History of video games/Platforms/Super Nintendo Entertainment System
History[edit | edit source]
Development[edit | edit source]
Proceeded by the highly successful NES and Famicom, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Famicom were highly anticipated followup systems. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super Famicom both featured much improved hardware over their proceeding systems.
Initially featuring radically different designs for both systems, the system design was greatly simplified to more conventional form factors as development progressed. Lance Barr, the designer of the previous NES, was brought back to work on the SNES. Designer Lance Barr added curved surfaces to the top of the SNES to stop gamers from placing drinks on top of the console, a relatively common risk people had taken with the original NES and a common reason for destroyed consoles when some drinks were inevitably spilled.
The controller design was also significantly different from the NES. Shoulder buttons were added to the controller accommodate fighting games while keeping face buttons minimal for simplicity. This allowed for improved control schemes for games to be developed.
Launch[edit | edit source]
The Super Famicom was launched on November 21st, 1990 in Japan. To prevent robberies before launch, Nintendo shipped the Super Famicom to Japanese retailers during the night. The much anticipated of the Super Famicom was still chaotic enough for the Japanese Government to recommend console launches be restricted to weekends. The SNES was released in North America almost a year later, in August 1991.
System life[edit | edit source]
In 1992 Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi purchased the Seattle Mariners, stopping them from moving to Florida as a sign of appreciation to the city of Seattle where Nintendo of America is based. Nintendo would later use the Mariners for an easter egg in their game Ken Griffey Jr.'s Winning Run.
Legacy[edit | edit source]
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was directly succeeded by the Nintendo 64. Nintendo partnerships with Phillips and Sony to attempt to develop an CD ROM add on for the SNES would indirectly result in competing systems including the original PlayStation and Nintendo IP for the Phillips CD-i.
The ARC processor architecture got its start in the SuperFX enhancement chip used by some SNES games..
In 2020 the prototype for the Nintendo PlayStation sold for $300,000 at auction.
Technology[edit | edit source]
Compute[edit | edit source]
A 16 bit Rioch 5A22 CPU powers the SNES and is variably clocked from 1.79 megahertz to 3.58 megahertz depending on the operation being performed. The CPU is capable of executing about 1.7 million instructions per second.
The console has 128 kilobytes of RAM, a fairly sizable amount for a console at the time of launch.
While compared to it's primary competitor in the Sega Genesis or MegaDrive, the SNES CPU is clocked significantly slower, but makes up for this in efficiency of what is accomplished in a clock cycle, being able to accomplish many more instructions per second. Still, other factors could give still give the Genesis or Megadrive the edge over the SNES, and comparing the two competing consoles is not easy.
Hardware[edit | edit source]
The SNES has two different Picture Processing Units with access to 64 kilobytes of dedicated video RAM. This allowed the SNES to display up to 128 sprites and 256 simultaneous colors from 32,768 total colors.
Storage[edit | edit source]
SNES cartridges typically ranged from 0.23MB to 4.0MB, maxing out at 6.0MB. This allowed the SNES to hold large amounts of 2D graphical content, and significant amounts of music instructions.
While most consoles this generation still used cartridges as the SNES and Super Famicom did, some emerging competitors used CD-ROM technology, which gave them vastly more storage, allowing orchestral soundtracks and full motion video to be used. Furthermore, an individual CD was much cheaper to press than it was to make a high capacity cartridge.
Nintendo would try and fail to bring a CD-ROM add on for the SNES and Super Famicom to market. However the inability of developers to really capitalize on the advantages of the CD-ROM format this generation allowed the SNES and Super Famicom to still perform well against CD-ROM equipped systems, while avoiding the slow access times and high upfront drive cost of the format at the time.
Expansion[edit | edit source]
Co-processors[edit | edit source]
The SNES cold make use of co-processors included on game cartridges, and this was often used to add 3D effects. Inspired by SuperFX chips, in December of 2020 an unofficial expansion cartridge containing a SuperRT system with three execution cores clocked at 50 megahertz was made to allow raytracing on the SNES. This shows that the cartridge based co-processor model could be taken quite far, had it been needed.
Accessories[edit | edit source]
The third party X-Band service allowed some games to be played online.
Notable Games[edit | edit source]
Qualities[edit | edit source]
- Platformers, especially mascot platformers, were quite popular for the system.
