20 Best Anime Games for SNES & Super FamicomThis post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something we may get a small commission at no extra cost to you. (Learn more).
Western audiences weren’t wild about “anime games” back when the SNES came out.
Still, the early 90s were full of anime-based releases for the Super Famicom – only released in Japan. A couple did make it abroad, but the vast majority remained in the far East.
Thanks to the advances in technology and how easy it is to emulate or acquire Japanese titles nowadays, 16-bit enthusiasts of the 2020s have a world of classic anime games at their fingertips.
If you’re ready to jump into a new world of 16-bit adventures based on your favorite old-school anime, check out the 20 best anime games on the SNES and Super Famicom.
20. Mazinger Z (JP) (1993)
All of our favorite 80s and 90s mecha anime series like Mobile Suit Gundam and Evangelion stood on the shoulders of giants like Mazinger Z.
The charm of this iconic early 70s show is beautifully captured in the Mazinger Z SFC beat-em-up, which pits the titular giant robot against many classic enemies from the show.
Juzo Kabuto’s justice-defending robot and the evil Mechanical Beasts look just like the anime, with detailed sprites and well-animated moves.
19. Magic Knight Rayearth (JP) (1995)
Before Sakura Card Captor, manga circle CLAMP gave us Magic Knight Rayearth – an early-90s magical girl series combining elements from mecha and Isekai.
Much like the anime, the SFC game follows high-school girls Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu on their quest to awaken the three Legendary Beasts and save the world of Cephiro.
This game features gorgeous sprites and super-colorful graphics. The soundtrack is also varied and very enjoyable.
That said, RPG veterans will find the game easy and repetitive. It’s perfect for RPG newbies or big fans of MKR.
It was never released abroad, but a fan-made English patch can be found here.
18. Cyborg 009 (JP) (1994)
One of my favorite anime shows as a kid was Cyborg 009 – based on a 1968 manga of the same name.
It follows nine people kidnapped by an evil organization and subjected to horrific experiments to turn them into super-powerful cyborgs who rebel against their creators shortly after.
You’ll enjoy solid action-platformer levels and the occasional shoot-em-up sequence. Each level lets you choose a three-man team of cyborgs with unique powers ideal for different situations.
Though the visuals are not bad, the game’s highlight is the fast-paced and exciting soundtrack.
17. Ashita no Joe (JP) (1992)
If you like boxing games like Taito’s Final Blow, you can’t overlook Ashita no Joe on the Super Famicom.
The game follows the titular Joe Yabuki as he takes on his most iconic adversaries in the ring, such as Toru Rikishi and José Mendoza.
Unlike other boxing games, Ashita no Joe disregards realism and focuses on its fun factor. The controls are easy to grasp, so anyone can jump in and have fun immediately.
This game shines for its challenging tournament mode and fun versus multiplayer, and it’s a must-play for any fans of the iconic early-70s series.
16. Captain Tsubasa 3: The Kaiser’s Challenge (JP) (1992)
I’ve never been a fan of video games like FIFA or International Superstar Soccer, yet I love Captain Tsubasa 3.
Because it’s an RPG.
You read that right. This game turns soccer into a unique turn-based RPG where you choose your character’s actions and see them play out in gorgeous cutscenes on-screen.
It’s a little weird at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s hard to put down. It succeeds at capturing the excitement of do-or-die moments where only Hyuga’s Tiger Shot or Tsubasa’s Overdrive Shot can rescue the match and earn you the win.
15. Dragon Ball Z: Hyper Dimension (JP) (1996)
DBZ fighters have been a hit worldwide, but most Western players never got a chance to try out Hyper Dimension on the Super Famicom.
This Street Fighter-like title was the most technical DBZ fighter ever made before Dragon Ball FighterZ came out in 2018.
It features detailed, well-shaded sprites and an exciting roster of characters, including SS2 Goku, Majin Vegeta, SS3 Gotenks, Majin Buu, Final Form Frieza, and Perfect Cell.
Get the fan translation here.
14. Osu!! Karate Club (JP) (1994)
Most of us are familiar with the Japanese youth delinquent aesthetic from shows like Cromartie High School and characters such as Jotaro or Kakyoin from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 3.
Osu!! Karate Club is based on a 1985 manga of the same name featuring burly bad-asses duking it out for honor, glory, and respect.
