By Nathan Mowatt
Release Date: September 29 2017
In the Box:
- SNES Mini Console
- Two SNES Mini controllers
- HDMI cable
- USB power cable (No AC adaptor, sold separately)
- 21 Pre-installed games
This time last year I was completely unable to get my hands on the NES Classic Mini. Nintendo’s decision to make them ‘rarer than gold’ by only producing very few units, insured pre-orders were sold out in as little as 30 minutes at some retailers.
Luckily, Nintendo took this on board and basically did the same thing this year with the SNES Mini, with pre-orders selling out on the Nintendo UK website in less than 30 minutes. I was, however, lucky enough to get a pre-order in Stirling’s Game store and therefore avoided paying the up to £250 people were putting them up on eBay for.
As I eagerly opened the box and set up the tiny (and very adorable) console, I already noticed multiple improvements on last year’s NES Mini, as well as many of the issues continuing over. One notable issue straight off the bat is the lack of an AC adaptor; Nintendo sell this separately, however if you have a standard USB plug laying around, it will do fine (luckily, I did).
Two controllers are included in the box this time, allowing me to play two-player Super Mario Kart like it’s 1995 straight out the box. Luckily the controller cable was lengthened, from an absolutely tiny 75cm with the NES Mini, to a more reasonable 142cm with the SNES Mini. Granted it would have been nicer to have a roughly 230cm long cable like the original console, but it is a step in the right direction.
On the subject of controllers, they are lovely, they feel very much like the original SNES controllers (though those who have never played a SNES before may find the buttons a little bit spongey, this was the case for the original controllers, also).
Yet again, changing games is handled by the reset button on the console, this doesn’t seem that annoying, but when you have to get up and go to the TV every time you want to change a game, it can get a bit irritating. Simply adding a button onto the controller could fix this, or alternatively allowing users to press select and start at the same time to go back to the menu (so they don’t need to add any buttons).
As for the console options and user interface, I quite like it; the music is nice enough, it controls nicely and the idle animations are cute. Options are quite barebones, one that has stuck around from the NES Mini is the option to have the screen look like an old CRT. Personally, I strongly dislike that option as it just distorts the screen and adds annoying scan lines.
The ability to rewind games by 45 seconds was a life saver for me whilst trying to make my way through some of the horrifically difficult titles on the list (don’t judge me too much, okay? Some of those games are insane).
On the bright side, the games included with the SNES Mini leave little to be desired, more or less a top 20 list of the SNES library.
Granted there are some classics left out such as; Chrono Trigger, Mortal Kombat 2 and Super Mario: All Stars.
Since all of the games included (except one) are very well-known classics, I won’t go into huge detail in reviewing them, only a brief description and my opinion.
Super Mario World is one of the most beloved platforms ever etched onto cartage, a launch game for the SNES, a near flawless game that helped define the 16-bit platform genre. Full of secrets that will keep you entertained for hours on end.
Its sequel Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island is a true demonstration of what the SNES is capable of. With very impressive graphics, a gorgeous, unique and charming art style, as well as an enormous plethora of gameplay, it is without a doubt, worth a play.
Super Mario Kart, the mode-seven racing game that kickstarted the Mario Kart series, has a brilliant control scheme and a decent range of characters. This makes for an enjoyable game to play single player, but multiplayer opens it up for countless hours of fun.
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars is a more light-hearted RPG compared to the others offered, with a cute aesthetic and decent story. While a classic favourite for many, not a particularly amazing game in my opinion – your mileage may vary.
Contra 3: The Alien Wars, hard as nails, break neck paced, single player or co-op shooter that takes no prisoners. The version on the SNES mini is the American version, different from the PAL (EU) version (which was called Super Probotector: Alien Rebels and replaced the soldiers with robots.)
Donkey Kong Country’s pseudo-3D graphics has sadly not aged very well, especially on larger modern TVs. But if you are able to look past this, there is a very solid and enjoyable platformer below a slightly ugly exterior.
Earthbound (Also known as Mother 2 in Japan) is the primary reason I got the SNES Mini, because on cartage this game regularly sells for upwards of £100 even without the original box. The hype surrounding this game is justified in my eyes, as one of the most beautiful games of the 16-Bit era. A brilliant story and innovative gameplay design combines with the amazing aesthetic to create one of the best and most memorable RPGs ever.
