3. Secret of Mana (Seiken Densetsu)
If this list were based solely on my personal preference, the Secret of Mana (or Seiken Densetsu) series would be number one. The first game was beautifully made, with satisfying real-time combat and an innovative ring menu system which let you cast magic quickly and easily. The sound track was also exceptional. However, the games main strength lay in the cooperative gameplay with one or two friends, you could take on almost the entire game as a team. The characters may have been fairly generic (a laconic swordsman hero, a rebellious rich girl who acts as a healer, and a mischievous imp who acts as an attack mage) and the plot even more so (the Empire is abusing the worlds mana in an attempt to awaken the Mana Fortress; you must stop them), but the combat system is amongst the most fun and satisfying youll find. The graphics and music are distinctive as well, cheerful and memorable, giving each locations an individual feel as you progress through the vast world. The second game, released only in Japan, improved on almost every aspect of the first, and included six alternate characters and several different plot arcs depending on the team of three you choose. Its also, for my money, the most beautiful SNES title ever made. The world designed is simply breath-taking, each playthrough is dramatically different from the one before it, the plot is drastically better than the first title, and that same dynamite cooperative experience remains intact. Perhaps theres a slight criticism to be made of the combat, with individual fights taking far too long as you are now unable to move during spell animations, but its a minor quibble compared to everything this title does right. Secret of Evermore (designed for the American market) isnt quite as strong as the other two entries in the series, but is also definitely worth checking out for the hardcore fan.