(Review)A weekend with the SNES Classic: Nostalgic time machine or novelty toy?

(Review)A weekend with the SNES Classic: Nostalgic time machine or novelty toy?

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By: Johnny Big Fudge Marcondes

Pre Purchasing Thoughts:

Before the weekend started I had a rare day off from my job. Deciding to go to the gym early that morning I headed out of my house. On the way to the gym I decided to cut through one of the shopping centers in my town. Walking past the grocery story I accidentally encountered a small a line outside of Toys R Us. It was an extremely small line filled with about five five people. The Toys R Us employee guarding the line asked me if I were here “for the same thing?” I didn’t know what she was talking about and just stood there. She handed me a piece of paper and told me to get on line and as I looked down I saw it was a ticket to buy the SNES Classic…

I had no idea they were even back in stock so I figured, why not? I got on line as the sixth person and walked into the store. As soon as I walked in about four more people came in and the employee who handed me the ticket closed the door saying they were out of tickets for available SNES Classics. I accidentally walked into a great opportunity, the universe provides. While a pretty surreal experience and random chance encounter, after picking up my SNES Classic I proceeded to go the gym. During my workout I started thinking about the SNES and the SNES Classic in between sets. I already own a SNES and a pretty extensive collection of SNES games.

When it comes to retro games the SNES will always be ranked my go to system, in fact whenever someone asks me what my favorite system of all time is I always name the SNES first. It’s first system I had as a kid that I remember being mine. Having an older brother I remember the Christmas we got a NES and although I was too young to fully be immersive in it, the NES was the console that helped launch my love of gaming. Fast forward a few years and under the tree for my brother and I was the SNES. Given that he was older he would initially spend more time with it, but then again this was a around the time where my brother was more active outdoors and with friends so for a long period of time I had the SNES to myself.

Throughout the years my love for retro gaming has grown stronger and stronger and I’ve always been taking care of, fixing and cleaning my retro consoles while expanding my library through the years. For a long time collecting retro games didn’t seem like a big deal but ever since Nintendo started re-releasing their older consoles the limelight has been shined on retro gaming culture like never before. From the NES Classic to the SNES Classic Nintendo has done their best to release a product that’ll instantly grasp the attention of now older gamers who grew up with those consoles and the newer generation who never had a chance to play some of those titles. It’s a great idea and clearly the demand for them show just well they sold. When it comes to nostalgia and capitalizing on it no one does it better than Nintendo.

The SNES Classic comes with twenty games pre installed in it, nineteen classic titles and one unreleased sequel to a fan favorite. While I stood online to wait for my chance to get a SNES Classic I had some doubts in my head. Why am I getting this? I have these games already and I already have a SNES. The plug and play allure to it had no effect on me having a HDMI to RCA converter at home. So why was I on line to buy a SNES Classic? To be honest a big part of it had to do with Star Fox 2 the unreleased sequel to the game, another part had to do with nostalgia. The packaging, the games, the controls it all brought back this exciting feeling and memories of my childhood. Nintendo really does know how to hook long time fans in, everything about the SNES Classic is a miniature clone of it’s original. While visually charming and nostalgic, is it really worth it?

Small but fierce

The Snes Classic may have it’s originators names in it but it’s far from an exact replica. Much like the NES Classic the SNES Classic a miniature plug and play version of it’s predecessor. When I say miniature I mean miniature, this thing is small. The SNES Classic is incredibly small and light wight, it’s so small that I’ve gone as far as placed it on top of my original SNES and it looks like a hat for it. Even though it’s common knowledge some people may still not be aware, but again this is a plug and play console with pre installed games.

From just unboxing this little console I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. It may look like a small SNES but it feels like a cheap toy, holding up the Classic the only thing I could think of was that it felt like an incredibly light weight prop. Nintendo did a good job painting and making it look like a SNES but it’s so incredibly small that it looks like a modified external hard drive. It’s that incredibly light weight and small, although it’s small it does a good job supporting the games it comes with. This SNES Classic’s main appeal outside of the games are the fact that it can plugged into any TV with an HDMI cable. The controllers that come with the game are probably the best physical thing about the console. Unlike the actually SNES Classic, the controllers don’t feel lightweight or like a replica they feel authentic and like a SNES controller should. Good job there Nintendo.

