Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Nintendo Announces The SNES Classic Edition & An SNES History

As you probably know by now I’m pretty avid about Video Games, I used to put lots of hours into them and while I don’t have unlimited spare time in my life anymore I still love to put in some time every when I can. I’m even more avid about retro games. I grew up in the mid to late 90s through the 2000s so my era of Video Games consisted of the Nintendo 64, Gamecube, Playstation, ECT. I never got to experience the NES or SNES in its glory without using remakes or Virtual Console releases. Out of these two the console to really interest me was the SNES. The games on this machine were absolutely beautiful and state of the art for that day and age. 16-bit sprite gaming has continued to be an interest of mine throughout the years. This wasn’t helped by the fact I had classic Nintendo Power magazines from that era.

However Nintendo have just announced something that is exciting my inner retro loving self, the SNES Classic Edition! 

Finally you and I will be able to experience this wonderful machine in HD glory thanks to its HDMI support. This machine, similar to the NES Classic Edition that released last year, comes pre built with 21 games. These aren’t just b-list games no these games are pulled from the Nintendo Classics, I’ll list them all below. Prepare to be overwhelmed by nostalgia.

The SNES Classic Edition’s Pre Built Games are

Super Mario World
Super Mario Kart
The Legend of Zelda: A Link To The Past
Super Metroid
Street Fighter II Turbo
Super Punch-Out!!
Castlevania IV
Donkey Kong Country
Megaman X
Kirby Super Star
Final Fantasy III (Final Fantasy 6)
Kirby’s Dream Course
Star Fox
Yoshi’s Island
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Contra III
Secret of Mana
And Super Ghouls N’ Ghosts.

This machine is coming absolutely loaded with absolute classics, most of these games I’ve never played before but always wanted to, such as Donkey Kong Country, Secret of Mana and the original Star Fox. Wait hold on a second, I’ve only listed off 20… Yes there’s one last game I haven’t mentioned that’s coming to this little machine of wonders. This game has never been released before outside of unfinished internet leaks. Star Fox 2, the unreleased Star Fox game will be released in it’s complete finished form for the SNES Classic Edition! Holy moly they’re actually releasing this game after years of unfinished ROM leaks and fan patches. This is huge and makes me worried how hard it Is going to be to get a hold of this machine.

In celebration of this announcement it might be a better time then any to dive into the history of the SNES, or its origins the Super Famicom system.

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System’s birth dates back to 1987. To compete with the sales market powerhouse that was the NES companies like NEC Home Electronics and Sega released their TurboGrafx-16 and Sega Genesis systems. These consoles had better sound and better graphics. Nintendo remained unconcerned for a short while but it wasn't long before they realized they needed to upgrade or be lost to history. After a few years in development and designed by the original Famicom designer Masayuki Uemura the Super Famicom launched November 21st, 1990 and one year later in North America as the SNES. Two games launched alongside this console and they were F-Zero and Super Mario World, the latter being a bundle game.

Nintendo regained their title as console king almost immediately but not without a strong rival. Sega with their Mega Drive system (Genesis) was a strong contender and for many years competed against Nintendo in what we gamers called “The Console Wars.”. Of course we have console competitions in the market today too with the Playstation 4 VS the Xbox One but this was a legit market war with Nintendo and Sega constantly downing the other in their commercial marketing (Mostly Sega with their Sega Does What Nintendon’t slogan.) and grabbing third party titles from each other. This war would actually carry on until the end of the N64 and Sega Dreamcast Era but these days Mario and Sonic seem to be buddy buddy.

Anyway the SNES made quite a few changes to the original NES aside from internal processors they also changed the controller shape, making it more curved with two added buttons besides the A & B buttons, thus birthing the ABXY button setup that has become a standard in controllers of all consoles now. The SNES also introduced the shoulder trigger buttons, both left and right. These changes made gameplay much more comfortable and allowed for more control options for developers and gamers. The SNES controller became the backbone for every standard controller to this date.

As it was with the NES Nintendo released a multitude of hardware accessories to add to the gameplay such as the Super Scope and the Super Advantage (A Arcade Joystick built for games like Super Street Fighter II). One accessory which stands out the most is none other then the Super Gameboy Adapter. The Super Gameboy allowed players to play their Gameboy games on the big screen. As far as Gameboy Color was concerned, correct me if I’m wrong but only the Black Cartridges (Not the clear cartridges.) from the Gameboy Color worked, though most of the games released were Black Cartridges. Also Pokemon Red, Blue, Yellow, Gold and Silver I’ve heard were hit and miss regarding the Super Gameboy as well.

