Despite being known for being home to kid-friendly characters like Yoshi, Kirby, and Mario, Super Nintendo had an array of games that were rather creepy. Let’s get nostalgic as we time travel back to the days of retro games by remembering the top ten spookiest horror games on the SNES.
1. Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Zombies Ate My Neighbors will always top any list of scary retro games like this, given how much of a straight horror title it really is. Although it’s filled with comedic elements and lots of satirical humor, the game can provide many eerily tense moments as well. Each level consists of players saving enough potential victims to move on to the next stage, and there’s a certain pressure in keeping them alive – especially the baby and the dog. Some of the game’s music is a bit creepy as well, adding to the overall horror experience.
In Zombies Ate My Neighbors, enemies aren’t killed with traditional weapons like machetes and handguns. Instead, you’ll be dispatching zombies, werewolves, vampires, martians, giant babies, and all sorts of other creatures using the most random assortment of makeshift weapons you can find. Whether you’re using squirt guns, cans of soda, fresh tomatoes, or even plates and silverware, Zombies Ate My Neighbors was letting players kill zombies with goofy weapons years before Dead Rising made it a thing.
2. Ghoul Patrol
While Zombies Ate My Neighbors has a rather large cult following, many people don’t even realize the game had a sequel. Its follow-up title, Ghoul Patrol, does not reach the same level of attention as its predecessor. While admittedly not quite as classic as the original, Ghoul Patrol is vastly underrated and certainly a worthy sequel to the game which inspired it.
Zeke and Julie return from Zombies Ate My Neighbors as the playable protagonists for Ghoul Patrol. This time, the two must travel through five different worlds of a horror exhibit come to life, taking on skeletons, ghouls, and other creatures. Featuring gameplay similar to the first title, players must rescue a certain number of would-be victims to advance past each level, fighting a unique boss at the end.
3. Clock Tower
Only released in Japan, Human Entertainment’s Clock Tower is undoubtedly one of the scariest 16-bit video games of all. On the classic console, Clock Tower was giving fans a true experience with “survival horror” a year before Resident Evil popularized the term. The game was so well-received it spawned a franchise, bringing about many sequels in the coming years. Although it was never sold outside of Japan, the game has since been made playable in English courtesy of well-done fan translations.
A point-and-click adventure game, Clock Tower follows orphan Jennifer Simpson following her adoption along with a group of other girls. They are then pursued by a homicidal man carrying around giant scissors, cleverly named Scissorman. Combat is not an option as Jennifer can only survive the game by use of traps and hiding spots. This makes for some suspenseful gameplay and is one of the creepiest horror games on the SNES you can find.
4. Super Castlevania IV
Starring iconic vampire hunter Simon Belmont, Super Castlevania IV brings players to 1691 Transylvania. In pursuit of Count Dracula himself, Simon must ascend the legendary villain’s castle for an ultimate battle between vampire and vampire hunter. Using his trademark whip and various power-ups, Simon faces countless monsters and supernatural creatures on his dangerous quest.
The fourth installment in the Castlevania series, Super Castlevania IV, had a lot to live up to when it was released. Ultimately, the game would become one of the most beloved entries of the franchise, with many considering it to be an all-time favorite. The gameplay, music, and graphics are all top-notch, and there are plenty of creepy monsters and imagery for horror fans to enjoy.
5. Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a side-scrolling platformer published by Capcom, serving as a sequel to the ’80s games Ghosts ‘n Goblins and Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Players control a knight named Arthur, who must battle through endless amounts of undead creatures in a quest to rescue a kidnapped princess. The legendary title is rather tense from start to end simply because the enemies just do not stop coming.
The game is perhaps most well-known for its immense difficulty, making it nearly impossible to play for casual gamers. Humorously, when the player gets hit, Arthur loses his suit of armor, leaving him to fight wearing nothing but his underwear. With just one more hit leaving him dead, Arthur dies rather frequently with so many ghouls filling the screen at any given second.
Beating Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts might require a Game Genie, but the brutally difficult game still oddly has a certain charm.
