Nintendo's SNES Classic Mini: First impressions on stepping back in time

An early look at one of the most in-demand gadgets of 2017.

At a time when the gaming world is becoming increasingly preoccupied with 4K gaming, HDR and how many teraflops the new Xbox will have, Nintendo is offering a hand of nostalgia to the jaded.

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) Classic Mini is a shrunken down version that mirrors the look of the original console of the early 1990s and includes 20 of the system’s most memorable games built right in to the hardware.

Here’s what to expect when you open the box.

Set to be released on September 29, the £79.99 system is already selling out online and prompting frantic searching from gamers looking to get hold of the device.

Nintendo knows what it’s doing too having struck the most perfect of chords last year when it launched the NES mini, one of the first pillars of modern video gaming and the birthplace of Super Mario and Donkey Kong among others

The SNES mini is all of this history but in an even better package and with better games.

SNES Classic Mini menu

Crucially, Nintendo also appears to have taken the feedback from last year’s NES sale to heart in two key ways.

Two controllers are now included in the box rather than one – so gaming with friends is immediately an option without needing to invest in a second controller like with the NES mini.

SNES Classic Mini
(Martyn Landi/PA)

The controller leads themselves have also been made noticeably longer. The NES mini was badly shackled by how short its leads were, limiting how and where you could play. The SNES has no such issues.

However, some things in the hardware have been overlooked – players still have to press the reset button on the console to leave a game and return to the home screen for example, which is a cumbersome routine given how well thought out the system is in other ways.

There is still also no AC adaptor in the box, which means UK users have to provide their own plug in order to power the console.

SNES Classic Mini
(Martyn Landi/PA)

Nintendo gets some points back for how good the SNES looks. Sorry US SNES owners, the European multi-coloured design was, is and remains far better looking than the purple version released across the Atlantic.

SNES and NES classic mini
(Martyn Landi/PA)

As for the games themselves, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the “20+1” options included – more on the “+1” in a moment.

This was always going to be the strength of the SNES – its gaming library includes Super Mario Kart, Street Fighter II Turbo, Star Fox and The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past – you’re never going to be short of something to play and enjoy.

And each plays just like it should – Street Fighter is still a frenzy of button-mashing for example.

Street Fighter II Turbo on the SNES

The 21st game on the SNES is perhaps the most interesting prospect, the never-before-released Star Fox 2. As Easter eggs go it’s quite a draw, and one at which long-standing Nintendo fans have already expressed intrigue and excitement.

It’s also offering something entirely new alongside the waves of nostalgia.

The Classic Mini range from Nintendo was a great idea when first rumoured, and an even better one when the NES appeared last year.

But with the SNES – a true giant of the gaming past – it looks as though it’s struck the sweet spot of rediscovering old classics at a time of relentless quests for new innovation.

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