The SNES has one of the best game libraries of all time. It stands to reason that such a large compendium will contain some must-play RPGs. The majority of its role-playing titles are well worth playing but if we had to pick 10 of the best SNES RPGs then the following titles are unmissable.
Like Cyberpunk 2077, this SNES RPG is based on a tabletop game. Shadowrun takes place in a dystopian futuristic city. You step into the boots of a mercenary who’s lost his memory and needs to navigate a seedy underground corporate world to find out what happened to him.
Part point-and-click adventure, part western RPG, Shadowrun doesn’t have the strongest gameplay on this list. Its progression systems are slow and its combat feels outdated even for its time.
However, its powerful storytelling and expansive world-building more than make up for those shortcomings.
9. Soul Blazer
Way before the roguelike dungeon crawler boom, there was this SNES RPG. In Soul Blazer, you play as a mighty warrior tasked with exploring perilous dungeons to free the souls of the nearby town’s citizens.
To achieve this, you need to slay the boss of each dungeon then free the spirit it holds captive. While there’s no big reset when you die, Soul Blazer has the same sense of progression found in today’s roguelikes.
While its story is nothing to write home about, its action combat is some of the best you can find on the 16-bit console.
Terranigma had a limited release in Japan and PAL regions making it a lesser-known game, which is a shame because it’s brilliant. In an alternate universe where the Earth’s surface is frozen over, you embark on a journey to save your village, the last place mankind could thrive.
What makes this SNES RPG unique is its rock-paper-scissors style combat. It also keeps the focus less on hard stats, making it an approachable game to non-RPG fans.
7. Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen
While Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together is the more reputable tactical RPG on the SNES, Ogre Battle is the more unique title. Instead of putting the focus on exploration, it places you at the heart of managing a war.
On top of that, it features a robust moral system that allows for branching storylines that culminate into 10 distinct endings. There are also tons of unlockable classes to bolster your armies further.
All that is coupled with some of the best tactical combat systems the genre has to offer.
Earthbound is a SNES RPG that is its own beast. Primarily a first-person dungeon crawler, it foregoes the high-fantasy settings of most titles with a world that’s completely indescribable. Instead of knights and mages, you have young children living in a realistic town.
All throughout, you experience a story that’s humorous on the surface yet deeply cerebral when you get to the nitty-gritty. Even the attacks and spells have completely unconventional names, such as PK Fire.
5. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Yes, there’s a Mario title in this SNES RPG list and it’s one of the best turn-based games ever made. Effectively a predecessor to the Paper Mario series, Super Mario RPG is a great starting point for newcomers to the genre.
What makes this title stand out amongst other, better-established franchises is its combat which relies on button prompts instead of selection menus to deliver battles that feel snappy and immediate.
4. Secret of Mana
Secret of Mana stands as one of the leading titles that paved the way for action-based RPGs on the SNES and for generations to come. It’s arguably one of the most breathtaking games on the 16-bit console with its colorful palette and intricate character design.
It’s one of the first action RPGs to also feature characters with complementary abilities and the ability to play multiplayer. All of this wrapped inside one of the most captivating game stories of its time.
3. Breath of Fire II
While Capcom is better known for its arcade games, the Breath of Fire series shows it has RPG chops as well. Its story is passable at best and its turn-based combat system has nothing new to offer.
What makes this title deserve a spot on this list, however, is its town-building mechanics and a vast amount of content. Visually, it’s also superb, rivaling some of the strongest contenders on this list.
2. Chrono Trigger
Every genre has its own set of legends and this SNES RPG is one of the greatest. Chrono Trigger is dubbed by many as the best JRPG of all time and we can’t blame them. Everything about this title is simply top-notch.
The Akira Toriyama art is charming. The soundtrack is iconic and epic. The combat system blends classic turn-based battles with tactical positioning. And its well-paced story is absolutely mind-blowing.
1. Final Fantasy III
The other big legend of the JRPG genre is this SNES gem. While a lot of people feel that later entries of the Final Fantasy series are superior, Final Fantasy III is a masterpiece.
Its art style is pure 2D perfection, to the point where remastering it has proven futile. Its cast of 14 distinct characters offers a lot of customization which makes experimenting with the ATB system a game in itself.
To top it all off, the story is an epic journey that combines sci-fi steampunk with high-fantasy beautifully.