- Major JRPGs released on the system, and so the system was quite notable for the development of the genre.
- Many games incorporated elements to demonstrate the cutting technological capabilities of the system. In particular use of "Mode-7", enhancement chips, and pre-rendered CGI were highly regarded as a mark of technical superiority at the time.
1990[edit | edit source]
Super Mario World[edit | edit source]
Read more about Super Mario World on Wikipedia.
F-Zero[edit | edit source]
The first game in a series of high speed futuristic racing games. This game used mode 7 pseudo 3D environments to great effect.
Read more about F-Zero on Wikipedia.
1991[edit | edit source]
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past[edit | edit source]
Read more about The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on Wikipedia.
Final Fantasy IV[edit | edit source]
Released as Final Fantasy II in America, as previous entries in the series had not been released there.
Read more about Final Fantasy IV on Wikipedia.
1992[edit | edit source]
Super Mario Kart[edit | edit source]
The first Mario Kart game. At the time of release Super Mario Kart was critically acclaimed for it's two player multiplayer and tight gameplay. Decades later, the game continued to receive high marks by reviewers.
Read more about Super Mario Kart on Wikipedia.
Mario Paint[edit | edit source]
Mario Paint would influence a number of creatives, including future game developers.
Read more about Mario Paint on Wikipedia.
Dragon Quest V[edit | edit source]
Read more about Dragon Quest V on Wikipedia.
Final Fantasy V[edit | edit source]
Read more about Final Fantasy V on Wikipedia.
Romancing SaGa[edit | edit source]
Read more about Romancing SaGa on Wikipedia.
1993[edit | edit source]
Super Mario All-Stars[edit | edit source]
An enhanced remake compilation of the NES Mario games. Among the first major series to receive such an enhanced remake compilation.
Read more about Super Mario All-Stars on Wikipedia.
Star Fox[edit | edit source]
An on rails shooter, which leveraged the power of the SuperFX chip for polygonal 3D graphics.
Read more about Star Fox on Wikipedia.
Mega Man X[edit | edit source]
A new Mega Man series that leveraged improved system capabilities over the NES to improve gameplay, graphics, and sound as well as a deeper story.
Read more about Mega Man X on Wikipedia.
1994[edit | edit source]
- Donkey Kong Country - Used pre rendered 3D graphics to great effect.
- Final Fantasy VI - Marketed as Final Fantasy III in North America.
- Killer Instinct
- Kirby's Dream Course
Super Metroid[edit | edit source]
Super Metroid influenced a number of gamers and developers with it's unique and complex gameplay, level design, and environmental storytelling.
Read more about Super Metroid on Wikipedia.
EarthBound[edit | edit source]
Read about EarthBound on Wikipedia.
The Beach Boys in 1967. Their music was strongly influential on the music of Earthbound.
1995[edit | edit source]
- Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest
- Yoshi's Island
- Dragon Quest VI
- Chrono Trigger
- Kirby's Avalanche
- Tetris Attack / Panel De Pon
- Front Mission
Clock Tower[edit | edit source]
A cult horror game about surviving the Scissorman in a mansion.
Read more about Clock Tower on Wikipedia.
1996[edit | edit source]
- Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double Trouble!
- Super Mario RPG
- Harvest Moon
- Kirby Super Star
- Bahamut Lagoon
1997[edit | edit source]
2000[edit | edit source]
2010's[edit | edit source]
Star Fox 2[edit | edit source]
After being shelved for over two decades, Star Fox 2 was officially released in 2017 on the SNES classic.
Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill[edit | edit source]
The game featured a protagonist based on President Bill Clinton's real life cat.
Read more about Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill on Wikipedia.
Special Editions[edit | edit source]
Special editions and versions of the console.
- Starlight Gaming Station - Super Nintendo Entertainment System kiosk for hospital use.
- Nintendo Gateway System - In flight entertainment version of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.
- Bandai HET - Unreleased portable SNES with additional functions demoed at E3 1993.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Console Models[edit | edit source]
SNES controllers[edit | edit source]
SNES Accessories[edit | edit source]
Technology[edit | edit source]
Marketing[edit | edit source]
Homebrew[edit | edit source]
There is a WikiBook on SNES programming.
External Resources[edit | edit source]
Archived websites[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
| Parts of this page are based on materials from:
Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia.
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