What’s the greatest ever Nintendo console? Trick question. It’s the SNES and this isn’t even a debate.
Now the games machine that brought us Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country and so many more classics has been reborn, just like the NES Classic Mini. The Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System - catchy name, Nintendo - is a diddy reincarnation of the SNES that comes with 20 of its greatest hits pre-installed, plus the never-before-released Star Fox II.
Oh yeah, and if those NES Classic Mini stock shortages happen again then we will fight you for one. Sorry. We know that sounds awful, but it’s inevitable. The SNES Classic Mini is the most exciting games console of 2017 and you’re going to want one very, very badly.
If the recent response to Microsoft’s Xbox One X has taught us anything it’s that games sell consoles, not hardware specs. That machine may be a 4K-capable behemoth that can deliver unparalleled graphical fidelity, but does it allow you to you play as a babysitting dinosaur and wander around a crayon-drawn world collecting smiley flowers? No, because Yoshi’s Island is a SNES game. As are Mario Kart, Super Castlevania IV and EarthBound.
Once you have that calibre of catalogue to hand, it doesn’t matter how powerful your console is; people are going to buy it anyway. That’s why the SNES sold more than the Sega Mega Drive way back in the '90s, and it’s why everyone still got excited about the Nintendo Switch earlier this year.
If the NES was the machine that first brought Nintendo to public prominence then it was the SNES that established Mario, Zelda and Metroid as franchises that would endure for decades. Case in point: have you ever gone back and played Zelda II: The Adventure of Link? Of course you haven’t, because it’s rubbish. Have you ever gone back and played The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past? Why the hell not? It’s still amazing.
Look, we’re not fools. We know the SNES Classic Mini is an exercise in nostalgia, pure and simple.
But whereas we can count the number of times we actually plugged last year’s NES Classic Mini into our TV before sticking it on a shelf at home, the same thing isn’t going to happen again with this new machine. Of its 21 games, at least half are still an absolute blast to revisit, and we know that because we’ve dug into them again on a proper SNES. If you’ve ever tried picking up an old copy of Super Metroid, then you’ll know that it is both a difficult and expensive task. Mainly because it’s still a ridiculously popular title.
Not only did the SNES’ leap from a 8-bit to 16-bit architecture allow Nintendo to make games with added graphical panache, but it also allowed them to try out totally new concepts, such as riding a kart, spaceship or even a dinosaur. What can we say? We really love Yoshi.
The only inevitable shame with the SNES Classic Mini is the games that are missing from it. That means no Super Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time or Chrono Trigger. Even if this tiny SNES serves up fewer games than the 30-strong catalogue on the NES Classic Mini and does so for more money at US$80, it’s still a good deal. The games you do get are absolute belters.