The Super Nintendo turns 20

The now 20 year old Super Nintendo, or Super Famicom

The now 20 year old Super Nintendo, or Super Famicom

It’s 20 years since the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was released in the UK & Ireland. While this event is of little direct relevance to video games and learning, the SNES remains the console that, for me, conjures the fondest memories (with its 8-bit predecessor coming a close second). So, one might argue that the SNES is, at least partly, responsible for my interest in video games in general, and ultimately my PhD. Maybe.

I recall the seemingly endless wait for a European release of the 16-bit machine, scouring the monthly games magazines (imagine having to wait a month – or more – for your gaming news, Kotaku and Eurogamer fans!) for information gleaned from the original Japanese release of the Super Famicom, as it was designated in its home territory, and the North American version that followed. I also recall writing and publishing a guide to finding all 96 levels in Super Mario World with a friend. Pre-Internet, this invaluable publication was created on said friend’s Mac, ‘published’ by emptying his dad’s toner cartridge and sold in the back of C&VG and Mean Machines magazines. While this effort represents my first attempt at writing about video games, it’s unlikely that my current institution will be demanding its inclusion in our next REF submission.

Super Mario Kart for SNES

Super Mario Kart for SNES: hours wasted being defeated by my little brother

These personal, anecdotal and ultimately dull recollections, however, are not why I remember the Super NES so fondly. Put simply, the Super Nintendo’s allure lay in the games. Stone-cold 16-bit classics include the aforementioned Super Mario World, my favourite Zelda title, A Link to the Past, the original Super Mario Kart and a host of spectacular third-party games (Secret of Mana and Super Castlevania IV come to my mind: others would no doubt point to the likes of Street Fighter II and Chrono Trigger).

Luckily, I still have my SNES, proudly presented in my neatly arranged display of past Nintendo hardware at home (my wife thinks this is *awesome*). The Wii’s Virtual Console also provides an alternative (and legal…) means of sampling the classic SNES library. However, if you are keen to get a slice of authentic Super Nintendo action, you will find a brand new machine costs just £899 on Amazon (at time of writing) – small price to pay for the Greatest Video Game Console Ever.