Quality over quantity

Quality over quantity, that seems to be the best and probably the worst way to describe the ups and downs of the SNES Classic. Quality over quantity is a double edge sword that both plays to the strength of the SNES Classic and the to it’s weakness. As I mentioned earlier on, the SNES CLassic comes pre installed with twenty games. It’s a fairly good number of games to have especially given the price of the Classic giving you more than your moneys worth. The games pre installed range from various genres such as racing, platforming, run and gun and RPG. Nintendo made sure that since this Classic edition had fewer games pre installed than the previous NES Classic that they’d pack a lot of big names into it. Here is a list of games that are on the SNES Classic:

  • Contra 3: The Alien Wars
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • Final Fantasy VI
  • F-Zero
  • Super Metroid 
  • Super Punch Out
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the seven stars
  • Super Mario Kart
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the past
  • Mega Man X
  • Secret of Mana
  • Star Fox
  • Star Fox 2
  • Super Ghouls n Ghosts
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
  • EarthBound
  • Super Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting 
  • Super Castlevania IV
  • Kirby Super Star
  • Kirby’s Dream Course

Honestly, it’s a pretty solid list. All the games Nintendo included in the SNES Classic are some of the most memorable titles from that consoles. However, memorable doesn’t always mean the best. The SNES was filled with some of the best games I can think of. From obscure platformers like Ahh! Real Monsters! to fighting classics such as Killer Instinct and fun sports titles like Pilot Wings. While Nintendo may have pumped enough big names into the this tiny classic, they missed a lot of gems that really helped make the console so much fun originally.

Along with the ready to play SNES Classic, Nintendo included two controllers with longer cords than the NES Classic controllers and an HDMI cable. When it comes to what you get it’s fairly minimal and easily assembled as a plug and play console. The twenty games as mentioned really are well thought out in terms of giving you a bang for your buck. The games on the SNES Classic include a fair share of two player games as well as challenging single player titles that’ll make any retro fan or nostalgic gamer happy. As someone who deeply loves retro games and truly loves the SNES the list of games Nintendo added into the classic serve as a reminder that sometimes simplicity is key in games. The SNES may not have been the most powerful system but it was easily a system that embodied everything that’s great about games.

Each game available on the SNES perfectly capture some of the best aspects of gaming. Video games back in the day of the SNES were both challenging and self rewarding and unlike the games of today there was little if no hand holding involved. Back then video games were a little more demanding and expected you to figure things out on your own which in return gave you this incredible sense of self achievement once you were able to adapt and overcome any challenges the game had to offer. Games like Super Ghouls n Ghosts for example completely pushes you to your limits as it’s one of the most difficult games imaginable. For those who have never played it before think of it as a 16-bit platforming Darksouls that pile mounds of unfair odds against you.

It’s a fact that games back in the day were noticeably harder than games today. With a lack of save points, minimal lives and a learning curve to some it’s those challenging and harsh games that really make you feel a sense of anxiety that you kind of love. The SNES Classic’s list of games are fun and there’s enough diversity there to keep anyone entertained no matter if you’re an experienced gamer re-living your childhood or if you’re playing these games for the first time. While a list of diverse games is great one of the best standout features in the SNES Classic doesn’t come from the games themselves but from the select menu.

While playing a game the SNES allows you to save from any part of the game you want once you hit the reset button on the console. Hitting the reset button takes you back to the select game menu which has a basic but easy to navigate layout. Once you return back the menu the game you were playing previously is still technically running so the option to save your current play is there and Nintendo gives you a fair five save spots per game which you can override. It’s a small but effective addition to the console and games which really helps when playing more time demanding games like EarthBound or Super Metroid.

Less isn’t always more

The SNES Classic does have a solid list, each game included are genuinely fun games that will anyone would be happy to play. Nintendo even included some of the best games to be ever be released on the SNES like Mega Man X and Super Mario World along with my personal favorite (Super Metroid). Nevertheless, as someone who both grew up with and still plays the SNES frequently I couldn’t help but think that while the games I played were great, there just wasn’t enough. There was something missing and that nagging feeling kind of soured my taste on the classic. Perhaps this isn’t a console for people who still actively play and collect for the original console, perhaps Nintendo could have included more titles to better round out the console.

The more I played the more I started to think about the other great games on the SNES and I couldn’t help but walk over to my collection and think about the games that were missing. It may sound odd to those who are new the SNES and experiencing it’s games for the first time but back then Disney had an incredible line up of games that really are missed with the Classic. There’s no Aladdin, no Lion King game not to mention Nintendo missed some of the best beat em up games like Battletoads, Double Dragon and Spider-Man Maximum Carnage. Going through my collection there are too many games that could have really increased the SNES Classics overall appeal.

