Upon first glance at this list, I was extremely excited. Pretty much every game on this list is a slice straight out of my childhood. And their impact on the nostalgia section of my soul are still felt to this day.
For us retro gaming fans… that magic feeling we get from the games of our childhood is something without rival. And for me, personally… 90% of those gaming memories can be tied to the sights and sounds of many of the games on this list.
So let’s jump right into this super amazing, magical, absolutely perfect list of the 10 best selling SNES games of all time.
10. Star Fox
Developer Argonaut Software worked closely with Nintendo to create game prototypes for the NES and SNES, and petitioned to create a custom graphics chip to allow for more advanced 3d processing.
This led to the creation of the Super FX chip inside the game’s cartridge, making Star Fox the first game for the Super Nintendo console to make use of full polygon graphics.
For the 4 million players who picked up the game (including me), Star Fox felt like a glimpse into the future!
Star Fox holds a truly important spot in gaming history; Winning “Best Shooter of 1993” by Electronic Gaming Monthly, numerous future installments in the series, and character appearances in the Super Smash Bros. franchise.
Star Fox and its previously unreleased sequel were also include in Nintendo’s Switch Online service in 2019, and included in our list of best snes games on the Switch.
So new gamers can enjoy this piece of gaming history. Or us old gamers can relive our childhood!
9. Street Fighter II: Turbo
One of those games that needs very little introduction: Street Fighter II: Turbo… the INSANELY popular Capcom fighting game that truly defined the genre.
Most kids who grew up in the 90’s probably remember going to the arcade and being entirely captivated by Street Fighter II.
And if you were lucky enough to actually get to play, you just hoped your turn didn’t end too quick (it usually did though).
So for Street Fighter II to come to your home?! Here was your chance to finally sharpen your skills for more than 5 minutes at a time.
So why not stay up all night and fall asleep at the controller?
Well, that is what about 4.1 million players did. Me and my best friend Bradley were a couple of em. Shout out to Bradley.
8. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
This 1995 platformer saw players taking full control of our beloved dinosaur, Yoshi, and Mario taking a back seat (literally and figuratively).
Developed as a more casual gaming experience (à la Kirby’s Dream Land), and an antithesis to other projects being developed by Nintendo at that time (Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario 64), “Yoshi’s Island” introduced and entirely new visual style to the Mario series.
And it also made use of the a new Super FX2 microchip, the successor to the graphics chip used for Star Fox.
The unique aesthetic and extremely detailed world was praised by players and critics. “Yoshi’s Island” received very positive reviews, and sold 4.12 million units worldwide.
To this day, the game is still considered a masterpiece and held in very high regard by fans. So it is no surprise to see it on our list of best selling SNES games of all time.
7. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Yes. Just yes. My number one favorite game for many years, and absolutely still on my top 10 list.
Like many games on the Super Nintendo console, “A Link to the Past” felt like a GIANT jump in overall game quality from previous entries on the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Establishing many gameplay and story elements that carried on throughout the Legend of Zelda series in future iterations, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the definition of legendary.
Having sold 4.61 million copies worldwide, “A Link to the Past” was ported to the Game Boy Advance, Wii, Wii U, 3DS, and Nintendo Switch Online. So PLENTY of ways for players to relive or live the experience for the first time!
6. Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest
This game was my jam. I stayed up MANY nights eating Cheez-It crackers and marathoning this game with my friends.
Another that needs very little introduction (a common theme in this list)… but in case you don’t already know: The Donkey Kong Country series is known for its beautiful 3d graphics, incredible music, and some of the best platforming in any game… ever.
The Donkey Kong Country series also makes use of advanced graphics technologies to produce pre-rendered 3d graphic assets, resulting in its entirely unique visual style.
At 5.15 million units sold worldwide, it is crazy to imagine how many other kids were binging the game at the same time as young me! I wonder what snacks they were eating.
5. Street Fighter II: The World Warrior
The predecessor to the previous entry on this list, “The World Warrior” was the first Street Fighter II iteration to appear on the Super Nintendo System.
This particular release was the first on the SNES to make use of a special 16-megabit cartridge.
The Super Nintendo release also was the first to allow two players to control the same player against themselves (ie Ryu vs Ryu), something that was not previously possible in the arcade version.
