The 10 best 16-Bit games ever!

Not content to let the past go peacefully, we look back at a generation of video games that started the first console war, brought arcade games back from the brink, and showed gamers what 3D graphics could do in a cartridge.

  • #10: Mortal Kombat II (GEN, SNES)

    Original GamePro Score: 4.5 out of 5 Stars (GEN), 5 out of 5 Stars (SNES)

    Claim To Fame: Mortal Kombat II brought even more blood to the fighting genre, and it also loosened Nintendo's censorship noose, finally letting the gore flow freely on the Super Nintendo.

    Mortal Kombat definitely had something the competition didn't have in 1993, and that was gore. It had rivers full of human parts, bone and blood. When this sequel to the original hit fighter finally came to consoles, the buckets and barrels full of flesh, guts and other meaty chunks of the human body were all still there. Sure, the Genesis version had a few more Easter Eggs in stock and the SNES version had better graphics, but the ultra violent action looked just as deadly on any console.
  • #9: Sonic & Knuckles (GEN)

    Original GamePro Score: 5 out of 5 Stars

    Claim To Fame: Aside from being a ground-breaking game with unique dock-and-lock technology, Sonic & Knuckles raised awareness on what the heck an actual echidna looks like.

    In the twilight years of the Sega Genesis, Sega created a game that finally pitted Sonic the Hedgehog against a new character with attitude and speed to match. Even better, Sonic & Knuckles added unprecedented replay value to past Sonic titles, thanks to the cartridge's lock-in dock feature that let players revisit old games with Knuckles. That was space technology, as far as many gamers were concerned, and they relished the chance to float and glide through Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 with this new, even edgier Sega character -- at least, he was edgy before he got demoted to becoming one of 60 Sonic sidekicks.
  • #8: Mega Man X (SNES)

    Original GamePro Score: N/A

    Claim To Fame: Revived the Mega Man franchise with the first of what would be several games in the X series. It's also responsible for the horrible anime spin-offs, but we can ignore that.

    The "X" in Mega Man X wasn't just a lame attempt to make the game sound cool. No, the gameplay and story did that all by itself. No one really knew what they were in for with this title, which would be the precursor to a massive future reboot of the Mega Man canon, one that still carries on today. Mega Man X tried its best to ease gamers into this bold, new future with enormous explosions, hard bosses and slick visuals -- and almost a full series later, no single Mega Man game has made quite as much an impact as this first one.
  • #6: Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (SNES)

    Original GamePro Score: N/A

    Claim To Fame: Squaresoft's successful foray into the Super Mario franchise proved itself to be both a sleeper hit and a best seller, not to mention one of the world's rarest SNES games today.

    If you told gamers in the Nintendo/Sega wars that the mustachioed marvel would be ruling the shelves with a solid RPG title during 1996, the laughter would have stretched for miles. However, Nintendo and Squaresoft may have crazy, but they proved that they were on to something, as Super Mario RPG proved to be every bit as engrossing and enjoyable as the best Final Fantasy games. And, for only the second time in almost a decade, Prince Peach finally got off her lazy duff and actually helped her beloved plumber boy save the world. That alone is worthy of notice to any Nintendo fan. Go, Peach, kill faster!
  • #7: Super Metroid (SNES)

    Original GamePro Score: 5 out of 5 Stars

    Claim To Fame: Super Metroid won tons of praise for its gameplay, graphics and presentation, while it also made use of the "auto-fill map" mechanic synonymous with the game's exploration-based action.

    Super Metroid is one of those games that just doesn't get boring no matter how many years it's been since you last played it. That's why it's on the Nintendo Wii right now, just beckoning you to get sucked into the world of Zebes, where powerups are scatted everywhere like delicious candy. When Super Metroid finally made its debut on the Super Nintendo, it actually sold a lot better in America than Japan, which is still a bit confusing to us westerners, given the country's love for girls, robots, and girls blowing stuff up in robot suits. Who in the world could resist that blonde, bounty-hunting beauty?
  • #5: Super Mario World (SNES)

    Original GamePro Score: N/A

    Claim To Fame: Super Mario World sold 20 million copies worldwide, which is a LOT more than what the next four games on this countdown combined would end up selling. Plus, it was the best platformer around in the 16-bit era.

