piece of gaming history was a great experience, but taken as a standalone video game, it's not a title I intend on returning to any time soon.

19) Star Fox

The original Star Fox game that many played back in 1993 fares better than its sequel on this list, but is also prey to many of the same problems.  The main barrier to my full enjoyment of Star Fox is that it also hasn't aged very well.  Just like its cancelled successor, Star Fox's 3D visuals, while once impressive, now feels incredibly barebones, and it doesn't boast smooth gameplay either thanks to its stuttering and low frame rate.

To its credit, the original Star Fox has a kickass soundtrack, three alternating paths of levels that encourage repeat playthroughs, and a more linear style of progression that suits the on-rails shooting better than Star Fox 2's structure.  However, as with Star Fox 2,  it's hard to find a reason to play the original game over Star Fox 64, which features a virtually identical plot and vastly improved visuals and gameplay mechanics.  Star Fox was an important technical showcase of the SNES' capabilities and there's fun to be had with it if you can bear the lower frame rate, but like Star Fox 2, it's a game I can comfortably play through once and not touch again.

18) Kirby's Dream Course

While many gamers have been vocal in their complaints about which games aren't on the SNES Classic, there's been a nigh unanimous consensus in favor of the games that did manage to make its way on to the plug and play system.  It's hard to argue against the inclusion of classics like Mega Man X and Super Metroid after all.  However, there is one game that many gamers have admitted they'd gladly swap out for another of their choosing, and that's Kirby's Dream Course.

Kirby's Dream Course is a bit of an odd addition to the SNES Classic, since it's not nearly as popular or renowned as some of its peers, but Nintendo likely opted to include it to represent the sports genre on the console.  And to be honest... I'm perfectly content with Dream Course's inclusion.  It's an interesting isometric minigolf experience that takes advantage of Kirby's rotund form, and it boasts a surprising amount of depth to it.  Instead of trying to shoot Kirby, who is the ball in this game, straight into the hole, the player must skillfully knock him into all the enemies on a course to defeat them first, adding a wrinkle of strategy to the experience.

Kirby's Dream Course is not a game I rushed to play on the SNES Classic, and indeed it doesn't belong in the same high tier as say, Final Fantasy VI.  But as is, it's a decent inclusion to the SNES Classic and I wouldn't advise anyone writing it off just because it doesn't say "Chrono Trigger" in its title.

17) Street Fighter II Turbo:  Hyper Fighting 

I have a confession to make - I'm not a particularly big fan of fighting games.  While I have a soft spot for Injustice and Super Smash Bros. especially due to their crossover casts and the accessibility of the latter, I don't personally find a lot of enjoyment in memorizing a bunch of button combos and becoming a part of the cutthroat communities surrounding many modern fighters.

However, in spite of this, I've had a reasonably good time with Street Fighter II.  For starters, I really enjoy how small the roster is.  While many modern fighting games are judged by the size of their rosters, Street Fighter II opts for balance above all else, and I think it succeeds at this goal.  Even though I'm a filthy casual who wouldn't know any better, every one of Street Fighter II Turbo's 12 characters feels viable in a serious fight, and because there's only a handful of faces to familiarize yourself with, it's pretty easy to learn the basic abilities of each.

The fact the game is naturally limited to local multiplayer is both its greatest strength and greatest weakness in my opinion.  On the one hand, I don't have to join a toxic fighting game community to experience everything the game has to offer.  On the other hand, Street Fighter II Turbo's gameplay feels rather limited in 2017; players can verse a series of A.I. controlled fighters, or fight against a friend, but that's about it.  And as someone without any friends to brawl with, I've been limited to versing the computer on my SNES Classic Edition.

It's been fun to slowly get better as my man Ryu, but without a diversity of game modes to participate in, Street Fighter II was never able to fully sink its hooks into me.  Still, it's a fighting game that managed to hold my attention for some period of time, so that's an accomplishment in and of itself.

16) Super Mario Kart

The Mario Kart series quickly usurped F-Zero as Nintendo's premier racing series in the early 90's, and it's easy to see why.  In stark contrast to most racers of the time, which focused on having a blinding sense of speed, Super Mario Kart placed more of an emphasis on creating an accessible racer that could be enjoyed with others.  To this end, its karts move slower, giving players more time to react to hazards.  Racers can obtain helpful items to give themselves an edge over others and make a comeback from a lower placement.  And so on.

