The best SNES Classic Mini games that aren't Mario or Zelda

Dig deeper into the lineup and plan to play these games first

Who knew we'd start the week lusting after a 25-year-old bit of gaming tech?

Well, that's exactly what happened with yesterday's announcement of Nintendo's SNES Classic Mini. While last year's NES Classic Mini reproduced perhaps the more iconic of the two consoles, we're more excited about the tiny SNES due to the 16-bit era's legendary games.

The SNES Classic Mini packs fewer games (21 as opposed to 30), but there really isn't a bad one in the bunch. In fact, most of them are absolutely essential – and you've probably already played Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Mario Kart plenty of times in the past. All of those are well worth revisiting, but what about the rest of the lineup? These are the eight other games that should top your must-play list.

Super Metroid (1994)

The recent dual announcement of two new Metroid games had fans reeling with excitement after E3, but why do people care so much about this series? Two words: Super Metroid.

Although based on the NES original, Super Metroid elevated the side-scrolling adventure with a gripping quest that sent your sci-fi heroine through the planet Zebes. Incredibly atmospheric despite the minimal narrative, Super Metroid blends thrilling action with compelling exploration, along with gradual weapon and armor upgrades that really empower you across the quest.

Super Metroid was never as big as Super Mario World or A Link to the Past back in the day, but it's just as much of a 16-bit classic.

Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (1996)

We're already breaking our own rule about not including Mario games here, but Yoshi's Island isn't entirely a Mario game. Besides, it not only deserves the spotlight – it also needs defending.

Yoshi's Island brought a dramatic shift to the franchise, taking direct control of Mario out of your hands… and turning him into a crying, diaper-wearing baby. Really! Instead, the game saw you guide Yoshi around the stages in search of baby Luigi, while the little Mario sat on Yoshi's back.

Haters complained about the wailing Mario, but brilliant level design and the dazzling crayon-like aesthetic made this dreamy platformer an all-time classic.

Star Fox (1993)

The original Star Fox (originally Starwing in Europe) showed that the 16-bit console could handle 3D, putting the embedded Super FX chip to then-impressive use with its polygonal ships and buildings.

Those rudimentary graphics won't delight much now, but this classic is still worth a look – and you'll need to play through the first level to unlock access to Star Fox 2. Developed in full but then canned before release, Star Fox 2 will make its debut here more than two decades later. It's one of the coolest things about the SNES Classic Mini, although the original Star Fox is pretty cool on its own anyway.