Reviewing a console that’s technically been available before feels a bit weird, especially one such as this one, which is almost a Nintendo-approved emulator. In this review, I’ll only be talking about the actual console itself and not the excellent games that come with it, as those have already been reviewed. You can also expect to read the Star Fox 2 review soon.
First of all, the version I’ll be reviewing is the European one, which has the same games on it as the US version, but has a different aesthetic.
The pricing for both units is also the same, but this time around some retailers asked a higher price for it, most likely as a result of the high demand for both the SNES mini and the earlier-released and highly sought-after NES Mini. The MSRP is $79,99 yet I paid €89,99 for mine. Still, it was a price I was more than willing to put down for this limited edition piece of hardware. (Though it may not be as limited as originally thought: if you didn’t manage to get a SNES Classic Mini yet, fear not, more are seemingly on the way.)
So what does €90 get you in 2017? The packaging contains a miniature version of your region-specific model, a USB* cable that powers it, an HDMI* cable to output your image and two controllers. This time around the controllers have a slightly longer cord: 1,5 meters long instead of the NES Mini’s one controller and 1 meter cord. Upon a first test, it’s still not long enough to comfortly sit on your couch an play the game, depending on your living room situation you’ll have to place the console itself at the furthest possible distance from your TV and sit on the edge of your chair/couch. Easiest fix? Get yourself a longer HDMI cable and plug the USB in a power outlet close to you.
*Personal note: What I found handy is that I could use both cables with my Xbox One: it provides a power source close by in case your TV doesn’t have one (although that should be rare in the current day) and you can output video through it (which even allows for easy recording)
The Power and Reset buttons are fully functional, but weirdly the Eject button doesn’t depress. In my opinion this could have at least served as a dedicated Rewind Button (more on this later). The front of the console also seems to have two slots for the older controllers, but this is just a flap hiding the real controller ports behind it. The console itself does look rather cute in its smaller shape and the rounded controllers feel pretty comfortable to hold, much mores so than the NES Mini’s rectangular bricks. The plastic used is sturdy but lightweight, giving it a bit of a cheap feel. The D-pad also feels like it’s slightly too resistant, but it’s something you quickly get used to.
As for playing the games, there are some additions that could make your retro-gaming lives easier: While you can still save as the games originally intended it (savepoints, checkpoints, highscores etc) the console also allows you to create a “suspend point”; you’ll be given 4 suspend points to use per game and they can really be useful: You can save before difficult boss encounters, during a long dungeon where a regular save-point seems too far off, or speedrunners can even make great use of it to train certain sections of a game and perfect them before moving on.
Another new feature is the ability to Rewind your current game, but it’s less practical than I imagined it to be. Games like SSX, Forza Horizon 3 or especially the Prince of Persia games made it as easy as pressing a button and holding it down for as long as needed. To use it here, you have to press the Reset Button on the console itself, which takes you to the Home Menu, you then have to choose the Suspend Point and press X to open the Rewind Menu. Now you can choose how far you want to Rewind, with the Shoulder Buttons jumping 10 seconds forward or backward. Imagine it like watching a recording of your own gameplay and choosing from where you want to pick back up. It’s useful, but just a shame that it only goes back about 1minute max and that it can’t be activated more easily (like pressing and holding a button for as long as necessary). A wasted opportunity in my opinion.
The games can now output graphics that look decent on a 4K or HDTV, albeit with a border around the actual screen output. You are allowed to choose among 11 different colored borders. If you want you can also activate a filter that makes the game look like it’s played on an older TV set. But I personally chose to have this disabled.
As for the selection of games, I’m very happy with the 20+1 they’ve chosen, you can read my thoughts on them here:
The SNES Mini Classic is a wonderful console to own. It’s a pleasure to look at and the games collected on it are a balanced mix of old favorites that I will never grow tired of. The features they’ve added are all very useful, but the Rewind Features feels like a wasted opportunity for true greatness. All in all I don’t regret buying it for a second.
Did you manage to get a hold of one? What are your opinions on it? Let us hear on Twitter or in the comments!