Back in September when ZAK Entertainment was a mere infant I did a blog similar to this talking about the history of the Nintendo 64. ( In that blog I talked about how Nintendo attempted a Disc Drive system add on. Well this idea of having a disc drive actually dates back farther then that. For the SNES Nintendo attempted to enter partnership deals with two specific companies in order to bring a CD-ROM system to the SNES. At that time Sega had released it’s Sega CD add on for the Genesis as well as TurboGrafx-16 receiving it’s own TurboGrafx-CD add-on, developers and consumers were slowly seeing the benefits of having Video Games on CD-ROMs and this is where things get messy. If you’re unaware of the history of the SNES CD-ROM system what I’m about to tell you will shock you. See in order to bring a disc system to the SNES Nintendo entered partnership with a certain company named Sony.

Mind blown yet?

Actually this add-on was in development back in 1988 a few years before the SNES released and would allow for higher capacity games to be developed for the SNES. If this add-on had come into fruition it would have been an incredible step forward in Video Game consoles and who knows maybe the partnership between Nintendo and Sony would of remained to this day. However things got dicey when in that same deal Sony would be developing it’s own branded console separate from the SNES that would play SNES Cartridges, SNES-CD Titles and Sony’s own software. This separate console was revealed in 1991 as the PlayStation. (Originally called the Super Disc.) Sony however would become the sole worldwide licenser, basically Sony had it’s claws in Nintendo, especially when the Audio Chip featured in the standard SNES was also developed by Sony, more to the point Sony Engineer Ken Kutaragi. The entire deal fell through and Nintendo decided to strike a deal with Philip instead to develop a CD system. I don’t actually know much details about the Phillip CD deal all I know is that deal also fell through with Phillip then going on to develop it’s CD-I system with games featuring licensed Nintendo characters. (Gee, I wonder what Ganon is up to?) Sony and Nintendo’s relationship was officially over before it barely began and Sony would go on to develop their console into what we know today as the PlayStation. A working prototype (Well okay it took a lot of work to get it working.) was found a couple of years ago and you can check it out at: Amazing how someone actually came across this piece of forgottten histoy. There’s a lot more I could go into about this but maybe it’s more appropriate for a History of PlayStation blog.

One more upgrade for the Super Nintendo that actually happened came in the form of enhancement chips, instead of being an add-on to the SNES hardware these chips came installed on the actual game cartridges. Enter Argonaut Games with what is probably the most groundbreaking chip from this system, their Super FX chip.

The Super FX chip allowed for the original Star Fox to even exist, in such allowed for the Polygonal Renderings you see featured in that game, most of the game is 3D polygons with only some of it being sprites still. Games like Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island used it for advance graphic sprite movement such as scaling and stretching, which is why you see the bosses do that crazy stretch after you defeat them as well as allowing multiple, separate moving layers on the foreground and backgrounds. The chip was originally codenamed the “Super Mario FX” chip as well as being codenamed “MARIO” which stood for “Mathematical, Argonaut, Rotation & Imput/Output” pretty creative naming if you ask me. Other chips such as the SA1 also existed which allowed Super Mario RPG to with it’s 3D rendered Sprites and environments to actually run without lagging the system down.

Of course I’ve only really talked about the hardware itself, the library of games this machine had was enormous. With many classics such as Super Mario World, Star Fox, Donkey Kong Country (All Three Countries I should say.) Super Metroid, F-Zero and many more I wouldn’t be able to talk about all of these awesome games in just one blog. The SNES went on to sell 49.10 million units worldwide before being discontinued in 2003, this was 30 million less then the NES but the machine was a hit nonetheless.

While I did not grow up with this console and I’ve barely experienced a portion of the games it still very much interests me (I’m a sucker for Retro Video Games.) and the SNES Classic Edition is already becoming a must get for myself and I would love to finally experience this machine and the games it has to offer, even more so the unreleased Star Fox 2 which I’ll dive more into on a separate blog as well (Man I got a backlog of blogs to write, the second half of 2017 is looking to be pretty busy.) Now hopefully the machine actually turns up in the market and doesn’t disappear 5 seconds later due to scalpers and Nintendo’s lack of manufacturing. Luckily reports from Nintendo have stated they are producing a significant amount more of the SNES Classic then the NES Classic so fingers crossed guys.

You know what be funny and also tragic at the same time? If the SNES Classic Edition also yellowed like the original SNES, maybe Nintendo will sell a separate version with the Yellow coloring, haha. Anyway I’m absolutely excited for SNES Classic Edition and while it doesn’t have every classic SNES title (Chrono Trigger is missing.) it has 21 amazing games, most I’ve never experienced before. This bad boy will be releasing Sep. 29th, 2017 you can check out more at Nintendo’s website: I’ll be discussing more classic games from this console including a blog dedicated to Star Fox 2 soon so stay tuned!

That’s a wrap folks!

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