The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, better known as the SNES, was rolled out over three years in the early '90s, proving to be a formative part of our gaming experience. The unassuming 16-bit console introduced many notable games, most of which we'll be able to revisit via the newly announced mini SNES Classic.
From spectacular side scrollers like Donkey Kong Country to furious fighters like Street Fighter II, the SNES had it all. But it was also a goldmine of weird and usually amazing licensed games which have sadly been forgotten by the masses. Alongside Firefox, Super Mario World, and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, these obscure oddities helped to define this particular era of Nintendo history.
So we're opening this treasure trove of '90s nostalgia to look back on some of our favorite licensed games that sadly didn't make the SNES Classic cut.
Rocko's Modern Life: Spunky's Dangerous Day (1994)
A stone cold classic of cartoon tie-ins, this 12-level 2D side-scroller is unique in the world of licensed games as it was actually in development in the early stages of the show's production rather than after it had aired. Based on episodes of the show that were shared by the animation team, each level follows the titular star of Nicktoons hit Rocko's Modern Life as he tries to keep his pet dog Spunky safe throughout a selection of worst-case scenarios.
Alien 3 (1993)
Alien 3 is notable as it's a side-scrolling shooter that's actually based on a film that includes no guns. One of four tie-in games released alongside David Fincher's ambitious sequel--the others were released on Master System/NES/Gameboy--the SNES version saw you completing numerous missions like welding doors, saving prisoners, and killing aliens with flame throwers all aided by super cool blueprints. This atmospheric gem is arguably better than the movie it's based on.
Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage (1994)
Possibly one of the "most '90s" comic book tie-ins of all time, Maximum Carnage is based loosely on the comic book arc of the same name and has to this day one of the most impressive and eclectic superhero rosters of any video game; included are Captain America, Black Cat, Iron Fist, Cloak and Dagger, Deathlok, Morbius, and Firestar. This side-scrolling beat-'em-up follows Spider-Man and Venom as they attempt to stop Carnage and his crew of criminals from wreaking havoc. The first printings of the cartridges for Maximum Carnage were red, just like Cletus Cassidy himself.
The Lion King (1994)
One of Disney's iconic family games for the SNES, The Lion King is a classic side-scrolling platformer that follows the plotline of the beloved yet traumatizing Disney movie. The game is split into two halves: Simba as a child, who mainly defeats enemies by jumping on them, and Simba as an adult, who can violently maul enemies. This Disney game, as with our next entry, holds up particularly well as the original sprites were designed in house at Disney Animation.
The second of Disney's additions to our licensed game lineup, Aladdin was easily the animation house's best received game critically, but also financially, as it was Capcom's second best-selling SNES game after Street Fighter II. Following Aladdin as he runs riot through the streets of Agrabah and throws apples at his enemies, this is a really solid platformer that holds a special place in many '90s kids hearts. How many other games let you ride a magic carpet through a mystical cave?
Super Star Wars (1992)
One of the best SNES games of all time, Super Star Wars puts you in the shoes of Luke Skywalker as you run and gun your way through an abbreviated version of George Lucas' smash hit space opera. If you ever thought that Luke should have stolen C3PO and R2D2 whilst jumping on conveyer belts instead of simply buying them from the Jawas, then this is the game for you. Giving fans the chance to wield a lightsaber and reenact the Death Star trench run, this is one of the most exciting and enjoyable entries to our look back at these licensed games.
Justice League Task Force (1995)
This much maligned DC Comics fighter may have been hated by critics but it was beloved by the many comic book fans who were excited to see their favorite heroes on screen. Starring Aquaman, Batman, The Flash, Superman, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, Cheetah, Despero, and Darkseid as the big bad, this was a stellar roster of classic heroes. Sadly, bad animation and confusing controls left this game remembered as a flawed fan fave only for the most dedicated of DC diehards.
What are you favorite tie-in SNES games? Did we miss them? Are you just super excited for the new SNES Classic? Enter the comments and let us know!
Images: Nintendo, Capcom, Lucas Arts, Viacom, Acclaim,