Super nostalgia: Local gamers fondly remember Super Nintendo on its 20th anniversary

Super nostalgia: Local gamers fondly remember Super Nintendo on its 20th anniversary

August 19th, 2011 by Casey Phillips in Life Entertainment

August 23 is the 20th anniversary of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

August 23 is the 20th anniversary of the...

Photo by Angela Lewis /Times Free Press.

NINTENDO TIMELINE

  • 1889: Nintendo Co. founded and begins producing hanafuda (Japanese playing cards).
  • 1977-1980: Nintendo produces three iterations of the Japanese-only Color TV Game, its first dedicated game * console.
  • 1980: Nintendo releases "Silver," the first Game & Watch, its series of handheld single-game devices.
  • 1983: Debut of the Nintendo Entertainment System's Japanese predecessor, the Family Computer (Famicom).
  • 1985: U.S. launch of the NES.
  • 1989: Launch of the Game Boy handheld game platform.
  • 1990: Japanese launch of the Super Famicom.
  • 1991: U.S. launch of the Super Nintendo.
  • 1996: Worldwide launch of the Nintendo 64.
  • 1998: Worldwide launch of the Game Boy Color.
  • 1999: End of production of the Super Nintendo in the U.S.
  • 2001: Worldwide launch of the Nintendo GameCube/Game Boy Advance.
  • 2003: End of pro-duction of the Super Famicom in Japan.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 49 million: Number of Super Nintendo systems sold worldwide.
  • 23 million: Number of SNES consoles sold in the United States.
  • 8 million: Unit sales of "Donkey Kong Country," the best-selling, nonbundled SNES title.
  • $800: Price asked in a current eBay auction for an unopened SNES console bundle with "Killer Instinct."
  • $200: The 1991 launch price of the SNES.
  • $327.24: Equivalent cost of the SNES in 2011.
  • No. 4: Ranking of the SNES on gaming website IGN.com's 2009 list of the Top 25 Video Game Consoles of all Time/

PERIPHERAL PLETHORA

As with many game consoles, the SNES had its share of after-market accessories. Here are a few.

  • Super Game Boy: A cartridge adapter that made Game Boy titles playable on the SNES.
  • Super Scope: A wireless, infrared "gun" used in shooting games.
  • SNES Mouse: A wired mouse controller bundled with the "Mario Paint" drawing game.
  • Super Advantage: A controller modeled on an arcade style joystick.
  • Satellaview: A Japanese-only satellite modem cartridge that descrambled special TV broadcasts aimed at gamers.

SNES SYSTEM SPECS

  • Maximum resolution: 512 pixels by 448 pixels.
  • Processor speed: 3.58 megahertz.
  • Memory: 128 kilobytes.
  • Video memory: 64 kilobytes.
  • Max colors on-screen: 256.

Source: Snescentral.com

OTHER ANNIVERSARIES

Other iconic games are passing noteworthy milestones.

  • Turning 30 ... Arcade games "Donkey Kong," "Galaga" and "Frogger."
  • Turning 25 ... "Metroid" (Nintendeo Entertainment System), "The Legend of Zelda" (NES) and "Dragon Quest" (NES).

To children growing up in the early 1990s, there were few things more desirable than the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. For some of them, the video-game console still holds its appeal, even as it turns 20 years old.

Because systems were available earlier in some markets, sources disagree about the U.S. launch date of the SNES (commonly pronounced as a word, like NATO). According to a Nintendo representative, however, the official release was Aug. 19, 1991, nine months after the debut of the SNES' Japanese counterpart, the Super Famicom, on Nov. 21, 1990.

Dan Ruley, 25, said his first memory of SNES was in 1993 when he and his older sister saw one in a store display. After seeing "Super Mario World," which came bundled with the system, Ruley said they had to have it.

"We'd never seen anything like it," he said. "We saved up money after that to get one. That thing was amazing. It was an integral part of my childhood."

With its 16-bit graphics, better sound card, faster processor and six-button controller, the SNES was a huge technological upgrade over its predecessor, the Nintendo Entertainment System, released in 1985.

When the SNES launched, it started what many gamers consider the first console "war" with Sega, the makers of rival 16-bit console the Sega Genesis. The companies fought for gamers' money and attention with aggressive advertising campaigns and highly coveted titles exclusive to each system.

Gamers said that competitive spirit drove game developers to new levels of ingenuity and excitement. As a result, many SNES titles continue to be popular among gamers, even two decades later.

While the Genesis has its proponents, local Nintendo fans said the SNES game library had more compelling exclusive titles.

"The Super Nintendo had the game selection because you could play 'Mario' and 'Zelda,'" said Stephanie Clark, 26. "At the time, Nintendo dominated the gaming market. It had those classic games you could only play on that console."

More than 700 games were released for the SNES between 1991 and 1998. Some titles, such as "Chrono Trigger," "Final Fantasy II" and "Street Fighter II," were so well-received that they were re-released several times on later-generation consoles.

Nintendo has introduced younger gamers to many of these games through the Shop Channel, an online store accessible on the company's most recently released console, the Nintendo Wii.

As of Aug. 16, three of the 10 most-registered downloads for the Wii were SNES titles: "Chrono Trigger," "Super Mario World" and "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past".

Danny Butler, 24, grew up with an SNES in his home and bought a replacement console two years ago after finding a used copy of "Chrono Trigger," which he never finished when he played it growing up.

Although he owns modern systems such as the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii, Butler said he still returns to the SNES when he's between games. Modern games may look better, but they lack the kind of adventurous design that defined titles such as "Chrono Trigger," he said.

That nostalgic yearning for simplicity is why many gamers keep the SNES around, Butler said.

"I think gamers want to get back to a time when there was a lot of excitement and ingenuity and creativity," he said. "The Super Nintendo really reflects that."

Eric Williams, 28, said he thinks there is a more fundamental reason people return to SNES titles such as "Star Fox."

"Those are games I love," he said. "Those are games you just can't get tired of playing. Back then, games were based on how fun they were, not how good the graphics were or how detailed the stories were."

Contact Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.


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