The Ancients foretold the coming of SNES games to Nintendo Switch Online, and lo, the day hath finally arrived. I'll be the first to admit Nintendo's online service for the Switch hasn't been stellar so far, but I'm happy to see its SNES library is off to a strong start. There are some good games in the starting line-up, in addition to some rare games I wasn't expecting to see.
There are 20 games in the opening SNES salvo, and the selection ranges from action classics like Yoshi's Island and Super Metroid to adventure/RPG favorites like Breath of Fire and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. For comparison's sake, the launch of Switch Online's NES library contained a lot of single-screen arcade titles and first-generation black box games. These aren't bad, of course, but if you're going to give me a choice between playing Ice Climbers and Super Metroid, just beam me directly down to Planet Zebes. Don't even wait for me to put on a space suit.
Moreover, Switch Online's NES library didn't have too many surprises, whereas the SNES line-up has a few. Here are some worth pointing out.
Joe and Mac 2: Lost in the Tropics (1994) - This side-scrolling platform adventure from Data East is all about cavemen enlisting the help of dinosaurs to beat up ornery Neanderthals. I suggest using it as the basis for a college paleontology research project: Your professor will be thrilled. Joe and Mac 2 is a solid 2D action title for one or two players that, to the best of my knowledge, never made it to any iteration of the Virtual Console. Well, here it is. Hurl those stone axes to your primitive heart's content.
Breath of Fire (1993) - Capcom's cult RPG series got its start on the SNES, as you can see for yourself. Interestingly, Breath of Fire 2 showed up on the Virtual Console, but the first game is a bit of a rarity. Its localization was handled by Squaresoft, so there might have been some rights issues to untangle. While subsequent Breath of Fire games surpass the first one several times over, it's still a fun, basic RPG with uniquely cool features like dragon transformations. It also looks great and was one of the only RPGs at the time to offer animated enemy sprites.
Stunt Race FX (1994) - This FX chip-powered racing game is rare enough that even Nintendo pointed out this is the first time we've seen it since its original SNES launch. Stunt Race FX isn't the smoothest ride in town, but it's cute as heck. You get to wind around twisted tracks, jump off ramps, and perform other fun stunts. You should have a good time—provided the game's chunky frame rate doesn't make you terrifically motion sick.
Star Fox (1993) - The first Super FX-powered game, and probably the best. Don't mistake me: Star Fox is imperfect, to say the least. You're lucky to squeeze 15 frames per second from this 3D shooter. At the same time, I'm stoked Nintendo included it in its debut SNES Switch game line-up. It's exactly the kind of title I love going back to for nostalgia's sake, but I don't exactly want to pay for it. Heck, Star Fox is worth opening just for its soundtrack alone. The background music for the Space Armada fight is one of the best space battle themes ever composed.
Super Puyo Puyo 2 (1992) - There's been a real effort to push the puzzle sensation Puyo Puyo on North American Switch owners, and you know what? I'm here for this effort. M2 recently gave us a good Switch port of the first Puyo Puyo, but it's pretty difficult—possibly because it's an arcade game and therefore engineered to gobble up quarters. Puyo Puyo 2 found enormous success in Japan thanks to some new features and a little rebalancing, but it's been largely absent from this side of the world. That's all changed now, so visit the Switch's SNES games menu and start stacking up those mean beans. You're not going to find too many other puzzle games where the protagonist gets mugged by an owl bear on the opening stage.
More SNES games are coming down the pipe, so keep an eye on our Nintendo Switch Online guide for updates as they occur.
Header art via The Cover Project