It's a formula for success and it helps make Super Mario Kart the game that makes the best use of the second controller it's bundled with, thanks to its riotously fun multiplayer.  However in my humble opinion, Super Mario Kart suffers from the same problem as the Star Fox games in that unless you have nostalgia for the original release, there's little reason to play the series' first installment over one of its many sequels.

For starters, Super Mario Kart's use of Mode-7 creates a compelling sense of 3D by SNES standards, but also one that is suspiciously flat, making it very difficult to successfully aim items at competitors to slow them down, which makes one of Mario Kart's signature mechanics less enjoyable.  Also, rather than each course having its own unique identity, Super Mario Kart features a small number of aesthetics, like Mario Circuit and Ghost Valley, and builds several courses around each.  Many courses have the same visual style but differing layouts, hurting the individuality of each in comparison to newer entries.  Lastly, and this isn't a fault against the game so much as the limitations of the SNES hardware, it wouldn't be until 1997's Mario Kart 64 that the series would adopt the four player chaos that is now synonymous with the series - in the original outing, you're limited to just playing with one friend.

Ultimately, it's difficult to justify playing Super Mario Kart over more recently released installments in the series, but it's still a charming and accessible racer that's worth experiencing if you're curious where the most beloved racing series of all time got it's start.

15) Donkey Kong Country

The Donkey Kong Country trilogy is one of the SNES' greatest success stories, as it simultaneously created a rich new IP for one of Nintendo's oldest mascots and boasted a more detailed visual style based on computer graphics that revitalized passion for 16 bit visuals later into the Super Nintendo's lifespan.  Personally, I don't believe the original Donkey Kong Country is as enjoyable as its successors; Donkey Kong's sprite is uncomfortably large and has an unwieldy hitbox for example, and the boss battles on display are also rather dull.  Yet I can understand why Nintendo opted to include the original over Diddy's Kong Quest and Dixie Kong's Double Trouble, as it spawned the whole series and was the trilogy's best selling installment.

Yet taken at face value, Donkey Kong Country is still a fairly enjoyable platformer.  Unlike the Mario series, it features different environmental styles, like rainy jungles, dimly lit factories, and crumbling ruins, that give the game some eye-pleasing visual variety.  The soundtrack is also a treat (I'd be remiss not to make an obligatory Aquatic Ambiance mention), and the difficulty is generally firm but fair - though there are a few platforming sections that encourage "leaps of faith" rather than quick reflexes.

I'm a bit miffed that Donkey Kong Country's superior sequel is nowhere to be found on the SNES Classic, but the original release is still a pretty good time, and worth trying out to experience the origin of another great Nintendo IP.

14) Contra III:  The Alien Wars

Like Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Contra III is a early life SNES sequel to a brutally difficult NES game.  Unlike Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, it refrained from adding "super" to its title.  It's also actually very enjoyable to play.

Contra III boasts a silly story about two meatheads with an arsenal of weapons taking back the planet from aliens, and it wastes no time getting to its adrenaline pumping action packed gameplay.  The appeal of Contra is its tight and responsive controls and brutal but fair difficulty.  One hit is enough to take one of your lives, and there are generally so many enemies and bullets on screen that you'll feel like you're in an advertisement for John Wick.  However, enemies telegraph their attacks pretty well and the game is both speedy and controls tightly, so it never really feels like the game's fault when you lose, but your own.

Contra III looks and feels fluid, and its short length encourages multiple playthroughs to further improve your skills.  It also gives you the option to play the whole game with a friend, and having twice as much firepower also doubles the fun to be had, particularly since it's not a story driven experience and the two of you will never have to sit through exposition.

I have one major problem with Contra III however - bizarrely, the U.S. version removes the infamous "Konami code" a cheat that would grant the player an additional 30 lives.  It would've been nice to have this option, particularly since it makes the game no less difficult; it merely grants the players more attempts to beat it and see it through to the end.

As it stands though, Contra III is a simple shmup that rewards quick reflexes and actually strikes a balance between being challenging and fun quite well.  If you have a buddy especially, it's worth checking out if you actually manage to buy a Super Nintendo Classic Edition

13) Super Punch-out!!

The Wii reboot/remake of the original NES Punch-out!! ranks among my favorite video games ever made.  Its colorful cast of hilarious boxers to beat the smack out of, and the way in which it rewards careful timing and pattern memorization makes it a boxing game with a ton of charm, heart, and uniqueness to it - something most boxing and sports games in general sorely lack.

