Thursday, 21 September 2017
News Tech

SNES Classic Mini: Quick preview by someone who has never barrel rolled


I have an awkward confession to make: growing up, I never owned a SNES. I had a NES but then no other console until the N64. My dad brought an Olivetti 8086 PC home from the office, and I was much more interested in learning how to use MS-DOS than play games. Imagine the collective chagrin, then, when I was first to receive the SNES Classic Mini rather than our gaming gurus Kyle, Sam, or Mark.

All this is to say: forgive me if I don’t do the SNES and its hallowed history justice. I am vaguely aware of what a barrel role is, but I have never performed one. The purpose of this story is to give you a good idea of what’s inside the Mini SNES box, and to tell you about a few other special features that haven’t been widely publicised. More in-depth coverage from one of the aforementioned Nintendo fanboys will follow.

First, take a look through the galleries. The images above show the Mini SNES packaging; the ones below show the SNES Classic itself plus the two wired controllers that come in the box. There’s also an HDMI cable and USB power cable in the box (but no wall plug: you’ll need to use one of the many USB wall plugs that you’ve accrued over the last five years).

Mini SNES hardware details

Here’s an unordered list of observations about the Mini SNES. If you have any other questions, leave a comment and I’ll try to answer it.

  • The Mini SNES is very small and light. It is only slightly heavier than an empty plastic chassis.
  • The power and reset buttons are functional, but the top-loading slot and eject button are not.
  • Obviously this is the European SNES Mini; the North American one is chunkier, more purple, and, well, dog ugly.
  • The controller ports are hidden behind a fake fascia, so that the silhouette of the device is almost completely authentic.
  • There is an HDMI output and USB power input on the back of the SNES Mini.
  • The SNES Mini gamepads are about the same size as the original gamepads.
  • The gamepad cables are about five feet (150cm) long; twice that of the mini NES Mini cables, but still not exactly long. I bet you don’t sit within 150cm of your living room TV.
  • The gamepad connectors appear to be the same as those used by the Wii and NES Mini. Hopefully this means you can use the SNES Mini gamepad to play Virtual Console games, but I haven’t yet confirmed that.
  • The gamepad D-pad and buttons feel okay, not great.

Mini SNES software details

  • There are 20 + 1 games on the Mini SNES. That +1 is Star Fox 2, which I’m told is a very big deal. Europe and America get the same 20 games, but the list differs slightly in Japan.
  • There is a new “rewind” feature that wasn’t previously announced. This lets you scrub back and forth around your save points, letting you replay a boss fight, climb out of a pit of spikes, etc. This is obviously perfect for beating some of the harder games on the Mini SNES. If you don’t mind being a big, dirty cheater, of course.
  • The games all seem to run quite well, including Star Fox 2, which is presumably using an emulated version of the mythical Super FX chip.
  • There’s a new “frames” option. All of the SNES games are output at 4:3 aspect, but most people will play them on a 16:9 display, which means there’ll be some massive black pillar boxes either side. With “frames” you can put some pretty artwork in that black space.

So, there you go. The Mini SNES appears to be exactly as advertised. The big question now, considering demand is likely to be even higher than for the Mini NES, is whether you’ll actually be able to buy one. Nintendo has promised to make “significantly more” this time, but presumably the company will still cut off production at some arbitrary point in the future (to make way for the Mini N64, we hope).

The SNES Mini costs £70 or $80 and will be released on September 29, 2017.

This post originated on Ars Technica UK

Listing image by Sebastian Anthony



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