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C: B_retro Issue_15 : The Super Nintendo Entertainment System

C:B_retroAusgabe_15: Das Super Nintendo Entertainment System

tl; dr: On November 21, 1990, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was released in Japan under the name Sūpā Famikon. The fourth-generation 16-bit game console should become a huge worldwide success for Nintendo with games like Super Mario World and around 50 million units sold.

Every Sunday, C: B_retro takes an entertaining look back at three decades of eventful stories and the development of the computer scene: What has happened in information technology in the last 30 years between 1980 and 2010? Stories of myths, milestones and masterpieces: C: B_retro .

C: B_retro Ausgabe_15

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System

The C: B_retro Issue_10 dealt with the legendary Atari 2600 and Issue_11 was all about the Nintendo Game Boy. Now Edition_15 takes another look at a legendary game console from the no less legendary console manufacturer from Kyoto, Japan.

After Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES for short) on November 21, 1990 in Japan under the name Sūpā Famikon, the console – usually abbreviated as Super Nintendo – started on August 13, 1991 in the USA and on April 11 1992 in Europe and should of course be advertised accordingly by Nintendo:

C: B_retro Ausgabe_11 Super_Nintendo

C: B_retro … history

The SNES predecessor, the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES for short, was able to prevail against the Sega Master System and the Atari 7800. Now Nintendo’s new console had to compete with the Mega Drive, Sega’s first 16-bit game console from the 4th generation of consoles, which reached the market on October 29, 1988 and already in January 1989 in the USA and in November 1990 in Europe was available.

The YouTube channel Classic Gaming Quarterly summed up the then competitive environment of the 16-bit consoles very nicely in one of his videos:

But before the Super Nintendo could compete with the Sega Mega Drive, there was still a long way to go. After the Nintendo Entertainment System emerged victorious in the battle of 3rd generation 8-bit consoles and Nintendo became the undisputed leader in video games and game consoles, development began on a 16-bit console.

In addition to the new Mode 7 graphics mode, which should enable the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and game developers to dynamically rotate and scale background levels and thus create three-dimensional gaming experiences, the new game console should have 32,768 displayable colors.

Overall, the Super NES should have eight graphics modes (Mode 0 – 7), of which Mode 7 was used primarily in racing games such as Super Mario Kart and F-Zero as well as the role-playing classic Final Fantasy VI, and these games had the illusion of space Lent depth.

In the incredibly fast F-Zero, this happens at speeds that make even the toughest player feel dizzy.

Nintendo

The 128 kB RAM and the sound chip developed by Sony with the name Nintendo S-SMP were also considered to be extremely advanced for a game console at the time. The CPU of the SNES presented itself less progressively, which could not even keep up with the computing power of the competition at around 3.6 MHz.

After the Sega Mega Drive had been established on the market for a long time and many consumers of Sega’s counterpart to Super Mario, “Sonic The Hedgehog”, felt more appealing, Nintendo invested $ 25 million in TV advertising and went into a partnership $ 8 million with shower manufacturer Pepsi.

The success proved Nintendo right and so the Super NES was able to sell around 50 million copies worldwide up to and including 2003 and thus dominated in the 4th generation of consoles as did the NES in the 3rd generation of consoles.

Nintendo ultimately released three different designs of its console for Japan, the United States and Europe:

Sūpā Famikon (Super Famicom), SNES (USA) and Super Nintendo (Europe) compared
Sūpā Famikon (Super Famicom), SNES (USA) and Super Nintendo (Europe) compared
Sūpā Famikon (Super Famicom), SNES (USA) and Super Nintendo (Europe) compared
Sūpā Famikon (Super Famicom), SNES (USA) and Super Nintendo (Europe) in comparison (Image: Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0)

C: B_retro … Hardware

The heart of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was the Ricoh 5A22, which is basically based on a Western Design Center 65816 and clocks with a maximum of 3.58 MHz and could use 128 kB RAM.

Main board of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Motherboard of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Image: Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0)

The full specifications of the Super Nintendo were as follows:

  • CPU: Ricoh 5A22 with a system bus with variable clock and 3.58 MHz
  • RAM: 128 kB RAM
  • Bus system: 8-bit data bus, 24-bit address bus
  • GPU: graphics processor with two image processors and 64 kB graphics memory
  • Sound chip: Sony SPC700 with 64 kB RAM and DSP
  • Dimensions: 200 mm × 72 mm × 242 mm
  • Video signal: RF, Composite, RGB, S-Video
  • Introductory price in Germany: 329 DM (including the game Super Mario World)
Main processor (Ricoh), sound chip and DSP (both Sony) of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Main processor (Ricoh), sound chip and DSP (both Sony) of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Main processor (Ricoh), sound chip and DSP (both Sony) of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Main processor (Ricoh), sound chip and DSP (both Sony) of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Image: Wikipedia, CC BY 3.0)

C: B_retro … Games

In addition to the console itself, games such as the racing game Super Mario Kart and the action adventure The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past became true classics and milestones of their genre.

Super Mario World became the most successful game on the platform with around 30 million units sold. The most successful titles of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System include Donkey Kong Country, Street Fighter II, Super Metroid, Megaman, Secret of Mana as well as the Final Fantasy offshoots IV, V and VI and Chrono Trigger. A total of around 1,350 licensed games appeared, of which around 530 titles made it to Europe.

The YouTube channel Top Retro Games presents a nice overview of the 100 most popular games for the Super Nintendo:

C: B_retro … Site

C: B_retro is dedicating its own future to the successor of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the Nintendo 64, which mixed up the 5th generation of consoles with 64-bit and a CPU with around 100 MHz from June 23, 1996 Output. Two and a half years ago, the SNES was “new” again – as a classic Mini SNES retro console with a selection of preinstalled games and smartphone hardware.

C: B_retro Review

At this point you can find the previous topics of the previous editions of C: B_retro in chronological order.

C: B_retro feedback

What do you think of C: B_retro and which topics would you like to see in the next issue? The editorial team is looking forward to constructive criticism, praise, but also suggestions to be able to align the new series even more closely to the wishes of the readers in the future.
With this reading material in the luggage, the editors wish you a relaxing Sunday.

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