    Every Nintendo system has a Mario game to grease the road to that magical place littered with bucketfuls of money, and Super Mario World rolled into 1991 with a stick of butter and a bottle of olive oil. Being packed in with the brand-new Super Nintendo system, everyone would end up playing Super Mario World by default, but it's still one of those titles that never seems to leave the house. Years later, common folks and scientific scholars still haven't figured out how to get a full 100 percent file on the game, and with so many levels researched back and forth over the years, it may be an urban myth.
  • #4: Final Fantasy VI (SNES)

    Original GamePro Score: 5 out of 5 Stars

    Claim To Fame: Final Fantasy VI is widely agreed as the best FF game on the SNES, as well as a landmark title for Japanese RPGs in terms of story, music, and a laundry list of other fine-tuned features.

    GamePro Magazine itself has gone on record about FFVI in the past: "Characters, plotlines, and multiple-choice scenarios all combine to form one fantastic game!" Fans were happy that the dialogue made it across the Pacific intact, along with the excellent orchestra-level music, about two dozen combat styles among all the main characters, and (at the time) the most awesome airship flight controls on a console game yet. FFVI capped off Square's SNES dominance with a bang, all while setting up the stage for an even bigger title that would change the RPG genre as mankind knew it.
  • #3: Chrono Trigger (SNES)

    Original GamePro Score: 5 out of 5 Stars

    Claim To Fame: Chrono Trigger was a masterpiece among a dense field of Japanese RPGs, crafted by the "Dream Team" of Sakaguchi, Horii, Toriyama, Aoki, Kato, Mitsuda and Uematsu.

    With a rich story, deep gameplay and memorable characters, Chrono Trigger's success was largely thanks to its high-profile team of creators, some of the best minds behind Squaresoft's Final Fantasy series and Enix's Dragon Quests. To the grand majority of RPG fans, this is the Holy Grail of the Super Nintendo, proof that once upon a time, Japanese RPGs could do no wrong. Chrono Trigger went on to sell like crazy in both Japan and America, and is considered by many to be one of the undusputed best role-playing games in history, and not just on the SNES system (it hasn't done too shabby on the Nintendo DS, either).
  • #2: Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting (SNES)

    Original GamePro Score: N/A

    Claim To Fame: SFII Turbo on the SNES bought even more speed to an already excellent formula of fisticuffs, plus it added new moves and color sets for Capcom fighters to brawl over.

    It's easy to think how innocent gamers once were. Back in 1993, the thought of playing as the same character in a fighting game was a pipe dream. But with this bigger, badder Street Fighter, you could finally settle once and for all who played a better Ryu. Street Fighter II Turbo hit homes pretty quickly after the arcade version did, and the ability to crank the speed all the way up to a whopping four stars made following your own character deliciously impossible. If you wanted to boast about reflexes, SFII Turbo was the place to run your fingers and your mouth, and it still holds up today as a tournament-worthy title.
  • #1: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)

    Original GamePro Score: 5 out of 5 Stars

    Claim To Fame: With more than four million copies sold, A Link to the Past is still one of the most successful Zelda adventures to date, and arguably the most memorable RPG of all time.

    A world of Lightness and Darkness, tons of dungeons, more items and weapons than you could count and a game full of secrets - what else could rank as the best game in the fourth generation of video game consoles? It's completely inadequate to say that A Link to the Past is an epic adventure, especially considering the fact that it had to follow the neglected Zelda II from the old NES days. Not only was A Link to the Past a return to some short roots for the series, but it was one of the longest games you could play just by collecting random crap and solving Hyrule's many, many mysterious side quests.
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