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Anniversary: The SNES Launched In North America 30 Years Ago

Damien McFerran

Excuse us while we crumble to dust

SNES 30th
Image: Nintendo Life

On this day 30 years ago, the Super Nintendo launched in North America. Does that make you feel old? Because we feel positively ancient.

The release followed hot on the heels of the Japanese launch of the Super Famicom in November 1990, with American gamers getting a redesigned console which swapped the lush curves of the Japanese model for a more boxy look, courtesy of Lance Barr (who also created the NES design a few years previously). While the redesign continues to trigger debate even today (Europe got the same case as Japan, thankfully), there's no denying that the US SNES holds many iconic memories for the millions who owned it – just check out our list of the best SNES games ever, as voted for by you, the general public.

Many of Nintendo's most beloved games launched on the SNES, including F-Zero, Star Fox, Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, EarthBound, Super Mario Kart, Zelda: A Link to the Past and Super Metroid, while third-party partners like Capcom, Konami and Square published high-quality games like Street Fighter II, TMNT: Turtles in Time, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Axelay, Final Fantasy III and Contra III.

Sega provided more of a challenge in the 16-bit era than it had done with its 8-bit Master System, and in the west, the Mega Drive / Genesis ate away at Nintendo's massive market share during the early-to-mid '90s – but a high tide raises all ships (as the saying goes), and the console war which erupted during this period ultimately benefitted all players.

By the time it was discontinued, the SNES had sold an impressive 49.1 million units sold worldwide. Nintendo has since sold a truckload more of the console in its 'Classic Edition' form, and is slowly but surely drip-feeding SNES games onto its Nintendo Switch Online subscription service. While subsequent systems like the Wii and Switch have outsold it – and it failed to beat the NES' worldwide install base of 61.91 million – the SNES will remain the console of choice for many seasoned Nintendo fans.

Oh, and Paul Rudd was in the North American commercial. Could you ask for any more?

Damien McFerran

Damien has over a decade of professional writing experience under his belt, as well as a repulsively hairy belly. Rumours that he turned down a role in The Hobbit to work on Nintendo Life are, to the best of our knowledge, completely and utterly unfounded.