Does anyone remember that old Yogi Berra quote “Thank you for making this day necessary?” I’m hoping that in a week or so, I’ll be unironically thanking Nintendo for making this post necessary.
When it comes to retro Nintendo hardware, the first question is not whether the system is worth buying, but whether it’s even possible to buy it. Nintendo swears they’ve addressed the hardware shortage problem that plagued the NES Classic, and reports claim that there will be more systems available for walk-in customers on day one. Still, Nintendo has lost any benefit of the doubt on this issue, so I’ll believe it when I see it.
If you can find the device, however, and you haven’t already purchased these games in some shape or form previously, the SNES Classic is a great way to experience some of the best games of the 16-bit era. Sure, there aren’t as many games here as the NES Classic, but the system makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity. Nearly every legendary Nintendo franchise is represented here (Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Star Fox, Donkey Kong, Kirby, Earthbound, Punch-Out, F-Zero), along with some classic third-party series (Mega Man, Final Fantasy, Castlevania, Street Fighter, Secret of Mana). There is little filler here—in fact, the lineup might be a little too lean, as no-brainer choices like Chrono Trigger and Donkey Kong Country 2/3 are surprisingly absent. (And hey, where my NHL ’96?)
Now, as someone who already owns a lot of these games, I’m not really compelled to spend $80 for this device. Sure, there are some interesting quality-of-life improvements (suspend points that can created anywhere, rewinding gameplay up to a minute), but I wouldn’t call any of them must-haves, and while Star Fox 2 is a system exclusive, it doesn’t look terribly interesting to a casual fan of the series like me. (While others complain about short controller cords and poorly-placed menu buttons, the biggest omission for me is the lack of an actual cartridge slot. Who cares what games are included when you can just plug in your own?) Simply put, if you already own these games, the novelty of the SNES Classic isn’t worth the price tag.
However, if you’ve got a newer gamer in your household that’s never experienced the joy of the SNES, this is probably the most cost-effective way to let them do it. The GameXplain review above points out that the hardware still features that good old Nintendo durability, so it’s perfect for younger players who might be a little rougher on their games. (Newer gamers will also be unburdened by comparisons to the original hardware, so they won’t be worried about, say, the feel of the controller.) At roughly half the cost of a new 2DS, the Classic is a perfect (and cost-effective) way to introduce someone to video games.
Ultimately, whether or not the SNES Classic is worth buying comes down to your past SNES experience, or lack thereof: Someone like me isn’t going to get much value out of it, but someone who has never played an SNES before would get a ton of value out of it. There’s solid gaming gold in this device, and if you’ve never gotten to experience the magic of the SNES, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.