Modern design lessons from the Super Nintendo era

Last year, Nintendo released the NES Classic Edition, a replica of its flagship console with 30 games and a replica controller to create an impeccable reproduction of a pivotal era in games. Like a fool, I waited until after launch to try to order one, and I never wound up managing to track a console down for myself. Since then, Nintendo's promised to re-release the NES Classic, but I vowed I wouldn't make the same mistake with the Super Nintendo Classic Edition.

A few buddies and I met outside of the Target near the airport at 3:45am to secure our place in line. It paid off—a few hours later, we all emerged with our own miniature Super NESes and huge grins on our faces.

Like Christmas 1991 all over again.

Like Christmas 1991 all over again.

Anyway. Now that I've had a few days with what is, for all intents and purposes, a legitimate Super Nintendo in my house, there are a few conclusions I've drawn that really resonate with me:

  1. We can learn a lot from old games. I originally sat down to just dive into a few of the games I remembered loving the most from the era, but each game has something unique to say about the prevailing wisdom and creative challenges of its time.
  2. There was an explosion of creativity and genre expansion during the 16-bit era that presages future inflection points in game design. 

There's so much to unpack here, actually, that I'm gonna try something new: a series of short blog posts where I share design lessons I've taken from each SNES Classic game that are still relevant today. There's an awful lot we can learn from the games that really got it right back in their time period, and even more from those that shot for the moon and fell short. The SNES Classic has games from both camps, and I couldn't be more thrilled to dive in and reevaluate these games I grew up on from a different era and a different context.

Anyway. Stay tuned for that.