Christmas Day 1994 was the worst day of my life. Well, that might be hyperbole, but at the time, as I sat with my head in my hands weeping and cursing, it seemed that my 7-year-old life couldn’t get any worse. What could drive a normally happy and well-adjusted boy to tears on what was normally a day of material celebration? Well, that Christmas I had only asked for just one thing: a Super Nintendo.

As you probably guessed, my beloved SNES didn’t arrive. I still don’t really understand why my parents chose to torment me another full year before bestowing upon me the gift of 16-bit graphics

and unequalled gameplay. All I know is the day I first popped that “Super Mario World” cartridge in, I knew I was experiencing something

special.

“Super Mario World,” “Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past,” “Ken Griffey, Jr. Baseball” . I can recall these titles at a moment’s notice because I still have the games and still play them. I also own the incredible “Super Mario All-Stars” compilation, which includes all the “Mario” games released on the original Nintendo. Not in the history of mankind had so much entertainment and fun been contained

in a cartridge only four inches wide.

It’s easy to talk about “Mario,” but the beauty of Super Nintendo was that even the mediocre games were enjoyable. A game as obscure as “James Bond, Jr.,” which I picked up used at Blockbuster for $3, still had a great deal of entertainment

value. The vast SNES library derived a game from every conceivable vein of ’90s pop culture.

There were games based on movies, like “Jurassic Park,” and “Wayne’s World,” and games based on TV shows, like “Bart Simpson’s Nightmare,” and “Animaniacs.” Even Izzy, the mascot of the 1996 Summer Olympics, had his own game. It even had an adaptation of “Sim City.” There was something for everyone – no matter how bizarre your taste – and that mass appeal was what made Super Nintendo

the best-selling system of its time.

Super Nintendo’s sports games were – and still are – the best around. Games like the aforementioned

“Ken Griffey, Jr. Baseball” represented a pleasing middle-ground between the earliest “Baseball”

and “Golf” Nintendo games – which were generic in gameplay as well as title – and the uncomfortably

realistic “Madden” games of today. “NBA Jam” might have had no real basis in reality, but nobody cared. After all, who didn’t want to jump with Scottie Pippen 20 feet in the air and dunk a flaming

basketball?

Back in the heyday of Super Nintendo,

there weren’t lines of people camping out to buy games, and there were no kids fighting each other over the last copy of “Super Star Wars.” That’s because Super Nintendo didn’t take itself too seriously,

and its quality was so good it sold itself. It may be hard for current

college students to understand why their parents miss the days of oversized vinyl records, and in 20 years we may have a hard time explaining to our children why a cheap system with poor graphics was so much fun to play. My Super Nintendo is now 11 years old, covered

with dirt and stains, and every year my aging copies of “Mario All Stars” and “Super Mario World” are a little less likely to work. So, I implore you, get your old Super Nintendo out of the basement – or, if you don’t have one, browse eBay – and rediscover the magic of the first great video game-system.

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