Welcome to a new regular feature on Nintendo Life: the "Ninterview". Once a month we'll be taking the time to talk to someone who has a special affinity to Nintendo, and our first subject is Stu Brett - who also goes by the moniker Super Famicom Guy.
Stu, a 33 year old designer from Scotland, is such a huge fan of Super Famicom (the Japanese version of the Super Nintendo, in case you were wondering) that when he's not working, you can always find him glued to his vintage 12” CRT television with that iconic SuperFami pad wedged firmly in his hands.
So let's get started.
Nintendo Life: How did you come to be known as “Super Famicom Guy”? Has it always been your nickname?
Super Famicom Guy: No, it wasn't a nickname or anything. I just decided to start a blog about my collecting of Super Famicom Games and I thought “What should I call it?” I decided to keep it simple. Super Famicom Guy basically nails it and lets everyone know what the blog is about and what type of games they can expect. After a week or so of launching it, the hits started flying in. After that I decided to launch the Twitter page. It’s strange, I actually find using Instagram a much more enjoyable way of checking out other gamers collections these days, plus you can leave comments and even buy the images!
NL: What is your earliest memory of Nintendo?
SFG: My earliest Nintendo memory would have to be when I was five. My uncle had bought a little Game & Watch, which was Donkey Kong. It was the first time I had ever seen one. Looking back now, I can see why I loved it so much. It was the right size for my hands, I loved the bright orange casing and it just seemed a million miles away from the boring grey ZX Spectrum's and colourless Commodore 16 keyboards and monitors that filled my mate's bedrooms. It just screamed fun. The game itself is incredibly simple, addictive and completely original - all the things that I’ve grown to love about everything Nintendo. After that (and after a lot of begging my parents) I managed to pick up a Game & Watch Donkey Kong Jnr. It now sits at my desk at work for those days when I need to take a break from deadlines and when my creative block kicks in. I still use the little alarm clock in it and the tiny reset hole is still filled with pencil lead from my primary school days. I love that - It reminds me of how long I've been video gaming. I have had Sony, Microsoft, Atari and Sega consoles die on me but this little thing just keeps on going. Incredible!
NL: What is your favourite Nintendo game?
SFG: Oh man, that's a tough one, there are so many! It would have to be from the 16-bit era. I'm a die-hard fan of 8-bit and 16-bit, that was the gaming era of my childhood and teens. I was 13 when the Super Nintendo was released and Zelda: A Link to the Past came out. It’s just a timeless creation by Nintendo. I’d use the map that was bundled with the game and explore every corner of it’s world. The music, sprite design, story…everything about it is just perfect. And that ending?? Man! I won’t spoil it for anyone who hasn't played it yet…I almost did during a conversation with a younger Zelda fan, I'm glad I didn't ruin it for her!
NL: What is your favourite Nintendo character/series/franchise?
SFG: For me, this changes all the time. If you asked me yesterday I would have said Mario but today I've been playing Super Metroid. It's a unique Nintendo franchise for a number of reasons; such as the lead character is female, it's Sci-Fi and it has a slight dark side to it. It almost feels like Nintendo’s own take on the Alien movies, with Samus as Ripley and the Metroids as the Aliens. Those movies also happen to be some of my favourite films - so I'm sure that is another reason why I love them. I also like how Nintendo have evolved the look and style of the franchise.
NL: What is your favourite gaming platform of all time?
SFG: That's an easy one! The Super Famicom, and I specifically mean the Japanese version. It was my first stereo console (the Atari 1040STE being my only stereo computer). My dad and I are complete audiophiles and also musicians and I love classic video-game music and how difficult it was for those guys back then to achieve something special. Having that extra stereo channel of music in as sound-chip just made things sound so much more colourful. It gave coders the chance to write more in-depth compositions and even include stereo panning. So, my dad fitted four shelf speakers to each corner of my room, just below the ceiling and hooked them up to the SNES. We turned it on and I was blown away. My dad was like “yeeeah!” I'd sit and play F-Zero for hours, hearing 'Mute City' in stereo, with the bass turned up was (and is) so cool!
