What a strange world we live in. It’s early-September as I write this, and I’m sat here amid the greatest, most absurd flow of brand new, hot-off-the-presses videos games in recent memory, somehow instead playing Super Mario World. Move over Absolver, game I’ve been dying to play. Pah, who do you think you are, Destiny 2. Knack 2? More like Fuckin’ what, who?
You either care about history, or you don’t. You either respect where you’ve come from, what you’ve learned, and are the sum total of the knowledge, love, and genius that has preceded you, growing as a person and understanding mistakes you’ve made – or you’re Donald Trump. And like it or not, the SNES was important to gaming. No, it was vital. It gave us the greatest 2D platformer ever made, in Super Mario World. It gave us the best Zelda (get in your box, lads, you know it’s true) in A Link to the Past. Christ, it gave us Super Mario Kart.
And I think that, depending on your age, there will be a evocative memory relating to the SNES for you. Aside Super Mario World (probably still just about my favourite game of all time), I think mine would be Street Fighter.
At the time, I didn’t own a SNES, but my best mate Tony Windebank did. We sat in his bedroom, playing Street Fighter 2 over and over again. I chose Ken because I knew everyone else picked Ryu, and I wanted to be different. I can trace that feeling of wanting to be different all the way to my life nowadays. I tell my kids that being like everyone else is boring. Being normal is no fun. Stand out, be an individual – never be afraid of who you are. I guess the modern parlance would be to say “You do you”. These things, these moments, they glue together our lives in ways we don’t understand until we have time to reflect on, which, sadly, we do so rarely as we’re all so busy.
But the SNES Mini Classic takes you back there. Simpler times, less forgiving games, but so many crackers. Super Punch-Out!! isn’t the good Punch-Out!!, but any Punch-Out!! is good Punch-Out!! Super Castlevania IV, Donkey Kong Country (a good game, shut up), Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy III, Super Metroid, Yoshi’s Island, Contra III – you know these games, you’ve loved some of these games. You don’t need me to tell you about them individually, but know that they’re the versions you remember.
That said, time has not been kind to some of these classics. Star Fox is a title I have fond memories of, but in 2017… I’m not so sure it holds up. It’s exactly how you remember it, only the truth is you don’t remember it, not like you think you do. This is rough to look at, and doesn’t feel nearly as good as you think you remember it feeling. That brings us neatly on to Star Fox 2, which I’m sure in other reviews, will be given the utmost of reverence due to the fact this is technically the first official release of the game. It never got put out, being cancelled at the very last moment due to, apparently, the fact Nintendo thought it’d look really bad when compared to the visuals being pumped out by the competition. And hey, guess what, this doesn’t look amazing, either.
As a historical moment, it’s cool as anything to be playing a brand new SNES game that never saw the light of day, even moreso because it’s a beloved franchise that hasn’t seen much love over the years. But, I don’t know, I didn’t find much about it that made me want to go through it. As a new game, it’s… well it’s alright, but only just.
The hardware itself is fantastic. It’s remarkably small, and shape aside, you could compare it to a PS4 controller. Yeah, that’s how small it is. It feels robust, and could go in most small bags to transport to somewhere other than your home. It’s powered by an included USB cable, which may seem cheap on Nintendo’s part, but most modern TVs have a USB port that can power this thing. Two controllers feel like they used to, but they’re probably tweaked in some way my aging mind can’t pick up on. Hidden behind the “fake” controller ports (that emulate the look of the original SNES) there are ports for these new-old controllers. Honestly, the only annoyance hardware wise is that you have to get up to reset the system back to the main menu.
There are a couple of nice features tucked into the Classic Mini that are welcome. Firstly, you can use multiple save states per game. These won’t be anything new to anyone who has ever used emulators, but to everyone else: these are essentially the same as pausing the game, saving at that exact moment, whatever the game, wherever you are in the game. On top of that, you can also rewind your progress, which is lovely if you’ve just made a silly mistake and want to course-correct. It’s a concession, potentially, to the harder nature of these old games, but it’s pretty cool. There are probably countless easter eggs yet to find, such as when you leave the SNES running, demo mode takes over and Mario pops out, loading up the games, which will use your save states and replays to use your gameplay as demos.
You already know you want this, or don’t, and I can’t convince you otherwise. Whether it’s worth the money, or the heartache trying to find one is entirely up to you, but for me it’s a wonderful trip down memory lane. Gaming has moved on, some of these classics are very clear indicators of that. Developers have learned from the past, and are making new classics. And hey, that’s a nice allegory relating to modern times, isn’t it? Classic indeed, and way more so than the NES, which, although it may have started it all, pales in comparison to the genuine monument that is the SNES.
Pure, unadulterated nostalgia
Some nice features
Contains some of the best games ever made
Maybe missing some classics
Controller cables still not that long