Street Fighter II: Turbo
Street Fighter II was the biggest arcade game of its day and the exclusive conversion was a huge system seller for Nintendo, to the extent that the Turbo edition was bundled with the SNES in the standard UK pack for a long while. You don't need us to tell you that this is one of the finest fighting games ever made, featuring highly polished mechanics and some of the best known characters in video gaming history (we'll just try to forget about the notorious Jean-Claude Van Damme film). The SNES version is available on Wii Virtual Console, while 360 owners can enjoy a fine conversion of the arcade original on Xbox Live Arcade. Don't forget Hyper Street Fighter II on the PS2, either.
Final Fantasy II
Before the arrival of the PlayStation, the SNES was the major system for console RPGs. It was here that Enix turned Dragon Quest into a Japanese national phenomenon, and that Square would unveil classics like Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana. The holy grail for European RPG fans, however, was Square's Final Fantasy IV, released in the US as Final Fantasy II and - tragically - never released in the UK. Despite this, the game garnered a cult following over here, wowing British gamers with its deep story, vast landscapes and previously unimaginable depth. We were used to games with a dozen or so characters, but Final Fantasy II had a cast of hundreds. In many respects, it laid the foundations for the later worldwide success of Final Fantasy VII. Now renamed to fit in with the Japanese chronology as Final Fantasy IV, the game was remade for the Game Boy Advance, while a new 3D update is expected shortly on the DS. Confusingly the US sequel, Final Fantasy III, was a westernisation of the Japanese Final Fantasy VI, meaning Final Fantasy V wouldn't get a release outside of Japan until the Final Fantasy Anthology compilation some years later.
The strength of the SNES library shows in the fact that there simply isn't room here to cover all the greats, which means leaving games as superb as Super Mario Kart, F-Zero, Donkey Kong Country, Stunt Race FX and Contra III out of our round-up. Starfox (or Starwing as it was known over here) isn't necessarily a better game than any of those, but it was revolutionary. The first console game to really show off the power of polygonal 3D graphics, it was also a superb example of how to take a high-end genre - the 3D space shooter - and make it work for mainstream gamers. At the time the flat-shaded 3D visuals seemed awesome, while the interplay between Fox and his anthropomorphised animal sidekicks gave the game a distinctive Nintendo appeal. Fox's adventures have had their ups and downs on the N64, GameCube and DS formats, but his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl shows that Nintendo might still have work for him yet. Sadly, the original Starfox is unavailable on the Wii Virtual Console, though its N64 sequel, Lylat Wars, is.
Street Fighter II: Turbo