Released in 1991, what followed will always be remembered fondly by those who lived through it. The Console Wars between Nintendo and Sega were legendary, with each company trying to out-perform the other. Sega's new mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, was met with Mario's new 16-bit adventure, Super Mario World, and an official multi-card entitled "Mario All-Stars", containing all four NES Mario games.
SNES was both better and worse than the Mega Drive; although it used
a slower CPU, it was more capable in the graphics department. Sound,
however, was one of the crucial selling points of the SNES, with its
Yamaha-made sound chip boasting far superior MIDI music and sampled
voices than the Mega Drive's older chip. In the end, though, both
systems were about as capable as the other, and they each had an excellent
game library. (I own both a Mega Drive and a SNES. And a Dreamcast
and GameCube. So I like both of them!)
Luckily, a US SNES can play imports from Europe, Japan, plus its own cartridges, as can foreign machines. However, the cartridge slots will put up a good fight. The Game Paks were redesigned to go with the new casing, being too wide to fit in a foreign machine, while having annoying 'tabs' to prevent inserting imported games. Nothing a craft knife can't change, though.
In 1997, when the SNES was all but extinct (The N64 had been released by this time), Nintendo surprised everyone by releasing a remodeled SNES, like they had done with the NES. This was only released in Japan, and was all but overlooked by consumers, but still looked cool. If you don't have a SNES and want to buy a new one, you may still be able to pick one up.
Of course, the greatest feature of the SNES was sending Game Paks into orbit with the eject button. A vast improvement on the NES, cartridges were locked in place when inserted, meaning a good connection was virtually guarenteed. When the time came to remove the game, one could push the eject button and watch the Pak either pop (if pushed properly) or fly (if whacked) out of the slot.
Like the NES, some games expanded upon the abilities of the SNES by featuring an on-board chip. The most famous and highly-advertised game to feature such a chip was the excellent Starfox (Starwing in Europe... phooey). Featuring full 3D graphics, this flight simulator was an instant hit, and today I still enjoy popping the cart in for a good old-fashioned blast. But that's just me.