Super Nintendo Entertainment System

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Platform - SNES.png
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Super Nintendo Entertainment System.jpg
Released: 1990-11-21
Discontinued: 2003-09-25
Developer: Nintendo
Type: Hardware

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or SNES, is a fourth generation 16-bit video game console developed by Nintendo. The system was one of the best selling in history, most popular in Japan (where it was called the Super Famicom) and the USA. The console uses Ricoh 5A22 for its CPU and an S-SMP chip for audio.



Super Famicom

The Super Famicom.

Nintendo first released the console as the Super Famicom (family computer) in Japan on November 21, 1990. The platform was officially discontinued on September 25, 2003.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System

In most other regions, the Super Famicom was released titled the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was released in the USA on August 23, 1991, in the UK on April 11, 1992, in Europe in June 6, 1992, and in Australia on July 3, 1992. The platform was officially discontinued in 1999 in North America.


A Satellaview mounted under a Super Famicom.

The Satellaview is a hardware add-on to the Super Famicom that gave it access to Nintendo's satellite which allowed the owner to watch video programs, listen to music, and download SNES games. It was release only in Japan on April 23, 1995 and officially discontinued on June 30, 2000.

Super Famicom games listed with the BS (Broadcasting Satellite) prefix means that the game was made for the Satellaview. For example, BS Zelda no Densetsu (SFC).

Music and Sound

The SNES uses an S-SMP audio chip, which, at the time of its release, was one of the most sophisticated audio chips in the consumer market.

Unlike its competitor, the Sega Genesis, which used FM synthesis, the S-SMP used samples; short recordings of an instrument. This gave the SNES a much better fidelity in audio. However, samples had to be kept extremely short, as to not use too much space on the cartridge. These samples came from various sources, and depended on the sound driver, composers, and programmers. Usually, samples were taken from keyboards the composers owned at the time.


Most composers converted MIDI files, some composed MOD-like music using trackers, and a very few still programmed in assembly as they were used to PSGs.

A lot of Japanese developers used Nintendo's Kankichi-kun software, which was said to be a music sequencer. However, the samples and sound engines were modified by most developers that used it, resulting in many variants of the sound driver.