Today’s gamers live in a world where game makers and developers are continuously attempting to push the boundaries of how realistic and innovative their graphics and images can be. While it is a commendable objective for the business, there is much to be said about the nostalgic appearance of the past.
The fourth generation of gaming consoles, such as the SNES, Genesis, and others, were home to some of the industry’s most outstanding titles. Even recent games have resorted to employing retro-inspired aesthetics to introduce new, fan-favorite titles. In any case, the elegance of sprites and pixels never goes out of style.
1. Super Metroid (1994)
While Samus Aran and her travels across the galaxy were established in the first NES game, Super Metroid solidified her place and strength with one of the most spectacular 16-bit games ever made. Super Metroid, widely regarded as the SNES’ finest achievement, set a new bar for gaming.
2. Super Mario World (1990)
Mario has possibly the longest and most extensive career of any video game character, but Super Mario World is the one game that everyone should play. Mario’s trip in Dinosaur Land was one of the sharpest and most innovative platformers of the day, and aspects of Mario’s adventure in Dinosaur Land have appeared in his games for decades.
It was the plumber’s definitive journey, with the series’ signature acrobatic platforming and huge environments. For those who didn’t grow up in the 1980s, this is perhaps one of the finest places to start learning about Nintendo’s iconic franchise.
3. Chrono Trigger (1995)
Chrono Trigger is widely regarded as one of the best RPGs ever developed, and it truly pushed the boundaries of what the genre could do. One of the most unusual titles on the SNES was created by combining so many themes and motifs such as sci-fi, fantasy, steampunk, and historical fiction.
It’s no surprise that the game has established such a reputation, with so many flavours of epicness, different endings, and various pathways to adventure. And it’s all done in the same iconic graphic manner as many of Square’s previous RPG classics.
4. Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night (1997)
Symphony of the Night was a bold title for the Castlevania series, one that not only reinvented the franchise but also helped usher in the Metroidvania era. It had one of the largest environments ever displayed in a platform game at the time, especially since the second half entirely turns Dracula’s castle upside down.
It goes without saying that the game has a stellar reputation. It established the gold standard for Metroidvanias because of its gothic aesthetic, great gameplay, and massive exploration aspects.
5. Sonic Mania (2017)
Sonic the Hedgehog’s career took an unexpected turn when he and his Mobian buddies transitioned to 3D games, as anybody who grew up with him knows. Sonic Mania was created because both Sega and the fans know that Sonic is at his best when he’s playing a fast-paced platformer.
The game effectively combines the finest of Sonic’s old games into one package. Long-time Blue Blur fans will enjoy everything from Green Hill Zone to Metallic Madness.
6. Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past (1991)
Since Link first appeared on consoles in the 1980s, the Zelda series has been a fan favourite, but A Link To The Past is a game that has had a significant effect on hundreds of others. It was one of the first games to completely represent the kingdom of Hyrule on a visual level, despite using the top-down format of the original.
The premise, puzzles, and monsters all came together in perfect harmony to create a fantasy journey with a 16-bit flair, despite the purple hair being a weird design decision. Blossom Tales and Hyper Light Drifter are two games that have followed Link’s call to adventure since then.
7. Yoshi’s Island (1995)
Yoshi’s Island on the SNES has an underrated aspect to it. While the artwork and imagery appear to be childish, there is a very inventive and delightful platforming game hidden behind all the Shy Guys, fluffy clouds, and crayon-inspired colour palette.
Following on from Super Mario World, this game puts a new spin on the Mario paradigm by not only adding Yoshi as the primary character, but also by delivering larger and more complicated stages to explore. It’s full of personality and fun, and it’s deserving of more attention.
8. CrossCode (2015)
The independent gaming industry is bursting to the seams with retro-inspired games, but CrossCode has to be one of the most beautiful that genuinely captures the spirit of the era. The game combines the top-down adventure format of a Zelda game with a future sci-fi aspect similar to those of titles like Phantasy Star, resulting in a distinct yet recognisable combination.
It’s a stunning adventure that feels completely at home with the greatest of the SNES’s offerings while also maintaining current gameplay. Simply told, Radical Fish Games comprehended the task.
9. Donkey Kong Country (1994)
Rare’s idea for Donkey Kong Country and its successors was genuinely ahead of its time, even if its aesthetics are a little archaic by today’s standards. Despite being slightly pixelated, the game’s designs and character models appear three-dimensional and less like their bit-sprite counterparts.
However, most current developers are unlikely to revert to this stylistic decision in the near future. But at the very least, it demonstrated what 16-bit can achieve.
10. Dragon Quest XI (2D Mode) (2017)
Most classic RPGs, particularly JRPGs, acknowledge that the 16-bit period was their heyday. Despite receiving several upgrades and jumping through many of the same hoops as its rivals, the Dragon Quest franchise reverted to its origins with Dragon Quest XI’s 2D mode.
The regular edition is without a doubt an exceptionally stunning image of a conventional swords-and-sorcery fantasy with amazing visuals, but the 2D form emphasises the series’ timeless nature. This should be the picture that springs to mind when players hear the phrase “JRPG.”
Samus’ journey to the planet Zebes, which takes up the first half of the Metroidvania game, is an extraordinarily eerie experience reminiscent of one of the Alien flicks. The isolated areas and creatures that lurk around every corner of the game’s winding and turning universe provide a remarkably deep experience for a 16-bit game.