News Article

Feature: 20 Years of the Super NES

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Time flies when you’re having 16-bit fun

It’s been a year of major anniversaries, proving the fact for many of us at Nintendo Life that we are, indeed, getting old. We’ve seen anniversaries for Zelda, Metroid and Sonic, with Mario enjoying a celebratory cake with Princess Peach only last year. Next up is the Super Nintendo Entertainment System: the Super NES officially launched in North America on August 19th 1991, so it's time to celebrate.

Of course, the Super NES arrived in Japan in November 1990, and European gamers had to wait until April 1992, but now seems to be as good a time as any to look back on the 16-bit console. Much like the most recent generation of consoles, and as will probably be the case with the Wii U and the next-gen offerings from Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo faced competition that boasted of mature titles and superior graphics – who can forget ‘BLAST Processing’ on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. And yet after a long — and at times closely fought — battle, Nintendo won that particular console war.

We shouldn’t forget that, despite claims by its competitors, the Super NES packed a bit of punch of its own. The best of the games on the console were a demonstration of the bright and detailed sprites that could be produced, while basic 3D-style graphics were possible with the Mode 7 graphics setting. Nintendo also found other ways to boost the console's capabilities, utilising a design that meant graphics chips incorporated directly onto a cartridge could provide impressive results. One of the best known examples was Star Fox (Star Wing in Europe and Australia) using the Super FX chip for polygon based graphics. Throw in the controller with its four face and two shoulder buttons, and this was a console that grabbed gamer's attention.

As with any console, though, success is dependant on great games. Fancy hardware and cutting-edge technology is only as good as the games that it comes with, and it is here that the Super Nintendo shone the brightest. As well as entries from beloved Nintendo franchises, third party classics also ensured the success and legacy of the SNES. Many of these titles are still wonderful to play today, and thanks to the Virtual Console get regular play-time on Wii consoles around the world. To acknowledge the gaming legacy of the SNES, we’ve looked through our archive of reviews and identified the best games, in our opinion, from this classic console. Check out the next page for the results.

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User Comments (97)



Shiryu said:

And still me favourite console of all time. PAL is way cooler IMO but you americans had way more games.



HP_3 said:

I was 18 yrs old when the SNES launched, and now i'm 38. How time flies by! I still have my SNES and it has turned yellow in color. lol Awesome system by the way!!!



Cowlauncher said:

For me, Final Fantasy III was the most magificent experience on that little box. Happy 20th, SNES!!



Wheels2050 said:

Yay for the SNES!

The PAL console is way cooler (I'm probably a bit biased) but we did have to put up with missing out on a lot of releases. Luckily they were only unimportant ones, like, you know, Chrono Trigger...

Oh, and the PAL conversion problems, although that wasn't something I was aware of until recently.

I still love mine to bits though!



Shiryu said:

My collection (so far):

The first 20 PAL games where the ones I original bought from 1992 to 1997 when the PSX arrived. As such, they are the only ones in perfect condition (box + manual, all portuguese edition). Really good times, more so in a country that was like 85% Sega Megadrive land.



JayArr said:

The Golden Age of RPG's and a controller that forever changed the game. One of the best systems far Nintendo's best.



Link79 said:

I was 12 the first time I got my hands on one of these. I friend of mine was the first on the block to get one. I'd go over to his house and spend the whole night playing Super Mario world and Zelda: Link to the past.
I drove my mom nuts begging for a Snes of my own.
Finally that Christmas I got one and my whole perspective on Videogames changed forever.
Still the coolest system ever!



Crystalking18 said:

I wasn't even born whent this came out. It's a pretty good system overall and has some amazing songs and some of the best 2D graphics I've ever seen. My favorite game on the ol' SNES would have to be Kirby Super Star hands down (yeah I'm weird like that)



DiggerandIndy said:

I have tons of memories with the system, such as watching my dad play Final Fantasy II and III on there, and playing a ton of games that are absolute classics. The SNES is my favorite system, better than the Genesis! :-D



Bloodysaber said:

Hah, I actually learned about Terranigma from that "one place on the internet we don't speak about in public" and I've been working my way through it ever since.

Absolutely great game; shame it never made it stateside.



LeeGarbutt said:

Definitely the pinnacle of Nintendo gaming - They got mostly everything right with the SNES; a phenomenal library consisting of a sublime balance between great first-party and third-party titles, one of the most comfortable and easy to user controllers around, great hardware (especially the brilliant Sony-produced sound chip) and 20 years of fond memories.

We could have done with a bit more RPG love in Europe, but at least we got Secret of Mana - Definately my favourite SNES game, and one of my favourite of all time.



