As a role-playing game fan, the Super Nintendo and Super Famicom gave you plenty of options to choose from. The SNES had a huge library of RPGs to choose from and many of them hold up even today. In this post, we’ll cover our Top 10 Best SNES RPGs you need to play! These SNES RPGs aren’t in a specific order as they are all great games, and there are plenty of honorable mentions of great SNES RPGs that could have also made the list.
For a lot of people, Chrono Trigger is not only one of the best SNES RPGs, but it’s their favorite RPG of all time. It’s definitely not a surprise either. For starters, Chrono Trigger features a very compelling story that focuses on time travel.
You’ll play as Chrono and friends he meets along the way as they take on an ancient monster Lavos as it tries to repeatedly destroy the world. What makes this game such a unique RPG is you’ll gather party members throughout time. You’ll jump from the middle ages to prehistoric times and even jump to the future.
The music is amazing, and it features artwork from Akira Toriyama the artist who did the artwork for the Dragon Ball series and Dragon Quest series. Combat is also fast-paced as it features an active time battle mechanic.
On top of that, Chrono Triggers combat features the ability to combine techniques from multiple characters at the same time. You can unleash powerful double techniques and triple techniques with the right combination of characters. This can be attacked like flame swords, x strikes, ice swords, and more.
Another element that was ahead of its time that makes this one of the best SNES RPGs is that it features multiple endings. You even unlock a new game plus to take on the game with better gear which can allow you to unlock the various endings. If you haven’t played Chrono Trigger you definitely should as it still holds up as one of the best RPGs on Super Nintendo.
Super Mario RPG
In Super Mario RPG you’ll play as Mario and fellow heroes of the Mushroom Kingdom as they try and restore Star Road. The evil Smithy has destroyed Star Road and has caused all wishes from the Mushroom Kingdom to never be granted. You’ll explore the Mushroom Kingdom and take on Smithy’s henchmen to collect star pieces and put an end to this evil villain.
Super Mario RPG features the classic cast of Super Mario like Mario, Bowser, and Princess Peach, but includes some new additions of Geno and Mallow. The storyline in this game is fun and quirky but also features some great combat and lots of secrets.
Super Mario RPG definitely pushed the limits of the SNES as it featured some amazing-looking 3D graphics for its time. On top of that, it features several modern RPG mechanics which were brand new to me when I first played this game.
The combat features timed attacks which make the battles more engaging and challenging. You’ll also get the option to choose how to power up your characters when they level up. For example, you can choose between boosting HP, Attack, or your Magic power. This was a new concept to me as well in RPGs and really made you feel like you were making the characters your own.
Super Mario RPG is definitely one of the best SNES RPGs and is worth playing if you haven’t had a chance.
Secret of Evermore
Secret of Evermore is an action RPG that follows the story of a boy and his dog as they are sucked into the strange world of Evermore. The game features an interesting story and a variety of weapons and alchemy spells you learn along the way.
Each area of the Evermore world features a different theme and time period element. You start in prehistoric times and explore parts of the world in medieval times, and even the future. Because of this, you’ll face off against interesting enemies like giant prehistoric beetles and even a gladiator in a colosseum.
What makes this game one of the best SNES RPGs is the variety of items and equipment you find, secrets, and level-up mechanics. You’ll find many types of weapons like swords, spears, axes, and more and each one of these can be leveled up.
The combat also features a power meter bar and if you let it fill up you can unleash even more powerful attacks. Another neat element is that your dog will transform based on the time period you are in. You’ll start with a giant wolf of a dog, a Greyhound, a Poodle, and even a robot dog in the future.
The game also has several challenging boss fights where you’ll need to use all of your skills at your disposal if you hope to win. If you are looking for a fun and unique action RPG definitely check out Secret of Evermore as it’s one of the best Super Nintendo RPGs.
Final Fantasy 2 / Final Fantasy 4
Final Fantasy 2 as it was on the SNES or Final Fantasy 4 as it is today, is another one of the best SNES RPGs. Originally Final Fantasy 2 and Final Fantasy 3 on the NES never came to the USA. So when Final Fantasy 4 finally came to the US they called it Final Fantasy 2 instead, so US players didn’t feel like they missed out on games in the series.