6.3 million players doing their best to WHOOP eachother.
4. Super Mario Kart
The start of an absolute powerhouse of a game franchise, Super Mario Kart put players behind the wheel of one of eight characters from the Mario family.
The first prototype for the game did not include Mario characters, but developers quickly realized what an opportunity they had to leverage beloved characters from the companies history.
Like lead programmer Masato Kimura’s previous game, F-Zero, Super Mario Kart was made possible through the use of Mode 7 graphics.
Mode 7 is an advanced texture mapping mode built into the Super Nintendo console that produces pseudo 3d environments (the game did not make use of actual 3d polygons, like Star Fox did).
The game cartridge also made use of a special Digital Signal Processor chip to allow for more advanced three-dimensional math calculations.
So all in all, the game was a giant technological achievement for the Super Nintendo console.
8.76 million units were sold worldwide, and Super Mario Kart setup a franchise that brought us a ton of classic party games, including the best selling Nintendo Switch release of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
This is one you probably predicted to see in this best selling SNES games of all time list.
3. Donkey Kong Country
A totally fresh reboot of the popular Donkey Kong game series, Donkey Kong Country introduced a whole new 3d aesthetic for our favorite gorilla.
Development studio Rare had originally aimed to form a partnership with Nintendo in the early 80s.
Motivated by Nintendo’s rejection to that offer, Rare went on to reverse-engineer the Nintendo Entertainment System to develop some advanced prototypes that got the attention of Nintendo and lead to them eventually securing the partnership they had hoped for.
Nintendo engaged Rare for the task of creating a game that could rival games like Disney’s Aladdin.
Rare proposed leveraging new technologies made possible through their Silicon Graphics workstations to render 3D models.
The risk proved a success, selling 9.3 million units and starting an award winning series for Nintendo that would continue to this day.
2. Super Mario All-Stars
After the completion of Super Mario Kart, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto suggested that Nintendo bring the first four Mario games into the 16-bit world.
Taking cues from Super Mario World, each of the original Nintendo Entertainment System releases were fully remade and improved upon.
The team strived to maintain the essence of the original games, even leaving in some glitches that felt integral to the spirit of the source material.
Reception to the game was insanely positive. AllGame defining it aptly as “the absolute pinnacle of the 2D platform genre”.
10.5 million players were happy to have a perfect compilation of some of their favorite games, and it is no wonder that Super Mario All-Stars comes in so high on the list of best selling SNES games of all time.
1. Super Mario World
Super Mario World is the summation of everything covered in this entire list. A perfect example of how entries in many franchises were pushed to a whole new level of greatness on the SNES console.
Super Mario Bros. currently holds the number 6 spot for best selling video games of all time. So clearly Nintendo would have been feeling some pretty big pressure to match that success.
Fans always hope that a follow up could live up to the original. But you don’t really expect it to completely blow it out of the water.
Maybe that is a controversial take… obviously the original is exactly that: an original. Legendary. Set the benchmark. But, in my opinion… Super Mario World just steps things up exponentially.
Whether it is the graphics, the music, the sound effects, the gameplay, the new mechanics, the new characters… this game is perfect.
The number one selling game on the SNES at 20.6 million copies… on most top lists of all time (including RetroDodo’s best Mario games and my own personal top 10)… the 1991 Game of the Year from Nintendo Power and Power Play… and releases on the Game Boy Advance and the Switch Online Service.
Seems like we have a lot of reasons to consider this an easy winner for the best game to be released on the Super Nintendo console, and absolutely no surprise finding this one at the number one spot on this list of the 10 best selling SNES games of all time.
Now, I will get back to playing it… literally… it’s the only game I have been playing on my rg351v the past few weeks. The sounds of the first ten seconds of the first stage, “Yohsi’s Island 1”, is my number one sensory gaming memory.
Anthony has been a video game lover ever since he can remember. He became a fulltime nomad in 2018, living throughout most of Asia. He focused his passion in retro gaming and began creating a game for the Game Boy Color while living in Nara, Japan during the 2020 pandemic. He is now in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where he spends most of his time gaming, going on long walks and meeting as many stray dogs as possible.