On August 13th, 1991, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was released to an eagerly anticipating audience in North America.
Or was it August 23rd? Oddly enough, I’ve seen several references for each, and even conflicting information from the same sources. Whatever the case, it seems to have been a limited roll-out of the product, as The New York Times dated September 10th, 1991 says that date was when the console was rolled out nationwide.
Whether after the fact for the prior date or in anticipation of the one upcoming, Lukerz03 on Reddit (via USgamer; full disclosure, the author is my wife) has posted something timely with which to celebrate, taking a look at an aspect of the system’s controller that most people will likely never see otherwise.
Previously, I spoke of how the design of Japan’s Super Famicom was changed for the release of the Super NES in North America, with one of the key changes being to the buttons on the controller. Whereas Japan’s featured a four-color rainbow of convex inputs, North America instead featured two shades of purple for one pair of convex and another pair of concave buttons.
Or rather, one pair of purple convex buttons and one pair of “lavender” concave buttons, to be specific. As we can see above, it appears that Nintendo took a one-size-fits-all approach to manufacturing the devices, apparently from the same mold. The interior notes not only where each color of the blue/green/red/yellow assortment goes, but also the pairs of lavender and purple pieces of plastic as well, no doubt allowing assembly lines to easily switch on the fly. The only other change would be whether “Nintendo Super Famicom” or “Super Nintendo Entertainment System” is stamped on the front.
Well, unless you’re in Europe, where the system went by its North American name, but otherwise carried its Japanese aesthetic.
It does leave one to wonder, though, at what point this difference between the two consoles was planned out. For instance, if you cracked open the controller to a Super Famicom launch unit, would you still find the purple/lavender markings inside? And is there anyone even willing to find out?