No sooner did the crowds surge through the doors at the dawn of this year’s Black Friday sales than the news broke that they could, once again, purchase brand new Nintendo SNES systems. At least the Best Buy retail chain will be stocking Super Nintendo units for the weekend. But that’s not to say other stores aren’t following suit. Toys R Us is also selling the SNES, for one.
The Nintendo SNES was the early ’90s follow-up to Nintendo’s massively successful NES games system. The Super Nintendo model featured a massive upgrade to the original system’s sound and graphics capabilities. It became the top-selling 16-bit home game system of its time, beating out competitors such as Sega. This, despite the fact that Nintendo games seemed to be aimed at younger generations. More than anything, the SNES is the games system that is remembered most fondly by the Generation X audience.
The SNES also has a cult following for some of its games, which still have devoted fan bases today. Games like Super Mario World, Earthbound, and Starfox inspired several memes that survive on the web today. Even though Nintendo games tended to shy away from mature content that would attract later gamers to XBox and Sega systems, Nintendo games tended to be innovative and clever enough to hook audiences in. Earthbound was a sprawling adventure game with a clever premise and a quirky sense of humor, while Starfox was a first-person space combat game that was surprisingly responsive and challenging.
The system inspired a homebrew ROM-hacking sub-culture as well. Some of those home brewers are coming out of the woodwork now that their nostalgic console is getting a second life. Perhaps Nintendo will be a little more open and friendly to third-party ROM customizers, since its on the back of the game-modding community that the SNES’ popularity has endured. There is no doubt that projects like open source ROM emulators have kept interest in the platform alive.
Some three decades after the SNES first hit the shelves at big box stores, there’s enough interest in the platform to make Nintendo roll out a whole new release after all this time. It’s odd, because compared to today’s consoles, SNES games seem kind of old and pixelated. But they must have captured something in the minds and hearts of gamers to have maintained this much popularity. After all, we don’t see an Atari 2600 re-release coming anytime soon, do we?