SNES Classic: The Kotaku Review

 In Technology

The Super Nintendo Classic is a miniature blast of nostalgia, a sleekly packaged piece of hardware that will transport you back to the days of Dunkaroos and denim jackets. Although one could certainly complain about some of the choices Nintendo has made here, this is a mostly great package that highlights how well the 16-bit era’s classics hold up, especially compared to those of the generation before.

For $80, you get a tiny replica of the Super Nintendo, two controllers, a short HDMI cable, and a power plug. You can’t put any cartridges in the SNES Classic, but it comes pre-installed with 21 ROMs, including five all-time classics, a lot of very good games, and Super Ghouls’n Ghosts.

In the late 80s, the NES (or, as millions of parents and children would call it, “the Nintendo”) saved the video game industry from catastrophe. With 2016’s NES Classic, we got to relive that pivotal 8-bit era, though those games have grown crusty with time. Today, sadly, most NES games are not worth playing. They are full of poor translations, inconsistent physics, and artificially inflated difficulty inspired by arcades. With a couple of exceptions (Super Mario Bros. 3), the NES Classic’s library consisted of games you’d load up, play for a few minutes, and marvel at how poorly they’ve aged.

The Super Nintendo is a different story.

Super Mario World is as fresh and challenging as it ever was. The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past remains the pinnacle of 2D level design. It still feels fantastic to roll around as a Morph Ball in Super Metroid, and the labyrinth of Zebes is still deliciously mysterious. Earthbound and Final Fantasy VI (originally released, and shown on the SNES Classic, as Final Fantasy III) continue to feel like top-notch JRPGs that designers are still trying to emulate, all these years later.

Whereas the NES Classic was mainly a novelty item, the SNES Classic is a legitimately good console. It’s got a few problems—and, practically, I just wish these games were on my Switch—but whether you’ve never touched a Super Nintendo or you’ve memorized how to get to Bowser’s Castle in 11 levels, you’ll likely find reasons to enjoy this machine.


The most remarkable thing about the SNES Classic, on first glance, is how small it is. You can fit it in the palm of your hand or stick it in a jacket pocket. It’s light and adorable.

For comparison, here it is next to other gaming hardware:

And here it is next to some book:

It is a faithful recreation of the Super Nintendo, complete with sliding purple power and reset buttons. The reset button does not reboot the SNES Classic, though; it opens up the menu. So if you’re playing Contra and you want to switch to Castlevania, or if you want to suspend your progress while you go out and grab dinner, this is the button you’ll use.

What that means is that you’ll have to either A) position the SNES Classic close to you; or B) keep getting up every time you want to swap games. This is not ideal. The included HDMI cable is also surprisingly short (~5 feet), which doesn’t make for a great setup if you want to keep the box close.

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