Friday, October 6, 2017

Super Nintendo Classic Edition Review

In 2016, Nintendo struck gold with the NES Classic Edition. It wasn’t just the hot gaming item, or the hot Holiday gift, it had all kinds of people looking for it, well into 2017. To this day, I have never seen an NES Classic in person. Then, in April of 2017, Nintendo announced that production of the NES Classic Edition was coming to an end. People were angry, they were confused, and Nintendo gave no answers. Things started making a little more sense in June, when Nintendo announced the SNES Classic Edition. It came out on September 29, comes with 21 games, and costs $79.99, $30 more than the NES Classic. Basically, Nintendo stopped making the NES Classic to make the SNES Classic. The NES Classic will be back in 2018, though, so there’s still a chance to get one!

The SNES Classic Edition is a tiny replica of the SNES. The controllers are actually wider than the system. It has working Power and Reset buttons, but the Reset button is more like the Home button on other systems. It has an HDMI port and a USB micro port on the back, and 2 Wii remote style controller ports under a flap in the front. It does not have a real cartridge slot. SNES carts are wider than the system, anyway. It comes with a small AC power adapter, but you can hook it up to pretty much anything to power it, like a TV, or even your Switch.

The controllers look like the originals, and they’re the same size as the originals, but they are not exactly the same. They have a matte finish that's a little bit rougher than the originals and the cords are about 4ft shorter. The controller cords are 5ft long. That’s 2 more feet than the NES Classic’s cords, but still way too short. If you think this is going to bother you, get an extension cord, there’s a bunch available on Amazon. Or better yet, get a wireless adapter. I got an 8bitdo wireless adapter that allows you to use Wii Classic and Wii U Pro controllers, and works with both the NES and SNES Classics, after a firmware update. The controllers look cool, but since they don’t have a Home button, you have to use the Reset button on the console to go back to the main menu and switch games, use save states, or use the rewind feature. That’s why I prefer using Wii and Wii U controllers.

Every version of the Wii Classic Controller works without the need for an adapter. That includes 3rd party stuff, like the Tatsunoko VS Capcom arcade stick. You just plug them in like you would the regular controllers. Don’t bother trying to use PS2 or GC to Wii adapters, I tried all of mine mine, and none of them worked. No luck with the Tekken Tag 2 stick for Wii U either, even though it plugs into a Wiimote, just like the Tatsunoko VS Capcom stick.

The UI is king of a mixed bag. I don’t really like the pixelated icons and SNES shell themed art. I guess they’re going for a retro look, but it just looks kind of cheap. They do have nice pictures of all the boxarts, though, which look pretty good.

Every game has little icons that tell you how many save states you’re using (out of 4), if it has battery backup, and if it’s a 2 player game. You can sort by release date, 2 player games, publisher, title, times played, and recently played. The options are above the games and the save states and rewind function below. Everything is fast, easy to understand, for the most part, and the games load instantly. Even though it doesn’t look great, it gets the job done.

I think the way you go back into a game from the main menu is a bit unintuitive. If you exit a game and go to the main menu, you have to press down, select your save state, and then press A on it to continue. If you press A on the boxart, you reset the game. If you’re used to the 3DS OS, that’s exactly what you’re going to do, and you will lose your progress, and you will be sad. I just lost about an hour of progress in LttP today.

The system has options for 12 different borders, including black, and 3 filters. The filters included are CRT, 4:3, and Pixel Perfect. You can't mix and match filters. CRT mimics the look of old tube TVs and gives you a blurry look with some fake scanlines. 4:3 gives you a sharp image with rectangle pixels, which looks like what you get with Virtual Console games on Wii U. Pixel Perfect gives you a sharp image with square pixels. It’s the unmodified image the system sends to the TV. It doesn’t stretch the image, like old TVs did, so you’ll see circles instead of ovals, and squares instead of rectangles in a lot of games. I prefer Pixel Perfect for most games. I grew up playing games in 4:3 on a tube TV, but I can’t unsee Samus’ oval Morph Ball now.

The rewind feature is pretty cool and easy to use. The system is always saving the last 45 seconds of your game, so you can go to the main menu, press X on a save state, rewind and fast forward through those 45 seconds, and resume playing wherever you want. It works with any save state, with any game, at any time. You can be playing Super Metroid and go rewind a Super Mario World game, if you feel like it. It’s a very cool feature.

