The release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1991 was a turning point for the gaming industry. Nothing quite compared to the SNES, from its 16-bit graphics and a massive library of games to its revolutionary controller design.
Think of it as the golden age of gaming: the system was the go-to for some of the most incredible multiplayer experiences ever. Even the console wars of the 1990s that saw Sega Genesis and Nintendo 64 gamers squaring off for bragging rights couldn’t eclipse the popularity of SNES games.
The system received massive success, selling well over 49.1 million units worldwide. Talking of multiplayer games, the SNES ushered in a new era of party games, where friends could come together and battle it out on some of the most iconic titles of the time.
So, pull up a chair, grab your favorite controller, and get ready to blast off into memory lane as we explore the absolute best SNES party games of all time.
What is a Party Game?
A party game is a type of game where two or more players can engage in competitive or cooperative play. Most party games aim to involve as many players as possible in the gameplay. As such, they often feature narration, prompts, or questions designed to get players interacting with one another.
Party games can range from traditional board or card games to party-style mini-games and even trivia games. The best party games provide simple controls that allow people of all ages and skills, even non-gamers, to join in on the fun.
Was the SNES Known for Party Games?
Party games have been around for nearly as long as gaming itself, and the SNES was certainly no exception. While most people remember iconic single-player titles like Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, SNES also had several multiplayer titles that were incredibly popular with gamers of the time. Unknowingly, these multiplayer games helped to provide the foundation for many of the popular party games we enjoy today.
#7 Secret of Mana
A sequel to the classic role-playing game Final Fantasy Adventure, Secret of Mana was a revolutionary title that allowed up to three players to work together and explore the world of Mana. In addition to its cooperative play, it also featured an innovative action-based battle system that rewarded strategy over button mashing.
The plot revolves around a group of adventurers working together to restore Mana’s power and save the world from destruction. The player characters navigate the world through its colossal overworld and dungeons, fighting monsters, solving puzzles, and collecting powerful weapons. Combat is fast-paced and tactical, with the characters’ attack power determined by their distance from the enemy, weapon type, and even time of day.
Swinging a weapon will fill a power meter, allowing the characters to unleash intense magical spells. Players can upgrade their weapons eight times, giving them the power to take down even the most challenging bosses. The more a player uses a weapon, its power increases, making it essential to cooperate with other players to level up quickly.
Unlike other games of the 16-bit era, Secret of Mana had a fully orchestrated soundtrack, giving it an epic feel. It’s still considered one of the best soundtracks for the SNES and continues to fascinate gamers today. The brightly colored graphics and the fantasy-inspired world make Secret of Mana a unique experience. With multiple endings and an intense storyline, it’s one of the best party games.
- The Mana tree keeps good and evil in perfect balance
- A magic sword has tricked a young warrior into upsetting the balance
- Restore harmony by embarking on a dangerous journey to find the seeds of the Mara tree
- Magic swords release and fight evil; treasure chests hold booby traps; monsters are friends and enemies
- It's a world turned upside down that you must help the warrior make right
#6 Street Fighter II: The World Warrior
No party game list would be complete without Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. The fighting game spawned a million imitators and paved the way for modern esports. With its vibrant characters, explosive action, and highly strategic combat, Street Fighter II is the perfect game to get a party going.
The World Warrior version of Street Fighter II kicked off the series and still holds up today. Players engage in one-on-one battles, choosing from eight iconic characters such as E. Honda, Guile, Chun Li, and Blanka. Like in the original version, players can perform special moves by inputting a combination of buttons. Careful timing and execution are essential to victory, as each character has its own combinations that must be mastered.
The World Warrior also adds a tournament mode, which allows up to four players to compete against each other. Players can choose between best-of-three and best-of-five rounds, making it easy to find the right balance of challenge and fun. The game also features bonus stages where players must destroy objects quickly.
Street Fighter II: The World Warrior is an intense and fun game that gamers of all skill levels can enjoy. Its simple controls, colorful graphics, and complex strategies make it a must-have for any SNES party collection.
- The first official sequel in the Street Fighter series
- First player vs. player game where you could choose your characters from a lineup
- New attacks, such as grappling moves
- Play in matches against your friends
#5 Super Mario Kart
Super Mario Kart is a classic that needs no introduction. This go-kart racing game entered the SNES library in 1992 and remained one of the most popular games of all time. The simple yet addictive gameplay of racing against your friends, collecting coins, and using items to gain an advantage keeps the competition alive.
During the play, players take control of one of eight Mario characters, each with unique stats and power-ups. As the race progresses, you obtain items such as bananas, shells, and mushrooms to slow down your opponents or get ahead of them. The game also features unique tracks that change the difficulty of races with different paths, obstacles, and shortcuts.
Tiles marked with a question mark act as power-up tiles and can give players a speed boost or an item to use on their opponents. The classic Battle Mode allows for frantic four-player battles in arenas, where each player attempts to eliminate the others by using various items from the main game.
