Super Nintendo LandSuper Nintendo Land

Posted on Jan 6th 2011 at 04:22:03 PM by (ZeroAX)
Posted under SNES Console, Console, Design, SNES, Classic Gaming, Hardware

Hello and welcome to Super Nintendo Land!

So while I wait for my Super Famicom to arrive (more info on that at a later date), I decided to start posting my experiences on SNES collecting.

As any retro gamer knows, when buying a retro console it a good idea to research which one you'll be buying. Should I get the Mega Drive 1 or 2? Should I get the GBA SP or the smaller GBA Micro? Oh wait the Micro doesn't support GB and GBC games let me think this through.

So when I decided to get a SNES, besides looking at each region's exclusive games (although removing the lockout chip cancels out that factor, which is exactly what I did) I looked around to see what options I have hardware wise.

First factor was money. As anyone who has made it through middle school can tell you, prices are a matter of supply vs demand. How does that apply to retro gaming? First of all demand will always fluctuate. It can depend on a plethora of factors, with the most important in my mind being coverage. A single mention of a game as a hidden gem on Racket Boy or Retro Gamer might hike the price of said game on ebay. Likewise a recent release of a game on the Virtual Console might push some people to look for the original cart online. So it really all depends on luck with these out of production consoles.

But supply is much easier to calculate. Simply put, the more a console has sold the easier it is to find one. Gameboys are as cheap as chips and I've bought magazines that cost more than what the PS1 is going for right now on ebay. Anyway let's look at the regional sales of the SNES.

According to this document ( ) which I shamelessly took from wikipedia, the SNES sales break down like this:

America23 Million
Japan17 Million
Other8.5 Million

So understandably it's much cheaper to look for a Super Famicom or an American SNES than a PAL or Korean one. I got my Super Famicom for 25 British Pounds (38$/30 Euro). On the various European ebay sites ( .fr .es .it .de) a PAL Super Nintendo usually goes for at least 40 Euro (33 British Pounds/52$) In both cases with a single controller and the cables included. But price wise the crown goes to the American SNES. Right now it is being sold on ebay, for way less than the JP and EU models. The original SNES seems to go for about 20$ (15 Euro/13 British Pounds). Unfortunately I could not find any SNES SNS-101 (the redesigned model, which wasn't released in Europe btw) for sale, but only a couple of clones (I'll cover this issue in a minute), and the Super Famicom Junior is selling right now for crazy amounts of money (at least on the Western ebay sites, I don't know how much it costs in Japan).

So with price out of the way, let's look at what we collector's really care about (besides the games library). The design (aka the "looks") of a console. There are 3 main contenders in this category.

The original Super Famicom/ Super Nintendo PAL design

These are nearly identical to each other, with the only difference being the logo on the console itself and the controller (the PAL one has the Nintendo logo inside the ring thingy and it says Super Nintendo with big letters instead of Super Famicom with smaller ones. Here's a picture for comparison's sake http://upload.wikimedia.o...00.jpg/700px-SNES_800.jpg. Pictures, as always, shamelessly taken from Wikipedia).

So what do I like about this design. Well basically it's playfulness. This and the PSone have been the only console designs that basically say Hi there, I'm a box of joy. Everything, from the curvy design to the colorful logo and buttons says that when you'll interact with this magical machine you'll be having a great time. I also like how each button on the console is a totally different shape, to emphasize its different use (god knows how many times I pressed the wrong button on the Gamecube... well 2 or 3 times, but I was trying to make a point)

Next we have the American SNES

God what an ugly beast. Yup this is stereotypically American. You guys like your stuff big and that's perfectly fine (you're the only ones with space to put it in anyway. Try driving your cars in European capitals or in Tokyo). But all jokes aside, it's not the size I have a problem with. It's the overall design. First of all, why purple? Ok you wanted to promote it as a more serious machine, so the colorful details had to go, but you chose to replace them with purple buttons?  WTF Nintendo? Nintendo Red goes sooooo well with dark gray, so why didn't you go with that instead? It's not like purple means less kiddy than red. What's up with Nintendo and purple anyway? The Gamecube was mostly pushed as a purple console, likewise with the GBA (the clear purple color was what most Europeans got anyway).