In this classic RPG, you play as a dark knight Cecil who is in service to an evil empire. Unfortunately, he does some terrible things while in service to capture the power of the crystals for the empire.
Eventually, he finds the errors of his ways and teams up with other rebels to take on the evil empire. The story of Final Fantasy 2 is one of redemption as Cecil becomes a holy paladin along the way. You’ll team up with other classic Final Fantasy character classes like white mages, black mages, summoners, and many more.
This game was the first in the Final Fantasy series to feature an active time bar, which made the turn-based RPG battles more intense. There are many unique environments you’ll visit throughout the game as well, like the dwarven underworld and even the moon!
Final Fantasy 2 for the SNES is also extremely challenging and has many powerful bosses. There are also several side quests in the game to unlock powerful items and feature additional challenges.
Final Fantasy 3 / Final Fantasy 6
Final Fantasy 3/6 on the Super Nintendo went through the same naming issues that Final Fantasy 2/4 went through. In Final Fantasy 3, you’ll play as a group of rebels that are trying to overthrow an evil empire taken over by Kefka.
Kefka is trying to rule the world by gathering power from defeating Espers which are magical creatures with immense power. Many of them function as summons throughout the game as well. The game has an amazing soundtrack that lives up to the Final Fantasy standard.
This turn-based RPG for SNES is one of the best RPGs on Super Nintendo because of its great story and fun gameplay. The game has an extensive map and many areas to explore. Not only do you gain levels through experience, but you also can learn spells and abilities from the Esper shards. These abilities become permanent once a character learns them.
There are many character types from previous Final Fantasy games, like thieves, monks, ninjas, and more. The game also includes additional hidden characters and hidden bosses that you can discover across the world.
As one of the best Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy 3 is also one of the best SNES RPGs and is a must-play!
Earthbound is another classic RPG that ranks as one of the best SNES RPGs of all time. The main aspect that stands out about this RPG is that it has a rather odd storyline and cast of characters. You play as 4 children that have special abilities and psychic powers as they try and save the world from the evil alien Gigas.
On top of the weird storyline, you face off against many unique enemies like inanimate objects come to life and even a cult that worships the color blue. The combat features turn-based battles but also has a unique rolling health counter.
This means that as you take damage you don’t die instantly if it is a fatal blow. Instead, your health will slowly roll down until it reaches zero, which gives you time to heal or revive your characters before they die.
You’ll travel the world in a modern era set around the mid-’90s and you’ll use regular things like baseball bats and frying pans as weapons. The game has some interesting music and a memorable sense of humor that make this a must-play RPG.
Be sure to check out Earthbound as it still holds up as one of the best RPGs on Super Nintendo.
Lufia 2: Rise of the Sinistrals
Lufia 2 is another very unique RPG for the Super Nintendo in that it combines a lot of different styles of gameplay into one game. You have various puzzle elements like a Legend of Zelda. It also has a monster capturing element like Pokemon. Then it is all wrapped up into a classic turn-based RPG.
In Lufia 2 you’ll play as Maxim and other heroes he meets along the way in their journey to defeat the Sinistrals. These are god-like villains that are plotting to take over the world.
Another element that was a bit ahead of its time was that the game didn’t feature random battles. Now I’ve never been someone who dislikes random battles, but it is nice to see what enemies you’ll encounter in advance. You can even stun enemies before battles begin to avoid them or to use them as part of puzzle solutions in the dungeons.
The monster capturing element is also really addicting in that you level up your monsters by feeding them items. Some items work better than others and it is always fun testing out new items to see if it works to level up the monster.
These capsule monsters join your battle party as well and can be swapped out with each other once you get more than one. This adds another level to the strategy of building your party as each monster has a totally unique move set and abilities.
The combination of all these great gameplay elements is what makes Lufia 2 one of the best SNES RPGs you should play.
Dragon Quest 5
The Dragon Quest series has a lot of great games, but one of the best in the series is Dragon Quest 5. Dragon Quest 5 holds up as one of the best RPGs on SNES because of its unique and compelling story.