I've played a good deal of both the NES and Wii Punch-out!! games but never bothered to play the awkward middle child, Super Punch-out!! largely due to lovable underdog protagonist Little Mac seemingly being replaced, as well as the opponents being switched with less recognizable new threats.  I'm disappointed that it took me so long to play the SNES installment in this underappreciated Nintendo franchise however, as in many ways I believe it surpasses its NES predecessor.

For starters, the opponents of Super Punch-out!! are more hilarious than ever before.  From "Bob Charlie" a Jamaican boxer who dances to his own groove as you fight him, to "Dragon Chan," a Jackie Chan lookalike who fights using kung fun instead of boxing moves, and "Narcis Prince" a self absorbed Brit who loses his mind if you punch his beautiful face, the wacky and expressive cast of opponents you tackle in Super Punch-out!! made me chuckle out loud more than once.

The game also encourages a more aggressive and fast paced style than the other two Punch-out!! games.  Instead of earning and conserving powerful Star Punches, this time around, players will charge a stamina meter as they attack opponents successfully without getting hit.  Once this bar is charged, players can unleash more powerful punches that take a second longer to charge up, but deal more damage.  And so long as players avoid getting hit, they can keep their stamina meter fully charged and keep unleashing these powerful punches.  It makes fights even more exciting, and further rewards avoiding enemy attacks as keeping your stamina meter full can help you take down opponents that once mopped the floor with you in seconds.

Punch-out!! is undoubtedly a niche series, but it's also one of Nintendo's most creative and charming IPs, and I'm happy the SNES Classic Edition finally gave me the opportunity to play the superb middle installment in the console series.  If you're a fan of the franchise it's definitely worth experiencing for yourself.

12) F-Zero

One of three of the Super Nintendo's launch titles, F-Zero did an outstanding job of both showcasing how much more powerful the Super Nintendo was than the NES and offering up a compelling gameplay experience in its own right.  Speed is the name of the game in F-Zero, and surprisingly, 26 years after its original release, its races are as exhilarating and adrenaline pumping as ever.

F-Zero only offers four cars to choose from and 3 cups of five tracks each, but it's a riotously good time regardless thanks to how fast the game feels.  It may just be a early SNES Mode-7 title, but in stark contrast to Super Mario Kart, F-Zero is blisteringly difficult.  Cars take a while to accelerate and the racetracks require the player to make sharp turns at high speeds, which encourages finding a balance between going fast and avoiding bumping into walls and other cars and losing health.

Staring F-Zero for the first time can be pretty daunting due to how punishing it can get and how overwhelmingly fast things go, but the feeling of satisfaction to be gained from getting first place in a previously tricky cup is enormous.  Aside from its meme fodder protagonist appearing as a challenger in Super Smash Bros., F-Zero is a series that's been dormant for 13 years, which is tragic considering how far technology has come since.  While we wait with anticipation and disappointment for Nintendo to potentially unveil a new installment in this console generation, the original is as worth playing in 2017 as it was in 1991.

11) Super Castlevania IV

Super Castlevania IV is, you guessed it, an early life SNES game that's a sequel to an NES title and slaps "super" in the title.  But unlike Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Castlevania IV more than earns the "super" in its title.

Super Castlevania IV adheres more to the linear style of gameplay of the NES trilogy of Castlevanias than the "Metroidvania" style of modern games in the series, but that's hardly a slight against it as the game does so much right.  For an early SNES title, the sense of atmosphere the game establishes is impressive.  The environments are detailed and spooky, and the game boasts one of the best soundtracks of the 16 bit era, both of which help Super Castlevania IV become an immersive and aesthetically compelling adventure from beginning to end.

Super Castlevania IV is most well known for its overhaul of Simon's whip ability - in comparison to the NES titles, this time around, Belmont's whip is fast and can be whipped in one of eight directions.  You can even spin it around a bit after your initial attack to deal some bonus damage by moving the D-Pad around.  Simon himself still moves a bit awkwardly, but the whip is so damn fun to swing around that it makes you truly feel like a seasoned adventurer.  The only downside to this mechanical change is that as Egoraptor pointed out in his excellent Sequelitis video, it renders all the optional items you can obtain in the game obsolete, because there's little reason to use them over the awesome whip.

Super Castlevania IV is a great experience from beginning to end, boasting one of the best atmospheres of the 16-bit era and a riotously fun weapon to play around with.  It may not adhere to the "Metroidvania" structure of later releases, but it's still well worth playing.

Check out the next page to read about my favorite ten games on the SNES Classic Edition!