In 1991, Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System—commonly known as the "Super NES" or "SNES"—in the United States.
The highly regarded console would go on to sell 23 million units in North America and play host to some of the greatest classic video games ever made.
Flush with the enormous success of its 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System in the late 1980s, Nintendo dragged its feet on entering the 16-bit generation that had started years before with consoles like the NEC TurboGrafx-16 and the Sega Genesis.
Indeed, Sega dominated the 16-bit market in the early years of the Super NES.
However, Nintendo realigned its marketing strategy, toughening its image as its audience matured, and pulled ahead just as the 16-bit era came to a close.
During its eight years on the US market, the Super NES represented a high water mark for 2D, sprite-based games.
It also proved a fertile ground for the development of several important RPG and sports game series that influenced the industry.
To celebrate this classic console, I assembled a list of the console's 10 greatest games.
A contentious effort, I know.
But have no fear.
To determine the contents of this list, I polled 17 forest elves on their preferences for certain species of wild mushrooms, then divided the results by five and matched them with Super NES sales figures from the 1990s.
In other words, you probably won't agree with this list, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.
Also, Chrono Trigger is No.
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on April 25, 2017.
Star Fox, an on-the-rails space shooter, pushed the technical limits of the Super NES far beyond other games of the time.
It achieved this feat thanks to a special graphical co-processor chip called the "Super FX" that shipped in every copy of the Star Fox game cartridge.
The chip allowed Star Fox to generate complex, shaded 3D polygon graphics with a relatively high frame rate—a task that the SNES's native chipset alone couldn't handle.
On top of that technical achievement, Star Fox was simply a blast to play.
Super NES owners bought Star Fox in droves, inspiring Nintendo to continue the franchise on successive Nintendo game consoles.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island
In Yoshi's Island, the player stewards Baby Mario—on the back of a Yoshi—through various cartoonish dangers and lush, whimsical environments.
Unlike previous Mario games, the player only controls Yoshi (Baby Mario tags along for the ride).
Yoshi grabs enemies with his tongue, swallows them, then turns them into eggs that he can use as projectiles.
Yoshi's Island stands out among SNES games for its unique graphical style, which many times resembles hand-drawn crayon, patchwork fabric, or watercolor art.
Like Star Fox before it, Yoshi's Island benefited from a graphical co-processor chip (in this case, the Super FX 2).
That chip allowed impressive sprite manipulation effects seen throughout the game.
Unfortunately, Yoshi's Island appeared on the market near the end of the Super NES's lifespan, making it one of the best but least-played games on the platform.
Donkey Kong Country
By 1994, Nintendo began feeling the heat from next-generation consoles like the Atari Jaguar, 3DO Interative MultiPlayer, and the upcoming Sega Saturn.
It needed a minor miracle to prove the relevancy of its aging Super NES console in the face of consoles that could produce far more graphically sophisticated games.
That year, UK-based developer Rare delivered Nintendo's saving grace on a silver platter with a major graphical innovation.
The company created detailed 3D models of Donkey Kong characters, enemies, and stages on Silicon Graphics workstations, then turned them into animated 2D graphics that could be displayed on the Super NES.
Rare pulled the feat off so convincingly that it appeared to some critics as if the SNES could generate high-quality 3D graphics itself.
Donkey Kong Country was the hit of the 1994 holiday season, pulling Nintendo firmly ahead of Sega Genesis in the 16-bit home console race.
The game almost single-handedly extended the market viability of the Super NES while Nintendo readied its next-generation console, the Nintendo 64.
As one of the SNES's launch titles, F-Zero dazzled gamers with its use of Mode 7 graphics (a special graphical mode present in SNES hardware that allowed a flat texture to be stretched and rotated with ease) that simulated high-speed racing over a futuristic cityscape.
Its use of Mode 7 for a racing game set the stage for Super Mario Kart and countless other SNES racing titles.
F-Zero's smooth controls and fast pace set it apart from slower, clunkier racers that came before it and inspired a series of fast-paced modern racing games like Wipeout and various follow-ups in the F-Zero franchise.
