While far from being a failure of Amstrad GX4000 proportions, the NES wasn’t exactly a runaway success in Europe. The 8-bit cassette-based formats, with their inexpensive software, offered better value for money and a similar assortment of games. The SEGA Master System was performing well off the back of its arcade conversions, too, and this was even before a certain hedgehog showed up.
The Super Nintendo was a different story, however. When it arrived in the UK in 1992 the 8-bit formats were starting to look incredibly outdated. Moreover, Sonic the Hedgehog had sent sales of the Mega Drive skyrocketing, cementing the fact that Japanese systems – and their expensive £50+ cartridges – were the future of gaming.
After several months of pre-launch hype, which can be partly attributed to glowing reviews of the Japanese launch software in CVG and Mean Machines, the SNES made its European debut in April 1992 alongside a strong line-up of system showcases.
Super Mario World was the plumber’s biggest and best adventure yet, and the pseudo 3D (Mode 7) effects in F-Zero and Pilotwings looked amazing, far beyond what the Mega Drive was capable of. We dare say F-Zero even looked better than anything the Mega CD had to offer.
Once arcade juggernaut Street Fighter II arrived, all eyes were on the SNES. 1993’s Street Fighter II: Turbo bundle, released just in time for Christmas, was incredibly popular. The Super Mario All-Stars bundle – which saw the system drop to £99.99 – was another popular Christmas wish-list item, backed by TV adverts starring the late Rik Mayall.
The announcement of the SNES Mini was met with even more excitement than Nintendo’s reveal of the NES Mini. This appears to be down to one main reason – whereas the NES failed to capture the hearts and minds of gamers over here, most European gamers have very fond memories of the SNES.
This was the system that saw Nintendo at their most competitive, using such games as Street Fighter II, Super Mario Kart, Star Fox and Donkey Kong Country to demonstrate that the SNES was far superior to anything else out there. In fact, the advanced graphics of DKC, Killer Instinct and Super Mario RPG helped the system to even fight off the threat of the Jaguar, 3DO, and the SEGA 32X.
The SNES also introduced a whole generation to the wonderful world of JRPGs – Squaresoft released hit after hit, and Nintendo’s own RPGs are still held in high regard. The SNES Mini includes 1994’s EarthBound, a delightfully goofy role-player with an equally outlandish musical score. It was overlooked upon release and never made it to Europe until a Wii U VC appearance in 2013. Those who haven’t played it before are in for a treat.
The same can also be said for the Square-developed Super Mario RPG, which likewise managed to elude European shores (until a Wii VC release in 2008).