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Nintendo almost single-handedly brought video games back from the brink in the mid-1980s. The success of the original Nintendo Entertainment System made their name synonymous with the entire concept of video games for a generation. While the company has had their ups and down over the decades, today there is no single company in the industry with the history that Nintendo has. While the NES may be the reason that people started playing games again, the Super Nintendo may be the reason that we're all playing them today. A new console that played new games that saw success built the foundations of the industry as we see it now.
And that brings us to the Super Nintendo Classic Edition. Following on the success of Nintendo's first mini-console, the SNES Classic delivers a miniature Super Nintendo with 21 pre-loaded classics of the 16-bit generation. Most of these are titles that have stood the test of time up to the modern day. A few are games you probably never played the first time around. One is a game that's never been officially released by Nintendo before.
While most of the SNES Classic games have been re-released in various forms over the years, giving even those too young to have actually played the Super Nintendo a chance to try them out, Star Fox 2 was shelved by Nintendo before it was ever released. Its placement on the SNES Classic marks its debut.
The game itself is a fairly odd duck. While the original Star Fox, which is also included, gave you a fairly straightforward path to follow, Star Fox 2 lays out the galaxy in front of you and lets you decide how to handle it. Your job is to defend your home planet from an incoming attack, which means taking out enemy pilots and incoming missiles in dogfighting missions before assaulting enemy bases on a planet's surface or in outer space.
Star Fox 2 is a weird product, as playing through it for the first time it feels like a game that really was a step on the road to Star Fox 64, a game I would argue is the best title in the franchise, rather than something complete to itself. You discover playing Star Fox 2 that elements that were "new" in that game were actually developed here, which makes the game worth playing as a piece of video game history, though it likely won't be a game you go back to much after that. It will likely take you no time at all to complete, though there are collectibles and other things that may make you come back to it.
The other 19 games included in the SNES Classic run the gamut of genres and styles, providing not just variety but a ridiculous amount of depth. The RPGs included in the SNES Classic, Final Fantasy III, Secret of Mana, Super Mario RPG, and Earthbound, would provide any player with weeks of content just from these four games alone. The amount of time you could spend with these titles alone might justify the $80 price point. It makes the product's most noticeable omission, Chrono Trigger, almost an acceptable loss... almost.
From a hardware standpoint, the Super Nintendo Classic Edition runs into a number of the same issues that its predecessor did. The cables that connect the controllers to the system might have been long enough when we were all sitting close to our 27" TV screens, but they're significantly less convenient when your console is wired to a 70" HD screen. Having said that, the HD part is not a problem. The pixels make the transition to large screens well, though you have the option of putting the system in a mode that reproduces a classic CRT look if you want. You also have multiple frame options to choose from o fill out your widescreen TV since the gameplay is all still 4:3
The controller itself is great. I owned a Super Nintendo when they were new, and while it's been a long time since I held that old controller in my hands, this version feels as close to perfect as is necessary. Though it took some time to get used to the old D-pad again as it's different enough from an analog stick as to require some practice.
In addition to the games having everything they had previously, the SNES classic also allows you to rewind games, making them potentially a lot easier than they were once upon a time. Also, the ability to save games at any time is a welcome feature for anybody who may need to start and stop their gameplay often, though doing that requires you to hit the reset button mid-game, which just feels wrong on so many levels.
With titles like Super Metroid, Super Mario World and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, the SNES Classic quite simply contains some of the greatest video games ever made. If, for some reason, you've never played these titles, there is literally no reason not to do so now. Luckily, Nintendo is promising that the SNES CLassic will actually have availability, meaning that you'll actually be able to do so.