The Super Nintendo Entertainment System Is Officially 30 Years Old Today
Three decades ago, the SNES console officially launched in the US.
On this day in 1991, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System officially launched in North America. While it had arrived in Japan as the Super Famicom in November 1990, the US launch resulted in a console with a radically different outer appearance thanks to Nintendo of America industrial designer Lance Barr. A combination of strong angles, a few rounded areas, and a distinctive color scheme resulted in the console becoming an iconic piece of hardware for its generation.
Nintendo had its work cut out for it though, as unlike the previous 8-bit generation of gaming, Sega had evolved into its biggest challenger thanks to the Sega Genesis console's combination of critically-acclaimed games and a marketing campaign designed to convince consumers that it was the coolest kid on the block. With that strong competition in the US market, Nintendo had to develop heavy-hitting games to convince people that the $200 console was worth investing in.
Nintendo didn't disappoint with this strategy, as the SNES era was home to some of the company's most iconic brands. Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario Kart, F-Zero, and Star Fox all debuted on the SNES, while established franchises such as Super Mario Bros., Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda set new benchmarks within their respective franchises.
The fun didn't stop there, as the SNES was home to a number of terrific third-party games from the likes of Capcom, Squaresoft, and Konami. Street Fighter Alpha 2, Final Fantasy VI, Sunset Riders, and Contra III: The Alien Wars were just some of the highlights amongst many other games that could be picked up during the lifespan of the SNES.
By the time that the SNES was succeeded by the N64 console in 1996, Nintendo's 16-bit machine had sold millions of units. Lifetime sales of the SNES clock in at 49.1 million units, which makes this console Nintendo's eighth best-selling console of all time. It outsold the N64, GameCube, and Wii U by a wide margin, as well as the Sega Genesis by almost 20 million units once the dust from the 16-bit console war had cleared.
These days, the SNES lives on thanks to the Nintendo Switch Online subscription service slowly adding games from its library to the Nintendo Switch. There's also the Super NES Classic Edition that was released in 2017 that came with 21 SNES titles pre-installed and has so far done good business, but for a more authentic experience that works on modern-day TVs, you can always try the $190 Super NT console sold by Analog.
In other anniversary news designed to make you feel ancient, this week also sees Deus Ex: Human Revolution turns ten years old, while the first entry in Capcom's Devil May Cry series is officially 20 years old.