18 Best SNES ROM Hacks Worth Playing

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Even to this day, the SNES library is loved by fans.

Anyone who’s had a chance to play 16-bit classics like Super Mario World or The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past know how charming the graphics, sound profile, and feel of the simple controls can be.

Now over 30 years after its original release, nostalgic fans and retro enthusiasts keep declaring their love for the console, discussing the best games on the system, and modding games to create new fun reasons to explore old titles.

Randomized dungeons, improved sprites, and renewed storylines are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SNES ROM hacks.

If any of these piques your interest and you want to give ROM hacks a try, here are my rankings for the absolute best SNES hacks you can play right now.

18. Mega Man X3 Zero Project (Mega Man X3)

Mega Man X3 Zero Project Hack

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Many think the third installment in the Mega Man X series is the last truly great game in the franchise.

But there’s one area where Mega Man X4 and subsequent titles surpass it: Zero as a playable character.

MMX3 Zero Project simply makes it possible to go through the entire game as Zero, going so far as to modify dialogues for his inclusion to remain story-friendly.

His Z-Saber’s damage is also scaled during boss fights to keep them fair, as it’s much easier to hit some enemies with a melee attack than others.

You won’t regret trying out this polished new take on the classic jump-and-shoot adventure.

 

17. Link to the Past Randomizer (ALTTP)

Link to the Past Randomizer gameplay

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One of the most popular ROM hacks among SNES streamers is Link to the Past Randomizer, which allows you to take the classic TLoZ and run it through a program that shuffles key item locations like the Master Sword or the Fire Rod.

This way, you may find stuff like the Boomerang in the very first chest you open. Or never see it until you’re about to clear the last dungeon.

And that’s half the fun!

The game’s objective changes from defeating Ganon to clearing every dungeon with the items you uncover, guaranteeing a different experience every time.

 

16. Hyper Street Kart (Super Mario Kart)

Hyper Street Kart ROMHack screenshot

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There’s hardly a soul that’s played the original Mario Kart on the SNES and thought “meh”.

No, this is not a “meh” game. It’s arguably one of the best Mario Kart titles ever made.

It’s charming, the tracks are exciting, and it’s undoubtedly the best racer on the system.

Hyper Street Kart takes this excellent game as a basis and replaces every character with fighters from the Street Fighter series.

But it doesn’t stop there. As the entire game’s aesthetic is replaced by that of Capcom’s classic brawler.

It even adds some entirely new tracks based on the franchise and replaces green shells with Hadouken fireballs.

And if you want even more Super Mario Kart hacks we’ve compiled a huge list of our favorites. There’s even a SpongeBob version!

 

15. SMW2+ (SMW2: Yoshi’s Island)

SMW2+ ROM Hack

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Yoshi’s Island is easily one of the mustached plumber’s most well-loved games, and it barely features him at all!

If you’re one of the many that prefer SMW2 over the original, consider SMW2+, which adds 54 entirely new levels to the game.

The creator knows the vanilla game inside-out, so they managed to replicate the same quality and style of Yoshi’s Island.

Not only that, but the difficulty curve is perfect, which is something most hackers can’t quite achieve.

 

14. Oh No! More Zombies Ate My Neighbors

Oh No! More Zombies SNES hack

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Another ROM hack that endeavors to give you more of the original game’s charm is Oh No! More Zombies Ate My Neighbors, which adds 55 new levels to the zombie-killing classic.

It works as a sort of unofficial sequel, keeping with the same fantastic quality as the original.

There are more items, new enemies, and even some expanded gameplay that go a long way to revitalize this top-down co-op adventure.

It’s a lot of fun, especially for fans of the original.

 

13. Yoshi’s Strange Quest (SMW)

Yoshi’s Strange Quest SNES hack

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For those who loved Yoshi as a playable character in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, but couldn’t stand that damn Italian baby, well try Yoshi’s Strange Quest.

This SMW hack lets you play as the cute green dinosaur without having to babysit.

Instead, you’re trying to get your stolen eggs back.

The story is told through a series of custom cutscenes and dialogue that bind the experience together in a surreal, humorous kind of way.

