Tough one… The NES library is larger than the SNES library to my knowledge, but the density of popular hits is higher for SNES. There are games from both collections that I enjoy, but that's a matter of personal opinion.
I think that's all there is to it. Both are fine libraries of games, one isn't "better" than the other.
I personally find myself playing more third-party SNES games then I do with third-party NES games, so technically, from a personal POV, it gives the SNES a "larger" library for me, but in terms of overall quality titles, I really can't say. I think they're both tied with their positive and negative features.
Though as I grew older, I have noticed that, again in my personal experience, in terms of preferring a particular old-school game to play in a group environment, whether its a Virtual Console game, actual console, or one of those 3-in-1 systems, NES always trumps SNES and Genesis titles. Even when someone suggests "Anybody want to play a game of Monopoly?" the NES game is very much preferred to the Genesis game, and the only real difference between the two is graphics and design.
Have to go NES here. Even though SNES has a library of RPGs to kill for, RPGs were never fun when friends were over. The NES game library is truly classic, and still to this day my friends gather and play nes games. But I think this topic is best explained by a persons age. I grew up with nes as did all my friends. Some of us never kept gaming after that, while others did. The thing we have in common from the era is still the nes. Being in my mid-thirties, I can say that playing nes games has forged some of the greatest friendships of my life. All of my best friends to this day are kids I grew up playing nes with. Younger people would probably say that about SNES or another console but for me it's the NES we always go back too.
I agree with V. While The NES still has great games that are still fun to play as well as a robust library to choose from I feel overall the SNES' graphics can still be relevant today. Look how many "throwback" game are inspired by its 16-bit graphics.
What does it for me is the quality of the hits in the library and their ability to stand the test of time. Chrono Trigger, Street Fighter II, Final Fantasy VI, Super Mario World, A Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Mario Kart, Super Metroid, Mario Paint, Mortal Kombat, Earthbound, Earthworm Jim, Shawdowrun, etc… These all still play well today and I think if you do a side by side of all time greatest hits the SNES would win out.
Full disclosure, I admit to a bias towards the style dictated by the NES' AV capabilities. My NES library is also larger, due in part to how much cheaper the games were at FuncoLand.
I think people felt more free to experiment on the NES, which makes it a more INTERESTING library.
But if I try to be fair on raw "fun factor". it seems REALLY close.
For every Crystalis there's an Illusion of Gaia.
Every Zanac crosses an R-Type 3.
Every Blaster Master sees a Super Metroid. We'll get ONE ultra-high-profile title in this match-up.
The places their libraries really stop competing are products of their era.
The NES has stronger representation in traditional arcade titles, but the SNES has the tournament fighter crown no questions asked.
RPG representation is somewhat wild. Both systems HAVE them, but they aren't really comparable as they're drying to do very different things. NES RPGs tend to throw you in blind and let you explore the world and forge your destiny. SNES RPGs tend towards more story-driven affairs where you're riding the plot train all the way to final boss station.
There's a lot of absolute dreck on the NES, sure. There's a lot of absolute dreck on the SNES, too.
I'll go with the NES. But I feel like I'm slighting the SNES.
Since the choice is between the NES and SNES, I'd go with the SNES because of all the games "old-timers" fondly remember when they come by. The NES has a higher nostalgia factor, but I really don't play it as often as the SNES.
However, if we were to include all the consoles from that era, I'd have to pick the Turbografx-16/PC Engine.
As a former kid who took the Sega path during the 8-bit and 16-bit console wars, I've gained an appreciation for the NES and SNES over the years. Personally I prefer the NES for a variety of reasons. Its unusual 52-color palette gives its games a very distinctive look that was put to great use in moodier titles like Konami's Castlevania series and Tecmo's Ninja Gaiden. And although many people laud the SNES's audio capabilities, for the most part I find it tends toward unpleasantly soft and and quiet sound design, whereas I grew up with arcade games in which intensity and, frankly, abrasiveness were more exciting sonic characteristics. NES audio appeals to me more even though it's much more limited in scope. Also, although the SNES could pull off some interesting rotation and scaling tricks, I often find those effects don't mesh very well with sprite artwork — to me, they end up looking like weird effects from 80s videos rather than complementary aspects of a cohesive art direction. Finally, I think the NES has more games that are the debuts of what would become iconic series, and I find the origins of those types of games to be fascinating.
Man, this is super tough. I think however I am going to lean more towards SNES. Both systems had some great titles available to them, good controllers and were lots of fun. However with the SNES just seemed more robust. I still have my original SNES where as I have gone through three original NES systems and and now have a slot loading Yobo brand one. Also all night sessions of Zombies Ate My Neighbors!