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Super Nintendo Entertainment System

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super NES or SNES) is a video game console designed and built by Nintendo in the 1990s. It is the sucessor to the Nintendo Entertainment System in the North America and Europe. It was the major rival of Sega Megadrive/Sega Genesis. The Super NES is also nicknamed Yoshi, because Yoshi was the first video game character ever to receive a debut on this console.

For more information on the Japanese version, see: Super Famicom

Table of contents
1 Market History
2 Hardware
3 External Links

Market History


Nintendo executives at first were not interested in making a new system when rival Sega announced that they would release their 16-Bit Sega Megadrive/Sega Genesis in 1988. However, the executives were quick to see the Genesis taking over the market in North America, due to its large library of sports games and arcade ports, as well as its superior technology. The NES did not do well in Europe, and the Megadrive surpassed the SNES there as well.

Hiroshi Yamauchi, the Nintendo CEO at the time, had put Masayuki Uemura in charge of designing the console. They had originally planned for the Famicom/NES to be 16-bit systems, but those components were too expensive at the time, and so they were 8-bit systems. With the components being cheaper at the time, Nintendo did not hesitate to build a more powerful system.


The Super Famicom was released November 21, 1990 in Japan.
The United States Version of the Super NES was released September 1, 1991 with a starting price of $200. The first Super NES set was packaged with Super Mario World and two controllers.
The PAL version of the SNES was released in the United Kingdom for 150 in April 1992. Its German release came a few weeks later.

A few months later, the Power Set, a bare-bones version of the SNES, would be released in North America, which went for $100. Towards the middle of its life, the North American set was distributed like it was the first time, but the game varied. One set was sold with the Super Game Boy accessory.

Internally, the consoles were only different depending on the TV standard in that country. Many Australian video games came from Europe because both used PAL systems. RPG's can be translated into other languages, because of how important the text is in the game. Yet many action titles and shooters didn't have changes to the languages because the text wasn't too important to the game play.

The U. S. release was not as easy as the Super Famicom had been. The SNES was not backwards compatible with the Nintendo Entertainment System, which was a popular system. There was be hesitation to buy a new console when games from the old one wouldn't work. In addition, Sega had gotten some very popular titles out for their Genesis console, including Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic was vital to the Genesis' marketing, as many people favored Sonic over Mario due to the "coolness" factor. In addition, the Genesis was about $50 cheaper than the SNES.

Thanks to the marginally superior technical capabilities over its main competitor, Nintendo's family-friendly image, popularity of icon game characters like Super Mario, the Super NES was popular throughout the world through the early to mid-1990s. The SNES played a game of catchup and won, although in the United States the Genesis was more successful. By the end Nintendo had twice as many sales of it's console than Sega.

The number of games for the SNES was larger than the number of gamers for its predecessor the NES. It many exclusive titles, some of which were considered to be the best video games at the time. It also had many best-selling (and often still expensive) RPGs, such as Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. Some Super NES games are enhanced remakes of Famicom/NES games. One example is Super Mario All Stars, another is Ninja Gaiden Trilogy.

The European console was similar to the Japanese Super Famicom. Nintendo never got much of a footing in Europe, particularly due to the distribution problems. Ironically, there were converters available that allowed users to play Sega Master System games on the Sega Megadrive. Both consoles were very popular in Europe.


An SNES redesign, which was lighter in weight, came out in October 1997 for $99.99 in the United States to get the last few sales from people still interested in the 16-Bit market. The game was packaged with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. The RF Ports and expansion ports did not come with the version; Hopes of an SNES-CD died, and the resources helped make the Playstation.

The Super NES was superseded by the Nintendo 64. Many of the successful games for the system are being revived in the Game Boy Advance, which has remarkably similar capabilities.

After 1999

The SNES was in popular decline from 1996 to 1999, with the Sony Playstation and Nintendo 64 eating away at its marketing share. However, even though the Super NES was discontinued in North America and Europe in 1999, like the NES, it left the mark of many million cartridges and more than the NES did. The second hand market was burgeoning on the SNES as it did on the NES. Around this time, many gamers began to rediscover the SNES. The NES and SNES continued to be in production in Japan until late 2003.

Meanwhile, SNES enthusiasts were programming an emulator called ZSNES. In 1998, ZSNES was released. One year later, ZSNES got its rival, SNES9X. Nintendo had the same stance against SNES emulation as it had on NES emulation.

ROM images of Super NES Game Paks, which have been claimed to be potentially illegal, are actually getting easier to find, since the SNES went out of production in North America in 1999. Nintendo claimed that ROMs are nothing but gratuitous piracy, but the company actually brought it onto itself. Others claim that ROMs are used to preserve the games since the cartridges are more fragile. Like its predecessor the NES, the Super NES has a continued interest among its fans, continuing to thrive on a huge secondhand market and proliferate ROM images. There has been a larger demand for a secondhand market and emulation for the SNES than the NES.

The revival of the SNES is settling back down, more so than the NES. The second hand market is declining, and SNES ROMs are getting easier to find. The NES and SNES are likely to command legions of fans in many years to come.

Many video game critics, especially fans of the Final Fantasy video game franchise, consider the SNES "the golden age of video games."



The Super Nintendo/Super Famicom was the first console capable of applied acoustics in video game audio sold in North America, Europe, and Japan.


See Also: Super Famicom, Nintendo Family Computer, Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Megadrive, Sega Genesis, console emulator, ZSNES, list of SNES games, SPC700, .SPC, Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation, Gameboy Advance

External Links