Look at this tiny Super Nintendo. Isn’t it cute? But is the Super Nintendo Classic Mini actually any good? How does it compare to the original system, which isn’t as cute? This video will answer that question for you.
After the success of the Nintendo Classic Mini in 2016, it was clear that a Super Nintendo Classic Mini was a no-brainer. After all, Nintendo’s 16-bit console has one of the best libraries of any console ever made.
I don’t need to go into how great the Super Nintendo is, but if you’re watching this video then you probably want to know all about this brand new official clone console – Is it easy to use? How does it look on an HDTV and of course, what’s it like to play Starfox 2 officially for the first time? One thing at a time, folks. One thing at a time.
The European edition of the Super Nintendo is a thing of beauty, aping the curved lines of the Japanese Super Famicom and keeping that colourful button scheme that also makes up the system’s rarely-used logo. The Super Nintendo Classic Mini is a small scale reproduction of the original system, and it really is a tiny system – So tiny that it’s about the size of two Super Nintendo cartridges stacked on top of each other. But even at this small size, it’s amazing the level of detail that’s gone into the system, from the tiny Power switch to the dinky reset button. While the Eject button is static, it really looks like you should be able to push it down.
At the rear of the system, much like the Nintendo Classic Mini, there is a standard HDMI port to plug the system into your television, and a Mini-B USB port to supply power to the system. Once again, a proper mains adapter isn’t in the box, but a Mini-B USB cable is, and you have the choice of buying a separate USB mains adapter, or if your television has a USB port (and most modern televisions do these days), you can use that to power the device. It takes just a couple of minutes to unbox the system and be up and running to play the system’s many classic games.
Unlike the Nintendo Classic Mini, this 16-bit system comes with two controllers in the box, just perfect for playing the handful of available multiplayer games. They use a similar port that the Nintendo Classic Mini controller use, which is basically the same connector used for the Wii Remote’s attachable control methods. To keep the Super Nintendo Classic Mini’s aesthetics in line with the original, the front of the console opens up to reveal the controller connectors. To be honest, I do wonder how this flap will hold up to repeated use.
As for the controllers themselves, they’re very faithful. It’s accurate to the original, almost identical in fact – Although when you hold an old and new pads in each hand, the newer Super Nintendo Classic Mini pad feels just a little lighter. This is not the first time that Nintendo has made a reproduction of the Super Nintendo pad, as one was briefly available as a Club Nintendo award, for use with Nintendo’s Wii console. Put all three pads together and if my original Super Nintendo controller wasn’t yellowed with age, you’d struggle to tell them apart. The biggest complaint about last year’s Nintendo Classic Mini was the short length of the controller leads, and while the length has been improved for the Super Nintendo Classic Mini, they aren’t as long as the cables on the original console’s pads (You can purchase cable extensions online, though). Other than that, they’re perfect reproductions that only help hammer home that you’re getting an almost perfect Super Nintendo experience.
Once everything’s plugged in and you’ve flipped the Power switch on, you’re greeted with an upgraded menu screen from the Nintendo Classic Mini. While there are fewer games available, the quality of these 16-bit games is much higher than those on Nintendo’s 8-bit clone system, and I would go as far to say that there isn’t a single bad game on here. Every single one of the 21 games in this collection deserves to be here – It really is all killer, no filler. You’ve got your must-have games like Super Mario World, A Link To The Past and Super Metroid, a few third-party standouts like Super Castlevania, Street Fighter II Turbo and Final Fantasy III, plus some pleasant surprises in the form of games based on the Super FX enhancement chip – Some never having a re-release in their original form, and in the case of Starfox 2, never having an official final release. The latter game is clearly the headline here, a game that had completed development and was scheduled for release at the tail end of the Super Nintendo’s life, but was cancelled due to the impending release of the Nintendo 64 system (which, due to many delays ended up in stores much years later than expected). But you’ve also got the original Star Fox, and Yoshi’s Island, games that deserved a chance to be re-released on Virtual Console but never got that chance, save for a Game Boy Advance port of Yoshi’s Island that wasn’t quite as impressive as the original.
