On August 23rd, 1991, one of Nintendo’s most significant consoles released in North America – the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or SNES. The 16-bit successor to the massively successful NES, the Super Nintendo played host to hundreds of iconic games that undeniably shaped the modern gaming landscape.
Much like the NES before it, the SNES took the original Super Famicom design from Japan and distinctly remolded it, making it more angular and swapping the vibrant, kid-friendly buttons for a muted shades-of-purple color scheme.
No matter your opinion of this change it evidently worked, as the Super Nintendo went on to sell over 23.35 million units in North America alone. While this didn’t reach the lofty heights of its predecessor, it was the second best selling Nintendo home console in the region until the launch of the Wii, well over a decade later.
Of course it’s hard to celebrate the birthday of the SNES without also celebrating its launch games too. The biggest of these being Super Mario World, which was bundled with the system much like the original Super Mario Bros. with the NES before it. With a bright and colorful world filled with new enemies, fresh locales and the first appearance of Yoshi, Super Mario World cemented the plumber as a gaming icon.
Nintendo was quick to show off the Super Nintendo’s power too, with two other launch games utilising “Mode 7”; F-Zero and Pilotwings. This newfangled technology allowed developers to create 3D gameplay out of stretched and skewed 2D assets, a primitive solution that paid off with some of the system’s most memorable games. Years later this early 3D gameplay would be expanded even more thanks to the Super FX chip found in the first Star Fox and Yoshi’s Island, but it was clear Nintendo was pushing its newest system to the limit right from the beginning.
It’s hard to overstate just how important the Super Nintendo was to the North American video game market. For one, it established JRPGs as a major genre, with Earthbound, Chrono Trigger and the two localized mainline Final Fantasy games being fondly remembered to this day. It also marked the evolution of many classic Nintendo IPs; Super Metroid took the first game’s concept and made it far more fluid and expansive, Link to the Past was a clear sign of where the Zelda franchise was headed in the years to come, and Kirby finally became a Super Star.
So happy birthday, SNES! Here’s to another 25 years of fond memories.Leave a Comment