What Is the Difference Between Nintendo & Super Nintendo?

By Douglas Quaid

The past decade has seen a number of top-notch WWII flight combat games.
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The Nintendo Entertainment System ("NES") and the Super Nintendo were the first two home video game consoles released by the Nintendo company. After Atari failed to follow up on the success of the Atari 2600 console, the NES revived the video game market and brought video games to the mass market. While both consoles are primitive by today's standards, they still hold a place in the heart of many video game players.


Nintendo released the original NES (known in Japan as the "Famicom") in Japan in 1983 and the United States in 1984. The NES was initially available in two packages: the "Arcade" set, which came with the game "Super Mario Bros.," and the "Deluxe" set, which came packaged with three games, a zapper gun for the "Duck Hunt" game, and the "Rob the Robot" accessory. In order to keep up with more powerful consoles from Sega and NEC which were released in 1989, Nintendo released the Super Nintendo system in Japan in 1990 and the United States in 1991.

System Specs

The original Nintendo console has an 8-bit processor running at about 1.79 MHz, 2 kilobytes of RAM, and another 2 kilobytes of separate video RAM. The Super Nintendo has a 16-bit processor running at 3.58 MHz, a megabyte of RAM, and half a megabyte of video RAM. The difference between an 8-bit and 16-bit processor is the amount of memory the CPU can work with at once. A 16-bit processor can handle exponentially larger numbers than an 8-bit processor. The result is that the Super Nintendo can do more calculations more quickly than the NES, resulting in larger, more complex and more graphically compelling games.


We expect backwards compatibility from modern videogame consoles. The Playstation 3, for example, can play games for earlier Playstation models. However, games for the NES and Super Nintendo are not cross-compatible. Many of Nintendo's famous videogame franchises, such as Super Mario Bros. and the "Legend of Zelda" games, began on the NES but were released for both consoles. Sequels on the Super Nintendo included "Super Mario World" and "The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past," games which are still beloved by those who played them as children.


A wide variety of accessories were released for both consoles, including some strange items that never caught on. For example, "Rob the Robot" was meant to be a robot "buddy" who played NES games with you. However, it was unpopular and only ever compatible with two games. Both consoles had "guns" that you could shoot at the screen to control certain games. Another notable failure was the "Power Glove" for the NES, which was meant to bring more physical interactivity to games. Today the Power Glove is mostly notable for its appearance in the 1989 videogame-themed film "The Wizard."