2023 is here, and that means it’s time to look back at some classic SNES RPGs! Some of these games will be easier to find than others, but as I look back at some of my favorite role-playing games, I want to highlight a few of them that might be a little underappreciated. The only requirement to be on this list was that it was an RPG on the Super Nintendo.
One game on this list did not officially arrive in America, but it has a fan translation that can be found on the internet. It takes very little effort to find it, and unless you can read Japanese, that’s the best way to play it. I wanted to avoid some obvious classics that I’ve covered in the past. EarthBound, Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy 2 and 3, among others.
These SNES RPGs will please a wide variety of gamers and if you’re looking for a game you haven’t played before, or simply stumped on a classic game, here are some picks that will fit the bill.
What RPGs should you look to play again on the SNES in 2023?
5) Secret of Evermore
Originally, Secret of Mana was on this list, but the more I thought about it, the more Secret of Evermore deserved the spot. Few games are more fun - or frustrating - than 3-player Secret of Mana, but this tale of a boy and his dog is a game that deserves to be played by more people. Made in America, based on Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore is one of the best SNES RPGs of all time, for my money.
It had a unique, fun alchemy system instead of casting spells, and fans of the Secret of Mana combat will be right at home. A real-time battle system, you also had a cool dog that transforms depending on your era.
There’s something just delightful about the toaster dog firing a huge laser. The game is also cleverly written, and the constant reference to B movies really made me chuckle.
Secret of Evermore is a game with heart, and if you want a comical action RPG, that still offers serious moments. This is one you need.
Known as “Slapstick” in Japan, Robotrek is a ridiculous turn-based RPG by Quintet and Enix is easily one of the best games on the SNES. Your main protagonist is a young inventor, whose father is also a famous inventor. The actual story behind the game is more than a little ridiculous, but that’s not the biggest selling point.
I mean, the story is fantastic. It does not take itself seriously at all. The coolest part of the game is creating a trio of robots and customizing their stats, attacks, and more.
You can change their colors and give them awesome combo strikes so that you can have a robot for any situation. It’s bright and cheerful, but don’t let that distract you - as far as SNES RPGs go, it’s got some of the best gameplay you’ll find.
3) Super Mario RPG
I still remember Nintendo Power teasing me with Super Mario RPG 2, and never delivering. That said, I have very fond memories of when I received Super Mario RPG for the holiday season as a kid. It turns out, Mario and his friends work great in an RPG setting! A turn-based creation of Squaresoft, the timed-hit/timed-defense system would be utilized by other games for years to come.
The Mushroom Kingdom has been invaded by the Smithy Gang, and even Bowser is feeling the heat. A gigantic sword split his castle, and is now the home of this mysterious gang. Even though Mario is a silent protagonist, he can still tell a story through his ridiculous animations.
It had plenty of optional challenges, including a tribute to FFIV - the Culex battle - and all the party members were worth using. There’s also a randomizer for this game if you know where to look on the internet, for those who want a little something extra out of the game.
2) Breath of Fire 2
Many people were first introduced to this series on the PlayStation, with Breath of Fire 3, but Breath of Fire 2 is one of my favorite SNES RPGs of all time. It has a compelling story that wouldn’t be amiss in an anime or manga setting. A conspiracy of darkness threatens the land, and evil lurks in some unexpected places.
The Dragon Clan is all but extinct, but one member remains strong. He gets wrapped up in this battle to save the planet. Alongside some wild friends, from the planet person Spar to his best friend, the dog Bow, they have to come together to fight a titanic threat.
The game even connects to the previous entry in the series, with the guest/hidden character Bleu. It’s a beautiful game, and though the translation is sub-par, it offers multiple endings, plenty of party customization, and the ability to have your own village! Gorgeous music, excellent character design, and plenty of comical and tragic moments to satisfy any fan of SNES RPGs.
1) Dragon Quest 3 (Fan-translation)
Dragon Quest 3 is easily one of my favorite games of all time, so when I found it had an SNES release, I was over the moon! It’s part of a combo cartridge featuring Dragon Quest 2. That means it counts as one of the SNES RPGs to play in 2023. However, unless your Japanese is up to par, you better get a fan translation version.
This version is similar to the one on the Nintendo Switch, though the SNES version is prettier, graphically speaking. Among the quality-of-life features, it adds the stat seeds and a container that you carry on hand at all times. Instead of having to run back and forth between the banks, you can keep your important key items in that extra bag.
I love this game for so many reasons- The ability to customize your party, re-class them later in the game to make the ultimate party of heroes, the solid story, and the challenge that comes with it. Not only is it one of the best Dragon Quest games of all time, it’s one of the best SNES RPGs ever.
This is just a small sampling of excellent SNES RPGs that you should be playing as 2023 has begun. The Super Nintendo is home to some of the greatest video games of all time, so no matter what type of RPG you want, there is probably something for you there.