Super Mario Kart is one of those games that never gets old, no matter how many times you play it. If you’re looking for a party game to keep the action going, this is the one to start with. It’s simple enough for anyone to play and enjoy but offers plenty of depth and challenge.
- The Super Mario GoKart Park is open for tons of racing fun! Hit the track with Mario, Luigi, Yoshi and the Princess. Get tough and lock fenders with Donkey Kong, Jr. and Bowser. Even Toad and Koopa...
#4 Goof Troop
Goof Troop is a top-down action game that puts you in the shoes of Goofy and Max as they traverse various levels filled with puzzles and enemies. Released in 1993, Goof Troop is a classic cooperative game where two players work together to complete the levels.
Each level requires players to work together and use their skills to solve puzzles and defeat enemies until they eventually defeat the boss. The plot follows Goofy and Max as they attempt to save their island from the infamous Captain of a Pirate Ship.
Goofy and Max have to use various items, like keys and bombs, as they progress through the levels. Players can find multiple collectibles that can aid them in their quest. The game also features various mini-games that users can unlock by collecting all of the items in a level.
Even as one of the oldest SNES games in existence, Goof Troop still lives up to its reputation as one of the best cooperative party games ever created. Its simple controls, colorful visuals, and excellent level design make it a must-have for any SNES library.
#3 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time
The SNES version of the classic arcade game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time is an intense and exciting brawler. Up to four players can team up to take down hordes of Foot Soldiers, Rock Soldiers, and other villains as they battle their way across time.
Although the SNES version lacks some graphics and animation features, the game extensively used SNES Mode 7 graphics capabilities to create fluid and detailed gameplay.
The plot of the game follows the Turtles as they travel through time to rescue April O’Neill from Shredder. Along their journey, they have to fight through various stages, each with its unique enemies and hazards. The SNES version also adds some exclusive levels and features that are not in the arcade original.
It also comes with a two-player vs. mode, which allows players to battle each other in a fight for dominance. The game is perfect for parties because of its fast-paced and intense combat, and it requires cooperation between the players as they take down their enemies together.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time is an absolute classic and a must-have for any SNES library. Its colorful visuals, intense battles, and simple controls make it one of the best party games on the system.
- Number Of Players: 1-2
#2 Kirby Super Star
Kirby Super Star is a collection of multiple action games with unique goals and objectives. Players traverse levels by playing as Kirby and using his signature ability to suck up enemies and acquire their powers. The game features various mini-games, including boss battles, in which players must work together or compete against each other to complete the level.
Although marketed as a kids’ game, Kirby Super Star offers a significant challenge and replay value due to its various levels and mini-games. The game’s multiplayer aspect is particularly fun, as players can team up or battle against each other in head-to-head competitions. While we wouldn’t recommend it for a high-stakes tournament, Kirby Super Star is definitely one of the most enjoyable SNES party games.
And if that wasn’t enough, the game also features some of the best artwork and musical scores on the console. The best part of the game is the collection of eight mini-games, each with its unique story and goals. The graphics might be a bit dated now, but in 1992, it was one of the most visually stunning games ever created.
The music and visuals, combined with its unique gameplay and replay value, make Kirby Super Star one of the greatest SNES party games ever created. Its simple mechanics, intense action, and split-screen multiplayer mode make it the perfect choice for gaming sessions with friends.
#1 Contra III: The Alien Wars
The Contra series has always been known for its intense difficulty and fast-paced run-and-gun action, but few games in the franchise match the sheer perfection of Contra III: The Alien Wars. Players control a solitary commando as they fight against an alien menace. The game features multiple levels in various locations, such as a post-apocalyptic city and an alien spaceship.
The game plays like a dream, with tight controls, responsive hit detection, and intense boss fights. The visuals also hold up well today; the detailed sprites and varied backdrops make each level stand out from the rest. And if that wasn’t enough, Contra III: The Alien Wars even introduced a two-player mode, allowing players to team up and take on the alien menace together.
Like the other games in the series, Contra III: The Alien Wars is a brutally challenging game. Its intense difficulty and lightning-fast action make it perfect for experienced gamers, but its two-player mode allows players of all levels to join in on the fun.
With its rewarding challenge, memorable visuals and soundtrack, and two-player co-op mode, Contra III: The Alien Wars is one of the absolute best SNES party games ever created.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was never specially designed with party gaming in mind. Its 16-bit capabilities were used for fantastic adventures, fighting titles, and a few quirky mini-game collections. However, there’s no denying that many SNES games are perfect for parties.
Whether you want to show off your button-mashing skills in Street Fighter II Turbo or cause some friendly chaos with Mario Kart, you’ll find that the SNES has plenty of party games for every type of social gathering. In the end, it’s hard to argue with the classics — pick up your SNES controller and enjoy one of the absolute best party games ever created.
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