Marios-love-child said:

I'll never forget the day I got my first SNES. I was probably only about 8 or 9 at the time when it launched. It was like all my Christmas's came at once

I'd been pestering my Dad to get me a NES for well over 12 months prior to this but he never did get me one, I hated him for it at the time but looking back now i realise the reason he wouldnt get me one was because there was a newer improved NES on the horizon. aka the Super NES.

All I can say is that it was worth the wait, i've owned every Nintendo Console since but for me the SNES is still the best.

Back then it was abit like it is today between the PS3 and the Xbox, you either had a SNES or a Megadrive, one or the other, constant playground arguments as to which was the best lol

My Favorite game is a predictable one but it has to be Super Mario World. I think its the perfect template on how to make a 2d sidescrolling adventure game, even today (20 years later) it still stands up pretty well.



NintyMan said:

I just played my old SNES last night, and I was reminded again how a simple gaming console can shine so bright with great games. It has the best library of the Nintendo home consoles, and the third-party support coming from Capcom and Square was strong.

When I was just a baby, the first video game that I saw was Mario Paint, and when I could pick up a controller I played Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario All-Stars. Now as a young adult I still have those games and have even picked up some new ones for the system over the years, such as Donkey Kong Country 2 and 3 and the Disney video games such as Aladdin and The Lion King. Playing that Mario Paint flyswatting game and Super Mario World produced some good memories.

Believe it or not, it's also the only video game system that my own mom plays, and still does today. She can play Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country so well!



photofool83 said:

Earthbound!! One of my most memorable gaming experiences as a kid. Also, Uniracers, a surprisingly well-made 2-D racer. This game spent a lot of time in my SNES.



alLabouTandroiD said:

Happy birthday SNES !

I was eight years old when my tech-crazy daddy decided that we'd rent you during school holidays. My twelve year old aunt was always around and we played Super Mario World like crazy. I’ll never forget how much deeper, more rewarding and dynamic it felt compared to the NES games I played before. We were very surprised and laughing hard when suddenly everything turned pumpkin. And since the video-store guy was a cool person he said when we were done with Mario we could bring it back and get another game for free. Which maybe wasn’t the best decision since my aunt always pwnt me in F-Zero then. :|
Later a friend of mine got you too and we played Super Mario All-Stars like crazy when his TV show obsessed mother allowed us to. Another friend got Probetector III (aka Contra 3) and the intensity and presentation made it the most amazing gaming experience I had until then.
Not only that but you’ve always been my personal star at supermarket displays. Seeing Yoshi’s Island and Donkey Kong Country 3 in action i couldn’t believe my eyes how great games could look on you. :o
I’m very sorry that PC gaming took my spotlight back then so I never got you myself. More sorry for me than for you though since I missed out some of the best games ever made.
And while I still have to experience many of your great games there is one thing you should know. You truly are the best 2D console ever made. And don’t be jealous because today’s 2D games have crispier graphics than you. They’re still only copying your gameplay, so you win. :)


Your secret admirer

PS: Props to the different coloured buttons of your controller too.
PPS: Why were you so ugly in Japan ?
PPPS: Only one more year until drinking alcohol won’t be as exciting to you anymore.
PPPPS: Where’s the cake ?



pntjr said:

Where can you get this epicness? NOT ON SEGA. Lol, i remember that commercial.



Marios-love-child said:


Just brought back so many memorys with that post. Normally Movie Spin off Games are awfull in my opinion but Aladin and Lion king were both Brilliant games



HandheldGuru97 said:

Happy Birthday SNES! Even though it came before my time two of my favorite games of all time originally came from the SNES. They are Chrono Trigger and Super Mario World. My uncle has a cabin and there I found a NES, a SNES and N64. One day I might just get those systems and when I do will finally get to play those games on a TV.



Jahir said:

I'm one moth older than the SNES xD But thank god I still could play it in its great era. The only games I remember I played (and ejoyed a lot) were Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart and Killer Instinct.

It seems that fun was everything at those days, nobody cared about graphics or the lack of violence, it was just Nintendo doing what he best can do, really good (and fun) games.



yoyogamer said:

Actually, the Super Nes launched on August 13th, not 19th, in North America. Anyways...
Happy Birthday Super Nintendo Entertainment System!



DrCruse said:

It's a great console, but I still prefer the Genesis :) The RPGs of the SNES just don't do it for me (takes a bow) except Super Mario RPG. I do love the graphics of the SNES though. The DKC series remains amazing to this day. Castlevania, Starfox, SMW, Earthbound, and Kirby Super Star are all fantastic games.



komicturtle said:

It should have been top 20, as it is 20 years of the SNES..

