Nintendo’s Switch Online Super Nintendo offerings are… uneven, to say the least. Alongside flagship titles like Super Metroid and (finally) Earthbound, you’ve got trash like Bombuzal and Doomsday Warrior. In between, though, are some games that you might not be aware of, but are certainly worth your time. Here are seven SNES hidden gems on the Switch Online service that you should check out if you’ve already played the big hits to death.
1. Spanky’s Quest
The first thing you need to know about Spanky’s Quest is that the soundtrack absolutely bangs. Composed by Kyohei Sada, who you might know from his work on NES games like Contra and the unfortunately-titled S.C.A.T., it just sounds like nothing else on the console. The game itself is a simple arcade platformer with a somewhat unusual approach. Instead of the typical jumping on or otherwise directly defeating enemies, Spanky the monkey instead bounces a bubble on his head, which he can then pop to turn into one of a number of different kinds of sports balls. Fanbyte writer merritt k actually said this wasn’t a hidden gem back when it was first released on the Switch Online service last year, but what does that hack know? Spanky’s Quest is a fun title elevated by a unique soundscape, and it’s the only game I know of where you fight mutant fruit by pelting them with footballs.
A hop-and-bop platformer with a twist, Claymates casts you as a ball of clay that can transform into a range of animals, including a mouse, a duck, and a gopher, each with their own abilities. If it looks somewhat familiar, it’s probably because it was developed by Visual Concepts as a part of Interplay’s claymation-inspired game series, which also included the more well-known ClayFighter. The controls can be a little loose sometimes, and attempting to run as some animals (including the mouse in the first level) can send you wildly out of control, but Claymates has a unique vibe that’s full of personality, and playing it on the Switch allows you to overcome its biggest flaw — the lack of a password or battery save feature.
3. Psycho Dream
You wanna get nuts? Let’s get nuts. Developed by Riot (no, not that one), Psycho Dream is like a video game adaptation of a 90s OVA that never existed. You play as a “debugger” whose job it is to rescue people who have become obsessed with VR simulations and abandoned reality. How do you do that? Why, by diving into the virtual world and doing battle with all kinds of ghouls and gremlins, of course. Psycho Dream didn’t get released in North America — Riot’s parent company Telenet Japan planned a localization to follow the much less appealing Doomsday Warrior, but it never materialized. Critics at the time were not kind to Psycho Dream, but if you’re looking for something unusual in your action platformers, it’s well worth checking out. Yeah, it’s not going to reach the heights of a Mega Man X, but that game didn’t let you transform into a spinning fairy that fires homing laser beams at giant floating jellyfish.
4. The Ignition Factor
Not to be confused with The Firemen, The Ignition Factor is a strategic firefighting game that’s different from most top-down perspective games in that you’re, well, putting out fires and rescuing people instead of blowing stuff up. It isn’t as simple as “point extinguisher at flames,” though — you’ve got a variety of tools to work with, and success depends on selecting the appropriate ones for the mission.
5. Panel de Pon
Known better in the west as Tetris Attack and Puzzle League, Panel de Pon is my favorite action puzzle game of all time. Rather than having blocks fall from the top of the screen, they instead emerge from the bottom, and you can control the rate at which they advance. Your goal is to swap blocks around to create matches, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be building up elaborate combos that wipe out half the board. Panel de Pon isn’t translated on the Switch Online, but this isn’t the kind of game that you need a lot of text to understand anyway. It’s one of the best puzzle games on the Super Nintendo, and until Nintendo brings the series back, the Switch Online is the easiest way to play it.
6. Pop’n Twinbee
Only initially released in Europe and Japan, Pop’n Twinbee is an entry in Konami’s popular cute-em-up series where you fly through colorful worlds blasting everything in sight. It’s not too difficult compared to a lot of games in the genre, and you can play it alongside a friend, share health, and even set a mode where the AI will focus on targeting one player over the other. If you haven’t played many shoot-em-ups, Pop’n Twinbee is a great place to start.
7. Wild Guns
A third-person gallery shooter, Wild Guns is a pretty unique SNES game that especially shines with two players. Solo or with a friend, you fight through waves of enemies ranging from regular old cowboys to giant robots, ducking and dodging as you choose your shots, toss lassos, and set off dynamite to clear the screen. It’s tough, but more manageable in co-op. If you can’t get enough Wild Guns, there’s a remake available on the Switch and other platforms called Wild Guns Reloaded, which adds some new characters and enables four-player multiplayer.