The SNES Classic Edition, launching on September 29th for $79.99, does exactly what you expect it to do. You plug in power and HDMI, flip down a weird little flap covering the controller ports, plug in the controllers, and start playing Star Fox, F-Zero, or Donkey Kong Country.
Nintendo has also learned from the shortcomings of its predecessor, the NES Classic. Mainly, the company has promised to make “significantly more” of the damn things this time around — though whether “significantly more” is the same thing as “enough” is anyone’s guess.
Then there’s the controllers, which are great. The D-pad, in particular, feels super nice — whereas on modern controllers it’s too often an afterthought. The SNES Classic also has slightly longer cables on its controllers (it ships with two) so you don’t have to buy an extender or sit so close to your TV. They still use the weird Wii-style connector, which means you can use these SNES controllers with a Wiimote or an NES Classic (in the unlikely event you managed to purchase one).
That style of port is enough of a departure from the aesthetic of the SNES that Nintendo decided to put a little plastic flap over the ports, so that when it’s closed it more closely resembles the original SNES.
The big thing everybody is talking about is the first-ever release of Star Fox 2, a game that was originally cancelled two decades ago, which you have to unlock by playing the original Star Fox for a while. But to me, the thing I was most excited about is a feature so obvious and so helpful that I wish it was standard issue on all consoles, not just little retro consoles: “Rewind.”
On the SNES Classic, as with its predecessor, you can suspend the game at any point and it will be saved there, ready for you to pick it right up again. Or you can rewatch up to a minute (depending on the game) of your gameplay before you hit suspend, then pick up the game from a moment before you saved.
It’s a trick that other retro game emulators have already pulled off, but it’s nice to see that Nintendo is doing it here. Having died many times in many of the games Nintendo is including, I will be taking advantage of it — even though deep down I’ll know it’s cheating.
There are two other new features to note: a new “Frames” option that lets you put custom art in the black boxes that flank the 4:3 game. Of course, the best option is the wood paneling. The SNES Classic also has a screensaver mode that shows gameplay, but now it will show your own gameplay instead of something generic.
We played a little Star Fox 2, which really did have some new ideas about video games even though it didn’t get the chance to show them off until now. Mostly, though, I played Donkey Kong Country and marveled at the cognitive dissonance between what I remember (incredible graphics) and what I was looking at today (not incredible graphics).
Here’s a full list of the games that are bundled in the SNES Classic:
- Contra III: The Alien Wars
- Donkey Kong Country
- Final Fantasy III
- Kirby Super Star
- Kirby’s Dream Course
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
- Mega Man X
- Secret of Mana
- Star Fox
- Star Fox 2
- Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
- Super Castlevania IV
- Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts
- Super Mario Kart
- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
- Super Mario World
- Super Metroid
- Super Punch-Out!!
- Yoshi’s Island