It can be pretty hard to clear. But with Yoshi’s egg-throwing skills and some patience, you’ll start to appreciate the challenge put into these polished levels.

 

12. Metroid Super Zero Mission (Super Metroid)

Metroid Super Zero Mission ROM Hack

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If you liked both Super Metroid on the SNES and Metroid: Zero Mission on the GBA, then this mash-up of the two should be right up your alley.

It takes the stylistic choices that made each of them so good and combines them into a very polished new experience.

As any good Metroid game should, this ROM hack greatly rewards exploration and presents challenging but fair puzzles.

If you’re an expert gamer and lover of retro gaming, you’ll get to show off your skills from time to time.

But it’s mostly made for the average Joe to enjoy too. So excessive difficulty is not something to worry about.

 

11. SMW: Return to Dinosaur Land (SMW)

SMW: Return to Dinosaur Land hack

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SMW2: Yoshi’s Island was closer to an entirely new game than a sequel to the original Super Mario World.

SMW: Return to Dinosaur Land is a ROM hack that comfortably takes its place as SMW’s true sequel.

It’s focused on level design rather than changing the story or introducing flashy graphics, so you’ll quickly forget it’s an unofficial release.

Among its most innovative additions are Ice and Water levels to freshen up gameplay as you run through each level.

All these changes are masterfully accomplished and reasonably challenging, but not so much that you need to repeat every level over 20 times over before giving up. This really is beatable, so it’s a good middle ground for anyone who hasn’t picked up a SNES controller in years.

 

10. Earthbound Halloween Hack: Bad Fur Day Edition

Halloween Hack of Earthbound

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Before going on to make the worldwide sensation that is Undertale, Toby Fox tried his hand at developing a hack for beloved classic Earthbound.

The result was the Halloween Hack, recognized as one of the most disturbing and mentally-scarring ROM hacks ever created.

And trust me, it’s not an overstatement.

This game is Silent Hill levels of messed up.

Its narrative is well constructed, and it marks the first appearance of the meme-tastic song Megalovania, otherwise known as Sans’ theme from Undertale.

Great SNES hack, just be mentally prepared first.

 

9. Chrono Trigger: Prophet’s Guile

Chrono Trigger Prophets Guile ROM Hack

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One of the best hacks available for RPG classic Chrono Trigger is Prophet’s Guile, an expansion that follows the story of Magus as he rises to power in the Kingdom of Zeal.

It picks up right after the first fight with Magus in the original Chrono Trigger, after he’s sent back in time to 12.000 B.C.

There you’ll play through the events as he enthralls the Queen and silences opposition to become the Prophet of Zeal.

It’s about two chapters long, and it’s an amazing companion piece to the original game that greatly fleshes out that side of the story. Plus it gives you much more empathy for the dark mage.

You can learn a bit more on this page detailing the hack.

 

8. Secret of Mana: Relocalized

Secret of Mana: Relocalized Hack

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Back in the day, the process of localizing games from Japan for worldwide release was often done carelessly. Many times treating Western audiences like bumbling idiots who couldn’t handle complex storytelling.

The fantastic RPG Secret of Mana was one of the many victims of censorship and lack of appreciation for the original material, resulting in a terrible translation (on the SNES anyway) that’s become famous as an example of bad practices.

This ROM hack attempts to fix the issue. It restores the translation’s accuracy and fixes things that were butchered in the American release, such as the title screen’s background and ability names.

Nobody should play the original Secret of Mana without this fix ever again.

 

7. Super Metroid Redesign

Super Metroid Redesign ROM Hack

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Super Metroid Redesign is easily one of the most popular and well-reviewed hacks for the classic platformer, featuring a much bigger planet Zebes that’s full of secrets to uncover and new challenges to overcome.

While its added difficulty is one of its main features, the hack’s scope goes much further. It adds new items and abilities, and tweaks the base game’s physics for a more fluid experience that helps your skills truly shine.

Give it a try, see what you think. Fans will love it.

 

6. Flames of Eternity (Chrono Trigger)

Flames of Eternity ChronoTrigger hack

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Known by the community as the most ambitious Chrono Trigger hack to date, Flames of Eternity aims to bridge the gap between Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross.

