SNES Classic Reviewed – Nostalgic, But That May Be All?

SNES Classic Review

So, I bought the SNES Classic a week ago and I want to tell you about it. But, first, a confession: I have a sordid history with the Super Nintendo… and most of it is my fault. I had a SEGA Genesis at the beginning of the Console Wars and I bought into the marketing hype from SEGA. Like a gaming apologist, I would regurgitate the mantra of MY system: “SEGA does what NintenDON’T!” (Oh, the 90s…). This is our SNES Classic review.

However, my gracious friends, in their patience and infinite wisdom, introduced me to the possibility that both systems could have their merit. Now that I am a little older and a little wiser, I know what kind of experiences I would have missed out on if I hadn’t given the original SNES a chance!

I was young and foolish back then.

So, when I heard that the SNES Classic was coming out, I met the news with tempered excitement. The line-up of games looked decently solid, despite some major omissions. But in my cynicism, I didn’t think I would actually get a system. After all, who is going to stand in a line on a fall day in Wisconsin when it could snow any day now!?

I would… and I did. Turns out, it was actually a beautiful morning! I had a warm beverage and some great company in line helped to pass the time.

As I considered writing this review, I wanted to take my time with the console, have some couch co-op experiences like the old days, and see if the SNES Classic is worth the coin in today’s market of remakes and rereleases.

Before I share my findings, these are the nuts and bolts of the SNES Classic – in case you aren’t familiar. Weighing in at a suggested retail price of $80, you get the SNES Classic system (which looks like a SNES got shot with a shrink ray), two wired SNES controllers (a faithful reproduction), a USB power adapter and cable, an HDMI cable, and it comes loaded with 20 games.

(It is worth noting that Nintendo’s Classic Controller and Classic Controller Pro will also work with the system.)

The system UI is pretty fun with its 16-bit menus, music, and sound effects. From this menu, you can select games, change settings, read game manuals, and load saved states from previous play – one of the greatest modern conveniences offered!

The two-player experience was a lot of fun, but very limited. My wife and I spent an evening playing Super Mario Cart. While she did not grow up with a love for console gaming, she wanted to give the system a shot, but we were left wanting for other options. A pair of gamers with more familiarity with the offered titles might have a different experience than we did. While the system comes with two controllers, there are really only a handful of the games that contain any true cooperative experience. Which brings me to the catalog.

I mention this earlier, but it is worth mentioning again: some of the game selections and the limitations of the system are unfortunate. None of the games are really bloatware per say, but I’d be hard pressed, in the catalog of true SNES classics, to justify four Mario tiles and two Kirby titles if the limitation is 20 games. While the system does include outside titles like Mega Man X, Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy III, and Street Fighter alongside Nintendo’s heavy hitters from among their intellectual properties, there are titles which Nintendo previously made available on its Virtual Console that are absent from the scene. This is a common complaint about both the SNES Classic and it’s predecessor, the NES Classic. The hardest pill to swallow is that it isn’t for lack of storage space or expandability of the system’s capability. It can handle more… it just doesn’t give you the legal option to.

Am I still glad I picked it up? Do I wish that I had scalped it? Yes and no. Yeah, I could have made back my money and then some, but the SNES Classic provided me with an opportunity to play a handful of classic titles that I missed during the SNES’ heyday and revisit games which I fondly remember. If you’re not counting the cost of the hardware in the price, $4 a game is not a bad fee to own most of these titles. Even if you don’t end up spending time in all of them, it’s still more cost-effective than the charge for their purchase on the Virtual Console. The added bonus is that it comes in a cool case with packaging faithful to a gaming era of old. The SNES Classic is worth the $80 if you can find one for that, but it has room for improvement.

Maybe I’m asking too much. Maybe it isn’t enough. Whatever the case is, what Nintendo is doing with the Classic rereleases is what “NintenDOES”: create and provide nostalgic experiences for players new and old. The games are faithful to their operation on the original system (better for some, worse for others!) and they provide a steady drip of nostalgic goodness. Maybe I’m just a sucker for legacy: remembering where you came from while being mindful of the legacy you leave behind.

Oh yeah, the SNES Classic reminded me of how terrible I am at Star Fox… but we won’t talk about that.

SNES Classic Review Score – 7/10: Worth it, but has room for improvement.

Pros:
  • Faithful Reproduction of the Console and Gaming Experience
  • Quality-of-life Updates with Save States, HD Upscaling
  • Integration of Existing Peripherals
Cons:
  • Oddly Limited Title Mix
  • Under Use of the System’s Capabilities
  • Not Traditionally Expandable
Written by
Born in the heyday of mullets and the El Camino to a tech-foward family, Damien (a.k.a. Dame, PastorDame) quickly embraced the reality that “normal” is just a setting on a dryer. Damien is a pastor by trade and loves talking with anyone who is interested about life, God, and video games (in no particular order) - so, much so, that he and fellow MMORPG/GameSpace writer Matt Keith (Nexfury) create a podcast dedicated to that conversation. At the end of the day, Damien is a guy who loves his wife, his Mini Schnoodle, and crafting gourmet bowls of Mac N’ Cheese.

5 Comments

  1. I’m happy to buy one if it “falls in my lap” per se, i.e. available in store when I walk in or on web @ the retail price.

    • Yes – this is why I said “It’s worth it if you can find it for $80.” I couldn’t justify a higher price tag.

    • I wouldn’t pay more than the retail price for it, TBH. It’s a decent spot where they have it.

  2. It’s cool that the Pro Controller works with it. I prefer it to the classic style.

    The part where you can’t add new games or connect to their digital store to add other SNES titles is kind of a big deal to me. I would rather just buy them for my WiiU digital console.

    Funny you mention the lack of real multiplayer. I chuckled because I forgot how that used work. I remember multiplayer meaning sharing the same controller with your friends between lives. 😀

    • The “Pro Controller” does not work with the system – it’s the “Classic Controller Pro” which is a different thing all together.

      It does feel like a bit of a bummer that you can’t currently expand it with a digital store or but expansion content for specific genre. I would say, if you already have a system that you can purchase them on, the SNES is a bit superfluous.

      As for multiplayer – that’s a great point. Our definition has changed a fair bit!

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