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A Time Mages Guide to Video Game Systems – Super Nintendo

Happy Autumn, friends. Welcome back to the Dragon’s Beard!

Just in time to hear another tale from our friend, the Time Mage. Remember his stories about the video game system called Nintendo?

Well, as it turns out, Nintendo had a child, and its name was Super. Yes, they called it Super Nintendo. Ho, such a title is befitting a hero, perhaps a demon slayer.

Can you imagine it?

Ho there, is that Super Nintendo? They must be here to save us from the vicious cave troll! Three cheers for Super Nintendo, the champion who vanquished the bandits from our region! Ha! Ha!

Yes, old Balbo does enjoy a good laugh. Marius, please, tell us more!

Marius: Thank you, Balbo. And yes, Super Nintendo followed Nintendo. It was the next generation system for the brand, but it’s child…I have never thought of it like that. Interesting.

Well, for those who have not met me yet, my name is Marius Breaux. I am a Time Mage, and I have traveled from a distant realm and time where video games are one of the favored pastimes and enjoyed by everyone.

Video games filled the homes across the land. Children of all ages played them from dawn until dusk and into the wee hours of the night. Yes, before you ask, many chores were ignored. Lol.

That being said, I will tell you a story about a system that was close to the hearts of many, and bridged the gap between two important generations. This system, as Balbo mentioned, was super.

The Dawn of the SNES

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or as the children of the time called it, Super NES (SNES), was released in August of 1991. It was Nintendo’s 16-bit answer to Sega’s Genesis system during the Fourth Generation of home entertainment video game systems.

Nintendo was already a massively popular company and the one that most young gamers held a strong loyalty to. So, when this system came out, many of the gamers who grew up with the Nintendo, or NES, logically graduated to the Super NES.

Those loyal fans kept the system alive and well from 1990 to 2005 (longer than the Genesis) and pushed its sales to over 49 million units worldwide (also more than Genesis).

The 4th Generation Console War

As you might have guessed, the battle between the Super NES and the Sega Genesis is one of the biggest and most hard-fought console wars in history. Perhaps it was the biggest.

In the earlier years of this generation, Genesis had a strong lead. Then, during the middle years, the two systems continued to struggle to outdo one another with no clear winner.

It was not until the later years that Super NES took a strong lead. It is said, by many, that several games helped the system become the winner.

Games like Street Fighter II, Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario World, Super Mario All-Stars, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to The Past were best sellers and are still well regarded to this day.

Top Fantasy RPG Games on the SNES

Collectors like to keep an SNES ready to use in their game rooms because of all the great games it has. Let’s talk about a few of the memorable ones.

Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

The third game in the Legend of Zelda series, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, is set before the original two.

Released in April of 1992, this is one of those games that is often voted among the best games ever made. One of the best details about this action-adventure fantasy game is that it returns to the overhead perspective that The Legend of Zelda had. It has some of the most enjoyable gameplay you can find on the system with fun and catchy music and crisp and clean graphics. Truly the total package.

Expect to invest 16-24 hours into this one as you travel back and forth between the Light and Dark Worlds. Yes, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is the kind of game you will want to play over and over. Whether it be for nostalgic reasons, the heartfelt storyline, or just because of the enjoyable gameplay.

Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen

In 1993, this real-time tactical RPG was released. 10/10 gameplay pushes this game to the top of many people’s lists.

Take command! It’s time to arrange your characters into units and then organize those armies from the 100s of units possible. Once ready, send them out to battle the enemy on the map. They will fight until their leader is dead and then return to your home base.

Sounds interesting, right? Well, there is a lot of fine-tuning and many details to manage, from alignment to equipment.

But let’s not ignore the good graphics and music too. To break this down further, the characters look great, but the rest of the graphics are fine and acceptable by today’s standards. The music fits the game and creates a nice ambiance; granted, at times, it can become a little repetitive.

Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen promises hours of engaging gameplay. To be honest, this is one of those games that some people will invest many more hours into than others. It all depends on how much time you take tinkering around and forming units.

Expect to put 40-80 hours in. Maybe more. And the replayability on this one is massive. Many gamers have played it at least two times through.

Super Mario RPG

This massively popular game sold over 200,000 copies off the shelves of stores in one month. That is an impressive statistic for 1996, when people did not order games online or have them automatically downloaded on release day.

Remember, this is back when you needed to make time to go to the store and pick up a copy. Sometimes, even go to multiple stores if it was sold out at one. Total sales are reported at around over 2.1 million.

Super Mario RPG brings together Mario and his friends to battle off with the Smithy Gang. It is important to note that this is the first role-playing game for the Mario series of games and gets high reviews due to its fun and attractive 3D-rendered graphics as well as its overall comedy.

Super Mario RPG contains turn-based combat and offers similar features found in the popular Final Fantasy game series, making it an enjoyable experience overall.

