Check here the Review of the Nintendo Classic Mini: SNES . Fantastic line up of games including Star Fox 2!
While Nintendo are widely known for their child-friendly, brightly coloured range of games and characters, as an adult fan the company is a little more fickle. An amazing new Mario Kart here, a dreadful phone app for voice chat there, there simply isn’t any consistency to what can only be called “The Nintendo Way”. So the release of last year’s NES Classic Mini was a prime example of this; a fantastic piece of nostalgia dressed up in an über-cute form, seemingly wantonly under produced, and sporting the shortest controller cables known to, well, anyone that didn’t want to sit so close to their television they could only see a single pixel.
Yet it did so well that here we are once again, with the 16bit-infused SNES Classic Mini arriving just in time for Christmas, with twenty classic games pre-loaded, two controllers and, somewhat unbelievably, a brand new SNES release in the shape of the previously unfinished Starfox 2. For people of a certain age it’s an unadulterated delight, but it comes with a few caveats.
Firstly, it’s just adorable. For once PAL gamers weren’t stiffed by the console makers of the time, with the original SNES’ rounded form much more attractive than the more industrial looking North American SNES and with coloured buttons compared to the weird purple they had to endure. The classic mini’s palm-sized form is a delight to behold, and will undoubtedly receive many squeals of delight from people who really should know better. I don’t know why I’m so pleased that the power button actually functions exactly the same way as the original, while the reset button now takes you to the Classic Mini’s main menu. Connecting to the console through a pair of Wii-style controller ports hidden behind a flap with faux SNES controller ports on it, the two controllers are also absolutely perfect, with the D-Pad and the accompanying Street Fighter II Turbo a firm reminder that few consoles have bettered this setup for fighting games.
There’s further good news as well, as the controller cables now measure in at 56″, a full 26″ longer than the Mini NES, giving at least the vaguest chance you’ll be able to sit on your sofa. Sadly in our house that still left the Mini SNES adrift in the middle of the carpet with cables spilling out from underneath the television. I think it’ll be virtually impossible that the console will sit happily in a space on your TV stand and never move, but there’s still some kind of nostalgic charm to being tethered so obviously to your video set-up.
You’ll need to be too, as a number of these older games look simply horrendous if you sit too close. Blown up on a 55″ TV and sitting within a couple of feet of it sees some of the visuals simply fail to coalesce properly, rendering some elements, like the map screen in Donkey Kong Country, an indistinct mess. You’ve got the option of different visual outputs though which can help, with the CRT Filter making things feel a lot more authentic this time out, when I barely used it with the Mini NES.
The art style of the majority of these games still holds up today, and even the early 3D of Star Fox – or Starwing, if you’re so inclined – has an undeniable charm. Star Fox in particular, the first level of whichwhich you have to play in order to unlock Star Fox 2, still offers a surprisingly reactive space shooter experience, and one that features some of my favourite pieces of game music from the era.
The line up of twenty games is probably a good segment of the best titles for the system, though some notable omissions like Chrono Trigger are a shame when Final Fantasy III and Secret of Mana are here. Fans of the SNES are sure to decry the lack of various other things – where’s my Sunset Riders?! – but other than filling the machine with the SNES’ entire back catalogue there was always going to be something missing. What is here offers hundreds of hours of gameplay, and so much of it is still fun to play, beyond nostalgia, or beyond historical research. Mario Kart is still as competitive as ever, while Super Mario World remains my favourite of the plumber’s many 2D platforming antics.
Starfox 2 is perhaps the most interesting inclusion, as what we’re getting here is a brand new SNES game, some twenty seven years after the console first released. Once you’ve got over the initial buzz, what you’ll discover is that it’s largely a prototype for the N64’s Lylat Wars. It’s an essential piece of the Star Fox legacy, and while it’s amazing that you can now own it – legally at least – you can also see why it was cancelled. If anything the ideas here are just too ambitious for the console, particularly with development moving over to Nintendo’s more capable N64, but the fact that its 3D dogfighting and walker sections work at all is frankly astounding.
Having said that, the Mini SNES serves as a reminder of what feats the 16bit console was capable of, from the Mode 7 scrolling so evident in F-Zero and Mario Kart, to the oomph of Super Mario RPG’s SA-1 chip enabled visuals, through to the Super FX powered polygons of the pair of Starfox games. Seeing these games in motion again is actually still impressive in its own way, and seeing the jump from last year’s NES Mini serves as a reminder that a fresh console generation’s improvements used to be huge leaps rather than modest increments.
One of the absolutely brilliant additions that the SNES Mini boasts is the ability to rewind your game. It’s not the most intuitive of systems; you have to get up, hit the reset button on the console itself, scroll down into the save state section and then hit the X button, but once you’re there you’re then able to jump anywhere back into your last minute of gameplay. It makes some of the tougher games something like approachable, meaning you’ll be able to see the second level of Contra III despite your ageing reaction times.
It’s clear how much attention has been poured into the SNES Classic Mini, and there’s some other lovely little touches, like if you leave the system idle Mario will run up and down the game list, jumping in and out of your game saves and replaying the last moments before you saved, before randomly playing the intro sequence for other games, and showcasing the different menu options.
Just as with the NES Mini, you should be able to scan an onscreen QR code to bring up the manual on your smartphone or tablet, but seemingly prior to release the website that provides them isn’t up and running. It’ll be a nice, though very necessary, feature, but the whole thing just had me wishing they’d been built into the console itself. When all you’re wanting to do is jump out of something to check the controls, it’s ultimately a bit of a faff, and while it might be more natural to read them on your phone, it would have been great to see them up on the big screen.
The SNES Classic Mini is quite simply a lovely piece of tech, and besides now being the cutest console in my collection – sorry NES Mini – its nostalgia-soaked list of games contains a great number of titles that are still utterly deserving of your time, made all the more playable by the generous rewind function and the ability to save at any point. Who’d have thought that Christmas 2017 would present gamers with so many amazing console buying dilemmas, or that one of them would be a Super Nintendo.
Nintendo Classic Mini: SNES
- Fantastic line up of games
- Lovely form factor
- Controller cables are actually usable!
- Rewind function is fantastic
- Lack of manuals built in is annoying
- Controller cables are still a little short
- Controller port is ugly when folded down
- No Sunset Riders