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The Reason Your Super Nintendo Is Probably Very Yellow

The Super Nintendo is a highly loved and nostalgic console for a lot of Nintendo fans. With best-selling titles like "Super Mario World," it's easy to see why it did so well when it was released – and why people never wanted to get rid of it. People collect the system and its games, and if you've got titles like "Earthbound" in excellent condition, you can make a small fortune. While the Nintendo Switch does have some SNES titles available with its emulator and even an SNES controller for the system, there's nothing quite like the gray console. Or, at the least, a gray and yellow system.

That's right, the one iconic growing pain that the Super Nintendo had was its coloring. While the systems were gray, the plastic parts often turn a yellow-brown color that's somewhat off-putting over time. While Nintendo enthusiasts have found ways to restore the system back to its original color, it's not something everyone can do because of the ingredients involved and the difficulty of the project. The real question is why the popular consoles ever turned yellow in the first place.

Science and the Super Nintendo

The YouTube account DidYouKnowGaming? explained that the yellowing of the Super Nintendo was actually caused by the ingredients used in the plastic parts. Earlier Super Nintendos were made with a wrong combination of flame retardant chemicals, which caused the systems to yellow over time. 

Nintendo Today offered a bit more explanation: the plastic in question is called acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, and it was a pretty common plastic for electronics despite its ability to catch on fire. This led to Nintendo using bromine, the flame retardant chemical, when making the plastic. While this helped fight any potential fires, bromine's brown color starts oxidizing when exposed to UV radiation. Reddit user BCProgramming also blamed the coloring on bromine and it's reactions with UV radiation. 

UV radiation can be found in the sun's rays as well as in some artificial forms of light. The resulting oxidation process causes the bromine's color to essentially leak out and create a yellow look on your Super Nintendo. Considering it's nearly impossible to hide a Super Nintendo from every source of light constantly, it's a pretty common experience to have a yellowish console instead of the gray one you originally had.