Most of the Hot Internet Content revolving around the Super NES Classic Edition has been about the pre-order issues. And I get it, I do; it was a nightmare, even though we all expected it to be. Somehow that made it worse, especially since Nintendo’s statements provided a brief glimmer of hope that things would be different. Things weren’t different. But I managed to get one, so despite my initial frustration and frustration on behalf of everyone who has to wait for random shipment waves for another chance. This means I have more of a clear head on the matter. So I’d like to take a minute to talk about how Legitimately Cool the Super NES Classic Edition is as a device. Between the software, features, design and of course, freakin’ StarFox 2, the Super NES Classic Edition is worth the trouble.
The improvements and additions to this thing make the first NES Classic Edition feel like a prototype and the new iteration the Real Deal. Sure, the first model had more games, although arguably less content volume because that’s just the inherent difference between these game generations, but the package here is a more robust, competent, and appealing offering overall. Both devices are running really solid emulators, the best ROM delivery packages Nintendo has made yet, easily outperforming the 3DS and Wii U’s offerings.
The multiple save state (or Restore Point as labeled by Nintendo) system is in place, but the Super version adds My Game Play Demo as a neat little touch. Instead of playing a pre-programmed demo video on the selection menu, your Restore Points are used, making things a touch more personal. Frames are another feature, something that harkens back to the days of the Super Game Boy and the neat borders there. Those were more involved, with the drawing tools and game-specific borders, but this is still a fun touch that shows a sense of care that you won’t get from anyone else. Finally, rewind. You don’t often see this in official products, most notably found in Rare Replay and Disney Afternoon Collection. Here, it’s tailored on a per-game basis. Some of the action games only go back a few seconds, while the RPG games can be rewound much further. The little things really count here.
It’s also vital to note that the Super Nintendo Classic Edition comes with two controllers packed in. They’re still the goofy, outdated Wii port technology that doesn’t make any sense (why the hell aren’t they just USB?), but having two eliminates the inconvenience of tracking down another official one or sifting through different third-party offerings. This way you can jump into Secret of Mana or Contra III: The Alien Wars right out of the box. Multiplayer on the NES wasn’t nearly as big a deal as it was on the Super Nintendo, and while there aren’t a ton, the two-player games present are Required Reading for anyone who buys this thing.
Speaking of the software, man, in pure economic terms this thing is a steal. I’m not pretending emulation doesn’t exist; it goes without saying budget-conscious folks with an interest in gaming and tech literacy are better off copping a Raspberry Pi and going ham with that. That’s not the audience the Super NES Classic Edition is for. It’s for the people who are more invested in the sentiment of playing classic games, people who may already have a collection of carts. But carts are expensive, and SNES nostalgia is at an all-time high at this point in time. Many of the games in this set are fifty bucks at the lowest in the current retro market. Some games like EarthBound go up to $150 or higher. For many, this will be the definitive way to play these games without shelling out the big bucks for carts that will cease to function eventually anyway.
And that’s before we get to StarFox 2. I’m sure, inevitably, StarFox 2 will make its way to the Switch. But this is the debut of StarFox 2; this is that red carpet moment people want to be a part of. There’s no denying that. There’s also no denying the ROM file that has been around for years is not a finished version of that game. This is our first chance to not only play the 100% full version of StarFox 2, but also our first chance to play the game with a professional localization. That’s huge.
So there’s my two cents on this controversial device, as it rests in a vacuum of its own existence ahead of release. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it, and consider myself extremely lucky. I hope, eventually, that the software powering these devices isn’t lost to time, and that while they are destined to be forever limited, perhaps the emulation on display is a preview of what’s in store for the Switch. In the meantime, I hope that everyone who nailed an order enjoys it, and everyone else gets another shot down the line. Also, screw ThinkGeek; those bundles are ridiculous. Come on.