Nintendo Super NES (SNES)
CPU: Nintendo 5A22 - based on a 16-bit CMD/GTE 65c816... a version of the WDC 65C816 used in the Apple II GS.
Value: £25 - £35
With the huge success of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), or Famicom, as it was known in Japan, Nintendo didn't wish to upset the market with a new system, and so where quite late coming into the 16 bit arena.
By 1988, when Nintendo started development work on their new 16 bit games machine, the NES was already facing competition from NEC's PC Engine, and Sega's Mega Drive (Genesis), both of which had vastly superior capabilities.
Finally launched on the 20th November 1990 in Japan, demand for the system was so high that Nintendo shipped 300,000 units in the early hours of launch day, for fear of Yakuza groups hijacking shipments before they could reach the shops. Needless to say, even with only two launch titles, F Zero and Shigeru Miyamoto's seminal Super Mario World, the launch was a massive success... all available units being snapped up within hours.
Things did not go quite so smoothly for Nintendo's SNES in the UK, as 17 months after the Nintendo's Japanese launch, Sega were now dominating the UK market with the Megadrive. Even with the hugely popular Super Mario World bundled with the system, the SNES sold only in fair numbers.
It took until 1992, with the exclusive release of Capcom's massive beat 'em up hit, Streetfighter II, for SNES sales to really pick up and even the balance with Sega in the UK.
As the system aged, and with the release of more advanced systems such as the 3DO and Atari Jaguar, Nintendo sought to keep up with the competition by including extra hardware into their games catridges... the most notable being the "Mario Chip", later renamed Super FX, designed by the British company, Argonaut Software.
Argonaut, previously known for their 3D game, Starglider, on Atari ST and Amiga, caught Nintendo's eye with their impressive implementation of 3D graphics on a conversion of Race Drivin' for the Game Boy.
Another British games developer that pushed the limits of the SNES' capabilities in its later years was Rare, formally known as Ultimate Play The Game, who were famous for their Sinclair Spectrum games such as Jetpack, Sabre Wulf and Knight Lore.. all of which pushed the limits of what was considered possible at the time.
With the release of Sony's Playstation though, by 1999, production of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System ceased outside of Japan, where it continued to be supported, with games broadcast over satellite tv (Satellaview), and the release of a smaller version of the system, known as Super Famicom Jr.
Production in Japan finally ended in 2003, which sounds very impressive indeed... but it should be noted that production of the SNES' predecessor, the NES, also ended that year. Never the less, Nintendo's SNES is regarded by many to be one of, if not *the* greatest, or at least purest, games consoles ever made.
To this end, Nintendo implemented custom graphics chips enabling many clever tricks, including the wondrous"Mode 7", which created spectacular (at the time) sprite and background rotating and scaling effects. Nothing similar could be achieved on any other home console that that time.
In later years, as mentioned above, the system was augmented in several games with the inclusion of the Argonaut designed Super FX chip, enabling 3D graphics and other advanced effects.