Oh, and I'd say Earthbound, Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dreamland 3, Goof Troop and Super Bomberman 2 should be in the top 20 :)



Mayhem said:

I can imagine there might be a series of comments about the lack of Super Mario Kart in that top ten heh... but seriously, there are just too many good games to make a definitive list that short, everyone's opinion is going to be different!

@Yoyogamer - I've heard from a couple of people that it launched at different times depending on where in the US you were, with dates of 13th, 19th, 23rd and even 9th September mentioned. It certainly wasn't on one date all over the country.



XyVoX said:

I was 17 when i got my SNES/Super Famicom as i ordered it from Japan as i already owned a Jap Megadrive and hated the UK consoles SLOWWW running speed and smaller screen size. This and the N64 are my best machines to date.



TKOWL said:

I was born well into the life of the SNES, so I never got to experience one originally. However, I was able to pick one up about a year ago, and it has become one of my all-time favorite consoles. The game quality, the controller, the looks... everything is perfect about it.

Long live the SNES!



Blink said:

Ahh, wonderful wonderful times. I think I'll go play mine now, anyone got a Super Metroid cart I can borrow?



TheKingOfTown said:

Wow, the SNES is way older than me. I was born during the N64 era, but my first system was the GameCube. I'm sure the SNES changed lives forever.



TeeJay said:

My very first game was Megaman X, and it remains my favorite game to this day, shamelessly fully because of nostalgia. I still have my SNES at home and it will always be special to me.



retro_player_22 said:

Happy birthday Super NES, it's hard to believe that in Japan it has only been eight years since the console had been retired.



Mikau94 said:

The SNES is still probably my favorite system, it introduced so may good RPGs, A Link to the Past and of course shoulder buttons! I feel like sitting down and playing Super Metroid now :)



Bass_X0 said:

I actually learned about Terranigma from that "one place on the internet we don't speak about in public"




The_Fox said:

Although I wasn't even in grade school yet when it came out I still feel old.



Supremeist said:

I've never seen or played an SNES before. I know, that sucks right? One of these days I will get one. Happy Birthday to an awesome system!



Zach said:

I vomit every time I think about the fact that I didn't take better advantage of my SNES.



SuperLink said:

Excellent article. The SNES is without a doubt, my favorite Nintendo console. But Honestly I think the PAL version looks cooler. I don't know why. And I love the top ten; I've played 8 and a 1/2 of them.



antdickens said:

This was the main console that I grew up with, only fond memories of a fantastic array of games. Top notch.



spoon07 said:

My favourite console of all time favourite games ever:LOZ:Link to the Past and Chrono Trigger.



bezerker99 said:

I got a Sega Genesis the year it was released. A year later the SNES came along and (in my opinion) blew the Mega Drive out of the stratosphere. Seeing Mario in glorious 16-bit colors was THE reason for getting a Super Nintendo. Games like Super Metroid, F-Zero, and ALttP only solidified more the fact that Nintendo was miles ahead of it's competition. Sorry, Sega...but Nintendo did do what u said it don't. :-P



Peppy_Hare said:

No Ogre Battle huh? What about Final Fantasy VI? How's about Earthbound? Or Super Metroid? Yoshi's Island?



Ryno said:

Pleasant surpise to find this on Nintendolife this morning because I was just playing my orginal SNES last night!. I just wrapped up Demon's Crest last night and recently got Turtles IV: Turtles in Time. Both awesome games on a system that produced so many great childhood memories for me along with the other amazing titles like Street Fighter II (preferred Turbo), Super Castlevania IV, Final Fantasy II & III, Zelda: A Link to the Past, Star Fox, F-Zero ,and Super Mario Kart to name just a few more.

My eject button is a "little sloppy" and loose when a game is not locked in. :| Anybody fixed this or had/have this problem? I probably just need to open it up and look inside. Also mine hasn't yellowed to bad, I still keep that bad boy in the original box and plastic when not using it.

The North America version is definitely better looking - more clean and simplistic which makes it more pleasing to my eyes. The PAL version looks like something conjured up after watching SpaceBalls. :p I admit I am probably biased though ;)



Retro_on_theGo said:

Oh, the SNES. My favorite console ever!
I remember playing turtles in time and sunset riders all the time with family. I still play my SNES to this day. It's such a great console. I beat Megaman X and still play through it for fun. I also beat DKC2 and SMW recently.
Man....20 years,huh? They aren't kidding when they say time flies. I could cry with joy trying to remember some of my best gaming memories on this console. I love the SNES and Nintendo.
Happy 20th birthday good friend!



