Nintendo’s sophomore miniature console, the SNES Classic Edition, goes on sale this Friday. The ‘90s throwback looks to be a decent buy given its selection of games and the fact that it comes bundled with two controllers.
With review embargos having just lifted, we turn our attention to the Internet to see what those that have had some hands-on time with the console think. Is the nostalgia-inducing machine worth the $79.99 asking price? Should Star Fox 2 have remained shelved?
Polygon’s Ross Miller on the hardware and aesthetics:
Measuring roughly 5.25 x 4.25 x 1.5 inches, the SNES Classic is approximately one-seventh the size of the original Super Nintendo — seriously, it’s pretty hilarious to compare the two side by side. Nintendo has, unsurprisingly, done an amazing job in recreating the original look. Perhaps a bit too well — whereas North America gets the classic, grayish industrial look, Europe and Japan get the objectively prettier “Super Famicom” design that we’ve been envious of since 1990.
What’s changed is largely functional: The eject button no longer depresses, the cartridge flap no longer flaps and all the ports have been overhauled. On the back, it’s just an HDMI-out for video and micro-USB for power; on the front, a cover with etchings of the original SNES controller ports hides the new inputs, which match that of both the NES Classic Controller and the Wii Remote extension port. (The cover remains attached via a small rubber connector, which so far feels sturdy enough, although frankly it’d look fine without it.)
Aaron Souppouris with Engadget discusses two key issues people had with last year’s NES Classic:
If you were to take a random sampling of NES Classic reviews, you'd find two issues repeated everywhere. The first was the length of the controller cables; the second, the reset button on the console itself. Only one of those has been fixed.
The controller is a faithful reproduction of the original. It was the best controller around at the time, and there's nothing I'd rather play these games on. While the NES Classic controller had a tiny 20-inch cable, the SNES Classic's has 43 inches to play with. It's just long enough for my apartment but still probably not up to scratch for the average American living room. Still, it's a huge improvement.
Sadly, the complaints about the reset button have been ignored. If you want to go back to the menu to change a setting or swap games, you have to get up and press the reset button. Every. Time. Of course, this exactly mimics the original experience, but this was clearly something people didn't like about the NES Classic and it's strange that Nintendo didn't do anything to address it. How simple would it be to make, say, a three-second hold of the start and select buttons return you to the main menu?
How do SNES games hold up today? Jason Schreier from Kotaku elaborates:
Super Mario World is as fresh and challenging as it ever was. The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past remains the pinnacle of 2D level design. It still feels fantastic to roll around as a Morph Ball in Super Metroid, and the labyrinth of Zebes is still deliciously mysterious. Earthbound and Final Fantasy VI (originally released, and shown on the SNES Classic, as Final Fantasy III) continue to feel like top-notch JRPGs that designers are still trying to emulate, all these years later.
Star Fox 2, however, is a bit lacking according to IGN’s Jonathon Dornbush:
As for Star Fox 2, it’s a marvel of video game history to play a previously unreleased game, decades after its initially intended debut. The problem is, it’s not all that fun to play. Aiming — which is something you do quite a bit — is a chore thanks to a horrifically choppy frame rate. I picked up Star Fox 2, admired what it represents for gaming history for a while, and put it down quickly, unlikely to ever return to it again
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, however, as Michael Higham from GameSpot highlights:
Speaking of hardware, the emulation delivers an authentic SNES experience that looks great on HDTVs. I spent time with all 21 titles to get a feel for how they ran. By and large, games look true to form and run exactly as you’d expect, for better and worse. A few games suffered from framerate drops. Street Fighter II Turbo had some slowdown with characters pulling off flashy attacks as did Mega Man X in the more hectic moments. The system is more or less mimicking real hardware, adhering to the original performance of these games. It’s not game-breaking, but it was noticeable and undermined a few moments.
Nintendo added a new software feature but according to Andrew Webster from The Verge, the implementation isn’t all that great:
The one major addition to the system’s functionality is a new rewind option, which lets you jump back in time to undo a mistake. It’s a great idea that’s been implemented in a number of retro re-releases over the years, but on the SNES Classic, it’s far too clunky to be very useful. In order to rewind a game, you first need to get up and hit the reset button, then jump into the game’s saves and select the rewind option. In theory, rewinding is a great way to alleviate some of the frustrations inherent in fast-paced retro action games. But given all of the necessary steps required to use it, I’ve barely even bothered with the feature.
In the nostalgia department, the SNES Classic Edition delivers, as Paul Tassi from Forbes notes:
Full disclaimer: I am not normally a huge retro gamer. I am not the type of person to feverishly hunt down systems like this or the NES Classic, or go wild for Nintendo’s Virtual Console offerings.
But honestly, I get it. Seeing, hearing and playing these games again produces an almost indescribable feeling, true time travel in a sense. And unlike other emulators, the sound and visual quality here is stellar. Even if this isn’t a system that’s going to be played long-term, for $80, it’s a no-brainer for anyone who used to love the SNES and wants to relive those games themselves or possibly share them with their kids.
Business Insider’s Ben Gilbert answers the question of whether or not you should buy the SNES Classic Edition:
The obvious answer is yes! It's a no-brainer purchase. Whether you enjoyed the original SNES back in the '90s or not, the new version offers a ton of great stuff for a really low price.
The Super NES Classic offers a piece of video game history. It's full of great games. Even if you don't play many games but just like cool stuff, it's a really cool thing.
The bigger question is not if you should buy the Super NES Classic, but whether you'll be able to. If last year's retro version of the original Nintendo Entertainment System is any indication, the Super NES Classic is going to be in high demand and really hard to find.
But Nintendo is promising to dramatically increase the number of consoles it makes for the holiday season and to continue production into 2018, so you may have a chance. Good luck!