This game lets you experience the action first-hand, with a story that loosely follows the manga and gorgeous sprites.
The gameplay is similar to the classic Street Fighter II with the addition of a complex “Ki” meter mechanic determining what moves you can use. It’s pretty deep and fun to master.
13. Hyper Iria (JP) (1995)
Hyper Iria is a short and sweet action-adventure title based on Iria: Zeiram the Animation, a 1994 prequel to the 1991 live-action sci-fi flick ZËIЯAM.
The game follows bodacious bounty hunter Iria as she takes on dangerous jobs until finally facing the movie’s villain, Zeiram.
Two things stand out in Hyper Iria: the meticulously detailed graphics and the unforgettable soundtrack.
Along with exploring levels and facing enemies with guns and close-quarters combat, there are also some fantastic shoot-em-up sections, which is always a big win.
Check out the fan-made English translation here.
12. UN Squadron (Area 88) (1991)
Here’s one you probably weren’t expecting!
The classic horizontal shoot-em-up UN Squadron is based on early 80s manga Area 88, which received an OVA adaptation in 1985 and a complete anime series in 2004.
Despite being released so early in the console’s life, this title is one of the best horizontal shoot-em-ups in the system. It has a very stable framerate, which adds to the enjoyment.
The gameplay is top-notch, and the music is catchy as hell.
11. Slayers (JP) (1994)
If you’re a fan of fantasy scenarios a-la Dungeons & Dragons and you still haven’t watched Slayers, you’re missing out. The same goes for Slayers fans who still haven’t tried this RPG.
Slayers on the Super Famicom plays almost exactly like Dragon Quest.
You’ll explore towns, dungeons, and forests having first-person turn-based battles against various monsters and recruiting beloved characters from the series as you experience action, adventure, and comedy in equal measure.
The plot – which follows an amnesiac Lina Inverse – is one of the game’s highlights and features an incredible plot twist that’ll blow your mind, so make sure to get the English patch.
10. Nangoku Shounen Papuwa-kun (JP) (1994)
Nangoku Shounen Papuwa-kun follows Papuwa – a grass skirt-clad islander kid with superhuman abilities – and his friends as they deal with various groups seeking the mysterious power of two magical stones.
However, that’s beside the point.
Even if you have no idea what the anime is about, the incredible, fast-paced gameplay and gorgeous graphics should be enough to try this.
It’s a mix of a platformer, a beat-em-up, and an RPG with top-notch graphics reminiscent of Kirby Super Star that you can’t overlook.
This English patch should make getting into this Super Famicom game easier.
9. Dragon Ball Z Super Gokuden: Totsugeki-Hen (JP) (1995)
DBZ Super Gokuden: Totsugeki-Hen is a charming RPG that takes you through Goku’s early life – from his time with Grandpa Gohan, to his epic fight against the Namekian King Piccolo.
The game shines for its faithfulness to the source material and a unique take on turn-based combat that speeds things up by mapping your moves to specific keys.
The graphics, the music, and storyline perfectly mirror the world-famous Dragon Ball anime. If you’re a long-time fan, it’ll surely tug on your heartstrings.
To enjoy it to the fullest, you’ll need this English patch.
8. Ghost Sweeper Mikami: Exorcist’s Nice Body (JP) (1993)
For something a little bit more fast-paced, try out Ghost Sweeper Mikami.
This Castlevania-like action-platformer is based on a 1993 anime that follows the eponymous Mikami as she battles yokai, ghosts, and demons as a private exorcist.
Mikami is well-known for her nice figure and impeccable fashion sense. This is noticeable in the game’s detailed sprites and the fact that she changes the color of her outfit on every level.
Two things I loved in Ghost Sweeper Mikami were the wide variety of enemies based on Japanese mythology and the game’s forgiving difficulty.
7. Ranma ½: Hard Battle (1993)
One of the very few anime games to make it abroad without hiding its anime origins was Ranma ½: Hard Battle.
Hard Battle was the second Super Famicom Ranma ½ game to get a US release, but its predecessor was localized as Street Combat to make it more palatable for Western audiences.
This fantastic vs. fighter is known for its great sprites and character variety, including stars like Ranma, Ryoga, Shampoo, and Akane – along with six others.
