The Super Nintendo Entertainment System or Super NES (also called SNES and Super Nintendo) is a 16-bit video game console that was released by Nintendo in North America, Europe, Australasia (Oceania), and South America between 1990 and 1993. In Japan and Southeast Asia, the system is called the Super Family Computer, Super Famicom (スーパーファミコン, Sūpā Famikon), or SFC for short. In South Korea, it is known as the Super Comboy and was distributed by Hyundai Electronics. Although each version is essentially the same, several forms of regional lockout prevent direct compatibility.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System was Nintendo's second home console, following the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). The console introduced advanced graphics and sound capabilities that compensated for its relatively slow CPU, compared with other consoles at the time. Additionally, development of a variety of enhancement chips (which shipped as part of certain game cartridges) helped to keep it competitive in the marketplace.
The SNES was a global success, becoming the best-selling console of the 16-bit era despite its relatively late start and the fierce competition it faced in North America from Sega's Genesis console. Some consider the SNES to embody the "Golden Age of video games", citing its many groundbreaking games and the perceived focus on gameplay over graphics and technical gimmicks. Others question this perceived romanticism, believing the system was just another step in the evolution of video game technology. The SNES remained popular well into the 32-bit era, and although Nintendo has dropped all support for the console, it continues to be popular among fans, collectors, and emulation enthusiasts, some of whom are still making "homebrew" ROM images.
The SNES standard controller adds two additional face buttons to the design of the NES iteration, arranging the four in a diamond shape, and introduces two shoulder buttons. It also features an ergonomic design later used for the NES 2. The Japanese and PAL region versions incorporate the system's logo in the colors of the four action buttons, while the North American version colors them lavender and purple to match the redesigned console and gives the lighter two a concave rather than convex top. Several later consoles derive elements of their controller design from the SNES, including the PlayStation, PS2, PS3, Dreamcast, Xbox, Xbox 360, and Wii (Classic Controller).
Throughout the course of its life, a number of peripherals were released which added to the functionality of the SNES. Many of these devices were modeled after earlier add-ons for the NES: the Super Scope is a light gun functionally similar to the NES Zapper (though the Super Scope features wireless capabilities) and the Super Advantage is an arcade-style joystick with adjustable turbo settings akin to the NES Advantage. Nintendo also released the SNES Mouse in conjunction with its Mario Paint title. Hudson Soft, under license from Nintendo, released the Super Multitap, a multiplayer adapter for use with its popular series of Bomberman games. Some of the more unusual controllers include the one-handed ASCII Stick L5, the BatterUP baseball bat, and the TeeV Golf golf club.
While Nintendo never released an adapter for playing NES games on the SNES, the Super Game Boy adapter cartridge allows games designed for Nintendo's portable Game Boy system to be played on the SNES. The Super Game Boy touted several feature enhancements over the Game Boy, including palette substitution, custom screen borders, and (for specially enhanced games) access to the SNES console.
Like the NES before it, the SNES saw its fair share of unlicensed third-party peripherals, including a new version of the Game Genie cheat cartridge designed for use with SNES games and a variety of game copier devices. In general, Nintendo proved to be somewhat more tolerant of unlicensed SNES peripherals than they had been with NES peripherals.
Soon after the release of the SNES, companies began marketing backup devices such as the Super Wildcard, Super Pro Fighter Q, and Game Doctor. These devices were sold to create a backup of a cartridge, in the event that it would break. However, they could also be used to play copied ROM images that could be downloaded from BBSes and the Internet, or to create copies of rented video games, often violating copyright laws in many jurisdictions.
Satellaview with Super Famicom.Japan saw the release of the Satellaview, a modem which attached to the Super Famicom's expansion port and connected to the St. GIGA satellite radio station. Users of the Satellaview could download gaming news and specially designed games, which were frequently either remakes of or sequels to older Famicom titles, released in installments. Satellaview signals were broadcast from April 23, 1995 through June 30, 2000. In the United States, the similar but relatively short-lived XBAND allowed users to connect to a network via a dial-up modem to compete against other players around the country.
During the SNES's life, Nintendo contracted with two different companies to develop a CD-ROM-based peripheral for the console to compete with Sega's CD-ROM based add-on, Sega CD. Ultimately, negotiations with both Sony and Philips fell through, and Sony went on to develop its own console based on its initial dealings with Nintendo (the PlayStation), with Philips gaining the right to release a series of titles based on Nintendo franchises for its CD-i multimedia player.