This system comes packed with some amazing games. They’re not just some of the best SNES games, they’re some best games ever made. Zelda LttP, Super Metroid, and Super Mario World are definitely in my top 10. There’s hundreds of hours worth of gaming fun in this tiny SNES.

Here’s a list of all 21 games included.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - One of my favorite Zelda games and one of my favorite games of all time. It’s the blueprint for pretty much every Zelda game until Breath of the Wild, and a must play for all Zelda fans.

Super Metroid -

Super Mario World - The SNES pack-in game at launch, and one of my favorite 2D Marios. It introduced Yoshi, had a huge world with multiple exits in many levels, and for the first time, you could go back and replay any level without restarting the game.

Super Mario Kart - The original kart racer. I thought it was the weirdest idea at the time. It let you drive a go kart around Super Mario World themed levels! That’s crazy! It’s kind of weird to play MK without analog controls now, but it’s still a lot of fun.

Donkey Kong Country - I know it’s cool to hate on DKC these days, but I love this game. It’s no Mario World, but is awesome. The music and graphics are fantastic, it's full of collectables and secrets, and it’s very challenging. It’s one of Rare’s best games.

F-Zero - One of the SNES launch games. It was a SNES graphics showpiece. It’s still a lot fun.

Mega Man X - The first 16-bit Mega Man and the debut of Zero. One of the best 2D action platformers ever.

Super Castlevania IV - A reimagining of the original Castlevania. It did a few new things in the series, but it was never followed up on, because Igavanias took over after Symphony of the Night. It had great gameplay, cool mode 7 effects, and amazing music.

Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting - The second version of SFII on SNES, since Champion Edition never made it onto the system. The hype for this game was unreal. We didn’t have the 4 bosses playable at home until this came out, over a year after arcade CE and SNES SFII were out.

Contra 3: The Alien Wars - A great run and gun shoot 'em up and borderline copyright infringing homage to Terminator, Aliens, and Predator. Unlike the NES game and the Super Famicom version, there’s no 30 lives code.

Secret of Mana - The sequel to Final Fantasy Adventure on Game Boy, and the first SquareSoft game I ever finished. It's an action RPG, but it has a slow charging battle system. It's kind of like Zelda meets Final Fantasy.

Earthbound - Stand By Me meets Dragon Quest. It has a crazy cult following for a reason. It has a unique setting, touching story, and lovable characters. Legalize Mother 3!

Star Fox - This was an amazing technical feat for the SNES at the time, and there is still fun to be had here, but it’s kind of hard to go back to with its low framerate.

Star Fox 2 - The birthplace of a lot of the bad ideas used in future Star Fox games. It’s the worst ideas of Star Fox Zero, Command, and 64, minus motion or touch controls, collected in one game. It’s all in free roaming “all-range” mode, with no on-rails stages, it has the real-time map from Command, and the Arwing AT-ST (chicken mode) from Zero. It’s interesting from a historical point of view, at least.

Kirby Super Star - A collection of Kirby games, including minigames and traditional Kirby games.

Kirby’s Dream Course - An isometric mini golf game where Kirby is the ball.

Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts - An original GNG game made for the SNES, and the third game in the Ghosts ‘n Goblins series. Super hard, arcade style, run ‘n gun platformer.

Final Fantasy III - Also known as Final Fantasy VI. It has some of the best music on the SNES and is probably the best looking sprite-based RPG SquareSoft ever made.

Super Punch-Out!! - The second Punch-Out on consoles, and fourth game in the series. This one brought back a lot of boxers from the arcade games and replaced the NES game’s uppercut mechanic with the KO punch mechanic from the arcade games.

Yoshi’s Island - At a time when people were in love with new 3D and pre-rendered graphics, like in Donkey Kong Country, Nintendo dared to make something that looked radically different. It was Yoshi’s first platformer, and it had more exploration than the typical Mario platformer.

Super Mario RPG - The last SquareSoft game released for a Nintendo system outside Japan before they made the move to PlayStation. It’s the grandaddy of the Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi games.

Overall, I think this is a great package. I wish it had some more games, though. Where are Super Mario All-Stars and Chrono Trigger? It’s also sorely missing a good beat 'em up, like Final Fight 2 or Super Double Dragon, and a good spaceship shoot 'em up, like Gradius 3 or Super R-Type. I also wish the price was closer to the NES Classic’s, but there’s a lot of great games in there, and it’s still worth the price. Buying all these games on VC, if they were all on VC, would cost a lot more money. If nothing else, it’s at least a great ornament. This system is super cute, and looks cool just about anywhere in an entertainment center.