Samholy said:

where are final fantasy 3 (FF6 japan) and mario kart ???
also, street fighter 2 turbo should have been there, because it gave one hell of a long franchise legacy, still up and running strong today.
Secret of mana 2 also should figure into this list.

elseway the list is super accurate. But there is so much games on the snes that are memorable. Truly the console that gave me the most memorable times. i rarely play a game twice these days, but the snes made me play some titles over and over again, years after years...even today !



scrubbyscum999 said:

Arguably the greatest console of all time. I never got to own one, I was born in 1995. I do play SNES games on the Wii VC though, and they are amazing. Chrono Trigger, Super Mario World (I played the GBA port as a kid), Link to the Past, Super Castlevania IV, the list goes on and on. This is the pinnacle of gaming, and the fact that new generations still play these SNES games show its timeless. Never has there been one system with so many legendary experiences. It may not stay at the top forever, but it hasn't been beaten yet after 20 years.



suburban_sensei said:

Happy birthday to my favorite system of all time. The SNES represents a time in my life, and anytime I play a SNES game, I just get taken back to when I was a kid and can just have fun.



StuffyStuff said:

I got my SNES in 1992 and it's cracked and discolored, but fires up every time. I still play it frequently because I feel it has the best selection of games. My favorite genres are platformers and beatemups so the SNES fits the bill perfectly.



cheetahman91 said:

Definitely the best console of all time. Had a ton of fantastic games along with great graphics and an excellent sound chip (although some games like Ys III sound much better on the Genesis) too. A shame I can't play it right now but when I get home in a couple of weeks, it'll get plenty of playtime.



Tasuki said:

Wow I cant belive its 20 years old today.

IMO the best console of all time the only one that comes close is the PS2. I still have my original SNES although its yellow now and there is a corner broken off of it (I am not sure how that happened) and I still pop in Chrono Trigger and Earthbound in it from time to time and it runs as good as it did the Christmas morning I got it.

And I personally think the NA version was the best looking out of the 3.

@StuffyStuff: Did you get your SNES working again? I remember a few months ago you said it stopped working.



OldBoy said:

PAL version wins by a mile in the looks dept IMO.Also we had the nice coloured buttons. :) Less games though :(
Awesome console and still one of the best! Its best games are as good today as they were 20 years ago. Probaly the golden age of games for me (probably cause I was a kid ,but still...). I <3 SNES.



Dr_Salvador said:

It has to be my favorite console too, just like a hole lot of you Snes nerds! :P ;)
I played Super Mario World and Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 like a crazy! Also Zombies, Super Mario: All-Stars, Final Fight, Super Castlevania, Super Ghouls N Ghost and Megaman X were great and I played them for a loong time! :)
But why haven't we seen Rock N Roll Racing for so long? Could be so cool if it was rereleased for the wii shop or maybe the 3DS, I miss it a lot :( Also miss Gooftroop!



Tails said:

Always will have a place in my heart as the greatest Console that ever was made by Nintendo. Such amazing games, Such amazing soundtracks, Such epicness that will never be matched ever again.



Revanmann said:

the SNES was me first gaming experience and my favorite game will always be Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past,.... and wait for it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Super Metroid! that game will always be my most favorite video game EVER no questions asked. especially sicne it releashed on my birth year. and i beat it in 2 hours and 55 minutes last Friday and also i found some beatifully made music called Metroid Metal which Rocks!!! (close in a sense of Gernera)
I will always Love you SNES the best console EVER! (the PS1 takes a close second,... but it's your day and also we are on a Nintendo sight)



Revanmann said:

oh and the American version looks the coolest. as do all of the consoles over here



Corbs said:

Greatest video game console ever and nothing else has ever, or will ever, come remotely close to it IMO. The best of the best!



Pj1 said:

I traded in my mega drive for a Snes for the in-game pack Mario all Stars, I loved that console and think the only Nintendo console ever to top it is (sorry) the Wii. I regret trading in the mega drive even today, I should have cleaned more cars and saved up for the snes, then again I'm dwelling on the past....



Capt_N said:

This, & the Nes are my 2 favorite consoles to date. I still remember unwrapping it, w/ my sister Christmas morning. Too bad I was stupid, & decided to sell it. I'll try to own one again, very soon.



Schprocket said:

I look on this celebration as a bit of an outsider.
Like LTD, my eldest son has a "tech-crazy Daddy" (me) who bought his kids an SNES but being the PC gamer I was at the time, I didn't get into the console in a big way and ended up getting the kids a the first Sony PS.
However my kids loved the SNES while they had it, andI think Donkey Kong Country 2 stands out in my mind as one of their all-time faves.

