SNES Mini Review: This Is How You Do A Retro Console
Nintendoh my god it's good.
BY Matt Hill | Oct 4, 2017 | Technology
Nintendo knows how to sell a perfectly self contained bundles of fun. From Game & Watch to Game Boy to DS to Switch, the Japanese firm has pretty much nailed self-contained joy. Throw in nostalgia, which is almost Nintendo's assumed currency by this point, and you have a sure-fire winner. This is why the almost impossible to get hold of SNES Classic Mini may just be our favourite console of the year.
It helps that the Super Nintendo is arguably the greatest console of all time. Released in Japan back in 1990, finally making its way to the UK in 1992 as Nintendo's Mega Drive rival, it soon boasted an enviable catalogue of games: Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, F Zero, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Starfox, Donkey Kong Country – these were heady days.
Image by Nintendo
Packing 20 of these classic games, plus an extra special 'new' one, into an adorably dinky version for the system's 25th anniversary, ready to hook up to HDMI-toting tellies, was always a no-brainer.
SNES Mini: The games
Off the back of the success of last year's similarly impossible to get hold off NES Classic Mini, the SNES version ups the ante. While 8-bit may be the era for retro purists, it was the 16-bit jump that brought games with genuine depth – as well as the five up top, all included, Super Metroid, Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy III are here to show that in spades. There's a fantastic mix here – platformers, shooters, RPGs, racers, sports, puzzle games, Nintendo's 'something for everyone' in one playlist.
Image by Nintendo
Cult adventures like Earthbound and Super Mario RPG, which didn't receive official releases on British shores back in the day, and the cancelled Starfox 2, which is getting its first worldwide release on this very system, add to the 'found it in Akihabara' curio nature, as does the ramping up of the play speed to 60Hz rather than the 50Hz that crippled the console's UK version at the time.
They all play brilliantly, and almost all of them, somewhat incredibly, stand up a quarter of a century on. The visuals, the music, the gameplay, the lot.
There's arguably a bit too much Mario and Kirby in the grand scheme of things, taking up 6 of a tight 21 games, but then all of the representatives are at least very good, rising to 'best of all time' stuff. SNES Street Fighter II hasn't aged particularly well amid the plethora of ports and updates to the series, either, but as someone who got it as the pack-in game back in '92, it deserves its place on nostalgia alone. The overall quality on show here is unquestionable.
SNES Mini: The features
If you have the NES Classic Mini, you'll be familiar with the new options, although these have been expanded. There's a great range of screen filters, from the ye olde big telly-aping CRT effect to pixel perfect (mind that strobe); there's pause, save and even a rewind feature for replaying tricky insta-death moments; and there's even two controllers now – with (slightly) longer cables, too.
Image by Nintendo
The latter is much needed for the likes of Super Mario Kart, which you almost forget was made specifically for multiplayer – to the extent that single-player games are still in split screen, the map on the other half. You can take in-game screen grabs now, too, like a proper 2017 console, making screen savers from your gameplay if that's your bag. But broadly you're buying the chance to play all these incredible games again.
SNES Mini: The problems
It's very hard to have grumbles, to be honest, but of course people will. Sure, the aforementioned controller wires are still pretty short, but this is intended as a desktop museum piece/ toy in the great Nintendo tradition, not a new bells and whistles console – it really isn't a pain.
You also can't go back to the main menu or use the pause and resume features from the controller, relying on pressing a button on the actual console, but see above – you'll be right next to it, it's not an issue. And if you're not, leaping across the room to do it is a nostalgia hit worth the trade-off.
Admittedly, there's the glaring lack of Super Tennis, Chrono Trigger and Pilotwings, proper SNES totems, but when you factor in licensing and conversion issues, it's probably understandable.
Everyone will have a personal favourite that didn't make the cut – if Shadowrun, Flashback, Street Racer and Zombies Ate My Neighbours had made it on, I'd probably never need another gadget, ever – but the SNES had literally too much to choose from.
While the NES Classic Mini seems to have sparked a new wave of nostalgic gaming, with Atari the latest to leap on board the retro-console bandwagon, the set-top box-style Ataribox misses the point somewhat, much like the wilfully expandable Ouya and the Android boxes of yore. Flexibility is a selling point, but not at the expense of class and focus.
Sure, you can add new ROMs and games to Nintendo's Mini systems – the SNES Classic Mini is almost identical inside to NES Classic Mini, and that already has a healthy hacker scene – but the ultimate win is the product out of the box. Great design, great games, great controllers, great price.
Image by Nintendo
In a gaming age of system updates, day-one patches, DLC, always-on online connections and micro transactions, it's lovely to unbox a console that does everything you want it to immediately, with no waits, no interruptions and no further demands on your wallet.
When you then factor in that console is a Super Nintendo, it becomes an immediate must-buy for anyone with even a passing interest in video games. You will lose hours to this thing, and you will love every single minute.
From: Digital Spy