System Design: 10/10
A top-loading system, as opposed to the original front-loading design of the NES, on the front a sliding Power and Reset button on the left and right and an Eject button in the middle. In 1997, a redesigned SNES was released, moving the Power and Reset buttons off to the side and removing the Eject button, as well as making the system itself smaller and more streamlined. The two controller ports were on the lower part of the front of the system, with the video (RF and a “multi-out” on the normal system, and just the “multi-out” on the redesigned version, although there was an adapter to use RF with that) and power connections on the back of the system, as well as a “Channel 3/4” selection switch (which was moved from the system to the video connection itself on the redesigned version). On the bottom was an “EXT” port, which was never used in the US (although it was in Japan). The system itself was quite durable, able to take a very large amount of hitting, dropping, stuff thrown at it, spills, etc.... Of course, you should always take care of your system as well as you can, but, in the case of “accidents,” it holds up extremely well. All in all, a very well-constructed system, great design, and excellent durability.
A D-pad on the left, 4 face buttons (Y, X, A, B) arranged in a 2-by-2 slanted box on the right, L and R shoulder buttons on the left and right of the top of the controller, and a Start and Select button in the middle.
All of the buttons are very responsive, and, again, the controller is very durable, holding up to most kinds of abuse to which one could subject it.
The controller configuration allows for a couple of different possibilities. The most obvious being, holding it with your left hand over the D-pad and L button with the thumb on the D-pad and index finger on the L button, and the right hand over the face buttons and R button, with the thumb moving quickly between the 4 face buttons, as well as being able to press multiple ones at the same time by slanting one’s thumb across them, and the index finger for the R button.
The fact that there’s the L button being controlled by the same hand that’s used for the D-pad also leaves open the option for a game to use the L button as a selection button, allowing one to control and select with the left hand, leaving the right hand free. Earthbound made use of this possibility very well.
The controller cord is about 6 feet in length, allowing you some distance between you and the system, and can be wrapped around the controller for easy storage.
While the controller might not work well for certain games (for example, 3D games), combined with the system it’s on, this is the best controller I’ve ever used.
There are 2 controller ports on the front of the system. While there was an adapter released which allowed more controllers to be plugged in, only a very few games made use of it. A few different types of controllers were also released, which could only be used in games specifically designed to use them, such as a Mouse (for use in games like Mario Paint), and a Super Scope (shooting gun, for use in games like Battleclash).
Depending on what you want in graphics, the SNES can be very beautiful. Spectacular backgrounds and landscapes, many sprites on screen without any problem, and a few fancy effects tossed in.
What the SNES didn’t do much of, was 3D. A few games, however, included special graphics chips within the game itself (such as the “DSP” chip, used in games such as Pilotwings, and the “Super FX” chip, used in Star Fox). A number of games gave different types of 3D graphics a shot, but, in general, SNES games were mostly 2D. So, if you’re hoping for 3D graphics you’re probably going to be let down. If you don’t mind that though, while obviously it depends on the work the individual maker of each game puts in, the graphics and sounds of some SNES games are, to me, absolutely breathtaking.
As far as sound, of course, you’re not going to be getting much stuff like voices and fancy orchestrated music and whatnot, but, the music can still be nice to listen to and very engaging.
Game Selection: 10/10
As far as genres of games, if you love 2D RPGs, the SNES is definitely the system for you. There’s also a wide variety of platformers and action games, and a very good amount of puzzles, adventures, racing/sports games as well.
A list of (in my opinion) must-own games include: Chrono Trigger, Earthbound, Lufia 1, Lufia 2, Zelda: Link to the Past, Super Mario World, Final Fantasy 3(6), SimCity, Actraiser, Aerobiz Supersonic, Tetris Attack, Final Fantasy 2(4), Mario RPG, Drakkhen, F-Zero, Castlevania 4, Genghis Khan 2, UN Squadron, Donkey Kong Country 1, Donkey Kong Country 2, Mario Paint, Top Gear, Donkey Kong Country 3. As well, if you don’t own them on another system, Mario All-Stars (containing Super Mario Bros. 1, 2 and 3, as well as “The Lost Levels,” the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2) and Tetris & Dr. Mario are excellent deals as well.
There are certainly more games worthwhile to look at, but, that’s a good place to start at least. No matter what your tastes, you’ll likely find many games to fill all of your needs.
An original SNES is probably going to cost you in the area of $30. The redesigned SNES will probably cost around $50. Many of the games can be found for around $10-20, but, certain games (such as Chrono Trigger and others) can easily cost you upwards of $60 or more, especially if you’re interested in getting the accompanying things such as manuals or maps. Nonetheless though, while the games might be a bit on the expensive side, it’s easily worth the money.
Technology may have advanced since this system, but, improved technology doesn’t always mean improved games. If you’re really into fancy 3D graphics and such, this may not be the system for you. Other than that though, especially if you love 2D RPGs, this is the system for you, and definitely worth owning. Again, it’s easily my favorite system ever, it’s still the system I spend the most time playing, and I see that being the case for many more years to come. In my opinion, the greatest system ever created.