I’m not going to be giving reviews of these games, mainly because they’re all fantastic games that deserve your time – But I’ve already reviewed Starfox and will be reviewing Yoshi’s Island and Star Fox 2 as part of my Super FX review series. While they will always be more games that could have been added to the Super Nintendo Classic Mini, the games we did end up with are absolute classics that cover the entirety of the system’s lifespan and should please both owners of the original system, and those who never experienced them the first time. A side note – The menu does tell you this from the start, but you can’t play Star Fox 2 until you’ve finished the first level of Star Fox, which doesn’t make too much sense, to be honest. I do wish there were more hidden things in this system, unlocked by reaching certain in-game milestones – The SEGA Mega Drive Collection that came out in the last console generation did this, and it was a lot of fun.
The Super Nintendo Classic Mini’s menu should be familiar to anyone that managed to obtain the Nintendo Classic Mini. There’s a clear view of the box art of each game, and the list can be sorted in different ways such as by name, publisher and more. You can choose from three different ways to display the screen (more on that in a moment), and now it’s possible to choose a border to fill in the gaps outside of the display screen. As well as the in-game saves in titles that supported them, you can also use save states to record your progress by pressing the Reset button on the system to go back to the menu. You can save to four slots for each game, and in a new feature, when you load a state it is possible to rewind before the point you pressed the Reset button. With this feature, you could use it to undo any mistakes you make, such as losing a life – The implementation is a bit clumsy, after all, it would have been great to have had an in-game rewind button, but it’s a welcome addition.
Like the Nintendo Classic Mini, you have three different options for displaying games – There’s a 4:3 aspect ratio, which would be the familiar option for anyone who has ever played games on a standard definition television screen. There’s also a CRT mode which adds a blur filter and scan lines to mimic the televisions of old, however, this doesn’t necessarily make sense, as with the right cables it’s possible to get an incredibly sharp display out of even the oldest of televisions. While I love playing games with scanlines as the visuals for these games were designed with them in mind – I just wish you could just turn off the blur filter and keep the scanlines. Finally, you can play in Pixel Perfect mode, which gives you an 8:7 display which is actually how SNES games should be viewed – Want proof?
Take a look at Super Metroid, and when Samus uses the Morph Ball you would expect her to be a perfect circle. In Pixel Perfect mode, that’s definitely the case, but in 4:3 mode, she looks more like an oval. The same is true of the circular countdown timer when you get hit in Yoshi’s Island. There were just a handful of games on the Super Nintendo that took this stretching into account when games were played on a normal 4:3 standard definition television, so if you want shapes to be properly proportioned, the 8:7 Pixel Perfect mode really is the way to go – But hey, it’s your console, so play these games however you like!
So, how does it compare to an original system? You could buy an original Super Nintendo and play any game you want on it, and not be limited to the 21 built-in games (although it’s only a matter of time until this system is hacked). However, getting it to work on a modern television is not necessarily the easiest thing, especially if you want it to look good. You could do what I did and buy a dedicated upscaling unit like the Framemeister, and get very good results – However there’s only so far you can go with upscaling an analog console display, and while the combination of original console and Framemeister looks pretty damn good, good enough for me to use when making videos for this channel, in fact, it still doesn’t look as great as the pixel-sharp HDMI output on the Super Nintendo Classic Mini.
And that’s the thing about this tiny system. It’s a quick and convenient way to rekindle some 16-bit nostalgia or a way to experience these games for the first time in a modern and affordable setting. There’s always a better solution for playing retro games, but what the Super Nintendo Classic Mini does, it does incredibly well. Undoubtedly, there are some of you watching that would rather use a Raspberry Pi as an emulation system, and there are merits to that – But for me personally, there’s something exciting about seeing this console and these games in an official capacity, lovingly recreated and presented. Yes, it’s possible to play 1000’s of games on an emulation box, but having these 21 games curated on a system that takes just a few minutes to set up, is an attractive proposition. The question is – Where does Nintendo go from here? Are we looking at a Nintendo 64 Classic Mini in future or even a Game Boy Classic Mini? I guess we’ll find out next year.