But by far the worst offender is the design itself. Once more I understand they needed to promote it as a more serious machine (to combat Sega's Marketing campaign), so with that in mind it makes perfect sense that they changed the buttons to look alike. But why did they have to place the reset button down there? And why is the front so loaded and the back so empty? I do like the curvy cartridge slot, but that's an element taken from the original design and I don't like that it's so clumsily elevated.

Lastly there's the Super Famicom Jr/ Super Nintendo SNS-101

This time they barely changed anything for the North American release, other than the color of the buttons and the logo ( I don't know which design I like more though. Well the SNS-101 is actually a huge improvement on the NA Super Nintendo so it's a good choice for someone in the market for an American SNES, plus the small purple buttons look kind of cute. On the other hand the Super Famicom Jr looks bad imo. The colorful logo this time makes it look like a baby's Super Famicom. I don't like either version much, but if I had to choose between these 2 I'd probably get the American version (with a PAL/JP controller Tongue).

A word of warning for those in the market for an SNES SNS-101. A wide variety of clone machines have been based on its design, so be careful when buying a SNS-101 from ebay, that you don't end up with a clone instead.

Finally there are the technical differences between models. In this regard the PAL consoles are inferior to all other regions, because they run at 50Hz. You can mod the console to make it run the games at 60Hz, but unless you have the technical skills to do that (or know someone who is willing to do that for you (for free or with payment)) I'd stick away from the PAL machines if you are given the option of choosing among the 3 regions (as always game libraries are not taken into account since you can make your SNES region free more easily than the 50/60Hz mod), unless you really like the design and your machine MUST say Super Nintendo on it.

Both Super Famicom and NA SNES run at 60Hz and can output composite video, S-Video and RGB signals, as well as RF with an external RF modulator. (All together now, "Shamelessly taken from Wikipedia"). On the other hand the Super Famicom Jr and the SNES SNS-101 don't output S-Video and RGB signal and don't feature an expansion port (although with the Satellaview service discontinued in 2000 there's no real need for one anyway).

So after taking account of the price, design and hardware factors I personally decided I wanted a Super Famicom. I'd have preferred a PAL Super Nintendo (I'm getting a mod for 50/60Hz switch anyway) but they are a bit more expensive and I'd rather spend that money on some games.

Thanks for reading. I'll try to update this blog whenever I have the time and I'm in a good mood, with my experiences in SNES collecting and its games in general.

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Awesome first post man. Look forward to your blog!
I actually like the design of the NA Super Nintendo.  I have a Super Famicom, but I think it is a bit uglier.  That, and the controller cable is like 2 feet long.  How silly.

Nice blog!
@noiseredux: Thanks man I'll try to make this a fun and informative blog.

@blcklblskt: Of course everyone will like different things mate. It's the magic of personal taste. As I said this is all my personal experience (which also means my personal taste). I won't be surprised if someone tells me that the Super Famicom/SNES PAL looks like children's toys and that the American SNES is better.
While I might be among "the only ones with space" for a standard-issue North American Super NES, I have a habit of trading larger versions of game consoles for smaller ones when the opportunity arises. That having been said, my preference would be the Super FC Jr./ SNS-101. Only thing is, I've yet to see one "in person." Even with the images you've provided, I'm still not fully convinced that the SNS-101 isn't an urban myth...

As for the N.A. Super NES being ugly: It's neither particularly repulsive or attractive to me. In fact, I find it appallingly average-looking. However, its plain-vanilla aesthetics turn for the worse as the light grey casing yellows with age.
@Zagnorch: Well I've seen Super Famicom Jrs on ebay, but they are very expensive. And the SNS-101 does exist, cause I remember seeing them being sold at best buy in 1998. Good luck finding one these days though Sad. And as I've mentioned beware of clones.
@Zagnorch: "Even with the images you've provided, I'm still not fully convinced that the SNS-101 isn't an urban myth..."

