Written by Jon Scarr:
Retro gaming popularity has grown tremendously over the past several years. Games that many of us grew up on in the arcades, on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and the Super Nintendo are now more popular than ever. Although there are many ways in which you can play NES and SNES games, Nintendo’s line of classic systems have proven to be a hit with gamers all over the world.
Competitive gaming has a long heritage that stretches back to the early days of arcades and home consoles. With games such as Street Fighter II and Mario Kart still being played today, it proves the the eSports scene is anything but new. Based on the huge success of last year’s NES Classic, Nintendo has put an emulator and a curated selection of first and third party games into a shell that perfectly resembles a tiny version of the SNES.
Spending many of my teenage years playing competitively with my friends in games such as Street Fighter II, Mario Kart, and Bomberman–it was a delight to finally get my hands on the SNES Classic. In a time where retro gaming and eSports are popular, I spent the last few weeks with the Super NES Classic and am here to tell you all about it.
The 21 games included on the Super NES Classic are pretty much brilliant. While I can think of several dozen more games I wish had been included on the Super NES Classic, there isn’t a single game that I would want to see removed to make room for others. The 21st game included is none other than Star Fox 2, an infamously cancelled game from late in the Super Nintendo’s life.
Although unfinished versions of this game have been leaked onto the internet, Star Fox 2 on the Super NES Classic is the first time the fully finished game has been released publicly. In my opinion, the inclusion of Star Fox 2 on the Super NES Classic makes it an essential purchase for SNES and retro gaming fans.
As for the SNES Classic itself, it is every bit as much a faithful tribute to the original hardware and games as you could ever imagine. Though, perhaps due to the complexity of the system’s original hardware design, it does include a few compromises. The SNES used a different controller connector than the NES, it was a rounded elongated shape.
Rather than compromising the shelf appeal of the Super NES Classic’s design with controller ports that break up its retro appearance, Nintendo hide the controller ports behind a front panel that pops open. The rear contains ports for a USB power supply and HDMI.
All the little details on the Super NES Classic are the same as on the original hardware, right down to the tiny inset dots next to the second controller port. Even the power and reset buttons feature the same sliding action as on the full-size console. It’s easy to see that Nintendo took its time to ensure that the Super NES is a perfect miniaturized imitation.
The controllers that come with the Super NES Classic are perfect full-sized replications of the original SNES controllers. I was impressed with the good build quality and great button response. It’s everything you would want in a device like this. And, as an added bonus, just like the original SNES, the Super NES Classic comes with two controllers.
The controllers feel so good in your hands, it’s almost as if Nintendo used the original SNES controller molds. Although the controller cord length is longer than that of the NES Classic, it is still three feet shorter than the original console’s cord length. So while the cord length is vastly improved over the NES Classic, I’m puzzled as to why Nintendo didn’t make it the same length as the original console.
The UI on the Super NES Classic is identical to that of the NES Classic. The games appear as a gallery of icons and you can press the reset button to go back to the home menu from within a game. You also get four suspend states for each game, allowing you to save your game no matter where you are at.
Unfortunately, game manuals are not included on the Super NES Classic. However, you can visit a website that has them all on by scanning a QR code that is displayed on the console.
So we know that the Super NES Classic looks and feels like the original console; how does it handle its games? I am happy to say that the Super NES Classic is a near 100% replication of the look, feel and sound of the original games. I say this because, only a select few people will notice a frame or two of latency.
If you have played SNES games on the Virtual Console or other emulators, the Super NES Classic is consistent to those experiences. The Super NES Classic outputs at 720P, that’s three times their original resolution, and looks great. Since the games do not fill your entire screen, you have the choice of adding many different frames around them to fill in the screen.
Additionally, you have a few different display options such as 4:3, Pixel Perfect, and CRT Filter. I prefer using the CRT filter to get the most accurate replication of how SNES games looked on the original hardware and on CRT screens.
The emulation is perfect right down to the in-game glitches. As far as sound goes, the SNES Classic does an excellent job of emulating the custom Sony audio chip found in the original SNES. However, enthusiasts might find that the sound when compared to the original SNES games, is a tad bit different.
Overall, these are just minor matters that wont affect the majority of fan’s experiences.
The Super NES Classic does an excellent job of emulating the SNES games that many of us grew up on. Even if you don’t count Star Fox 2, buying all 20 of these games on cartridge would cost you well over $500. Buying these games on Virtual Console would cost twice as much as the system itself, and not all are available.
Altogether, the Super NES Classic’s library consists of a strong selection of first and third party titles. There is no denying the appeal of the painless plug and play gaming experience that the SNES Classic offers. After all, the SNES Classic takes about a minute to setup, and then you are off and running.
Many of today’s games get their inspiration from games included with the Super NES Classic. For example, Cuphead got some of it’s inspiration from Contra III, and modern day action-RPGs base their designs on A link to the past. If you love retro games or are looking for a nostalgia piece, the Super NES Classic can’t be beat.
Based in Toronto, Jon is a proud Canadian who loves all things gaming. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been in love with technology and gaming for over 20 years. Come say hi and join the conversation with Jon on Twitter.