As I wrote the other day, though my love of the NES is unaffected, the SNES is my favorite video game system. The NES is certainly a console with some special personal relevance; its release date was within days of my own release date. I have lived my entire like in the Nintendo age of video games. (which of course began with the release of the NES, reviving the video game industry in the USA after the crash of ‘84.) Unfortunately, this means that the heyday of the NES was pretty well over before I was aware. The SNES’s release in August of 1991 occurred at a time when I was 6 years old and beginning to really get into video games.
My experience with the SNES did not actually start in 1991. I don’t think I scrounged up the cash to buy one (my parents refused to buy us another video game system) until sometime in 1996. But I was certainly aware of it before then. I had long had a subscription to Nintendo Power, (I think my Dad got it around the time of the Dragon Warrior give-away) so I had seen what the new system had to offer. I absolutely poured over the issue that covered Final Fantasy 2. My only experience with RPGs at the point had been the limited Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy 2 was a quantum leap above that. When I saw the original Final Fantasy on a clearance list at Wal-Mart, I jumped all over it. I loved Final Fantasy, but it clearly was not on the same level that I dreamed Final Fantasy 2 was on.
I remember the first time I actually saw an SNES. It was my cousin’s; he showed it off by ruining his Dad’s A Link to the Past game. Okay, he didn’t really ruin it; he just smacked a chicken around until the flock of them attacked then paused the game, leaving it like a trap for his father to find.
The first time I played one for any amount of time was at my friend’s house in the summer of probably 1995. The reason I didn’t own one was due t a lost battle over a Christmas present with my brother. I wanted the SNES; (did he see those screenshots of FF2?!) he wanted a Sega Genesis. To play Mortal Kombat or sports games or some such nonsense. My friend had an SNES, but he didn’t have the coveted Final Fantasy 2. No, he had Final Fantasy 3! My 10-year-old mind was blown. Paying back years of his coming to my house to play Nintendo, I returned the favor all summer. (My friend also had an older brother somewhat meaner than mine, so it wasn’t all peaches and gravy.) Using Final Fantasy 3’s underrated two-player option, we played through that game together. Then we played Earthbound, then Chrono Trigger and other classics. That summer I became determined to own my own Super Nintendo.
That quest turned out to not be very difficult. Another friend had gotten a second SNES at Christmas and instead of returning it, agreed to sell it to me for a cool $50. From then on most of my money earned mowing lawns and from meager payments for doing household chores, went to buying new SNES games. I have always been nearly a generation behind on gaming, and with the usually cheaply acquired games, I found the latter days of the SNES were a Golden Age. Of course, not all games were cheap. I dropped more than a hundred dollars in one go on Final Fantasy 3 and Chrono Trigger, but they were easily worth it. There was also Super Mario World, Secret of Mana, Sunset Riders, Legend of the Mystical Ninja and many, many others.
The SNES was something of a Holy Grail console for me. For the longest time I searched for one, but could not get it. When I finally did own one, it turned out to be even better than I had imagined. You can make great arguments for so many consoles being the best ever: the sheer number of games for the PS2, the fact that most of the great SNES games are also available for the Wii or the combination of innovative brilliance and classics styles on the DS, but for me the best is and always will be the Super Nintendo.