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Is there good info on the redesign of the SNES for the NA market?


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The SNES is designed differently in North America vs the rest of the world. The cartridges are a different shape, but moreover the entire console is a bit different. Different color scheme, different button and switch colors, and a noticeably different shape.

My simple curiosity is, what decisions led to redesigning the system, and what considerations played into how they designed the system for that market? I can make some inferences at least about the color scheme, since greys and purples were very popular and trendy at the time, but I'd like to see some actual sources, interviews, etc regarding the designs choices and reasons for change in the first place.

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So the stories about spilled drinks was true after all. I had always heard that NoA got a lot of NES sent in with beer or soda inside of them. Makes sense they went for the weird, lumpy design we got. I don't know about that toy part though, maybe it was a big aesthetic of 1990, but the genesis always looked cooler to me.

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I'm sure that I saw something somewhere from the Lance Burr (the one who redesigned it) that corroborated the toy part, and at the time, it would definately look that way.

I always had the impression the color scheme was meant to look classy.  It fits the soundtrack of F-Zero and Pilotwings in a way.

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I mean, nothing was cooler in the early 90s than light or dark grey with teal/purple/turquoise/pink accents...at least if you go by professional design firms of the time anyway. I definitely remember some trendy stores and items that looked like a super nintendo. SGI computers also carefully followed those same trends.

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On 11/14/2022 at 12:04 PM, koifish said:

So the stories about spilled drinks was true after all. I had always heard that NoA got a lot of NES sent in with beer or soda inside of them. Makes sense they went for the weird, lumpy design we got. I don't know about that toy part though, maybe it was a big aesthetic of 1990, but the genesis always looked cooler to me.


Kids would set their pop on anything... including the NES, haha. I've bought a few with "rings" on the top. 

If there's black shit all over a controller (sticky buttons) or system, you can guarantee almost 100% that it was some sort of cola. 

But, it would make sense to me that they would keep the somewhat overall box shape on the SNES so it wasn't TOO much different from the NES. An updated version, yes.... but still along the same lines.

So apparently the compromise was the curve ONLY the top part where the game goes in, haha. Never have I once thought "Oh... the top is so invited and less intimidating." though, haha. 

And like others have pointed put, the grey was "sleek" at the time, like computers. 

I get what you're saying about the Genesis. It definatley kind of looked like a "sports car" type system.

But again, since Nintendo was updating a system from 1985 that was a MASSIVE success, I think that's why they kind of kept the overall "boxiness" of the shape to keep certain level of familiarity. And I think they nailed it. It always felt like a "big brother" to the NES, an improvement, yet still in the same family. 

Edited by AirVillain
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On 11/18/2022 at 1:15 PM, AlternatorDelux said:

I'm sure that I saw something somewhere from the Lance Burr (the one who redesigned it) that corroborated the toy part, and at the time, it would definately look that way.

Lance Barr just retired from Nintendo last year. It's interesting to see that he was still working on projects through the Wii generation.

https://kotaku.com/nes-and-snes-designer-lance-barr-is-retiring-from-ninte-1847561525

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On 11/14/2022 at 12:04 PM, koifish said:

So the stories about spilled drinks was true after all. I had always heard that NoA got a lot of NES sent in with beer or soda inside of them. Makes sense they went for the weird, lumpy design we got. I don't know about that toy part though, maybe it was a big aesthetic of 1990, but the genesis always looked cooler to me.

I was a Nintendo kid, but I thought the sleek, jet black Model 2 Sega Genesis looked awesome.

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Member · Posted

I always liked the SNES style, it never seemed strange other than they dropped red for purples.  Part of this was holding on to that era, but maybe more so, all those lovely prototypes NP would flash which had red at first, and then the known SFC style rainbow buttons on the face which I really did like.  That and the taunt of that same logo throughout SMW even in that deep hidden challenge world or the art on all the boxes and stuff with the four buttons with the color sucked out.  They didn't go far to hide the fact it was that way, though it was a few more years (95) to see the PAL peeps got the JP style layout as well.  I got a little annoyed then, mostly over the colors, never really hated the shape but the smooth lines were nice.  Maybe it would have been better had they blended, rainbow buttons and SNES shell... then it would just be an aesthetics thing if you like A or B style more.

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