The one sitting on my shelf begs to differ.

Great first post, ZeroAX!

I've owned two SNES 2's (SNS-101).  While they are very neat collector's pieces, I prefer their bigger brothers simply because they can output S-Video.  If the mini SNES would output S-Video, I'd probably go with that one because of the smaller size.
I've had the internal debate about what to get when I was still building out my 'stable' of consoles. The biggest one was the Master System, and I opted for a Power Base Converter instead of a dedicated console to save some space. Although finding a boxed Master System at a thrift for $20 had me mightily thinking about swapping, since I knew my friend who had an interest could handle either option. I stuck with the PBC.

I did pick up a Model 2 SNES at a thrift store once. I used it as 'trade bait' to get my 7800, since I already have a Model 1 SNES, and that's my only console that I can say I'm the original owner.
@jferio: Are 7800s expensive? Cause the SNS-101 should be pretty expensive (judging by the rarity and the prices on the SFC JRs). How much did you pay for it? How many years ago was it?
I see SNS-101s fairly regularly at a small game shop I frequent, although it could be the same ones that just never sell. I've never bothered to look at the price.

When I choose a console I go first with the model that offers the most features (which typically means 1st rev.) and then the most reliable model is my second criteria if all things are equal. Which has me questioning which 3DO I should go for. I'm leaning towards the Panasonic top loader.
@Zagnorch: If you are interested in buying an SNS-101 there's one going for 45$ at
@blcklblskt: The SNES mini is actually a snap to mod for S-video. Adding RGB is just as easy, too. This is because while the video encoder chip in the mini outputs both S-video and RGB, they aren't wired up to the AV port. All it takes are a few wires and a few resistors to fix those issues.
My biggest problem with the SNES jr is the lack of a power light. My sister was visiting and forgot to turn the system off and I didnt notice it was on for about 2 days. Other than that I think both North American releases are equally ugly.
@Crabmaster2000: You know I did not notice that. Very good point. Specially for people who have all their consoles couped up inside an entertainment center. It can get quite hot in there and overheating is always a problem for consoles and computers in general.
@ZeroAX: I paid under $20 for the SNES2, as I recall, something like 4 years ago. It was at a thrift.

On the overheating problem. The old consoles tended to not be major powerhouses like today's consoles. The bigger worry is overheating of the wall warts, depending on their age and relative power load. I solve this by having a reasonably open back on my rig (open folding bookshelves) and a liberal dose of those old computer Power Centers, so I can switch things on and off individually without dealing with physically unplugging things.
Fantastic read; this'll help me in my search for the perfect snes
I myself was always a fan of both the original releases.  The mini's are cute but they just don't do it for me.  What with the various systems, it is by far the smallest thing I've got.  People love to talk about stuff like it and the launch x-box but systems like the 5200 or even the Saturn get forgotten.
Great article!

Personally, I bought a PAL SNES years after its prime. When I found out about the 50/60Hz difference, I had it modded by a modding service and it was definately worth it.
I also don't like the American SNES design, but somehow I find the cartridge design interesting. Smiley

Actually, I've always wondered why they decided to stick with the Japanese design for the European release.
@amiganer:Probably because the Japanese design is prettier XD.

Did you go to a local shop for the modding service, or did you send the SNES to an online store?

I too can't decide which cartridge design I like more, the PAL/JAP design or the NA one.

I sent mine to a store.

What I like about the US cartridges is that they also printed the name on top of the cartridge, so it's a bit easier to find a specific game.
And the dust cover is neat.

Regarding the design, I read that one reason may have been that Europe was supposedly not as litigation-obsessed as the US.

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As a kid I always wanted a Super Nintendo, but because it was too expensive at the time in Europe, I ended up with a Sega Mega Drive (which is awesome as well). So when I got into retro gaming I always had my eye on buying an SNES. And finally I took the plunge and ordered one.

Super Nintendo Land is a blog about my collecting and gameplay experience with the SNES.
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