For many of us the Super Nintendo represents the true golden age of video games. With nostalgia I think back to those early mornings before school, waking up before anyone else did so I would have a chance to play some classic Super Mario World or the legendary Mega Man X series. The Super Nintendo Entertainment System or SNES provided hours of entertainment to children of the early nineties, with graphics and colors that astounded and raptured our young minds.
When SNES was released the world of console gaming had been ruled by SEGA. They were turning out games at full steam and controlled the market unopposed. But the SNES proved to be a worthy adversary. Even today friends of mine occasionally stir up that ancient argument of Nintendo vs. SEGA. Deny it as they may, those SEGA supporters know in their hearts that Nintendo won the battle, with better games, better graphics, and more fun.
SNES first hit the scene with the old standard one on one fighting game Street Fighter 2. With arcade like graphics this game was the first wave in Nintendo’s invasion of 16 bit gaming. This game was the main reason that many people went out and bought an SNES. Street Fighter 2 revolutionized fighting games more than any other before or since. There were eight fighters from all over the world, and their attacks and defenses used the full six button controller scheme. The game stands as an all time classic, an early 90′s obsession, and there are still people today who play Street Fighter 2 better than they do anything else.
Though Nintendo gained ground early on, they were virtually neck and neck with SEGA for their first few years of production. When Mortal Kombat was released, Nintendo made the mistake of removing all blood from the game, causing them to be astronomically outsold by SEGA’s gorier version. But after a few setbacks they really got rolling, and in the mid 90′s they released a steady flow of superior games that many regard as the best video games of all time. During this time, the new games included Star Fox, Donkey Kong Country, the Final Fantasy 2 and 3, NBA Jam, Super Metroid, and Zelda: Link to the Past. These games and various others released at the time are on many of today’s gamers’ top ten lists.
Those were the days that game characters began to develop more personality, them to us and giving many of them eternal life. There was the strange little ghost of a pink powder puff, Kirby, who could swell up and swallow his enemies whole to gain their abilities. He lived in a world of whimsical colors and humorous villains. There was the mighty Mega Man X, a continuation of Nintendo’s Mega Man series, which is still a force in gaming and entertainment. Mega Man battled hordes of maliciously designed robots, saving the world from evil time and time again. Link, the questing warrior, went on some of his first quests, sword ready to hack away monsters and skeletons to save yet another damsel in distress. Donkey Kong came into his own, donning a red tie and taking to the treetops in his gorilla rage, hell-bent upon quashing krocs and regaining his banana stash. And though I’ve left some out, there is one chivalrous plumber that cannot be ignored. There is no danger he won’t face, no evil he cannot destroy, no sewer he cannot plumb! Mario is his name and damsel rescue is his game. If you’ve never played a game in your life, chances are you know who Super Mario is. He is the shortest, oldest, hairiest, chubbiest game hero to ever bag a princess. In Super Mario World for SNES he tackled a brand new universe, jumping and bumping his way through 72 levels of everything from death defying heights to subterranean murk. That game sold 20 million copies, a new high mark for the industry at the time. Long live Super Mario!!!!
For me the SNES will always hold a special place in my heart. In all honesty I would still rather play those games than any of today’s. To all of my fellow golden age gamers out there, let’s open that old cardboard box or dust off that old attic shelf and see if we can’t relive a little of our personal history. Like rereading a favorite book, these games always have a way of eliciting a warm response. And if your old console doesn’t work, Nintendo Wii has download options that can get you all of your favorites. If you can’t do that, try an emulator like ZNES and bring the classics to your computer. Trust me, you will enjoy it. With that said I’m off to play some Super Nintendo, and to spend the rest of the day smiling!