Last week, Nintendo’s second home console, the Super NES, celebrated its 25th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, the Nintendojo staff have shared some of their fondest memories of the legendary system.
In elementary school, my friends just wouldn’t shut up about their stupid video games. I’d been rocking a bootleg Famicom for a couple of years, and was pretty happy with playing Super Mario Bros. over and over again (as bootleg as it was). But man, was it annoying to hear about this Sonic the Hedgehog guy, or that even better Super Mario World thing. I mean, come on. What was a six-year-old to do?
This all changed one Christmas. I’d rushed downstairs to check the stocking (probably around 5 am or something, much to my parents’ chagrin), and to my utter delight– and then dismay– realized that Santa had left me a copy of Yoshi’s Island.
Well, that just wasn’t going to fly. I didn’t have a Super Nintendo, and so Yoshi’s Island looked like an uncharacteristically uninformed decision on the part of Santa and his elves. I mean, what was I supposed to do? Read the manual? (I did, thoroughly, while waiting for my parents to wake up.)
You can guess what happened next. I showed off Yoshi’s Island to my parents, albeit muttering something about how Santa really needed to do his research. And as I proceeded to the rest of my presents thinking nothing could beat a Yoshi’s Island manual, I was completely unprepared for the SNES that awaited me underneath the tree.
I only ever got a few games for the system– Kirby’s Avalanche, Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy’s Kong Quest, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Metroid, and of course Yoshi’s Island, but that SNES kick-started my foray into videogameland … and the beginning of the end of my disposable income.
The NES was my first video game console. I have quite a few cherished memories of the system, but it also had one very notable flaw: you had to constantly blow on cartridges to get them to work (and apparently that was a placebo effect). So, the first time I saw the Super Nintendo in action, it wasn’t the improved graphics that blew me away, or even Super Mario World, with that awesome green dinosaur. No, what blew me away was that the games actually worked when you put them in the system!
That’s not to say I don’t have very fond memories of the games themselves. The aforementioned Super Mario World is perhaps the epitome of a timeless game. Everything about it is just perfect. The gameplay remains top-notch, and Dinosaur Land never ceases to amaze me with its many amazing little secrets and bonuses. Even the graphics, after all these years, look so strong and crisp. Time hasn’t been quite as kind to the graphics in Donkey Kong Country, but, at the time, it was the most stunning game I had ever seen. And the audio! I still listen to David Wise’s soundtracks on a regular basis! Then there was Super Metroid, which was a cinematic masterpiece before that was really a thing in video games. I have to mention the Super Game Boy, as well. That little add-on was such a neat concept, and it kept me playing my SNES long after the release of the Nintendo 64. It made it a lot easier for my friends and I to help each other out in Pokémon Red and Blue. And there was just something exciting about beating the Elite Four for the first time while sitting on bean bag chairs in front of the TV in my basement.
There’s also the plethora of great games I didn’t play until years after their release (mostly due to the fact that I was splitting my time with the far inferior Sega Genesis). Classic games like Super Mario RPG, Yoshi’s Island, and Zelda: A Link to the Past have held up so well, and influenced so many games that have come around since. It’s been amazing to discover them in my adult years and see what the developers were pulling off over twenty years ago.
It might not be my favorite system of all-time, but there’s a reason the Super Nintendo still commands so much respect: there has never been a system before or since that has offered the same kind of lineup. In a way, it’s the era that truly defined what it means to be a gamer. It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years. Thanks for all the memories, old friend!
I approach any reflection on SNES with a bit of trepidation. After all, what more can be said about what is, arguably, one of the greatest consoles of all time? I’ll never forget seeing what a quantum leap it was, in graphics and sound, over its predecessor. As hardware-pushing as Super Mario Bros. 3 was, Super Mario World was on another planet. There were just things that I didn’t know could be done on a home system, like that early scene in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past with Link foraying out into the rain. It was so atmospheric and awesome-– I mean, it was raining— I had to just stop and stare. And then I went inside… and the music!
The real testament to SNES’s glory is, to me, twofold. One, it produced a robust lineup of top-shelf games almost from the very beginning right up until the very end. From Super Mario World, through Street Fighter II and Super Mario Kart and TMNT IV: Turtles in Time and Super Castlevania and Super Metroid… it was like a new hit was just around every corner. Sure, they cost a bundle ($70 in 1990s dollars!) but it was worth it every time.
The second is the way those titles have been ported, enhanced, sequeled, and otherwise remembered, even all these years later. Even after N64, after PlayStation, after all the things that came later, I always found my way back to the games of SNES.
And, of course, the whole SNES RPG scene could get its own post. Do I even need to name them?
Super Nintendo was– is– a console for the ages.
I had written last week about how SNES was my licensed games machine. So many of my memories are of living out superhero fantasies on the system. I was always especially fond of the Spider-Man titles that the system had. I’d get lost in the world of the game based on the Spider-Man cartoon from the nineties. It felt so awesome to be able to make my way through that title’s different environments, clinging to the ceilings and walls. Maximum Carnage is still my favorite Spider-Man game, though. People love web slinging in the later titles, but nothing has come close to mimicking Spidey’s butt-kicking abilities quite like Maximum Carnage!
The Nintendo games still standout, though. The Donkey Country trilogy… It can’t be overstated how mind-blowing those games were. Nothing looked like that in the mid-nineties on a home console. They were gorgeous, and more importantly, very, very fun to play. I’ve always wondered if Nintendo has ever given any thought to HD-ifying those three titles; I think the design is still so beautiful and contemporary that a new coat of paint would be an interesting experiment to undertake.
Super Mario World, however, is dang close to being my favorite game ever. Finding Star Road rocked, but once I cracked into my handy copy of Super Mario World Game Secrets (anybody else remember that old black and white player’s guide?), I discovered its secret within a secret. The Special Zone/World kicked my backside all up and down on the street, but beating it and overhauling everything in the main game world was mind-blowing to me. I absolutely loved it and it continues to be one of my favorite secrets in all of video games. Happy birthday, Super Nintendo; you changed my life as a kid and I’m always going to be grateful for that.
What are some of your fondest SNES memories? Share them with us in the comments!