I’m not interested in arguing whether the SNES was the best console in the history of video games, but I do want to say that, for me, it took the number one spot and never relinquished it.
To this day, I still own a SNES some 20 years (!) after its release. Seriously, two decades? Way to make a guy feel old, Mario. My current SNES is a garage sale find, bolstered by eBay purchases when I went on a spree back in 2002. It’s sat in my office for years and only recently made its way to our church’s youth group room, where I occasionally turn it on and introduce a new generation of kids to its wonders.
That happened the other night, as a matter of fact. We were all hanging out playing the Wii, when one of my 7th graders asked about the small 13″ TV and the box sitting next to it. “Is this that pre-Nintendo 64 thing?” he asked. At his age, the N64 is probably the earliest console he even remembers, another make-me-feel-old comment. “Yeah,” I replied. “It’s pretty cool, let me show you.”
And so we sat down and I introduced him to the classics: Contra 3, Street Fighter II, Smash TV, Starfox (“Oh, THAT’S where that Super Smash Bros. Brawl guy game from!”), Zombies Ate My Neighbors, Zelda, and so on. We had fun, and it showed that a good game is a good game, despite the era it was produced. I’m not a believer in the “old games outlive their fun value due to aging graphics and newer playstyles” school of thought.
Getting reacquainted with the SNES like that made gave me a strong nostalgic flashback that I’d like to share. As I’ve said already, we never had a NES for two reasons: we had an Atari 2600 and my parents didn’t quite get the obsolescence factor that kicked in around ’85, and we weren’t that well-off. But when the SNES came out, my brothers and I decided we had to be part of this latest generation and each pitched in $50 to make it happen.
20 years ago, and I can still remember with stunning clarity the day we set it up in our basement and took turns playing Super Mario World. I think that during the first week or two, there might have been days where it wasn’t shut off at all. Soon we began to expand our library rapidly. Super Castlevania. Donkey Kong Country. Mario Kart. NBA Jam (that was my brother Jared’s favorite, for some reason). We loved the bright colors, the complex controls, the paralax scrolling, Mode 7, the FX chip, and all of the other shiny new doodads, of course. But mostly we just loved the games.
And while we never got two seminal classics — Final Fantasy VI and Super Metroid (I know, I know) — the day I got Chrono Trigger ranks as one of my all-time happiest video game memories. I remember sitting on the futon in the darkness, playing hour after hour of this incredible game, wishing it would never end. I’m still overly eager for an iPhone port, which I hope will happen soon.
The SNES we bought still lives on in my parents’ home and in the same place, only now it’s being used as a babysitting tool for young children who have no sense of video game history. I never quite liked a Nintendo console as much after that, and even the powerhouse PlayStation fails to conjure as much nostalgic value as the SNES.