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Encyclopedia > Super Famicom
This article should be merged with Super Nintendo Entertainment System
The Super Famicom design differed from that of the American SNES, though the controllers are almost the same. The console is similar to the European SNES.

Super Famicom (Japanese:スーパーファミコン) was a videogame console released by Nintendo in Japan.

For information about the North American and European versions of this console, see: Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

The Super Famicom is the first console worldwide capable of applied acoustics in video game audio.


Market History

Nintendo executives at first were not interested in making a new system when rival Sega announced that they would release their 16-Bit video game system, the Sega Mega Drive, in 1988. However, Nintendo were quick to change their minds upon seeing that the Megadrive and NEC PC Engine were gaining market share in Japan due to their technological advantages over the Famicom.

Hiroshi Yamauchi, the Nintendo CEO at the time, had put Masayuki Uemura in charge of designing the console. They had originally planned for the Famicom and the NES to be 16-bit systems, but those components were too expensive at the time, and so they were 8-bit systems. With the components much cheaper, Nintendo did not hesitate to build a more powerful system.

The Super Famicom was released on November 21, 1990 for 32,000, and it came with two controllers. It did not include a pack-in game. The release came right when the Sega Mega Drive was starting to take over the market from the Famicom. The Super Famicom was enormously successful with high demand, having the initial 300,000 units sold out. Nintendo shipped the units by night, as there were rumors that Yakuza gangs might try to steal the consoles. The Super Famicom had no problem dominating over the Sega Mega Drive. Nintendo had controlled 80% of the market share in Japan.

The U.S. version may have been redesigned so that a drink could not be rested on the top of the console. The Japanese set drinks on their Super Famicoms and many of those drinks were spilled. Americans also spilled drinks on their NESs after setting them on their consoles.

Certainly the climate of litigation in the U.S. would have meant that lawsuits would have been brought against Nintendo for ruined consoles, and this may have prompted a redesign due to fears of this litigation. It would also explain why the European SNES was the same on the outside as the Japanese one, as Europe is not (or at least, was not back then) as litigation-obsessed. Another possible reason for the reversion back to the Japanese design for the European market is that the U.S. console was to some not very aesthetically pleasing, and definitely inferior aesthetically to the Japanese console.

Like its SNES counterpart, the Super Famicom was replaced by the Nintendo 64. The SNES went out of out production in 1997, but the Super Famicom continued production until 2003, when it officially died alongside its predecessor the Famicom.

Another interesting note is that the Super Famicom logo appeared in the "Special Zone" of Super Mario World worldwide, despite the fact that the logo was not used for the SNES releases in North America, however the logo was used on European releases. The ZSNES emulator also uses the Super Famicom logo as part of its logo.

Many videogames only released in Japan can be played in North America using emulation, since most play rom images from both the Super Famicom and the SNES. Emulation also enables the Japan-exclusive video games to be unofficially translated into English and other languages by means of ROM hacking using a hexadecimal editor. Many video games that were marketed exclusively in Japan have been translated into English through emulation using that method.


Game cartridges, depending on which market they were released in, were of different shapes to restrict the playing of games intended for a single market and to control pricing in those markets. The North American model had a rectangular bottom has inset grooves which when inserted complemented the console's shape whereas the Japanese/European cartridges had a smoothed curve on the front of the cartridges with no inset grooves. Since the North American console has protuding grooves, the Japanese/European cartridges could not be inserted without the removal of these grooves and North American cartridges being completely rectangular could not fit into the slightly curved opening of the Japanese console unit.

Additionally, a region chip within the console and in each cartridge prevented European games being played on Japanese/North American consoles and vice versa (despite the fact that European and Japanese Cartridges fit in each other's consoles). The Japanese and North American machines had the same region chip, so once the difference in the shape of the cartridges was overcome, cartridges were interchangeable.

Physical modification of the consoles and adaptors helped individuals overcome these barriers.

The most simple way to allow the Japanese and European cartridges to play in the North American system is to use a game genie and pull out the small rectangular piece of plastic out of the top of it. Then the person can use the game genie as a filter and plug the European and Japanese cartrages into it. He or she can then play the games through his or her North American system. The reason the European version still works even though it has a different regional chip is simply because when the owner uses the Game Genie to filter, the chip becomes pointless and doesn't actually work.

See also: Super Nintendo Entertainment System


  • The Satellaview attachment, was a satellite-based add-on expansion.
  • A never-released Nintendo CD attachment by Sony. At one point Sony discovered that Nintendo was also asking Phillips to design the same device. Sony withdrew and designed the PlayStation using the resources it gained while designing the Nintendo accessory. The Playstation quickly overtook Nintendo in the console market.
  • The Sufami Turbo was a third-party Super Famicom deck enhancer made by Bandai. It was a plug in cartridge like the Super Game Boy, albeit it had two cartridge slots on top of it at deck whereas the SGB only had one. There, one could plug specially designed Sufami Turbo cartridges that were the size of Game Boy cartridges. It was not very successful and is therefore considered rather rare today. Only 13 games were released (see List of Sufami Turbo games). Sufami is also a contraction of Super Famicom.


F-Zero Super Mario Kart Star Fox (Starwing) Street Fighter 2 Turbo
Nintendo (1991) Nintendo (1992) Nintendo (1993) Capcom (1993)
Super Mario Collection (Super Mario All Stars) Chrono Trigger Super Donkey Kong 2 (Donkey Kong Country 2) Earthworm Jim 2
Nintendo (1993) Squaresoft (1995) Nintendo/Rare (1995) Playmates/Shiny (1995)

See also

External Links/References

  • Super Famicom Console Database (http://www.consoledatabase.com/consoleinfo/snes)
  • http://www.thepong.com/Sites/Left/Nintendo/SNHist.htm
  • Sufami Turbo at Gamers Graveyard (http://www.gamersgraveyard.com/repository/snes/peripherals/sufamiturbo.html)



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