30th Anniversary of Super NES

Nintendo’s second heavy hitter.

Joey Provencio, Comic Illustrator

On November 21st, 1990, Nintendo launched what would be their second home console up to that point in time. The new, more powerful hardware would join the market in the ongoing “bit” wars – companies competing for market (and marketing) supremacy. 


The release of the Super Nintendo in Japan (called the Super Famicom) created such a commotion that it created multiple social disturbances, and led to the Japanese government asking them to schedule future releases on weekends when things weren’t so busy. It also caught the attention of the Yakuza, a prominent Japanese gang, which also led to Nintendo shipping the consoles at night to avoid robbery. 


In America, the console released a year later; a little late to the party. SEGA had beat them to the Western market in 1989, with the Genesis. SEGA was the underdog in this situation, launching aggressive marketing campaigns targeting Nintendo, and positioning themselves and their system as “hip” and “cool”.


Due to this, SEGA pushed the boundaries by launching somewhat crude games for their system, while Nintendo continued to crack down and censor games. Ultimately, it led to the creation of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board in North America. (ESRB) With their rating system implemented, software developers had to abide by their policies. 


The console was known for high-quality titles and a variety of tricks that carried it well into the following generation (the 32-bit era). This is mostly thanks to the variety of “enhancement” chips that could be stored on the cartridge, and do some of the calculations offboard. Nintendo continues to carry the console’s titles via services like Nintendo Switch Online.