After that I turned to importing SNES games and eventually picking up a console to play them directly on without the need of a converter. The artwork on the boxes was a million miles away from typical western box art. It made buying the game much more collectible and exotic for a little 13 year old kid. Plus, the type of games were also very different from the West. It was a glimpse into the future for me. This was before Anime and Manga really took over the world. Nothing beats having a collection of Japanese SNES games on display. They look incredible. Add to that, the fact that you could purchase your games much earlier than the rest of the world made it even more desirable.
NL: How many Super Famicom games do you have at the moment, do you have ANY PAL/US carts?
SFG: It’s been a while since I last took a count. I have a few hundred, all of which are complete, boxed Japanese SNES games. I’m not a number chaser or anything - I just like to find the games I really enjoyed playing. And the odd exotic item, like my recently purchased SFC Hotel System - It’s basically a unit Nintendo designed to be placed in plush Japanese hotels. Inside the unit is a custom Super Famicom with some giant cartridges containing custom-edited Star Fox and Mario Kart games - never released commercially. But yeah, I’m all about the Japanese games!
NL: What do you love most about video games?
SFG: It's the family aspect of gaming I love and seeing each generation pick up and play the same characters that I did at that age. You can't beat seeing a 10 year old kid playing a Mario game and familiarising themselves with the same video-game universe and characters I did as a kid. There’s something magic about that.
The original Japanese Nintendo Famicom (family computer) and Super Famicom were both hugely successful with people of all ages, from mahjong playing pensioners to 9-5 salary men needing to de-stress after a hectic day in the city. You’d have teenagers and students playing the same games without anyone regarding them as games for little kids; it’s a source of entertainment that transcends all ages. I remember telling my parents this (in the hope they'd join in) and they just laughed at me...something along the lines of "don't be ridiculous Stu, it's for kids!". Fast-forward 20 years later and Nintendo has finally won over families and households world-wide. The Wii was brilliantly marketed and really showed us westerners that Nintendo really is for everyone. We were just slow to get there but that's the heart of Nintendo and for me that is the very essence of gaming. It just gets better and better with age!
NL: What is your favourite part of Nintendo Life?
SFG: The reader's comments. I love how an article sparks off conversations between gamers and how they share their experiences and collections. I rarely read any trollers or rants; Nintendo Life has a great community and they genuinely like to contribute to the articles and views of the writers. It’s much more personable than some other online forums I read.
NL: What makes Nintendo particularly special to you?
SFG: They've never wavered from what they want to do and what direction they want to take their products in. You've got to respect that. They've been on a mission since the release of the NES and it’s still going strong, gathering more and more fans across the globe at all ages. It’s easy for console manufacturers to bend their franchises and products to fit the trends of today but originality, simplicity and great design will always win out. That’s why we have a 30 year old video-game character still flying the flag for Nintendo that’s still No.1: Mario!
NL: Desert island time. You can take one Super Famicom game - which is it?
SFG: This is hard, very hard! I’m going to go with Super Mario Kart. I know it’s not as lengthy and in-depth as an RPG but it’s so addictive and hypnotic. The controls are just perfect and I still find myself playing it almost every other week. So that’s a definite for Mario Kart!
NL: What do you think the future holds for Nintendo?
SFG: I hope to see some new franchises on the horizon that might share the same type of long-lasting legacy with the likes of Mario. As much as I love Nintendo franchises, I believe that in order to continue growing and maintain its position on the video-gaming throne, it has to introduce more characters that slot in with today's gaming tastes. I'm not talking cheesy flash-in-the-pan character design, but something that gels together everything we Nintendo fans love.
NL: Thanks, and finally how can our readers get in touch/follow you?
SFG: I run my own little blog that’s roughly devoted to my Super Famicom Collection please feel free to drop by! I’m also on Twitter @SuperFamicomGuy where I share my Instagram photos and links to the blog. I also play modern consoles, but I’m a retro Nintendo fan at heart and always will be!
Thanks to Stu for taking part in our very first "Ninterview" on Nintendo Life. Who you would like us to Ninterview next? We're looking for you, the readers of Nintendo Life, to nominate who you think we should talk to - you can nominate either yourself, a friend or somebody else entirely - contact us and let us know.
Ninterviews are a series of interviews where we get to know interesting people with a passion for Nintendo. Please contact us if you have any suggestions for future Ninterviews. Click here to see the full series.