After riding high on the success of the living room-invading Wii, the dismal failure of 2012’s misunderstood Wii U saw Nintendo suddenly facing the worst fate that could ever befall a game publisher: irrelevance. While its long-running handheld – the 3DS- was still chugging along admirably, most console gamers had quickly graduated from Wii Sports to Xbox or PlayStation and never looked back at the big N.
While the launch of this year’s Switch system has spectacularly changed Nintendo’s fortunes, it wasn’t until 2016 that the higher-ups at Nintendo seemingly remembered the most important thing you can do with nostalgia – weaponize it.
Giving retro-loving gamers a reasonably priced plug-and-play box loaded with 20 classic games, 2016’s pocket-sized NES Classic Edition became a sell out success. With Nintendo struggling to keep up with wild demand for the system, it’s little surprise that now, a year later, Nintendo is releasing its second bite-sized emulation box. We are of course, talking about the SNES Classic Mini.
The SNES Classic Has an Impeccable Library
The first thing that struck us about the SNES Mini is just how well its two decade old library has aged. While the NES was a solid console in its day, the passage of time shows that its back catalogue really doesn’t hold a candle to the all-conquering SNES. With Nintendo’s 1991 console giving the world such medium-defining classics as Super Mario World, F-Zero and Street Fighter II, the SNES Mini isn’t just an exercise in nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. Playing these games is still genuinely fun.
While we came away a bit disappointed with the console’s one “new” addition, Star Fox 2, (more on that in our full review), we were pleasantly surprised at just how much fun we could still have with ancient games like Mega Man X in 2017.
It’s Brilliantly Portable
As anyone who’s tinkered with a Raspberry Pi will know, these days hardware engineers can cram an incredible amount of tech inside a very tiny form factor. While its stylish casing and controller ports mean it’s not quite the size of the aforementioned PI, just like last year’s NES Classic, the SNES iteration still fits comfortably in the palm of your hand.
Coming with two controllers and the less exciting HDMI and USB cables, we’ve found the SNES incredibly convenient to carry around with us. Weighing less than a DVD boxset, its clever and elegantly designed form factor makes taking it to a friend’s and setting it up a refreshingly painless process.
Our only complaint is the baffling lack of an AC adapter. While most modern TVs admittedly have a USB slot built-in, for those still clinging to older models, powering the SNES Classic might be a bit of a nuisance.
Aesthetically, It’s The Stuff Of Retro Dreams
While the redundant cartridge slot on top is also a bit disappointing (we would have loved the Classic to include some kind of mock game cartridges) Nintendo has once again nailed the aesthetic with its tiny take on a classic console. Sporting the same timeless design as its full-sized inspiration as well as controllers that somehow feel identical to their 90s counterparts, the SNES Mini is almost a flawless work of design.
Yet, despite looking and feeling like the real Maccoy, there’s still one glaring issue with Nintendo’s latest emulation box. Just like last year’s NES re-release, the SNES Classics’s controllers are wired. While that’s not necessarily a problem in itself, once again gamers will find themselves having to game unnaturally close to the TV. The wires are admittedly much longer than on the NES Classic, but again, their length still isn’t ideal.
Is The Snes Mini Any Good?
At £69.99 or $79.99 with two controllers and 21 games, this is a package that’s hard to fault. With restore points (custom save points) returning once again, and the option to play in pixel perfect HD or a grainy CRT mode, the SNES Mini offers a refreshingly accessible way to play some of gaming’s greatest gems.