Super Nintendo

The Super Nintendo or SNES as it is widely known, was Nintendo Corporation's 16 bit equivalent to the Sega Megadrive, and was the successor to the Nintendo Entertainment System. Released in Japan on November 21, 1990 and called the Super Famicom (short for Super Family Computer) it quickly established itself as Sega's main rival.

In Autumn 1991, the Super Nintendo hit the American shops. With a different design to the Super Famicom (although the internal architecture was identical), and a different cartridge shape to combat importing of US games overseas, the American model matched the success of the Super Famicom in Japan.

Finally, after almost two years of waiting, the Europeans got to see what all the fuss was about and they weren't disappointed! Sporting the same case as the Super Famicom, but running at a slower clock speed of 50Hz because many TV sets did not have the capability to run at 60Hz, the initial release of the Super Nintendo came bundled with two controllers and Super Mario World. Early game releases included the excellent F-Zero, and an arcade conversion of Super R-Type.

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Over the next few years, the Super Nintendo produced some of the best known video games of all time. Mario made his obligatory appearance in many games (the best of the bunch being Super Mario Kart), and Donkey Kong made a welcome return in the hugely successful Donkey Kong Country trilogy. Other notable successes were Super Probotector: Alien Rebels, Street Fighter 2 Turbo and RPG classics such as Zelda and Secret of Mana.

As the competition between Sega and Nintendo went on, and the games got better and better, so did the technology. Many of the later games released contained additional hardware to create advanced effects, compress data and process instructions quicker. The two most widely used were the DSP (Digital Signal Processor) chip which was used in games such Pilotwings and Super Mario Kart to create 3D effects by scaling and rotating backgrounds, and the SuperFX chip used in Starwing which creates 3D landscapes through polygons and texture mapping (something we are all used to now, but was revolutionary at the time!).

The Super Nintendo was succeeded by the Nintendo 64 in 1997, and was taken off the shelves in 1998. This was due to the phenomenal success of the Playstation. The Playstation had originally been developed by Sony and Nintendo together as a CD add-on for the SNES, but they scrapped the idea. Sony took the technology they had been working on and created the Playstation. The rest is history.

Many people regard the Super Nintendo as the best video game system made, and few could argue the effect it has had on recent game developments. The Nintendo / Sega war that raged in the nineties was the same as the Commodore / Spectrum war of the eighties, and however you feel about the console it will always remain one of the most significant piece's of video gaming history.

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