Well, I got that SNES classic. In fact I found one to buy the same day I started looking. Which was a pleasant surprise after the ridiculous difficulties in obtaining the NES classic. I may have gotten lucky, or maybe Nintendo had the sense to ship more units this time.

First thing the Wife and I played was Super Mario Kart. Here’s the outcome of a typical race, with me on the upper view as Yoshi:

It’s difficult to come up with a decent review for this one, without merely rewriting the article I did for its predecessor. Same sort of device, same limitations, same appeal.

I suppose I should start with a reminder of what you’re actually getting for your money: a little emulation box, shaped like the original console (Euro\Japanese version or US as appropriate), with 21 games pre-installed but no official way to add more. It comes with two controllers, needs a USB power supply (not included, but you do get a microUSB cable), plugs into your TV via hdmi (cable included).

Setup options are minimal, but you do again get three choices for graphics. Pixel Perfect gives a square output, and I think is the accurate display of exactly what the SNES outputs. 4:3 mode stretches the graphics into the aspect ration more typical of TVs of the day, making it all just a little fuzzier in the process. Finally the CRT filter mimics the effect of displaying on an old TV, complete with scanlines. I still prefer the first option, probably because I got used to playing NES and SNES games via emulators on PC.

It has most of the first-party classics we would demand – Super Mario World, Zelda 3 and so on. There are some 3rd party greats too – like Final Fantasy 6 and Streetfighter 2 Turbo. Then as a special treat there’s Starfox 2, never before released. There are several major games who’s absence is felt; we lack Chrono Trigger or Super Star Wars. Would have been good to include Mario Allstars too. Still there’s a solid collection here covering some of the systtem’s best games in several genres.

It’s a comprehensive reminder of just how great a console the SNES was. Sure, I’m meant to be proclaiming the superiority of the PC on this site, and as we moved into the 90s our beige boxes were starting to emerge as decent gaming machines that could hold their own against consoles. Still, the SNES had some all-time classics, and it remained superior to the PC for certain kinds of games. As much as I like Commander Keen, he wasn’t equal to Super Mario world. We never got the sublime Link to the Past, or the truly epic FF6.

Total number of games which is less than the NES Classic’s 30. Then again, some of those NES games were early, primitive stuff. After about 10 minutes of excite bike I’d had enough. The SNES games are generally more sophisticated and substantial, so you probably get more hours total entertainment. (unless you really like Excite Bike, anyway).

Once again, I could make a more versatile and capable device out of a raspberry Pi. I may yet do exactly that, now we have a new house and I actually have some room for such technical pursuits. Right now, though, I’m not in the mood for spending an evening installing operating systems, tinkering with settings, and then getting cranky when it fails to recognise a controller.

What’s more, even if this thing is itself an emulator, it’s still a more authentic piece of Nintendo charm. It’s a product directly from those people who delighted us as children, a modern tribute to their classic consoles. So I plug in this little box, happy music comes out and within minutes I’m getting lapped on the Donut Plains.

If I have a complaint, it’s that the RRP is £80. The NES classic cost £50, and the Pi goes for about £32 (plus whatever accessories you need). It’s approaching the limit of what I’d call appropriate for a casual nostalgia-box. Although I guess £10 of that can be put down to the second controller, something missing from the NES classic.

That aside, if you loved the SNES, you may well love this too.