Old and new SNES challenges to discover!

11 min readDec 7, 2021
Picture from Asso MO5.com

Thanks to Piepacker, two people can meet up online and (re)discover what retro games have to offer without the use of a time machine… or, more realistically, without leaving their respective houses. Among the consoles emulated on the platform, Nintendo’s second entertainment system offers great multiplayer games which will transport you back to the good old days of couch gaming. And remember, it’s not because a game is made for an old console that it won’t challenge your gamer skills! 🕹️

The Super NES, or “Super Nintendo”, was Nintendo’s first 16-bit console. It was released in Japan under the name “Super Famicom” in 1990 and, as its name suggests, was an improved version of the 8-bit NES. At the end of the 80s, 4th generation consoles brought into our homes a fundamentally upgraded type of entertainment for all ages. All in all, we discovered more colors on screen, bigger sprits, stereo in-game audio that came with advanced music synthesis, and enhanced multilayered parallax scrolling.

The technological progress of the SNES allowed game makers to express more of their creativity.

The launch of the Super Famicom in Japan will remain a hallmark of video game history: for the first time a console was in such demand that people swarmed the streets and queued in front of stores. It sold out in hours, prompting the Japanese government to ask for consoles to be released exclusively on weekends thereafter. The popularization of the SNES took some time outside of Japan; nevertheless, it was the most sold console of its generation and remained very popular even after its production was discontinued in 2003.

The technological progress of the SNES allowed game makers to express more of their creativity. It was designed by Masayuki Uemura, who was the original architect of the NES, and offered all the experiences loved by gamers at the time, heightened by never-seen-before audio-visual performances. If only a few games were available when it came out, the number grew over the years and the SNES was soon instrumental in developing new forms of storytelling and gameplay.

Thanks to today’s emulation capabilities, SNES games have become available to all in one click. Piepacker offers a range of games, old and new, to play with a friend online. Let’s take a look at a few of the most challenging SNES experiences available on the platform!

1. TOP RACER — Need for Speed 🏎️

Also known under its original Japanese title Top Gear, this super-realistic — for 1992 — racing game will test your mastery of the road. Developed by Gremlin Graphics, based in Sheffield, England, the game was originally published by Kemco and released again by our partner Piko Interactive. With a grand total of 32 race tracks which you can run using 4 different cars, the game amazed many by its extensive content. It also features a great choice of options including whether to drive a manual or automatic, as well as various controller layouts and difficulty settings.

It’s the perfect 2-player game for those looking for demanding races in split screen. It requires that you weave through the intense traffic — up to 19 other cars are competing with you — and that you adapt your vision to the night mode — which can take you by surprise in the middle of a race. As you play, you’ll also be rewarded for your knowledge of the tracks… the game offers 3 “nitros” at the start of each race which allows you to boost your speed for a short amount of time. Although they might feel easy to use, these need to be precisely timed with the straight portions of the tracks to do you any good. The tracks themselves offer a wide variety of backgrounds as they are all different and although there aren’t tons of details, each location is recognizable and presents its own set of challenges.

Two things made Top Racer a unique racing game at the time. The first is the introduction of fuel monitoring: if you don’t keep an eye on the gas tank and forget to restock at a pit stop, it’s game over! The second is that the game has a clear paths set out for you. As in actual competitions, you can only unlock the next track if you’ve reached the podium during the previous race. Even though the graphics of the SNES don’t have the level of realism of more modern consoles, this game will intensely request that you use your brain to show your opponent, and the CPU, who’s got mastery of the wheel. You will need all the skills of a professional racer to discover all this game has to offer. Get ready, set, … GO!! 🏆

🏎️ Play Top Racer on Piepacker!

2. MAGICAL DROP 2 — Burst your own bubble(s) 🔴🟠🟡🟢🔵🟣

The gameplay is now widespread and known to most people owning a smartphone, but when the first Magical Drop came out in Japanese arcade centers in the mid 90s, aligning the coloured bubbles to prevent the lines from reaching the bottom of the screen was a completely new concept in matching games. Based on the Russian game Drop-Drop by Russ Ltd, Magical Drop offered a colorful range of characters based on tarot figures. The sequel came out on Neo Geo in 1996 and only made it to the Super Famicon in 2007. It revealed 24 characters with new voiced cutscenes in between games. Each character has its own attack pattern and your choice will affect the gameplay by modulating the speed of descent of the bubbles of your opponent.

The multitude of possible face-offs makes this game a great time killer. You’ll have to try out all the combinations of opposing characters to figure out which are the most efficient and which you enjoy playing the most. You can compete against a friend or the CPU, but there are also a few single-player modes, including one you can use to train until the speed of the descending bubbles overwhelms you and a puzzle solving mode that you’ll have to crack in a limited time. Of course, you can always ask a friend to come hang out and help you solve the puzzles and have a great brain warm-up together if you don’t feel like competing.

