Well, here we go again. The Super NES Classic is here, and surprise surprise, getting your hands on one is harder than breaking into Fort Knox. Now I get that there is an intangible nostalgic value to having a palm-sized SNES loaded with some pretty stellar software, but the box of “joy” still carries imperfections we were all very vocal about with the NES Classic and has none of the modern conveniences we were all hoping for. Plus, the supply is not even close to meeting the demand. What a shocker! Now, I am a devout Nintendo fanboy and was long before the Switch pulled everyone else onto the hype train, but open your eyes, people! Nintendo is playing you for a bunch pf saps!
Let’s look at the hardware first. It is adorably small, shrunken in scale, but still the same casing as the original console, apart from the flip down controller ports. So small, in fact, that the cartridge slot is nothing more than a glorified groove. Now granted the population of people who still have original Super NES cartridges collecting dust in an attic is relatively small, but giving that flexibility to those hoarders and would-be eBay shoppers would have been a great tip of the hat on Nintendo’s part. The cords are petite as well, just under 5’ for both the HDMI and controller danglers, binding both the console and the player relatively close to the screen. I pity anyone with a 60”+ TV. Sure, the controller cable length is longer than the miniscule NES Classic's, but I sincerely doubt wireless integration would have broken the bank for Nintendo.
Sticking with the controller, it is a faithful recreation of the original, without any added conveniences such as Home or additional buttons. Let’s dwell on those for a minute. In order to return to the Home screen, you must physically hit the reset button on the console or hold down a conglomeration of buttons on a controller for a certain amount of time. Then there’s the rewind feature, which can only be accessed from the Home menu. So unlike every modern console that allows you to stay nestled in a comfortable spot, with the Super NES Classic you may have to work those abs and thighs very time you want to switch games. Which isn’t a big deal, unless you’re swapping between games every five seconds. But the rewind feature, a useful inclusion, may be called upon often. Rare Replay did a great job making their rewind feature fun and simple, scrolling back in time instantly by holding a button and adding a backtracking sound effect along with it. What gives, Nintendo? Is this your way of integrating Wii Fit into the console?
Speaking of software, yes the package is a bargain. (At least for those who adhere to the legal acquisition of these games.) And yes, there are some true classics, but then why is the internet loaded with articles about games people wished were on the Super NES Classic? It was the same outcry with the NES Classic. So again we get the preloaded games bundled with the system and no shred of hope for more. Now Nintendo is likely working on a Virtual Console for the Switch (at least they better be), so that could be the reason for not shoving digital download capabilities on these throwback systems. But why not add an SD slot, cram a dozen or so games on a cartridge, and keep the shelf life of these collectible consoles rolling?
Finally, we come to the issue of supply. Nintendo had the Super NES Classic planned enough in advance that there should be no reason not to keep up with the demand come launch day. Once again, they have opted for a limited quantity production, frustrating everyone not able to click their preorder online fast enough or nab one off a store shelf within the first ten minutes of the doors opening. But then again, that’s half of the hype, isn’t it? Limited stock. Would news outlets be going crazy with short supply articles if Nintendo’s assembly line was cranking these puppies out indefinitely? Like the amiibos, the Big N is dangling a succulent carrot just out of reach and laughing at the millions trying to grab it.
So give the Super NES Classic the praise you want. It’s a nostalgic gem and an homage to a great bygone gaming era, but once again Nintendo failed to listen to the loud criticisms shouted after the launch of the NES Classic. So you may get dozens or even hundreds of hours out of this syrupy system for the retail price of $80 (or a great deal more from resellers), but would you fork over an extra $20-$40 for packed-in wireless controllers with extra convenience buttons and either a digital store or cartridge slot with the promise that more games would be coming to your quaint, little collectible? I certainly would. Feel free to unload your thoughts in the comments below.