Nintendo's SNES Classic Edition packs more than 20 of the greatest games of all time, but not all of them are created equal. While the $80 miniature console doesn't really have a bad game, there's a clear distinction between solid titles such as Contra III and Kirby's Dream Course and straight-up masterpieces like Super Mario World and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
So, to help you figure out what to play first on your new SNES Classic (assuming you've been lucky enough to snag one), here are all 21 games on Nintendo's retro box ranked from best to worst.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is an absolute masterpiece, offering a breathtakingly massive game world, challenging bosses and puzzles, and a sense of awe and adventure that still defines the Zelda franchise to this day. It's the first Zelda game that let players traverse parallel worlds, and made combat and exploration a blast thanks to new features, such as the hook shot and spin attack. Some of A Link to the Past's greatest innovations have carried over to Nintendo's stunning new Breath of the Wild, but for many Zelda fans, Link's first 16-bit outing is still his best. - Mike Andronico
Super Mario World is the quintessential 2D platformer, setting a standard that all games in the genre still aspire to today. Mario's 16-bit debut features lush, colorful worlds that took full advantage of the power of the SNES, and evolved the franchise's tight platforming by letting Mario ride Yoshi and glide around in a yellow cape. It's also jam-packed with fun stuff to do, with a sprawling overworld map filled with secret areas. Super Mario World's influence can be found in just about any modern 2D game. But more importantly, it's still an absolute joy to play more than 25 years since it debuted. - Mike Andronico
Super Metroid wowed with not only its action and exploration but also its awesome graphics, wonderful music and a variety of power-ups that made Samus Aran feel more powerful than ever before. Auto-mapping was a huge help, as it let players focus more on the action, and the haunting atmosphere of Zebes breathed new life into an already amazing series. - Andrew E. Freedman
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars probably didn't have to be an incredible game — but it was. Square Enix wasn't content to just plop Mario into a few turn-based battles and call it a day. Instead, it crafted an epic adventure for Mario, Bowser, Peach and a whole new cast of characters, featuring a frightening villain and a whole wonderful world to explore. Between the inventive battle system, the gorgeous isometric graphics and the memorable music, it's hard to pick a favorite part of Super Mario RPG, and even harder to put it down. - Marshall Honorof
Don't let the name fool you; Final Fantasy III on the Super Nintendo was actually Final Fantasy VI, and VI is one of the best games in the series. When a young sorceress named Terra rebels against an evil empire, she's joined by an eclectic cast of misfits, including an enthusiastic martial artist, a spoiled prince, a wandering swordsman, a professional gambler and a taciturn yeti. Final Fantasy VI marries excellent turn-based battles to a deep character customization system, which is topped off with unforgettable music and one of the very best villains in the series, Kefka Palazzo. - Marshall Honorof
Credit: Square Soft
Mega Man made the jump to 16 bits in Mega Man X, a classic side-scroller that combines combat, platforming and exploration into one of the most satisfying packages on the SNES. In the distant year of 21XX, an android called Mega Man X faces off with eight deadly animal-themed bosses, acquiring their powers along the way. With a memorable cast of characters, tons of secrets to find and a difficulty curve that's tough but fair, Mega Man X is as compulsively playable today as it was back in 1993. - Marshall Honorof
Aside from being a great platformer, Donkey Kong Country just might be the ultimate showcase of the Super Nintendo's power. The game's quasi-3D graphics and lushly rendered environments were mind-blowing at the time, and they still look pretty slick today. Donkey Kong Country also put a refreshing twist on the platforming genre, with fun and challenging gameplay that let you blast through barrels, ride minecarts and swap between Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong on the fly. - Mike Andronico