I love Hard Battle’s special moves because they are easy to pull off. I’ve always been terrible at inputting commands in quick succession, but this game simplifies it to holding down buttons.
6. Ranma ½: Chougi Rambuhen (JP) (1994)
Ranma ½ got three fighting games for the Super Famicom, and the third one – Chougi Rambuhen – was the best by far.
With its gorgeous sprites, easy-to-grasp combat system, and iconic cast, it would have been a hit if released abroad.
This time around, the roster has grown to 13 playable characters. The new faces include Herb, Mariko Konjo, and Kodachi Kuno.
Unlike the localized version of Hard Battle, this game retains the superb Japanese voice acting.
Characters yell out the name of their special attacks, which, coupled with the marvelous animations, makes for spectacular combat.
It’s perfectly playable in Japanese, but getting the English translation patch doesn’t hurt.
5. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Another Story (JP) (1994)
In the name of the moon, you must try this fantastic Sailor Moon RPG.
Another Story follows Sailor Moon as she travels around Tokyo, helping the other nine Sailor Guardians defeat iconic baddies from the series and some new ones made just for the game.
Two things that make this an unmissable tie-in are the pristine graphics and the superb soundtrack. There’s also rich enemy variety and many moves to defeat them.
Though the script’s writing isn’t the best part of the game, getting the English patch will improve your experience substantially.
4. The Great Battle V (JP) (1995)
Recently, the top-notch crossover fighter Jump Force (2019) has made a big splash with its appealing graphics and all-star cast of shounen characters.
Back in 1995, The Great Battle series employed a similar strategy by bringing together beloved anime figures like Ultraman, Gundam, and Kamen Rider for crossover action-adventure titles.
For the Super Famicom, there was The Great Battle III, IV, and V – and though they’re all fantastic, the last one is the most exciting.
The game puts characters from the series mentioned above in a Wild West context, mixing elements from Megaman-like action-platformers with thrilling gallery shooter sections.
The result is pure, unadulterated fun – especially with the English translation.
3. Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Scrambled Valkyrie (JP) (1993)
The SNES was host to amazing shoot-em-ups like BioMetal and R-Type 3 – but only Super Famicom owners could have tried the hidden gem that is Scrambled Valkyrie.
Taking place shortly after the events of the 1984 anime film Macross: Do You Remember Love?, Scrambled Valkyrie follows pilots Hikaru, Max, and Milia as they pilot the shape-shifting Valkyries against enormous enemy fleets.
Each Valkyrie has three distinct fighting forms: a fighter jet-like form, a complete robot transformation, and the GERWALK, somewhere in-between.
The game remains fresh for a long time thanks to each character’s unique skills and abilities, with each weapon being genuinely useful.
2. Hameln no Violin Hiki (JP) (1995)
The Violinist of Hameln is a 1991 manga series that follows the exploits of Hamel – a magical violinist – and his assistant Flute as they head toward the Continent of Demons to avert a catastrophe.
The game follows the same basic structure as the manga, with every level putting you one step closer to the Continent of Demons.
Each stage is fraught with obstacles like enemies and puzzles, which you’ll solve with the help of Flute – though not in the way you’d imagine.
Hamel is comically abusive to Flute, throwing her around and putting her in hazardous situations so they may progress further on every level. This often involves wearing funny costumes, which give Flute unique abilities.
Besides the humor, the soundtrack is Hameln no Violin Hiki’s major highlight. It sets itself apart with melodic tunes based on classical music rather than the usual fast-paced action-platformer fare.
Don’t miss the English translation.
1. MS Gundam Wing: Endless Duel (JP) (1996)
Over 50% of the brain’s surface is devoted only to vision, so excuse me if I’m a bit superficial when choosing the top spot for this ranking.
MS Gundam Wing: Endless Duel is the most aesthetically pleasing game on this list, with gorgeous, large sprites that depict the badass robots of the 1995 show in extreme detail.
The animations of this vs. fighter don’t stay behind. It offers fast-paced and smooth gameplay that anyone can jump into without any previous experience.
That’s not to say there’s no challenge to it, though.
Only a master would be able to clear the game’s Story Mode – so if you like the game, you’ll have a ton of playtime ahead of you.
Of course, it only gets better if you apply an English patch.