After picking up a Wii again recently (2nd hand and cheaper than a new release PS3 game) I'm discovering pretty much for the first time why there's so much love for Nintendo. I appreciate how well-crafted their 1st party titles are and once I've finished PAper Mario, my next VC game will be the SNES's DKC :)

@James I think you'll need a bigger hook, like typing in all caps, mate... in all this outpouring of SNES-love I think they missed it :)



James said:

@Schprocket I'm a firm believer that in a throng of voices, the whisper is louder than the shout, but in this case I'll make an exception.




dragoon1090 said:

I didn't get SNES until mid way through it's cycle (94-95?) but I got it with Super Mario World and Donkey King Country. I had a Sega genesis too but I ultimately chose the SNES every time. That system was the best to date. I love it.



Ren said:

oh, the memories. I can't say that I liked this or the N64 better, they were both very different times in my life, but it seems the Snes lasted a long time.
Seems the gaming magazines were all about Actraiser when it came out, and I remember liking it but feeling a little slighted when it took about 2 days to finish. Also there was a great, nerdy import shop near my house and it was in the days when "region lock" just meant a plastic tab that I had to cut away in my system so I could rent imports like Parodius and such.
Void's the warranty! they said trying to get me to buy the cheap plastic convertor; like that tank would ever die. You could spill a case of beer in there and it'd still work after an hour in the sun or a minute in the oven "warm mode". Those controllers are what paved the way for the 50 button things that all the systems use now. (except Wii, ironically).



Klaarover said:

The megadrive went bye bye because of this console. I distinctly remember the sound dominating over anything else.
It had a great set of launch titles too.



motang said:

SNES was my first console, remember getting it as if it were yesterday.



Tasuki said:

@StuffyStuff: Wow thats good to hear.

I dont know what I would do if my SNES stopped working. I'd more than likely start looking for one ebay or something.



Boyoshi said:

SNES is awesome no doubt about it with games like
Super Mario World and
The legend of Zelda a link to the Past.
It's got my vote as one of the greatest video game systems EVER!!!



SNK said:

PAL is way cooler IMO but you americans had way more games.

the PAL console was Terrible all the games used to run 50hz and used to have Big Ugly Borders at the Top and Bottom of the screen and the games used to run 17.5% slower than both the USA and JAP consoles,i bough a PAL snes and then sold it for a USA Snes and ive never looked back since.



StarDust4Ever said:

The SNES was a great system, yes. I read up on that japan-mod, and I may have to import some Super Famicom games and try it some time. And the blocky US consoles/carts do look cooler than the PAL/Japan versions, though I like the Pal/Japanese controllers better, LOL! :D

NES will always be my favorite system though - maybe I'm just too old school. :P



teamdoa said:

The PAL console was horrible, borders and slower. unless you played the US or Japanese one or modded you never truly experienced the awesomeness of the console back in its hey day.



Pj1 said:

Wheels2050 you've forgotten some thing else, We never got Super Mario RPG..... until it was released on the VC and it was a crime by Nintendo to leave Europe out at the time, nowadays Nintendo love Europe- (Well kind of)



MetroidMasher17 said:

The American Super NES looks like an awkward tank with no wheels. The PAL version looks cooler. :P

On a different note, I'll finally be getting a Super NES! I wanted to get one some time ago, but I spent my money elsewhere (Pokémon mini, Virtual Boy, etc.). I'm doing some looking around and hope to have one by the end of October!



MeloMan said:

Nice article. UGH, you guys just HAD to remind me of how Terranigma has yet to make it to the west. :(




Nintendo's greatiest creation will always be the SNES for me!! If video games never evolved from the 16-bit age and every new game was 16-bit that would be just fine with me I would actually be in heaven :)



Javin said:

Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest. I've had a LOT of awesome memories with all of the Donkey Country games! those were the BEST SNES games!!!! Super Mario World was an awesome games to! I played countless hours with all of these games! :)



starcrunch061 said:

Terranigma is great, but it's no Final Fantasy VI. I respect trying to find deep cuts, but FFVI is arguably the best game in the franchise (and in my opinion, it's the best game ever made).



starcrunch061 said:


The American SNES was certainly built like a tank. I've had mine for nearly 20 years, and despite 6 different moves, it looks brand new.



Mr-X9000 said:

even though i was born in the 32-bit era( sega saturn, ps1, and N64) this was the second console i owned when i was 5 ( the first being an atari 2600 jr.) my favourite games were super mario world, donkey kong country, and some spider man game
@77 im pretty sure sonic the hedegehog 3 was a sega genesis game last time i checked

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