When Nintendo released the NES Classic last year, it came bundled with a surprisingly robust collection of 30 games. They ran the gamut from classics like the original Super Mario Bros. trilogy to more obscure titles like StarTropics, striking a nice balance that covered a wide range of experiences for the 8-bit console. And now, with the just-announced SNES Classic, the company has taken things a step further.
The SNES Classic lineup is just about perfect. It’s a bit smaller than the NES Classic, with a total of 21 games compared to the original’s 30. But the 21 games are substantial: almost every single one is a blockbuster of its day. The roster includes some of the best games Nintendo has ever made, like Super Metroid, Super Mario World, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.
Likewise, the SNES Classic will also feature four of the most beloved console role-playing games of all time. There’s cult-hit Earthbound, the Nintendo / Square Enix collaboration Super Mario RPG, the genre-defining Secret of Mana, and Final Fantasy III (technically the sixth FF, but originally the third to launch outside of Japan). Even with the notable absence of Chrono Trigger, that’s a powerful lineup.
The console also includes a handful of titles that arguably haven’t received the attention they’re due. Yoshi’s Island is one of my favorite side-scrolling Mario adventures of all time, but because it launched toward the end of the SNES’s lifespan, right when the first PlayStation was making its debut, the game isn’t as fondly remembered as it probably should be. F-Zero, meanwhile, kicked off one of Nintendo’s most beloved franchises, one that has sadly been largely left to idle in recent years. And then there’s Kirby’s Dream Course, one of the best and most unexpected Nintendo spinoffs. The SNES Classic will provide a chance for many to rediscover what made these games so great.
Perhaps the most exciting inclusion, though, is a game that never actually came out: Star Fox 2. The sequel to the technical masterpiece that was the original Star Fox — a game that somehow squeezed 3D graphics onto the 16-bit SNES — Star Fox 2 was a game that was actually completed, but was canceled because Nintendo worried its 3D visuals would compare unfavorably up against the much more powerful Sony PlayStation. Star Fox 2’s inclusion on the SNES Classic is an important and surprising act of video game preservation.
There are other titles that could have been included, of course. I personally would have loved to see Nintendo find a way around the legal issues that have prevented a proper rerelease of the stunt racing game Uniracers. But it’s hard to argue with any of the SNES Classic’s lineup. It’s a solid blend of Nintendo titles and third-party games, and virtually every single one has an important place in the history of gaming.
The NES Classic was far from a perfect product. It struggled with supply issues over its short lifespan, and was unceremoniously canceled less than a year after it launched. But despite its issues, fans still clamored for it, and the reason was its incredible lineup of games. It’s impossible to know now whether or not Nintendo has learned its lesson on the supply front — the Switch can still be tough to find in stores, for instance — but it clearly still knows what it’s doing when it comes to curating classic games. It’ll have its work cut out for it when it comes to the inevitable N64 Classic.
The SNES Classic will be available on September 29th for $79.99.