It features a whole new game’s worth of content, and the amount of work that’s gone into it is insane.

New sprites, new music, new scenarios… there really is a lot to go through in this fantastic hack, which puts you in control of Magus right after the collapse of the Kingdom of Zeal.

The game isn’t finished yet. In part because its leading developer up and vanished, as often happens in online communities. But it’s already fully playable so you can actually get through it if you want. Give it a try!

 

5. FFVI: Return of the Dark Sorcerer (Final Fantasy VI)

FF6 Return of Dark Sorcerer

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In the same vein as our previous entry lies FFVI: Return of the Dark Sorcerer.

It’s an entirely new game built upon FFVI’s engine and appropriating a lot of its assets.

It features an original story with new characters, movesets, and enemies, including some cameos from other franchises like the explosive penguin Prinnys from Disgaea.

Some of the game’s most notable technical step-ups regarding the original FFVI are the addition of a difficulty selection, the ability to sprint on the world map, and even a music player!

 

4. FFVI: Ted Woolsey Uncensored Edition (Final Fantasy VI)

FF6 Ted Woolsey Edition ROM Hack

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If you’re looking for something less revolutionary for FF6, I’d recommend the Ted Woolsey Uncensored Edition.

Easily the best version of the game you can get your hands on.

As with many other SNES titles, the game’s original Western release was heavily censored and altered to cater to a younger audience.

It followed the philosophy that video games are for kids, because grown-ups aren’t allowed to have fun. Poo on that.

This hack combines the work of many fan translators to create a version that’s both more accurate, but true to the nuanced phrasing of the original translation, minus the censorship.

It also fixes a ton of bugs and restores cut sprites, so there’s basically no reason to play the original version over this.

 

3. New Super Mario World 2: Around the World

New Super Mario World 2 ROM Hack

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One of the best ROM hacks for one of the best SNES games had to get one of the top spots in our ranking.

Yes, I’m talking about New Super Mario World 2: Around the World.

Bowser has kidnapped Princess Toadstool and is holding her hostage on a space station where he plots to destroy the world.

Of course, it’s up to Mario to go on tour through an extensive collection of entirely new levels, defeating the Koopa King’s minions and eventually rescuing his favorite monarch.

What sets this game apart from the chaff is how polished it is despite its massive scope, which includes updated visuals, new mechanics like wall-jumping, and numerous secrets. Grab a copy and see for yourself what it’s all about.

 

2. Hyper Metroid (Super Metroid)

Hyper Metroid ROM Hack

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The prefix “Hyper” denotes something of greater intensity than “Super”. And that’s precisely the driving principle behind this amazing ROM hack for Samus’ SNES adventure.

It transforms the entire game, not only overhauling Planet Zebes with many new areas and challenges, but giving the game a much darker ambiance and storyline.

Hyper Metroid also features a sophisticated weapons system that’s unlike anything seen previously in similar hacks. This complements the fast-paced gameplay and fluid physics quite nicely.

It’s considerably harder than the original.

But it was designed with a sensible learning curve to make it approachable for beginners, so be sure to give it a go if you’ve got the chops.

 

1. Legend of Zelda: Parallel Worlds (ALTTP)

Legend of Zelda: Parallel Worlds ROM Hack

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But if you’re going to play a single game on this list, let it be Parallel Worlds. This is an LoZ: Link to the Past ROM hack that renews the entire experience.

Dungeons, the overworld, and even the music have been entirely redone to fit the brand-new story.

It’s perfect to re-live the game’s classic charm, but with a lot of new content to spice things up.

And I mean a lot of new content.

Just be advised that the difficulty is cranked up several notches, so make sure you’ve played the original before you jump in.

It also never tells you what you’re supposed to be doing, providing hints for you to figure it out instead. If you hate games that hold your hand way too much, this’ll be a welcome change of pace.

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Nelson Chitty

Nelson Chitty is a Venezuelan expat living in Argentina. He’s a writer and translator passionate about history and foreign cultures. His ideal weekend is spent between leisurely games of Civilization VI and looking for the next seinen anime to marathon.