Final thoughts

Having two controllers out of the box and available is extremely nice, Nintendo including two controllers is something that makes this an instant have for most families. Given the fair amount of two player games it’s definitely a bonus however Nintendo could have potentially included more two players games in the system given how vast their library is for the SNES. Since every title is already pre-installed leaving you with no option to expand your library without hacking it, you’re stuck with what you have which realistically isn’t all that much.

Nintendo knows people love the SNES and nothing sells quite like nostalgia. The SNES Classic comes with twenty of the most memorable games from that console at $79.99. It isn’t a bad deal, it’s a great and simple plug and play that will have your inner child smiling from ear to ear. However great and nostalgic it is, I honestly wouldn’t recommend it for those who already own a SNES. At the end of the day it’s a neat little collectors toy and the games/controls both feel and respond the way they should. There’s no fluff about it the games you’re playing are the same found on the cartridges so there’s no real difference in feel but the limited amount of games does give this nifty little toy a time limit.

It’s fun to revisit some of the memories of my youth but when you already own the original console and the games you enjoy you’ll find that SNES has a lot more missing than it does to offer. What made the SNES so great was the incredibly large and diverse amount of games on it. From great platformers to really obscure and weird (not all that great but oddly charming) titles like Michael Jordans Chaos in the Windy City. The original SNES had an incredible library of games and to see the SNES Classic only include a handful or two of them doesn’t quite do the console justice. Again, for those who collect Nintendo products like myself and already own the original SNES this is simply just another thing to collect and not really a serious gaming console.

With that said, for those who have never played the SNES before or are just looking for a nostalgic plug and play in between current games then this is an incredible little console. The SNES Classic I would highly recommend to either younger games or those who never really had the chance to play the SNES growing up. This little console may be missing a lot of special titles that made the original a lot of fun but having twenty of some of the best games that generation had to offer ready out of the box is impossible to give up.

Anyone who is new to the SNES and it’s games will be a little overwhelmed by some of the best 16 bit games imaginable. Super Metroid for example is an instant stand out and easily one of the best games to be launched for the SNES. Combining classic platforming mechanics with a beautifully rendered world and amazing soundtrack this is easily one of if not the most iconic adventure Samus has ever been on. Super Metroid is one of the best video games I have ever played. There’s such a great attention to detail in terms of the story, visuals and music that work so perfectly together than anyone who hasn’t had to chance to play it will be easily blown away.

The SNES Classic showcases some of the most fun and challenging games of that generation so those who are new to retro games or just the SNES I couldn’t imagine a better way to dive into one of Nintendo’s best consoles. Going back to the original question I asked of is this a nostalgic time machine or novelty toy, my answer would have to be it’s both. Since there are a lot of great titles both on the Classic and missing from the Classic it really depends on the buyer. For review purposes it’s pretty hard to really score this console. I’m torn between two numbers so I decided to give it two score (a first on this site). For those who have never played the SNES, looking for a nostalgic fix or are curious about retro games I would have to score the SNES Classic at 10/10.

For those who have played and still own a SNES the score changes. Chances are if you already own a SNES or collect retro titles you have a way more extensive and diverse library of games for the console. For those collectors I would recommend to just collect the Classic as it is limited. The hardware is a little on the thin/cheap side but the software is the true star. The SNES Classic has a basic but effective layout for games and the pixelation of the games haven’t suffered. Collectors score would have to be a solid 8.5/10

8.5

Author's rating

Overall rating

SNES Classic: For Collectors
8.5
SNES Classic: For newcomers/nostalgia chasers
10.0
The good
  • Great list of games
  • Each game looks great on your tv and not over pixelated
  • Saving at any point is an extremely welcomed feature
  • The SNES Classic is pretty adorable
  • Downloadable menus of games is great fan service
  • Nostalgia at its finest
  • Inclusion of Star Fox 2 is a great selling point
  • Fairly priced
  • Easy set up
  • Two controllers with longer cables
  • Each game picked for the Classic is fun
  • Great for newcomers
The bad
  • Shorter game list than previous Classic edition
  • Console itself feels a little cheap
  • Nothing really that special for current owners of original system
  • Lots of memorable/big name games are missing

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