Gadget Hall of Fame: Nintendo SNES

Because nothing made grey more exciting than this 16-bit belter...

Back in the early 90s, one question defined you as much your football team or favourite Ninja Turtle - SNES or Mega Drive? 

The Super Nintendo launched well after Sega’s Mega Drive had raced into the 16-bit console lead, but slowly closed the gap thanks to an astonishing collection of peak-of-powers games.

It really had everything: Nintendo’s arcade classics, niche role-playing games like The Secret of Mana and indestructible cartridges.

We always had a sneaking suspicion that the Mega Drive was cooler, but there's no doubt the SNES deserves a place in our Hall of Fame. Here's why...

What's the story?

Console wars weren’t just about sales figures and technical specs in the early 90s. They were fought with passion and unwavering allegiance to talismanic mascots.

While Sega pinned its hopes on a hyperactive blue hedgehog, Nintendo’s master and commander was a portly Italian plumber called Mario. His vessel? The SNES or Super Nintentdo Entertainment System, known as the Super Famicom (Family Computer) in its homeland of Japan.

Ninty’s 16-bit console locked horns with the Megadrive and battle commenced.

Why should I want one?

Many would say the SNES defined ’90s gaming. Its 2D graphics were effortlessly slick, but it had another trick known as Mode 7, which could take a flat piece of ‘wallpaper’ and scroll it around in 3D.

That was a bit special at the time, and spawned Super Mario Kart and F-Zero. Sonically it was pretty hot too, as it proved with its reverb effects in the caves of Super Mario World.

You can plug a SNES into your TV today and have hours of fun rediscovering its rich back catalogue. Start by hooking up a multitap for some four-player Bomberman.

What should I go for?

Years of tough love have sent many of them to the big Game Over screen in the sky, but the web is awash with secondhand consoles.

Just make sure the one you’re bidding on is a PAL version with a matching UK power supply and the wires needed to hook it up to your telly. Or check out Lekki's lovely restored models like the one above, available for £170 with a copy of Super Mario.   

Most should be available with a decent spread of games thrown in. Look out for our favourites below as a starting point. For retro-gaming geek kudos, seek out the bazooka-style Super Scope light gun, although this will only work with old-school CRT TVs. 

Stuff's favourite SNES games:

Star Wing (1993)

Star Wing’s galaxy- traversing adventures and polygon-heavy graphics came thanks to a futuristic Super FX chip. It looked amazing then; doesn’t now.

Striker (1993)

The Pro Evo of its day, Striker featured breakneck gameplay and oddball physics that allowed you to bend freekicks both left and then, somehow, right.

F-Zero (1992)

Based around a deadly, hovering Formula 1-style race series from the future, F-Zero invented the sci-fi racing genre. In Stuff’s eyes, never been bettered.

Also in 1992...

Film: Wayne's World

Easily Mike Myers’worst movie, Wayne’s World represents everything that was puerile about ’90s slacker comedy, with countless tortured gags, an awful soundtrack and not one remotely quotable line – NOT!

Music: Rage Against the Machine: Rage Against the Machine

The best hip-rock record of all time spat acid in the face of ‘The Man’ and inadvertently invented nu-metal. Lucky for Zack and co, because it’s so awesome, we’ll forgive them.

Gadget: Windows 3.1

Windows 3.1 introduced a new generation to Minesweeper – oh, and home computing. Amazingly, Microsoft didn’t actually discontinue 3.1 until November 2008.