Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) || 1991-1996


Development

Intro

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, also known as the SNES, was a 16-bit console developed by Nintendo in the 1990's. Also known as the Super Famicom in Japan, the SNES was Nintendo's second home console and followed the success of the NES. The console introduced advanced graphics and sound capabilities as well as a variety of enhancement chips integrated in game cartridges that helped keep it competitive in the marketspace as more consoles began to populate it.

Bigger and Better

Following the NES, the SNES mainly upgraded all the technical specifications. Memory and storage was increased, as well as adding more audio and color capabilities. The peripherals also changed with this iteration. The standard controller this time added two buttons, "X" and "Y" which were arranged with the "A" and "B" buttons in a diamond shape. Two shoulder buttons were also added on the back of the controller. The color scheme for the SNES was a gray and lavender design. A special note about the buttons were that the X and Y buttons were concave and a lavender color, while the A and B buttons were purple with convex faces. This design was unique and was later carried on to many consoles not including Nintendo's consoles such as the PlayStation and Xbox.

Technical Specifications
CPU 16 bit processor
Memory 32 megabit
Storage Up to 4 MB
Interesting Designs Introduced the idea of enhancement chips.
Units Sold 49.10 million

New Console, New Toys

The SNES also had a number of peripherals added too which mainly modeled after NES toys like the Zapper. For example, the Super Scope is another light gun but featured wireless capabilities. Other items like the SNES Mouse were also released to introduce new game mechanics. Like the NES, the SNES also many unlicensed developers using its technology. Things like third-party peripherals were quite common and often violated copyright laws.

Enhancements

A unique design of the SNES was that instead of having an expensive CPU that would be obsolete in a few years, the hardware designers made it easy to insert special coprocessor chips to the consoles. By doing this, the chip could perform functions that the main CPU could not have done. Some of the applications were to create 3D worlds with polygons or enhance 2D games. Various chips allowed for fast vector-based calculations, lockout funcitonality, programmable timers, converison circuitry and more. Many cartridges contained enhancement chips, most of which were created for use by a single company in a few games. The only limitation was the speed of the SNES istelf to transfer data from the chip and the current limit of the console.


History/Impact

Console Wars

Around the time of the SNES's launch, developer Sega had released its own SEGA Genesis. The rivalry between Nintendo and Sega resulted in one of the most notable console wars in video game history. Sega marketed the Genesis as the "cool" console with games aimed at older audiences. Edgy adverts occasionally attacked the competition. However, Nintendo scored an advtange by securing the first console conversion of a classic game, Street Fighter II. While the Genesis had a huge head start due to a larger library of games and lower price point, both consoles could not maintain a definitive lead for several years. It was only after time when the SNES had developed many video game classics with Nintendo's famed franchises, that the SNES eventually beat out the Genesis in sales.

"Left it's Mark on Gaming"

While the SNES wasn't as successful as its predecessor, the NES, it still did remarkably well. The console's solid design kept it relevant even as more power consoles came out like the PlayStation; it still maintained some popularity even in the 32-bit era. Most of these game from the SNES's amazing graphics, sound and library of top quality games. The library includes several classics that arguably make it incomparable to other game rosters released on following Nintendo consoles. Nearly all critics cited the console's well designed audio system, new features such as the updated controller, as well as its stunning lineup of AAA games as the main factors in making the SNES a timeless classic. The SNES was the best selling console of its era.


Games

Last Console: NES
Next Console: N64