This article was originally going to be another top 5 but I couldn’t get the list down to 5, thus these are the top 6 RPGs to be released on the SNES.
6. Tales Of Phantasia
Tales of Phantasia is the first game to be released in the ‘Tales of ‘ series, although never officially released outside of Japan or in English until the 2006 GBA re-release.
Tales of Phantasia also debut the Linear Motion Battle System, which is a unique real-time battle system as opposed to many other RPGs at the time which were using turn-based combat systems, the LMBS plays similar to games like Street-Fighter.
Phantasia spawned an anime series based on the game, has been remade/re-released 3 times, had 9 direct sequels and 16 spin-off titles .
5. Secret of Mana
“There is one force in the universe that keeps good and evil in perfect balance. It is called the tree of Mana. But a magic sword has tricked a young warrior into upsetting this balance, spreading evil throughout the land.” – Official Box Art
Secret of Mana is the second game released in the Mana video game series, and the first to be adapted into English. Instead of using the traditional turn based combat, similar to the aforementioned it used a real-time battle system, although very different to Mana’s it was most similar to how combat was played in Legend of Zelda.
7 sequels with the latest being released in 2007 and a manga series based on one the later games.
“Intergalactic terror strikes the small town of Onett as a blazing extraterrestrial object crashes in the night! The earth now faces imminent destruction by the universal evil threat known as Giygas!” - Official Box Art
In EarthBound you play as a young boy named Ness, who awakens one night to discover a meteor has landed near his house. Upon investigation Ness meets a friendly alien from the future who warns him of the worlds impending doom, and thus it’s up to Ness and his ragtag group of friends to save the world from certain destruction.
Earthbound like Secret of Mana is the second game in a JRPG series but the first to be translated into English. Although having many traditional RPG elements it is one few JRPGs that takes place in the modern day, and somewhat uniquely among JRPGs it does not have random encounters, instead you can see enemies on the map.
EarthBound’s legacy is by far the saddest here, it had high critical praise yet a horrible commercial release in America , a sequel was in the works for the N64 but was scrapped, although years later they did release a sequel for GBA in Japan only.
Luckily for Ness the main character, he has become somewhat of a cult icon in the Nintendo world, and has appeared in every Super Smash Bros. game to date.
3. Final Fantasy 3 – (6)
“Many centuries have passed since the war of the Magi – civilizations have been rebuilt with iron, machines and technology. But the forces of magic have begun to return, and when ancient Esper is discovered, the risk of war resurfaces.” - Offical PSX Box Art
In Final Fantasy III, you play as ‘Terra’ a girl born with the gift of magic, half human and half Esper. She must help lead a group of rebels to overthrow an imperial dictatorship.
Final Fantasy III is by far the best of the 2D Final Fantasy games, and to date still has the largest amount of playable characters in the core final fantasy series. Although released as Final Fantasy III in the west it is the sixth Final Fantasy game.
As in the previous top NES RPG article Final Fantasy has the best legacy of all JRPGs, but specifically Final Fantasy 3 has been re-released twice, once for the PSX with added cut-scenes and recently on the GBA with a retranslated script, a new dungeon, and 4 new Espers (and now know as FF6).
2. Super Mario RPG – Legend of the Seven Stars
“Mario’s latest rival is Smithy, a menacing creature who causes fear and treachery in the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario must recover seven stars and repair the Star Road before he can make his way to Bowser’s castle for a final confrontation.” - Official Box Art
During a battle between Bowser and Mario, who was on a routine mission to rescue Princess Toadstoll from Bowser, a gigantic sword crashes into the battle and causes the three of them go flying in different directions. Mario, upon finding his way back to the Mushroom kingdom, finds the princess is still missing and has to unravel the mystery of the gigantic sword and rescue the princess (…again) to save the kingdom.
Super Mario RPG is the first Mario role playing game to be released and the final Mario game to be released for the SNES. Super Mario RPG was developed as a joint venture between Square (most famously known for their Final Fantasy series) and Nintendo.
The graphics were highly critically praised upon release, and were done in a similar style to the Donkey Kong Country series, using pre-rendered 3d graphics layered onto a typical RPG isometric view.
The gameplay contains many similarities to other Square RPGs, mainly Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger. The Mario RPG battle system is again a turn-based system. Fortunately battles are not random encounters, instead they occur when you bump into a enemy on the field map.
Although no direct sequels were made, two similar series were released the Paper Mario series and the Mario & Luigi series, both have had a highly positive critical and commercial reception. Super Mario RPG is to be re-released on the Wii arcarde soon.
1. Chrono Trigger
“A portal is opened. The chain of time is broken. A young man is transported into the past, altering the course of history and the outcome of the future. He has to find his way home, but first he must travel to the outer edges of time to repair the world’s chronology.” – Official Box Art
Travel through time to save the world from a global catastrophe.
Chrono Trigger was developed by what Square called the “Dream Team” containing developers from the Final Fantasy and the Dragon quest series, music from renowned video game music composers Yasunori Mitsuda & Nobuo Uematsu, and character design and artwork from famed creator of Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama.
Chrono Trigger is, in my opinion, by far the best RPG to be released on the SNES (albeit never released in Australia *sob*). Although it may have every role playing cliché possible, this game uses them in such a way to make an extremely captivating experience.
If you have played it I need not say more about how great a game Chrono Trigger is, and if you have not played it I suggest you go find a copy ASAP!
Sadly not as good as it could have been; Chrono Trigger has been re-released for the PSX with added anime cut-scenes, had one official sequel; Chrono Cross, released for the PSX and a few text-based adventures released in Japan only.
Currently there are no plans for any new Chrono games.