The English version of Magical Drop II on SNES only recently came out — the worldwide release was cancelled close to completion — so if you wanted to play the game in English you couldn’t do it on your trusty console. The easy configuration and controls make it possible to play in the original Japanese which is the SNES version you’ll find on Piepacker. We’ve also added the English Neo Geo version just in case you’re more comfortable with in-game text you can understand well. It’s the same game but slightly different: some characters aren’t unlocked in the same way, and due to the lower resolution of the SNES compared to what could be done on arcade, there are only 6 columns of bubbles, one less than in the Neo Geo version 💬

✨ Play Magical Drop II on Piepacker!

3. CLAYFIGHTER — Funny Fighting 🎪

A parody of the well-known fighting game, ClayFighter came out of the collaboration of Interplay entertainment and Visual Concepts Studio in 1993. It was revolutionary on several levels. Firstly, its representation of combat broke with the previous bloody games with a realistic intent. It was marketed as a fighting game suitable for children, but its humoristic design will seduce young and old alike. Here, we are immediately transported in the world of an American circus that’s been hit by a meteor made entirely out of… you’ve guessed it, clay. The newly formed clay fighters, whose abilities are now enhanced by individual mind-blowing special moves, will battle thereafter for the title of king fighter.

You can take your fighter to the top on your own by fighting opponent after opponent until you reach the end boss, or take on a friend and show them how flexible your fighting style is. You’ll have a blast just watching the combatants’ bodies deformed by the collision and discovering all their catchphrases. But it’s not because the game is funny that it does not present a really competitive challenge. You’ll soon discover which is your favorite fighter and how to best handle them in combat.

The characters were actually modeled in clay and then animated using stop-motion photography. It’s a painstaking and long work that took nearly a year. It was worth it: the unique design is still amazing to watch today, and seeing pieces of colorful clay flying across the screen after a punch will never get old. This game managed to bring together art, humor and combat for the first time. So whether you want to clown around or seriously dive into a challenging fight, you’ll find what you’re looking for 🥊

💢 Play ClayFighter on Piepacker!

4. IRON COMMANDO — Do the best with what you’ve got 🔧

A classical beat ’em up developed by Arcade Zone and released for the Super Famicom in 1995. You must cross different environments, filled with their own share of specific enemies, as part of the Iron Commando. You play as Jack, an American soldier, and Chang Li, the kung-fu master and you’ll have to cooperate to get to the end of your mission by surviving wave after wave of strong attackers. Your only goal: to stop the terrorists. What strikes the most in this game is the details and complexity of the different environments that were packed in the small space offered by the cartridges at the time. The design in itself is worth looking into. The plot unfolds as you fight your way forward and takes you all over the world.

Be ready for a perilous exploration. You start off with only a few grenades and your fists. Make sure you keep an eye open for the myriad of weapons dropped by your enemies upon defeat: 9 mm guns, rifles, machine guns, knives, baseball bats and many more… You’ll need to learn how to use all of them to your advantage for a chance to make it to the next level. Mastering attacks and defense is crucial because taking up a new weapon or ammos will leave you vulnerable. Strategy is everything in this game and you’ll have to move fast and with purpose every single second to succeed.

What makes this game even more challenging are the enemies which stay closer to the ground, such as the snakes and dogs, and which will require you to select the right weapon or risk being bitten to death. The countless vehicles you’ll get to jump into to continue your progress are a big plus. You don’t see a soldier fighting from a mine cart every day. Use your wits, use your resources wisely and always communicate with your partner… This game is harder than it looks. 🏍️

🎯 Play Iron Commando on Piepacker!

5. SYDNEY HUNTER AND THE CAVERNS OF DEATH — Who turned out the lights? 🪔

The Sydney Hunter games are a great example of what the retro scene can offer today. The Cavern of Death was released for the SNES — and later the NES — in 2019 by Collector Vision. It was the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, as are many great indie games still being developed for collectable consoles. This one is a single player game, but it will test your abilities to solve puzzles and find your way out of the room … sometimes in complete darkness! So having an extra pair of eyes and another mind to help you through the levels and discover them with you will not be a waste of time for anyone. On Piepacker you can even pass the controller as you please so finding your way out can be a real team effort.

As Sydney, you’ll use your trusty boomerang to navigate 10 different caverns filled with traps, bats, ghosts, and many more obstacles and enemies usually found lurking in the entrails of the earth… Your torch will help you light your way but you won’t always be able to move and see at the same time. Using a black screen as its most challenging feature, the game rewards exploration with many hidden treasures scattered around. It’s both an adventure and a puzzle game that compiles all the tropes of the genre and gives them its own arduous twists.

On top of the exploration and intriguing mysteries, the animations are amazing. In order to reach the outside world and escape Mount Doom, you’ll have to run, jump, climb and wobble to the top of ropes. Sydney Hunter really looks good doing it. A challenging game which in a short time develops its own universe and has a lot of secrets to show. 🌋

💀 Play Sydney Hunter and the Cavers of Death on Piepacker!

From its release to the present day, the SNES has provided an amazing playground, for gamers and game developers alike. More amazing SNES games will soon join these five on Piepacker … In the meantime, no matter what you’re in the mood for, if you want to challenge yourself and your friends the old fashion way, we’ve got you covered!




On a mission to create the best social gaming experience 🚀