In 1990 Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super NES / SNES) to the Japanese market and in the following year to the United States then Europe and Australia in 1992.
If you're looking at the pictures and thinking, "that's not a SNES!", you probably grew up in the US where the console's casing was redesigned to a more angular affair whereas the styling of the Japanese release Super Famicom was carried over to the PAL versions as seen below. This also affected the shape of the cartridges seeing the US versions redesigned with a more boxy appearance and the Japanese and PAL region versions maintaining the more rounded design. This also meant that in addition to the regional lockout chip, cartridges couldn't physically be used in a console they weren't designed for without the use of an adaptor.
In 1997 the US version was again re-designed to give it a more rounded appearance before it was discontinued in 1999.
The SNES was Nintendo's second home game console offering and like its predecessor the NES became amazingly popular becoming the most successfully selling console of the 16-bit era. While it entered the 16-bit market late and battled steep competition in the US from SEGA's Genesis / Mega Drive console the sales figures were solid.
You were either a SEGA or a Nintendo console owner, rarely both and most gamers would be ready at a moments notice to argue the facets of 'their' console edging it to superiority. SEGA went with a more mature approach, hoping to entice older gamers and tempt younger players wanting to feel more adult with edgy titles and marketing. Whereas Nintendo stuck with predominantly bright colours and solid game design. Nintendo's main win was to secure the home release of CAPCOM's massively successful arcade title 'Street Fighter II' which took almost a year later to appear on SEGA's console. Nintendo did try to get a little 'edgy' by releasing the game title 'Killer Instinct' in a console and game bundle with the game cartridge plastic being dyed black.
The SNES was a 'family' console and often thought to be laughably so by SEGA gamers. This was mainly due to the high level of censorship controlling the release of US and as a result most English language version titles. A prime example of this was the release of 'Mortal Kombat' on both systems. The Nintendo release was highly censored while the SEGA version retained all the juicy gore and the sales figures showed the result with the SEGA version outselling the Nintendo release four to one.
Once regulatory bodies had been created to govern game title censorship Nintendo dropped their self censorship policy(s) and released Mortal Kombat II with all the gore intact. A little too late however to save them from having a 'kid safe' image for many gamers.
The SNES was an impressive system, developers could choose colours from a pallet of over 32,768 and play with 128 sprites and four layers of background, all were created from eight by eight pixel tiles. Sprites can be 8x8, 16x16, 32x32, or 64x64 pixels in size and painted from one of eight, sixteen colour pallets.
'Mode 7' is a graphics mode that was meant to set the SNES apart from other consoles. It is in essence a layer of background tiles that can be scaled and rotated. Imagine Mario Kart with only the ground texture and you've got it. See the last image below for an example.
The audio on the SNES was excellent for the time and like the NES paved the way for many of its titles musical tracks to become extremely poplar both back in the day and today.
Personal Note: As a kid I had an Atari 2600 then moved to a C=64, completely skipping the Master System and NES altogether. But when, as rebellious youth of seventeen I looked for a game console, it was a SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis hands down. So the marketing worked.
From its black casing, impressive game advertising on TV and in cinemas it looked like the way to go. Nintendo's SNES advertising in Australia seemed to be almost totally Mario and Mario game related making the SNES look like a child's console. Blip-boop sounds, cutesy graphics and sod all death and destruction to be seen. In stark contrast the SEGA marketing showed fast paced racing games, death and gore filled screens and mind pummeling shooters. Also... Star Fox looked like junk. Wooo, clunky 3D.
The SNES was of course a great console with an array of fantastic titles but with your hard earned money it was a big risk to jump the fence and see if the grass was greener on the other side. The marketing also didn't make me want to care about how many princesses were kidnapped or what Kirby had for breakfast.
|Unit pictured has been sold and its location is unknown.|