Often scoring 90% or higher grades, Super Mario RPG is a sure bet for fans of many genres. It depends on your style of play and how familiar you are with this style of game. Veteran RPG gamers might be able to finish this one in under 15 hours. While newer gamers may take longer and up to 30+ hours. Regardless, the time will be well spent.

Final Fantasy III (VI)

Once more we travel back to the classic and famous series of Final Fantasy. This installment, Final Fantasy VI was released October 1994 under the name of Final Fantasy III in North America.

This may sound confusing…OK…it is confusing. Honestly, even using my Time Mage powers, I have a hard time wrapping my head around his. Apparently, in Japan, the Final Fantasy series had released a bunch more games that had never reached North America.

In fact, they had already released FF III and FF V. So, for some odd reason, when this game was released in Japan, and was brought to North America, they just fit it in with the next sequential number. I guess that makes sense.

Regardless, this Final Fantasy game, whatever number you wish to assign it, is given top scores by gamers and fans of the series. Like many of the games on this list, it is considered one of the best games ever made and has received widespread critical acclaim for its graphics, soundtrack, story, characters, setting, and surprisingly mature themes. Yep, this one has won numerous awards.

Combat is like the past games of the series, and other games of the generation. It is turn-based and menu-based. With fourteen playable main characters and a few others who will join the team for a bit, it has a large cast.

Japanese composer Nobuo Uematsu provides the soundtrack, which became so popular that it was released separately as three CDs.

Worry not, gamers, if you missed this one on Super NES, you can play it on PlayStation or grab a ported copy on a current generation system. Expect to play this one for at least 35…but more likely 65+ hours. 


Released in May of 1992, Arcana was a little different than the other RPGs on the system at the time. The characters in Arcana, a fun dungeon crawler, are represented by artistically designed cards.

So, while you might think it is a card game, it is a role-playing game. Don’t be surprised if one of your cards gets torn in half when a character dies.

Since Arcana offered a different twist on familiar RPG games, it was not well received by all RPG fans. Some people enjoyed the first-person dungeon-crawling experience because of its similarities to Dragon Warrior games. Others found the game too hard or boring.

Either way, Arcana presented a challenge that many gamers were surprised to face. Turns out, the way it was designed with limited ability and opportunity to save led to many moments where players had to do parts (or entire) dungeons over.

Since you were running around, basically blind, there were times when you might suddenly happen upon a boss battle. And if you were unprepared for that battle and one of your character’s died, it was game over, man. Gamer over. No Rudo to carry your dead teammates out of the dungeon (that’s a throwback to our Phantasy Star 2 review).

If you stay alive and don’t have to redo much, you might be able to finish this one in 13 hours, says many gamer sites. But I would guess this is probably closer to 20 hours to complete.

Chrono Trigger

And we have a Bonus review by one of the Three Brothers of Tabletop Beard!

This is Jason, one of the owners of Tabletop Beard, and Marius; thank you for allowing me the honor of writing about my favorite game of all time.

Chrono Trigger came out in 1995 and is a game that I come back to every 2 or 3 years. And no other RPG has managed to captivate me the way this one has.

Chrono Trigger is, for all intents and purposes, a time-traveling RPG featuring character and world designs by the legendary manga artist, Akira Toriyama. He’s the same guy who did character design for the Dragon Quest series and is well known for creating the most famous Shonen anime of all time, Dragon Ball Z.

The combat, loot system, and storyline may be a bit too simple and linear for modern tastes, but I believe that simplicity gives the game its charm (maybe you’ll get that prism helm!). A single play-through only takes about 20-25 hours, and every one of those hours is spent progressing through the enchanting story without the need for repetitive grinding or backtracking.

The game has its dramatic moments mixed with large doses of humor (some that I didn’t pick up on until later in life). And the sidequests are relegated to a particular point in the game that you can skip if you’d like.

This all adds up to a casual-friendly experience that is challenging at times, with multiple endings and a “new game plus” option that gives the game a ton of replayability.

So, if you’ve ever had a passing interest in the game, give it a shot! I’d recommend the Nintendo DS version if you can track it down. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with settling for the versions available on mobile and PC. (I hear there’s even an HD remake in the works)

Honorable Mentions

Unfortunately, it is not possible to cover all the best fantasy RPGs on the SNES with the limited time we have, but other notable RPG titles on the system include:

  • Secret of Mana
  • Secret of Evermore
  • Illusion of Gaia
  • Breath of Fire
  • Earthbound
  • Lufia & the Fortress of Doom
  • Shadowrun

Talk about a robust selection!


SNES corned the market on JRPGS (Japanese Role-Playing Games), which was just one of the reasons it was such a popular system. The other reasons included the performance of the hardware, which included better sound RAM than the Sega Genesis. 

Not to mention an amazing catalog. Games like Super Metroid and Super Mario Kart had gamers buzzing with excitement. The SNES can be proud of its library of 1,751 official game releases.

Did you own one back in the day? Or do you own one now?