Super Nintendo Entertainment System / Super Famicom (1992 – 1999)

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES, also known as the Super Famicom in Japan) was a fourth-generation 16-bit video game console introduced by Nintendo in 1990 (1992 in Europe). It was Nintendo’s second home console, following the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and introduced advanced graphics and sound capabilities compared with other consoles at the time.

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System became the best-selling console of the 16-bit era despite its relatively late start and competition from the Sega Mega Drive. One of its selling points was the game that came bundled with the console, Super Mario World.

While other companies were moving on to 32-bit systems, Nintendo proved that the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was still a strong contender in the market, releasing Donkey Kong Country in 1994, a platform game featuring 3D models and rivalling the aesthetic quality of games that were being released on newer 32-bit CD-based consoles. In the last 45 days of 1994, the game sold 6.1 million units, making it the fastest-selling video game in history to that date.

Cartridges were officially referred to as Game Paks in most Western regions, and as Cassettes in Japan. The largest games released (Tales of Phantasia and Star Ocean) contain 48 MB of ROM data, while the smallest games contain only 2 MB. Cartridges could also contain battery-backed SRAM to save the game state, extra working RAM, custom coprocessors, or other enhancement chips.

Cartridges are shaped differently for different regions. North American cartridges have a rectangular base with inset grooves matching protruding tabs in the console, while other regions’ cartridges are narrower with a smooth curve on the front and no grooves. Internally, a regional lockout chip (CIC) within the console and in each cartridge prevents PAL region games from being played on Japanese or North American consoles and vice versa.

A slimmer, lighter version of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was released in North America in 1997, and a similarly redesigned Super Famicom Jr. was released in Japan at around the same time.

Nintendo ceased production of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1999, while in Japan it continued production of the Super Famicom Jr. until 2003.  Its successor, the Nintendo 64 had already been in the market in Europe since 1997.

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