Back in 1991, Nintendo’s Super NES was released in the States. I obtained one while still in production around 1993, and have since amassed a small collection of SNES favorites that made me cry, made me sleep, even gave me wet dreams… more from thinking about playing them again than anything actually moving about them. Just hatred and jealousy over someone other than me having the money spent on such games.
Twenty years ago, I had just turned 7 years old. That’s… well, it’s not a big year, but it was a moment of my life. I was still addicted to my NES and, specifically, Super Mario Brothers 3. Everybody has that game that sticks with them for a lifetime, good or bad, right? I had visions of Tanooki suits and Kuribo’s Shoe in my head and didn’t give one – let alone two – shits about upgrading. I was busy, after all; I had a princess to save. But it was my dad who didn’t really enjoy the same games that wanted to upgrade. So, at some point soon after (never) completing SMB3, I was greeted with a new system with which to play games on. And with it, of course, came a new Mario game. I hadn’t even beaten the other one yet, but there it was with Mario in caped and fire-spitting glory.
Except for Mario, I had phased a bit out of playing games. I was starting to get into some sports, like kempo karate and swimming (like every kid my age… waaaaiiiitaminit, you lied to me, Mom!), so I didn’t have as much time to sit down and play. Practicing positions and kicks and strokes had me away from the TV, though I still dreamed about it. It wasn’t until the PSOne game out that I even realized what SNES games I should be caring about!
I did find a few though. At that point I started to find RPGs; first the RPG-arguable Legend of Zelda, then Dragon Warrior. Somehow I found out that there was one I wanted – nay, needed – to discover and care about; the RPG game with Mario in it. Super Mario RPG was introduced to me, and like a Major League Eating champion with a stick of butter, I started wolfing it down… but even then, not many other role-playing masterpieces. At least, not until I realized I didn’t like FFVII and starting looking for something better, and found FFII/IV and III/VI in the process.
The NES started my life in gaming, but the SNES solidified my place as a game collector. I had to go back into the vault of places like Funcoland and eBay to find the games I had heard so much about – Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country, Uniracers (yup, Uniracers) – and I didn’t realize how much of an impact it had on popular gaming. It was the first to have prominent console RPGs in the US, to have honest-to-goodness 3D on a home platform, even the first to use the diamond-button formation on a controller that had been mimicked and re-used in nearly every major home system since (except for, sadly, the Casio Loopy). Combine the hardware innovations with some exceptional games, and the SNES is deserving of a big friggin‘ birthday party in the gaming world.
Me, I’ll be plugging back in Super Mario RPG, if for no other reason than to play that damn Beetle Mania mini-game. Why do you addict me soooooo!!!