Released in 1995, Acclaim’s Warlock is based on Steve Miner’s 1989 horror film of the same name. In that movie, Julian Sands stars as the titular 17th-century warlock who’s being pursued by witch-hunter Giles Redferne (Richard E. Grant). With Satan’s help, the warlock is transported to modern-day Los Angeles through the use of a magic portal, but Redferne follows him there. Using the assistance of waitress Kassandra (Lori Singer), Redferne seeks to stop the warlock’s plans to destroy the fabric of existence.
In the video game adaptation, players control an unnamed druid rather than taking on the role of Giles the witch-hunter. This gives them the ability to use magic as well, letting them use a floating crystal ball as a weapon. You’ll encounter some creepy creatures on your quest, such as zombies, bats, and evil dogs.
The evil warlock also has the ability to turn innocent bystanders into new monsters as well, which makes for probably the creepiest moments of the game. The Warlock game is slightly difficult but rather fun to play for fans of old-school horror games.
7. Laplace no Ma
Laplace no Ma is another title to only be released in Japan, with fan translations letting those in other countries enjoy the game. Combining RPG and survival horror elements, the game feels like a natural successor to Sweet Home on the NES. Inspired by the fictional H. P. Lovecraft city of Arkham, the game is set in a creepy Massachusetts town, pitting players in a creepy building known as the Weathertop Mansion.
The story begins with players heading to the mansion in an attempt to rescue a missing girl. She was last seen near the mansion, which the owner has since populated with scores of undead creatures. Players can assign the hero character’s gender and choose from one of five classes for them: Dilettante (all-rounder), Medium (mage), Detective (melee), Scientist (crafting), and Journalist (photos). Ahead of its time, it’s a shame the creepy game wasn’t given its proper release outside of Japan.
8. Out of this World
In Out of this World, gamers play as a physicist named Lester whose experiment with a particle accelerator goes horribly wrong. Transported to a distant world, Lester must escape from an alien prison with the help of his new extraterrestrial friend Buddy. The two fight alien soldiers and other creatures during their daring escape.
Neither is able to take any damage from enemies, as one hit will instantly result in death. This provides just the right amount of challenge for the gameplay, with a compelling story and excellent visuals rounding out the experience.
Out of this World is said to be ahead of its time with the use of its cinematic effects. This directly inspired many major video games to later be released, including Metal Gear Solid and the legendary horror game Silent Hill. A cult classic well worth your time to play through, you can check out Out of this World on modern consoles by purchasing the 20th Anniversary port, which was released in 2014.
9. Jurassic Park
At first glance, Jurassic Park might seem out of place in a list of scary video games. Shouldn’t a Super Nintendo game featuring dinosaurs be full of lighthearted fun? Perhaps it is if you’re playing Joe & Mac, but Jurassic Park on the SNES is actually a bit scarier than you’d think and arguably creepier than the movie it’s based on.
In the game, you control Dr. Alan Grant, the character played by Sam Neill in the original movie. Dr. Grant is trapped in the park and must restore power and undertake other certain tasks to safely escape certain death by dinosaurs. While playing outside, a top-down perspective is used, letting players see the dinosaurs around them.
However, once Dr. Grant enters a building, the game switches to a first-person perspective. This is where things can get pretty tense, as you just might jump out of your seat when you turn a corner to run straight into a vicious Velociraptor or a goo-spewing Dilophosaurus.
10. Super Metroid
As the Ellen Ripley of video games, Samus Aran has been killing aliens since the original Metroid game on the NES. She’s back for more with the Super Nintendo’s Super Metroid, searching through an open-world planet in search of a stolen Metroid. Exploration is key, and it’s easy to get lost through the large world the game has to offer, and despite how badass Samus might be, most gamers were on edge playing through Super Metroid at the time.
Super Metroid can probably be considered more sci-fi than horror, but make no mistake – there are some creepy moments in the game. The isolation and dark atmosphere gives it an eerie vibe, and the final boss Mother Brain undoubtedly gave many nightmares to countless ’90s kids.
More than just one of the creepier horror games on the SNES, Super Metroid is easily one of the very best titles on the classic console. As one of the titles on the Super NES Classic Edition, today’s gamers can now check out the legendary game.
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