In Dragon Quest 5 you follow the story of the hero throughout their whole life. You start off the game as they are a child, and then move to when they are a young adult, and finally play as them as an adult with their children. Typically you see games follow a character over a short period of time or a couple of years but not the majority of their life.
Another neat feature that was introduced in Dragon Quest 5 was the ability to recruit monsters onto your team. As you play through the game you’ll recruit and build a team of main characters from the story and random monsters.
The game also features a caravan where you can bring many monsters and party members with you throughout the game and can switch out characters as you need them. Combat also features the ability to control characters manually or through the use of an AI tactics system. Dragon Quest 5 was also the first in the series to feature a bonus dungeon after you beat the main plot of the game.
Dragon Quest 5 also features amazing music as well as artwork from Akira Toriyama. They even made a movie based on the game called Dragon Quest Your Story. While Dragon Quest 5 was only initially released in Japan, you can find remakes of it on many systems or an English translation online. It’s one of my favorite Dragon Quest games and one of the best RPGs on Super Nintendo.
Secret of Mana
Secret of Mana is another classic Super Nintendo RPG that still holds up as one of the best SNES RPGs. This RPG is an action RPG vs a turn-based RPG and follows a similar gameplay and art style to Secret of Evermore. One neat feature with this game though is the fact that you play as 3 characters at once.
When playing the game single-player, you’ll play as one character at a time, but you can pause combat to select spells, swap weapons, and use items as the other characters. If you happen to have a multi-tap controller adapter for the Super Nintendo, you can even play the game with 3 people at the same time.
The story centers around 3 heroes using the power of the Mana Sword to fight off an evil empire led by an ancient sorcerer. You’ll explore many areas of the world featuring many unique environments.
Another fun aspect of the game is that you’ll find a variety of weapons you can use and power up. You’ll find weapons like swords, axes, spears, boomerangs, and more. As you use these weapons in combat they will gain experience and can eventually be upgraded into more powerful versions.
You’ll also gain a variety of spells and magic abilities from various mana seeds throughout the game. These spells can also be made more powerful by leveling them up through multiple uses.
Some of the boss fights can be very challenging, but with a little bit of level grinding, you should be able to get past anything you face. Secret of Mana is definitely one of the best action RPGs on SNES and worth playing. You can even play it on the Collection of Mana on Nintendo Switch if you can’t find an original copy on Super Nintendo.
Final Fantasy 5
Final Fantasy 5 is another RPG for Super Nintendo that wasn’t originally released outside of Japan. The story of Final Fantasy 5 revolves around Bartz and other heroes that are on a quest to protect the crystals and to prevent the escape of an ancient evil that will destroy the world.
This SNES RPG returns to its Final Fantasy roots as it brings back the crystals and classic job classes from the early games in the series. As you explore you’ll find crystal shards that grant your party abilities from job classes like thieves, ninjas, black mages, red mages, and more.
What is great about this game is that once you have learned the abilities of a job class you can combine those abilities with other classes. This really increases the versatility of your team giving you the flexibility to take on the many challenging battles in the game.
Final Fantasy 5 has great music and addicting gameplay as well as a deep story that unfolds as you play. This RPG has had many ports so if you can’t find an original translated version you can play Final Fantasy V Advance or the latest Pixel Remaster. However you get your hands on this game, make sure you check it out as it is one of the best SNES RPGs.
Overall the Super Nintendo still stands as one of the best systems for RPGs and had so many classic games that still hold up today. There were many great games for both turn-based RPGs and action RPGs.
Certainly, the ranks of the best SNES RPGs are filled with Final Fantasy games as many of the best in the series were released on the Super Nintendo. However, there were some amazing games that were original concepts like Super Mario RPG and Chrono Trigger.
There really is a great RPG for every type of player, whether you want a fantasy-based game, sci-fi-based game, or anything in between the SNES has you covered. Many of these SNES RPGs have had many remakes and remasters over the years as well, which shows yet again their level of quality.
There are so many more RPGs on Super Nintendo we missed so let us know if we missed any that we need to add to our Super Nintendo RPG backlog!
By the way, if you enjoyed this post on the Top 10 Best SNES RPGs, you might also enjoy our post on the Top 10 Best NES RPGs You Need To Play!