Monday, June 26, 2017

The Second Coming of SNES

June 26, 2017 - Nintendo rocks my world with the announcement of a Super NES Classic Edition! Following in the footsteps of the NES Classic, this unit will have 21 pre-loaded games, includes two controllers, sells for $80, and releases 9/29/17. And like the NES Classic, it may have a very short sales period, the reasons for which can only be guessed at. Nintendo may have already said (via a report on Kotaku) it will only ship units through the end of the year. I guess Nintendo hates money!

Like the NES Classic, the Super NES Classic is super tiny:

Words can't describe how I feel about this little grey and purple box! The SNES was my first "real" console, the one that got me away from mainly Atari 800 and PC gaming. Yeah, I'm old enough to have played on an Atari 2600 - a lot, actually - but back then it was more of a way to pass the time until you could get to an arcade where the really good games were. While everyone else had NES's (and later PlayStations), I was playing on the Atari 800, Atari ST, and a 4Mhrz CGA graphics PC. My wife surprised me with the SNES as a birthday gift and from then on it was setup in the living room, cords running from the coffee table to the TV. (I can't tell you how many times it got yanked onto the floor by passing feet - that old SNES could take a beating and never quit. Young'ins will ask, "Why didn't you put it next to the TV in the entertainment center?", to which I'll tell them, "Because they didn't have wireless controllers back then, dearie" and watch their eyes fill with disbelief.)

I think one of the big advances that the SNES brought to console gaming was the concept of long term games. Prior to the SNES, games were either play-til-you-died arcade style games, or very short adventures, like the Atari 2600 game, uh, Adventure. I might be reaching a bit with that, but for me it was one of the big differences.

The games coming on the Super NES Classic are (along with my opinions):

  • Super Mario World - For me, the greatest Mario adventure ever! The culmination of everything Nintendo learned from the first 3 games, upgraded to be a 16-bit masterpiece.
  • Super Mario Kart - Probably the most accessible one of the franchise and destined to be most played game on the mini-console.
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past - The only Zelda game I've ever finished. This is a game I want to play again.
  • F-Zero - This is the kind of game, a balls-hard racer, that some gamers will boot up, crash a lot, then move onto something else.
  • Super Metroid - I really want to think I'll get into this one enough to finish it. It's a tough game though.
  • Star Fox - See my concerns below. Other than that, I welcome more space travels with Fox McCloud and the crew.
  • Star Fox 2 - Everyone was shocked by this. The story goes that its original release was aborted because it was too late in the SNES life cycle and Nintendo was launching the N64. I probably have the ROM somewhere, but I've never tried it.
  • Street Fighter 2 Turbo - I'm not a big fighting game person, but this one was one of the best.
  • Super Punch Out - Also not a sports fan and never played the original NES game, but I'm looking forward to trying it.
  • Super Castlevania IV - I generally suck at Castlevania games which is why I never got this one.
  • Donkey Kong Country - I could just put this on and listen to the music. It's so good!
  • Mega Man X - Mega Man never was part of my gaming life (I was a Mario man), so it should be interesting how I do with it.
  • Kirby Super Star - Probably the most Japanese game out of this bunch. I picked it up on a whim at a Warehouse discount bin back in the day. One of my daughter's favorites, and a weird mix of various mini-games. Today's gamers will find it hard to categorize.
  • Kirby's Dream Course - In my opinion, the oddest choice here. A strange sort of mini-golf-esque puzzle game. Not a lot of fun, to be honest.
  • Final Fantasy III - What we now know here as FFVI, one of the best, from what I've been told.
  • Yoshi's Island - More notes below. Fun and colorful if you can put up with the crying Mario baby noise.
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars - Wow! This collection really pulled up the great ones. At the time, Nintendo went out on a limb with this cross-over, taking a 2-D platforming character into a full on RPG. And it worked!
  • Secret of Mana - A deep JRPG. Never had it myself, should have gotten it, and looking forward to trying it.
  • Contra III: Alien Wars - I was never much of a Contra guy - kept dying too much.
  • Earthbound - Geez Us. Could this collection have had a greater line up? I own the original cart and the game on Wii U VC, but I'd still buy this unit if Earthbound were the only game on it.
  • Super Ghouls N' Ghosts - Remember what I said about F-Zero? Probably goes double for this one. As much fun as hitting yourself in the junk with a hammer.
There are some interesting emulation issues that I'm assuming Nintendo has addressed. While the upscaling and HDMI output on the NES Classic was remarkable, they'll have more work to do with some of these games. Ones like Super Mario Kart used the Mode 7 graphics option of the SNES hardware, and games like Star Fox used the Super FX chip which was actually built into the cartridge motherboard. There was also a special chip made for the original Yoshi's Island. I'm sure there will be a lot of scrutinizing by tech-nerds of how well Nintendo has done their job.

For now, we can just wait until outlets like Amazon and Best Buy put up (hopefully) pre-orders. The NES Classic didn't have any and most wanna-be buyers never saw one out in the wilds. I personally only got mine through Best Buy Online. The Super NES Classic will be the hottest Christmas present this year and the ultimate "get" for any and all scalpers. It's going to get ugly out there.

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