Final Fantasy 3, the sixth game in the Final fantasy series (but third released in the US), I agree with the common opinion that this is the best in the series. Tense but enjoyable combat, a sprawling open world to explore, and pixel art so beautiful you’d want it on your wall. (Just me?)
F-Zero is another racing game, but this one is deceptively difficult, the AI opponents are ruthless and one mistake can prove impossible to recover from. You may end up needing the second controller after breaking the first.
Kirby Super Star (or Kirby’s Fun Pak in the original EU release) one of the cutest games I have ever played, 8 mini games in one, not ground-breaking but great to pick up and play if you only have a short time.
Kirby’s Dream Course is more or less a mini-golf game with all the charm of a Kirby game, nice and easy but can become rather boring after a long period of time. Not for everyone.
The Legend of Zelda: A link to the Past refines and builds upon the original NES Zelda titles and sets the tone for more or less every Zelda game released after, secrets and dungeons galore!
Mega Man X is a much easier game when compared to earlier Mega Man titles, but still a challenging experience, and levels include much more verticality. The ability to choose stages allows for more open gameplay than many linear platformers of the time offered.
I was pleasantly surprised with Secret of Mana, having never personally seen this game before, I was slightly worried that it would be just another open world RPG with a boring story. From the first scene my attention was captured, I felt a genuine attachment to my character that I don’t normally feel within RPGs of this era.
Super Castlevania 4 returns to the basic style of the first game with a few more added uses for the whip. The difficulty ramps up quickly so may not be great for some, but an enjoyable action platformer for those who are up to the challenge.
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts… this game… it takes retro difficulty to an insane degree. It makes Contra 3 look like Candyland. That said, atmospheric art style and interestingly designed levels make for at least a good-looking game, not that you’ll end up seeing much of it.
Super Metroid is yet another classic, an eerie atmosphere is slowly built up throughout the first few areas of the game. One of the earlier semi-horror games that actually scared me enough to warrant the “horror” title. Worth playing in the dark (at your own risk).
Super Punch-Out! – I have personally never enjoyed the Punch Out games, this is a definite improvement over the original, with better graphics, taking advantage over the 16-Bit capabilities of the SNES console.
Street Fighter 2’Turbo: Hyper Fighting, this is an absolute classic, this version includes playable versions of the bosses which were not included in the original version. Of the almost 40 versions of Street Fighter 2 (yes, really) this is probably my favourite.
Star Fox has, sadly, aged horribly. An antiquated and unintuitive control scheme alongside slightly terrifying graphics (that caused me some eye strain due to flashing red and blue colours) creates, in my opinion, a rather unenjoyable. Though some may be able to play and enjoy this spaceship 3D shooter, I did not enjoy my time with this title.
Star Fox 2, the reason many people purchased this console was to get their hands on this unreleased title. In the 1990’s it was the first sequel to Star Fox that was dropped last second, due to the imminent release of the Nintendo 64 console. (Though Nintendo never released an official version until now on the SNES mini, quite a few ROM versions have been playable online for a few years.)
Overall it is a definite improvement to the original. Not being quite as horrific looking I was actually able to put some time into playing, thanks to not getting a headache after 20 seconds. I actually had some fun this time, though the controls are still not nice, once you get used to them you can overcome this issue. Overall the game is worth a play, but only fans of classic games will get any real fun play time out of it.
In conclusion, if you’re a fan of classic Nintendo games, and don’t want to fork out hundreds of pounds for some of these very expensive games, this is the console for you. Not one for the kids, thanks to the inclusion of many exceedingly difficult titles.
As for the slightly illegal elephant in the room… yes, you could get hundreds or thousands of ROMs and download them onto your computer for free. This being said I am not a fan of copyright infringement, and I will in no way condone this legally grey area subject.
Nice and simple to set up, use and enjoy. The inclusion of a few long form RPG games allows for dozens of hours of fun and long-term investment. A few minor issues with the controller and the inability to add any more games at a later date, but overall worth the £79.99.