Nintendo SNES Classic Mini review

Nintendo SNES Classic Mini review – LAST YEAR, Nintendo launched the NES Classic Mini – a £60 miniaturisation of the original 1983 Nintendo Entertainment System, replete with classic games and featuring a loving recreation of the system’s iconic controller.

Everybody rushed out and bought one (mostly from eBay scalpers as demand was ridiculous) but then complained about how short the controller cables were, and also that, in order to reset the device and pick a new game, they had to move the Tesco microwave curry off their lap, wheeze eight feet across the lounge, and attempt to bend down to prod a sausage finger into the NES Mini’s authentic off-white carapace.

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In 2017, Nintendo launches the £70 SNES Classic Mini – 21 of its most beloved Super Nintendo Entertainment System games, in a beautiful little shell modelled exactly after the original, with two fully-realised creations of one the most perfect game controllers ever designed.

The cables, this time, are longer, but everyone is already saying they are too short and that they’re not buying a SNES Mini. A lot of people aren’t buying the device on principle because they absolutely want to sit 15 feet away from their television.

Also, you could just buy a Raspberry Pi and load RetroPie onto it for less than £50. 

But you know what? The SNES Mini is brilliant. It’s brilliant for lots of reasons. Here’s just some of them: It has Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island on it. That’s a platform game that’s better than Super Mario World, and has never been rereleased in SNES format before because Nintendo couldn’t (be bothered to?) emulate its fancy Super FX 2 chip.

It also has Final Fantasy VI (or “III” if you’re in the US), which has been re-released on handhelds a few times but on your TV is like watching Game of Thrones, except without quite so many half-baked character stereotypes and some half-decent fighting.

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It has Super Mario Kart, which can be played with the two packed-in controllers. Super Mario Kart, unlike most over versions, doesn’t have the blue shell. Everybody complains about the blue shell on the internet. 

It has Star Fox 2, which wasn’t even originally released at all (and, same as its predecessor, which is also on the SNES Mini, doesn’t have ‘too low a frame rate to be playable – not everything needs to run at 60fps to be acceptable). 

Earthbound is one of the most superb and offbeat RPGs ever made, Donkey Kong Country is a novel experiment in early 3D-rendered 2D graphics, and still a compelling platformer to this day. Even the Kirby-themed crazy golf game is better than most of the 300 forgettable Humble Bundle games you’re collecting like sweets and never playing.

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The menu plays a jolly tune that makes you smile. You can set a game demo mode where Mario plods along the menu and Luigi stomps on your savegame, loading its replay data with a random screen filter, with a random choice between the user-selectable 4: 3, CRT scanlines or pristine ‘pixel perfect’.

We have the distinct impression Nintendo’s refusal to add a ‘reset’ button on the pads is to encourage a little investment on your part. In 1990, you had to get up and change the cartridge, and having to repeat that physical action means you’ll be tempted to play for just a little longer before hauling your ass over to the button. It’s an important psychological touch, and should you remind you that these games were crafted to be played, not swished through for a few seconds each from endless menus.

Some people are saying that 21 games aren’t enough and that Nintendo could have squeezed hundreds into the under-burdened SoC that sits inside.  Of course, they could. But again, that would be playing into the hands of every yutz on a homebrew forum doing all the ‘can’ of hobbyist tech without the ‘should’, and especially the ‘why’. 

Yes, this collection of excellent games coupled with the infectiously cute Nintendo presentation factor is £20 more than a Raspberry Pi, and no, Chrono Trigger, Harvest Moon and Pilot Wings aren’t on there. 

And the controller cables are too short. Well, you know what? We replaced the HDMI cable with one of our retired Wii U and used an Xbox One microUSB cable as a power chord. That way the SNES Mini could stretch across the room and sit on the coffee table. 

But you don’t have to do that. You don’t have to. You could just complain on Reddit about how shit everything is. 

As with anything in life, it’s entirely up to you and it’s your choice. Don’t get so upset about it all, darling.

The good
It’s cheap, it’s sprinkled with Nintendo presentational magic, and it’s easier and prettier to set up and get playing than a Raspberry bloody Pi. Just buy one (if and when you actually can).

The bad
Fantastic selection of games, wonderful presentation, authentic and robust pads, Final Fantasy VI, Yoshi’s Island and Starfox 2 for the first time ever.

The ugly
The Switch is still rubbish.

Bartender’s rating
9/10

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