EarthBound is the kind of quirky, idiosyncratic turn-based RPG we need more of in this world.
It features an amusing rendition of suburban Americana seen through Japanese eyes.
Instead of fighting dragons, slimes, and trolls in a sword-and-sorcery fashion, the protagonist (a baseball-capped kid) battles zombie policemen, clumsy robots, and crazed traffic signs with an arsenal of yo-yos and baseball bats.
Both zany and heartfelt, once you're done playing, you‘ll wish there was another level.
Super Mario Kart
Super Mario Kart seemed a bit underwhelming at the time of its release (no, really) but ended up being monumentally important later.
The pseudo-3D racer has always been a blast to play, but critics could, at first, easily dismiss it as a kiddie version of F-Zero.
Fast forward a few years, and it becomes apparent that Super Mario Kart founded a new video game genre that refuses to die.
Spotting an easy way to milk various franchise characters, other game publishers quickly slapped together their own "kart racing" titles for almost every game console.
You can get some idea of the industry-gripping kart-mania that Nintendo's title spawned by taking a look at this list of kart racers from video game database site MobyGames.
This impressive list, while incomplete, contains over 70 titles.
That makes Super Mario Kart one of the most influential video games of all time—a game in league with titles like Space Invaders, Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter II, and Doom.
Of course, Super Mario Kart also spawned a fan-favorite Nintendo franchise that continues on current Nintendo platforms.
Final Fantasy III
With its long, engaging storyline, compelling music, and excellent graphics, Final Fantasy III brought an atmospheric depth to turn-based RPGs that had been lacking on Western shores up to that point.
Developer Square packed the title with unprecedented graphical detail that rendered a fully formed world with blasting steam pipes, grungy streets, and scurrying rats.
The high quality of its writing (and English translation) made fans feel more connected to its characters than in most other games.
And its combat system—simple for novices, yet engaging for those who dug a little deeper—became the envy of RPG developers.
All these qualities combined to form a game that some say is still one of the best RPGs of all time, despite having been released in 1994.
Super Mario World
As the Super NES's pack-in game for most of the console's lifespan, Super Mario World defined platform gaming on the Super NES much in the same way Super Mario Bros.
did for its 8-bit precursor.
This cartoonish adventure introduced new graphical layering and parallax scrolling effects that showed off the Super NES's visual hardware and entertained with a lively sampled soundtrack.
It pushed the boundaries of what we thought was possible in a Mario game by providing an enormous selection of levels packed with secrets to unlock.
And best of all, it introduced Yoshi, Mario's mountable dinosaur sidekick.
While Super Mario World feels slightly flawed compared with later Nintendo platformers, it's hard to deny the premier place Super Mario World holds in the Super NES game library.
When reaching for a SNES game you can play over and over again, it's hard to pass up Mario's first 16-bit adventure.
For those who didn't live through it, it's hard to relate how amazing Super Metroid was at the time of its release.
Nintendo executed nearly every element of this action-adventure title flawlessly, making it one of the most atmospheric, emotionally charged games on any platform.
No other video game of the day matched the sense of exploration granted by Super Metroid's skillfully crafted, enormous game world, a world replete with secret corridors and abundant variation.
In certain pockets of the map, you'd find gigantic, multi-screened bosses, unexpected power-ups, or poignant environmental touches like a harmless helper robot stuck on an abandoned spaceship.
Super Metroid captivated Nintendo fans by extending and embracing the storylines and settings of the first two Metroid games.
Veterans easily recognized areas, enemies, power-ups, and lore woven in from the original 1986 Metroid released on the NES.
Aside from renewing interest in the Metroid franchise, which is now bigger than ever, Super Metroid inspired the modern series of 2D Castlevania games that began with 1997's Symphony of the Night.
Super Metroid holds up just as well today as it did in 1994, so maybe it's time to pull out your dusty old Super NES and play it again.
If you don't own a Super NES, you can find it on the Nintendo Wii's Virtual Console download service.
Turn the lights down low and the sound up high, and enjoy getting lost in the world of Zebes.