The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or SNES as we’ll refer to it here, is quite possibly one of the most important systems ever made. Now it didn’t bring the American video game market back from the brink like its predecessor did but it’s impact on the gaming world as well as the industry should not be denied. Even 30 years later this system is being regarded as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time for those who aren’t in the know) of every Nintendo console ever made. The games that made the system known are timeless classics that aren’t only still being played today, but are constantly yearned for as a re-release or HD update.
The SNES was a king in the early 90’s. While SEGA was trying (and succeeding in some areas) to keep the Genesis new and cutting edge, Nintendo did the opposite. Readers and retro fans know what happened with SEGA and Nintendo and how Nintendo ultimately won the console war so I won’t go into it much here. However there is one aspect of the war that Nintendo nailed and continues to thrive in to this day. While SEGA was pushing new hardware and peripherals for the Genesis, Nintendo decided to let their software do the talking. While the Genesis was no slouch when it game to games, the SNES had powerhouses for its system. We all know about the first party titles like Super Mario World, Super Metroid, and Donkey Kong Country, but it was the third party titles that also shined bright. Mega Man X, Chrono Trigger, Street Fighter II: Turbo, Final Fantasy III (VI), all amazing titles that made the system a stand out. All of these games didn’t need anything extra to improve their graphics or specs. They were just fun from the get go and the pixel art from these games are still beloved to this very day.
My experience with the system is limited but still beloved. While I was growing up, my next door neighbor and kindergarten classmate Vicky had a SNES. My younger brother and I would go over to her house to play the two games she had, Super Mario World and Street Fighter II. Sadly this would be the only time I would play the SNES on a regular basis because she moved away right before we started 1st Grade. I wouldn’t own one but as I grew older I wanted one. The 16 bit era games were still amazing and even though I would play some of the games thanks to the GBA, I wanted the original console. So of course I asked my Dad for one for Christmas one year and all he heard was “Nintendo” and got me the NES instead (you can read the full version of that story right here). Even though I never truly owned a SNES the stories and history people would talk about fascinated me. Like the Genesis it was a system that I appreciated even though I hardly played it. I recognized its greatness and loathed the fact I never experienced the games that made the system great. Until September 29th, 2017.
September 29th 2017 is the day I got my SNES Classic Edition mini console. Ever since the system was announced I knew I wanted one. The NES Classic debacle was still fresh in my mind so I knew if I wanted to avoid the scalpers I needed to act on the day it came out. Luckily at the time I got off work at 5:30 in the morning so I drove to a Target on the way home and got in a pretty sizable line. There were about 50 people or so in front of me but right before the store opened the manager came out. She told us that they got a shipment of around 150 consoles and would give us tickets to ensure our system. I was number 47th I think, but I had a system saved for me. Once the store opened, I bought my system (and had the dumbest smile on my face pictured right), went home and immediately plugged it in and started playing. After all of these years and 1 Christmas mix up later, I finally had a SNES to call my own. I love my system and still have it plugged in to this day, and last November when I moved into my new house I also got a surprise. My new roommate has a modded SNES that can play Super Famicom games and SNES games. So now not only can I play with my mini, I can also play on his console as well. Of course this isn’t the only way I can play SNES games either. The Switch has a SNES app that lets you play classic SNES games if you have the online service. In the span of a few years I went from not being able to play SNES games to having tons of ways to experience multiple titles at once. What a time to be alive.
Even though I never grew up with one, I can honestly say that the SNES is one of the most important Nintendo consoles ever made. Not because of how it saved an industry like the NES, but how it showed the world that video games can and are art. The way stories are told through video games is unlike anything else before. The SNES has a RPG library that blows SEGA out of the water. Final Fantasy III (VI), Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Earthbound. All of these titles have stories in them that gamers still talk about today. Even when the story was amazing, the SNES had games that pushed the envelope of video games and sparked hundreds, if not thousands of video essays. Take Egoraptor’s video on Mega Man X for example (which you can watch here but fair warning, strong language is used throughout). He goes into how Mega Man X teaches you how to play the game without telling you how to play the game. It’s a 20 minute long video on how good game design was implemented back in the early 90’s and it was only on the SNES where you could experience it.
Even years after it was discontinued the SNES is still going strong. Gamers young and old are able to play some of the greatest hits on the system thanks to the Switch Online Service or the Classic edition. If you want the console yourself the system is easy to find at a retro game store or eBay. Some of the most beloved titles for the system have gone up in price, like Mega Man X and Chrono Trigger so be prepared to drop some coin when hunting those games down. Games like Super Mario World, F-Zero and Donkey Kong Country are relatively cheap carts and easy to find. Wether you’ve been playing the SNES since day one or just got into it recently, it’s a system that seldom disappoints. The games are great, it’s fun to play, and even today the pixel art looks plain gorgeous. I truly thing this system will stand the test of time, and stick around for another 30 years.
Hey, Ben, great article. Yes, my SNES that I had in high school blew my mind. My boyfriend gave it to me one birthday and I think he immediately regretted it because I disappeared for like a week, just gaming, gaming, gaming 😃