SNES Classic mini, an impression

SNES Classic mini, an impression

The day after its release on September 29th, I managed to get my hands on a Super Nintendo Classic mini through one of our local Carrefour supermarkets. Oddly enough, it was hidden in the alley of the video games somewhere on a bottom shelve out of sight between other so-called vintage video consoles.

Here’s the Belgian launch video from Nintendo:

The SNES Classic mini comes pre-installed with 20+1 games (the +1 is actually a never before releases version of StarFox 2), which should reflect the most popular games of the region you got the SNES in. For Europe / Belgium these are

  • Super Mario World
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • Secret of Mana
  • F-Zero
  • Super Castlevania IV
  • The Legend of Zelda, a Link to the Past
  • Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
  • Earthbound
  • Contra III: the Alien Wars
  • Super Punch-Out
  • Super Metroid
  • Final Fantasy III
  • Star Fox
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Mega Man X
  • Kirby’s Dream Course
  • Kirby Super Star
  • Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island
  • Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
  • Star Fox 2

The console is small, extremely small. It fits in the palm of your hand, weighs practically nothing and simply cannot rest elegantly on the TV cupboard once hooked up to the TV. I doesn’t come with a power adapter, but any modern “smart” TV has some leftover USB connectors which can be used for this purpose. My 40 inch Samsung HD TV only powers these USB ports when powered on: switch on the TV, switch on the SNES and off you go.

The SNES Classic mini is very small

My first video game device was an odd Pong clone my dad build with a DIY kit; my first real console was an Atari VCS 2600. I then got into computers with a Sinclair QL, later an Atari 1040, a Mac Plus and Wintel PCs to finally end up in a hybrid environment with mostly Apple hardware and the occasional Windows and Linux boxes.

But back then I did have a Gameboy though for portable game playing and spend way too much time on the loo playing Tetris (TMI?). With the introduction of the Playstation 1, I got back into the universe of the consoles and I still play occasionally on my XBox 360, recently even revisiting the world of Fable II.

But here I had this little gizmo with digital treasures from the nineties, would these stand up against modern gaming experiences? Wouldn’t they be way too easy for someone who loves playing an FPS?

Hooking up such low res games on a high res 40 inch full hd screen makes you back off immediately. Sitting far enough from the screen, the gigantic but crisp “pixels” become less dominant and the games are more recognisable and become playable.

The first thing I noticed? I suck!!! No really, I couldn’t get anywhere on any of the games. You see, back in the nineties, storage was expensive; so forget about tutorials or easing you into the game. Nope, off you go, into the deep and start swimming because the alien sharks are going to gobble you. It doesn’t really help of course that the resolution of the SNES was a mere 256x224 pixels and even with its maximum resolution of 512x448, it’s still a fraction of today’s mega resolutions and with so little screen estate there’s also no room to manoever. So games are faster and more difficult to get into; and more importantly they have a much lower tolerance on failure. It’s quite a shocker to waste 30 minutes on the first minute of Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, a game I was actually quite good at on my Atari ST. On the other hand, the games are repetitive, enemies always pop up on the same place, doing the same thing, so after a while you anticipate and get better at it.

Is the SNES Classic mini worth its money? For those who knew the original consoles, it certainly is a walk on memory lane and Nintendo’s selection will have something for everyone. Kids who grew up with 32 bit consoles spewing out 3D polygons to create life like environments, this little box is a like an interactive history book.