Remind curiosities of the Super Nintendo, king of 16-bit consoles – 10/18/2020


Almost 30 years ago the video game world was shaken by the launch of the long-awaited successor to the Famicom / NES, which until then was the biggest success that a video game console had ever achieved.

Base of a legendary game library, the Super Nintendo (or Super NES) crossed the 1990s and was only discontinued in Japan in 2003. It won the tough competition with Sega’s Mega Drive, and provided classic games of various genres .

Queues in Japan, frustrated parents in the United States

If in Japan the launch of the Super Famicom almost stopped the country, in the United States the mood was of expectation and frustration. That’s because the fact that the Super Nintendo would not be compatible with Nintendinho 8-bit games made many parents angry at the risk of spending even more money. This situation led Nintendo to concentrate efforts to show a friendly brand also to the “owners of the money”, even investing in educational games, which led to the creation of the Mario Paint game.

The launch of the Super Nintendo was very successful in the United States, with Super Mario World, F-Zero, Pilotwings, Gradius III and Sim City making their presence felt on the console’s initial line.

The SNES had a Game Boy adapter

Super Game Boy

Image: Evan-Amos /

In 1994, the Game Boy notebook was already a veteran console. Even though it was the leader in its segment and already had a good library of games, its screen, without colors and with slow response time, remained a constant complaint. In order to remedy, at least in part, these problems and promote both the Game Boy and the SNES, Nintendo launched the Super Game Boy, an accessory cartridge that ran Game Boy games on television with a little help from the Super Nintendo.

Super Game Boy in action - Play - Play

Super Game Boy in action

Image: Reproduction

The role of the 16-bit console, however, was only to bring the images and sounds to the TV, since it was the Super Game Boy that did all the work of running the games, processing the software exactly as the laptop did. Still, interestingly, the processor present in the Super Game Boy had the clock slightly faster than that of the handheld console, which generated some inconsistencies in the frame rate of some games, making them faster than ideal.

Anyway, the Super Game Boy did a good job with the Game Boy games, and its success made Nintendo launch a second edition, the Super Game Boy 2, even if only in Japan.

Donkey Kong Country revolucionou a era dos 16-bits

Nintendo Power - Playback - Playback

Nintendo Power magazine cover with Donkey Kong Country

Image: Reproduction

Until the end of 1993, the 16-bit war between the Mega Drive (or Genesis) and the Super Nintendo continued to be fierce. Both companies had already released some of their best games for their respective consoles, while Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog were fighting a private fight to establish who was the most popular mascot among video game players and the general public. But Big N had an asset up its sleeve: British game producer Rare.

From the first games, still in the 1980s, until the early 1990s, Rare has evolved: it went from being a mere third-party producer that produced NES games to a Nintendo partner. The debut of this collaboration was in style, with the release of Donkey Kong Country in 1994. It was a brilliant action and platform game that brought the old Nintendo mascot, Donkey Kong, back into the spotlight.

The success was overwhelming. The cartridge generated a frenzy that made the SNES disappear from store shelves. On the other hand, Sonic & Knuckles, Sega’s last porcupine title, also released in 1994, was largely forgotten while Donkey Kong Country flew to reach 9 million units sold worldwide. The Country franchise also won two more successful editions for the Super Nintendo, returning years later with games for the Nintendo Wii and Wii U.

SNES arrived in Brazil in 1994

After years of absence and a kind of “rehearsed” release with the Game Boy in 1991 (the laptop was briefly officially distributed by the extinct Mesbla chain of stores in 1991), the Nintendo consoles finally landed in Brazil in 1994. Game Boy, Nintendo and Super Nintendo were launched and distributed in Brazil by Playtronic, a joint venture between Estrela and Gradiente. Thus, the Super Nintendo reached Brazilian homes about three years after the American launch, but the excellent support made the wait worthwhile.

Over time, Estrela left the partnership, and Gradiente remained alone with the support of Nintendo games and consoles until 2003.

The video game was home to RPGs

Although traditional RPG series like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest debuted on the Nintendo 8-bit, it was on the Super Nintendo that both these games and all Japanese RPG genres reached their peak. During its cycle, the Super Nintendo was the base of heavyweights like Final Fantasy III, Dragon Quest VI, Breath of Fire, Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, Earthbound, Secret of Mana, among others. Not to mention titles that did not leave Japan, such as Tales of Phantasia, Live a Live, Fire Emblem: Seisen no Keifu etc.

The legendary FX chip

In 1993, the war between Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis reached its peak. On the one hand, Sega spent all of its cartridges on promoting Sonic and the faster processor speed present in Genesis, including a line of aggressive commercials that used the expression “blast processing”. Nintendo, in turn, countered with the FX chip, a coprocessor that, coupled with a cartridge, allowed the SNES to execute and display polygonal graphics. The poster boy for this feature was the Star Fox game, which was quite successful and introduced the character Fox McCloud to the pantheon of the main heroes of Nintendo games.

The sequence seemed right, including several ads in specialized magazines of the time, until it was mysteriously canceled in 1995. Nintendo then claimed that Star Fox 2 would look very similar to a new game in the franchise that was in production for the Nintendo 64, successor of Super Nintendo, and therefore Big N preferred to focus its efforts on the game for the new generation. In the following years, fans of the franchise had to settle for ROMS of unfinished versions in order to experience, albeit in a mambembe way, Star Fox 2.

22 years after the scheduled launch date in 2017, Nintendo surprised by announcing Star Fox 2 as the bonus game present in the Super Nintendo Classic Edition, a miniaturized version of the Super Nintendo. With 21 games pre-installed, the SNES Classic Edition unlocked Star Fox 2 as soon as the player won the first phase of the first Star Fox, also present on this console. With a game system quite different from the original, betting on a strategy scheme, with missions arranged on a board, Star Fox 2 made use of the FX 2 chip, an improved and faster version of the original chip, also present in the game Yoshi’s Island.

The Super Nintendo in pictures




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