There’s been a lot of hype behind the SNES Classic Edition over the past few months, though not all of it has been positive. A lot of fans have been concerned that Nintendo would be repeating the mistake it made with the NES Classic Edition, limiting its availability and making the console something of a pipe dream for most fans.
But the team has been working better on distribution, and it sounds like when it does launch this Friday, you should have less trouble locating one, and, hopefully, won’t need to pay $150+ for a unit on eBay.
And I hope you do, because the truth is, the SNES Classic Edition may be my favorite all-in-one system produced to date. Yes, it even manages to outperform the NES Classic Edition in a few ways, even though it’s still not quite as quintessential as it could be. Still, for nostalgic purposes, it goes a long way.
First, let’s talk about the system – it’s dinky. No, really, it’s about the same size as the NES Classic Edition, although a little bit wider. That makes it ideal to put on a game shelf, and when it’s not in use, you can just set it somewhere for display.
It took me a minute to find the controller ports for the system, as they don’t automatically appear on the front. Instead, you actually have to pull out a small piece on the front to expose the ports. I suppose this was a design decision by Nintendo to make the system look as sleek as possible, but, really, you’re better off just not using that piece. Even on display with the port thing open, the system still looks good.
Then there are the controllers, in which two are included – a nice bonus considering the NES Classic Edition only came with one and it was literally impossible to find a loose one to go alongside it. This means you can jump into a few multiplayer sessions with ease, whether you’re saving the world together in Secret of Mana or fighting over the spread gun in Contra III: The Alien Wars.
The controllers feel awesome too, just like their 16-bit counterparts in terms of performance and button mushiness. That said, the cords are still somewhat short. Not as short as the NES cables, as they’re extendable to about six feet, but still not as long as the original SNES controllers were. It’s certainly no deal-breaker, as Nintendo has learned a little bit from its mistakes, but with the N64 Classic – if it’s coming – I sincerely hope it really gives us the length that we need to enjoy our games.
The system performance is on the same level as the NES Classic Edition, which is great news for fans. The menu is easy to use and select games from, and there are options that you can choose at the top of the screen, including screen options. So whether you want the old CRT image or the regular 4:3 set-up, there’s plenty to choose from.
What I really like are some of the backgrounds with the game. You can actually choose stuff that surrounds the screen, including what appears to be a classic TV set-up with speakers. Choosing between these is cool, though I would’ve liked th option to stretch the image out onto full-screen. Sure, it might’ve looked a little sprite-ish with some games, but the option would’ve been great to have.
Also, while the system presentation and music are good, there’s one thing that’s a bit of a bother – no instant reset option. If you want to reset your SNES Classic Edition and play a new game, you actually have to get up and manually flick the reset button. It would’ve been nice to have a home button to do that automatically for you, but I guess you need to get off the couch sometime, right?
Despite the lack of full-screen and (sigh) actually having to get off of the couch every once in a while, the set-up for the SNES Classic Edition is superb.
And now let’s talk about what makes the SNES Classic really special – the games. The system features 20 popular titles from the 16-bit heyday, including first and third-party favorites, with role-playing, action, racing and more covered with ease. There’s also a bonus title – the never-released Star Fox 2, which was cancelled just before the Nintendo 64 dropped on the market.
Let’s talk about this sequel real quick. It’s…okay. Not that it’s a bad game or anything, but based on its conceptual build and its gameplay, I can kind of see why it was cancelled. It’s not set in a structure similar to the first game (which is also included), but instead upon mini-missions that you complete. It seems a bit odd, as this means you can ideally beat the game in like 30 minutes. Granted, Star Fox is along the same lines, but it’s better in terms of how it’s built.
That said, there’s still something fascinating about the sequel in terms of its open-world map design and being able to pick and choose where you go. So it’s still well worth trying out, but you can kind of get where Nintendo was going with its choice.
As for the rest of the games included with the SNES Classic Edition, they’re about as great as you remember. Perhaps my particular favorites actually come from Konami instead of Nintendo, as I still can’t get enough of the likes of Contra III: The Alien Wars and Super Castlevania IV, which are pixel perfect.
The Nintendo offerings are superb as well, with Yoshi’s Island still being the best of the bunch, and Super Mario World taking a nice second place spot. Of course, fans of The Legend of Zelda: A Link To the Past and Super Metroid, which is pretty much perfect as well.
The only real downside here is the count of games. While the NES Classic Edition had 30 games, the SNES Classic Edition only contains 21, and there are some notable omissions. I mean, no Chrono Trigger? It’s great to have Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy III and all, but the fact that Chrono took a powder is questionable.
Not to mention that, with Konami on board, we could’ve gotten a few oddball favorites in there. If Nintendo can included Kirby’s Dream Course, then why can’t we get some of Konami’s Sunsetriders or Zombies Ate My Neighbors? Not getting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time I understand, due to licensing issues, but we could’ve easily crammed some others in there.
That said, there’s enough of a selection for fans to enjoy, so don’t fret that. We’re talking hours of gameplay here.
There are a few setbacks that keep the SNES Classic Edition from reaching for new heights, like the lack of certain options, missing games and the need to actually reset the system manually, like in the old-school days. But outside of these little setbacks, what we have here is a console that truly delivers on that retro feeling, while delivering a number of options and titles that players will remember like it’s the 90’s all over again. The SNES Classic Edition continues to let you know that you’re playing with power – now we just wish fans can get their hands on one without being in a struggle. As Star Fox would say, “Good luck!”
RATING: Four out of five stars.
Disclaimer: A review unit was provided by the publisher.