The Super Nintendo Entertainment system sold an estimated 49 miliion units worldwide during its lifetime.
Both the Super Famicom and its American design were deliberately designed with an uneven surface to prevent users from placing drinks on the system, as consumers in America and Europe often contacted Nintendo for repairs to their NES due to drink spills.
When the PC Engine and Sega Mega Drive were released in Japan in 1987 and 1988 respectively, Nintendo executives were in no rush to design a new console for the market. Hiroshi Yamauchi was even once quoted calling 16-bit technology "unnecessary". Nintendo changed their minds about this when both consoles were gaining momentum against the NES in the market.
Nintendo's initial shipment of 300,000 units of the Super Famicom sold out in Japan within hours, resulting in a social disturbance that the Japanese government took notice of. They requested video game manufacturers to schedule future console releases on weekends in order to minimize such commotions. The system's release also gained the attention of the Yakuza, leading to a decision to ship the console at night to avoid robbery.
The Japanese launch of the Super Famicom had only two games available: Super Mario World and F Zero. The American launch of the Super Nintendo had both these games available with Super Mario World as a pack-in in addition to Pilotwings, SimCity and Gradius III.
The Super Nintendo or Super Famicom is widely known for a graphic display known as Mode 7. This particular graphic mode allowed games to scale and rotate backgrounds with a psuedo-3D effect without actually being 3D. This is achieved by transforming the background layer into a two-dimensional horizontal texture-mapped plane that trades height for depth, giving the game's graphics an impression of 3D display. The mode itself is actually a background layer that can be rotated and scaled on a scanline-by-scanline basis. The most well-known of these effects is the application of a perspective effect on a background layer by scaling and rotating the background layer in this manner. Many of the most critically acclaimed games in the console's library used this scaling effect.
The Super Nintendo was part of the fourth generation of video games and was in strong competition with the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive throughout the world. Until the very end of their markets, neither console had a definitive lead in market share and sales while co-existing together. This market is frequently cited as the most intense video game console war of all time and its generation is often called "The Golden age of console video games".
The four color Super Famicom mark is part of the Super NES logo in the PAL and Japanese region. The colors correspond to those of the ABXY buttons of the controller in those regions. A different logo was used for the North American version, consisting of a striped background outlining four oval shapes.
With Congress and the Federal Trade Commission investigating Nintendo for their licensing practices, in addition to Sega gaining more market share due to their more liberal policies, Nintendo decided it would be best to be less conservative with their licensing agreement in order to win back some of the third party licensees they had lost when Sega presented a more relaxing offer for third party development. While many third parties had already left Nintendo to negotiate with and develop games for Sega, SquareSoft and Capcom were the two most notable third party companies to hold out, remaining loyal to Nintendo.
Up until the early 1990s, Nintendo retained their censorship policies that no games that appeared on their systems could feature excessive violence, nudity, political messages and so forth. This changed when Mortal Kombat was released to arcades in 1992, becoming a smash hit and featured lifelike characters dismembering each other as well as excessive displays of blood. Nintendo retained their censorship policy and ordered the blood be removed from the Super Nintendo version of the game and many of the fatalities had to be altered as well. The Genesis version on the other hand shipped to stores with all the original gore content intact and outsold the Super NES version four to one because of this. This notion alone caused Nintendo to temporarily lose market share as consumers voiced that they did not want their games to be censored. This urged Nintendo to change their censorship policies as the Super NES version of Mortal Kombat II shipped without censorship.
The North American model of the Super Nintendo was designed by Lance Barr, an industrial designer for Nintendo of America.
The plastic used for the casing of some SNES and Super Famicom consoles is susceptible to oxidization with exposure to air, likely due to an incorrect mixture of the stabilizing or flame retarding additives. This causes affected consoles to quickly become yellow, and if the sections of the casing came from different batches of plastic, a "two-tone" effect results.
When the Super Nintendo launched in North America, many television news stations covered the story, conducting interviews with toy stores who were carrying the system. Children and parents were also interviewed. Many parents expressed annoyance and frustration with Nintendo's new home console on the grounds that they had already financially invested in the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System and were reluctant to spend more money.
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