Now You’re Playing with Power!
November 24, 1993 — oh, I remember that magical date. That was the day I got my Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Sure, I had a NES and a huge library of games I loved, but this was SUPER! Everything about it was super! Every game released for the system was super! Super Mario World! Super Star Wars! Super Off Road! Heck, even tennis was super in Super Tennis! It was originally a Christmas gift, but my parents knew that I knew that I was getting it, so I begged until they finally relented and gave it to me early. Yes, I was an annoying and spoiled brat, but hey, it worked for me. I was late to the Super NES party, as it had been out for almost two years by that point, so I used that for justification for my embarrassing begging.
I had a Sega Genesis at the time as well, and ultimately, I ended up being more of a Sega kid than a Nintendo one because they just seemed cooler. That, and the unedited version of Mortal Kombat for Genesis certainly helped and gave me some hardcore street cred.
But I digress. This is about the glory of Super Nintendo. Even knowing what I was getting didn’t squash the excitement I had of opening the system up. The console came with two controllers – and as a side note, whoever came up with just sticking one in there instead of the then-standard two is pure evil – and all the hookups, the Super Mario World game cartridge, and I also got Super Mario All Stars as an additional gift. I carefully opened the obscenely long rectangular box and pulled out the fabled, two tone grayish system with the eye catching blue slider power and reset buttons. It was so advanced, it even had an eject button, so the cartridges would pop up like a toaster ejecting your morning breakfast.
Being the budding techie expert I am (I am Asian after all), I had it hooked up in no time, and I put in Super Mario All Stars first because I wanted to see just how Super the Super Nintendo was compared to my soon to be retired NES.
The results were astounding. The 16-bit graphics – there were actually layered backgrounds to the screens! The 16-bit sound – the music sounded like real drum beats and had echoing effects in the underground levels! It was like playing the games all over again like they were new. And it had four games on one single cartridge! How did they do that!?
Other games would keep me coming back to the Super Nintendo. Games like Mario Paint, the innovation of the Super Game Boy player (in which you could play your Game Boy games on TV with limited colors!), Super Tecmo Bowl, and Mortal Kombat II – which had all the gore and carnage of the arcade version… Acclaim’s Alien 3 was also one that stands out as being so far superior to the Genesis version (which was a slightly upgraded port of the NES game). And who can forget Donkey Kong Country, a real achievement in the Super NES days. That game was amazing in every single sense of the word and even looked much better than so-called 32-bit and 64-bit systems at the time (I’m looking at you Sega 32X, 3DO and Atari Jaguar). The game was a sheer pleasure to play, even as I was throwing my controller at that nightmare-inducing mine cart level.
All of this to say, the Super Nintendo was a crowning achievement in gaming history. It survived the most fierce battle in gaming lore with the Sega Genesis and went on to become one of the most loved classic systems of all time. Even though I ultimately tended to lean towards Sega (since they were, aforementioned, “cooler”), I could never deny that the Super NES was superior – minus the “Blast Processing”. But the Super NES could do things graphically and audio wise that the Genesis could only dream of.
The Super NES was a huge part of my gaming history. I went to great pains to keep all of its boxes and instruction manuals as mint as I could. Opening up each box and slowly pulling out the cartridge that always came in lightly wrapped plastic – and the early games even had a hard plastic endcap thing to help prevent dust from getting in it. I loved how Nintendo kept with the warm tradition of saying “Thank you for purchasing…” on the inner front page of their manuals. That always seemed so friendly to me. I loved seeing ads, and it would list all four systems on the bottom (Super NES/Genesis/Game Boy/Game Gear) and having to put some thought into which one to get since I had all of them. It was truly a magical time in gaming that you don’t really realize you are living through until it has passed.
Thankfully, due to emulation and a variety of other options (such as the Virtual Console on the Wii and Wii U), I can experience these games all over again.
But I am sure glad I was alive to experience it as it was happening. Those are memories that mean so much to me and reminds me as to why I love video games today.