HISTORY / COLLECTING: Super Nintendo Entertainment System


The NES had survived a rocky launch and went on to become a huge hit, the biggest fish in the console gaming pond. To try to compete NEC released the TurboGrafx-16 in 1987 and Sega released the Genesis in 1988. The latter started to gain steam in the marketplace. In 1991 after great success in Japan, Nintendo 1280px-SNES-Mod1-Console-Setlaunched the SNES stateside in an effort to take back the market and energy that gaming was starting gain in North America. The SNES is a 16-bit console with controllers that have 6 buttons, including 2 shoulder buttons. It was $199 ($348 adjusted for inflation) and came packaged with one of the best Nintendo games ever, Super Mario World. Other launch titles included F-Zero, Pilotwings, SimCity and Gradius III.

The SNES saw immediate success and fought head to head with the Genesis. It put Sega on their heels and forced them into a big rebrand of the Genesis in an effort to boost sales, as well as an early start into developing a new console which would turn out to be the Saturn. This is just speculation on my part but I don’t think its crazy to credit the SNES as the main reason the Saturn turned out so poorly. Sega snes cwanted to quickly regain the market after losing it to the SNES. Rushing out a new console in an effort to gain everyone’s attention led to the Saturn really not being much of a step up in terms of performance, as well as not allowing developers enough time to develop great games for the system that would be ready anywhere near launch-date. The main complaint about the Saturn was the number and quality of its titles, obvious when you consider an original Sonic game never even released for it. Regardless of reason, the Genesis (vs the SNES) and then later Saturn (vs SNES and then N64) neither one could gain back control of the market. The SNES held its own for several years and wasn’t discontinued until 1999 in NA, and until 2003 in Japan. It sold 49 million units during its lifetime.


You may remember me saying back in the Sega Genesis history that it was my second favorite console ever. Well the SNES is my favorite. The 16-bit era was the best period of gaming. It had beautiful visuals and sound that hold up superbly with time. The game libraries are robust, including the original games for several of gaming’s key franchises from both Nintendo and Sega. It also was a key time for the video game market and the birthplace of a truly competitive market like the one we have today. Until the SNES vs Genesis race there really was no close competitions between two companies at the same time, on that big of a scale. Since then, the home console market has always been hotly contested between two or more companies. As any of you with any business sense know, competition is healthy and necessary if you truly want a product to grow. Without a competitive market like what began with SNES vs Genesis, we would not have gotten to the technological advancements in gaming we have today in such a short time. You can see it easily on a much smaller scale with the Madden franchise. Back when Madden had to compete with 2K and other NFL football game franchises we saw leaps and bounds in technology and features implemented in football video games. But since the exclusive contract was signed between EA and the NFL for football video games we have seen a snail-like speed in true improvements in our football games year after year. If Madden had to compete with another established franchise every year we would be far ahead of where we are now.

Anyways, back to the SNES specifically. While I had access to a Genesis on my monthly visits to see my dad in Indiana, the SNES was my main console at home in Kentucky. The library of the SNES is absolutely incredible. Its responsible for establishing dkc gifmany other franchises for Nintendo aside from the already established Super Mario games. The various excellent Kirby games, the Donkey Kong Country series, Super Metroid, Link’s Awakening, F-Zero, Star Fox, they all brought these new characters and franchises into the limelight and showed gamers that these games could be just as superb as the Super Mario games. It was also the home to several fantastic arcade games that were ported to home consoles, particularly the budding fighting game scene with the Mortal Kombat series, Super Street Fighter II and Killer Instinct. There also was a plethora of fantastic RPGs on the SNES including Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Earthbound and Final Fantasy II and III. Whatever genre of game you enjoyed, the SNES not only had you covered, they were home to the absolute best games for that genre.

The SNES was the first system I remember my entire family wanting to get involved in and not just me and Levi. My aunt and mother would have Dr. Mario / Tetris battles all the time. My uncle and I would duke it out on Mortal Kombat and Super Street Fighter II. Even grandpa got in the mix and grew addicted to Super Mario World. This was the first time I realized that gaming was not just for kids. I credit it with being the console I share the most fond memories of, not just of specific games, but also of spending time with family.


So you’ve heard all the good news about the SNES and its games, here’s the bad news: it’s kinda difficult to collect for. The system itself can be found with regularity at yard sales, flea markets and retro game shops. Finding one isn’t the problem, finding one in good shape is. The gray SNES for some reason starts to turn yellow after a few years. There are multiple consoles that discolor with age but over the years we game collectors have figured out tricks to solve or at least mask the issues. The SNES yellowing issue however is the one that we just haven’t seemed to find a foolproof solution to yet. If you find a working one that also hasn’t turned yellow you better buy it on the spot because chances are it will take a long time before you find one in the wild again.

The games aren’t all that tough to find if you’re a collector of loose cartridges. Some of the best games for the system will run you a bit more money though. Many of these games were not mass produced and thus have high price tags, like over $100 for just loose carts high price tags. Unfortunately this includes some of the best games for the SNES like Chrono Trigger and Earthbound. The popularity of the SNES also factors into the high price tags for its games, the hit games are highly desired and thus their prices don’t really drop with time like most other console games have. The average range on the good games for the system in loose cartridge shape will be around $20-35. If you collect complete-in-box you’re going to run into that reoccurring problem we’ve been talking about where Nintendo used cardboard boxes up until the GameCube. These boxes don’t hold up well and thus are quite tough to find without spending a fortune.



One thought on “HISTORY / COLLECTING: Super Nintendo Entertainment System

  1. So many great games, many of which you’ve mentioned here. I’m lucky enough to still have the cartridge collection from my childhood so replaying the classics is a simple matter. For the ones whose circuit boards haven’t seen their day that is 😦


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