Old Nintendo may go way of the hula hoop as 'Super' version arrives

May 01, 1991|By Maria Mallory

Parents beware. Nintendo Mania II is on the way.

Hoping to lure even more avid followers to the Nintendo realm, beginning Sept. 1, Nintendo of America Inc. will roll out its Super Nintendo Entertainment System -- Super NES, for short.

The new system promises better graphics, more memory and better "playability" than the standard Nintendo -- all the things that will make your children forget the old and clamor for the new.

"The graphics are superb. The player has a lot more options. There are more buttons, more whistles," Lynne M. Gray, Nintendo spokeswoman, said.

But for consumers who recently spent $99 on a standard Nintendo game deck, there's bad news. The souped-up games won't play on the old decks. Even more irksome for parents, Super NES will likely cost almost twice as much as the old system, industry watchers said.

"This is the nature of the market," said David H. Rice, executive director of VIDION, a Washington-based association of video game players. "You are going to have upgrades in these systems. You've got to understand that when you go buy something."

Still, for some Nintendo fans, that might be a problem.

"You have to purchase two different systems," complained Lynne D. O'Donnell, who lives in Ruxton. "There should be a dual hook up or converter that you could buy so you can use your old system" with the new one, she said.

And what will she do when Tommy down the street has, say, the new, improved Super Duper Mario Brothers and her kids want it, too? "I'll just tell them, 'Well, you've got to wait for a while,' " said Ms. O'Donnell, who gave the old NES to her children last Christmas.

She has time. Nintendo plans to continue selling the old system and its game cartridges, Ms. Gray said. "It wouldn't be savvy marketing not to continue to support all those 30 million systems," she added.

But VIDION's Mr. Rice is betting the company will eventually phase out the standard NES as the video game industry continues its evolution to more complex and technologically advanced systems.

Super NES is the latest generation of the wildly popular Nintendo Entertainment System, which has sold more than 28 million units since it was introduced five years ago.

Nintendo will not reveal the price of the new system or talk about specific games or features because the company is planning to formally introduce the new electronic game at the Consumer Products Show in Chicago in June.

But Gary M. Jacobson, an analyst with Kidder Peabody in New York, said he didn't think the price "will be over $200."

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