Hey! The SNES Classic Edition is here! If you have one, I hope you enjoy it. And if you don't have one, I hope you manage to secure one of the wee things as quickly and painlessly as possible.
At the risk of sounding like a bad infomercial, the SNES Classic is engineered to provide hours of fun. We already have hands-on impressions of the system, and the product you'll find on store shelves is identical. We even reviewed every single game included on the tiny 16-bit idol.
The SNES Classic Edition improves significantly over the NES Classic Edition, which is a nice machine by itself. True, the shell of the SNES Classic doesn't carry the same nostalgic "oomph" as the NES Classic's black-and-grey carapace (does any other object trumpet "'80s childhood" as loudly an NES?), but unless you just prefer an 8-bit experience over a 16-bit one, the SNES Classic is superior to the NES Classic in several regards.
The SNES Classic has a better selection of games than the NES Classic
If you look over the roundup of SNES Classic game reviews, you'll discover very few of the titles listed have a score lower than 4 out of 5. Star Fox 2 scores the lowest at 3 out of 5. Nine out of the 21 games on the SNES Classic boast a 5 out of 5.
The NES Classic's lineup is also great and there are more games on it (30 versus 21 on the SNES Classic), but several of its titles are diminished arcade ports (Donkey Kong, Mario Bros). Other games are from a time when Nintendo and its third-party partners were trying to get the hang of game development, leading to a lot of ambitious but unpolished games (Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Zelda II, Final Fantasy). And, let's be honest—wouldn't Ice Climbers' parking spot be put to better use by, say, Dragon Warrior III or IV?
By contrast, the SNES Classic's line-up is so solid it makes the Canadian Shield look like a soft-boiled egg. Every game is a credit to its developer, and most of them should provide hours of play. There aren't any single-screen arcade ports that you'll dabble with for a few minutes before you get tired and move on.
The SNES Classic has a longer cord than the NES Classic
Blessed is the SNES Classic's five-foot cord. While it's still not as long as some people might like, it's a big improvement over the NES Classic's 2.5-foot cord. Currently, I have the SNES Classic on my coffee table, and I have no problem leaning back and playing on my couch.
Note: Keep an eye on young kids and pets who might trip over the cord. My cats have never known a house with wired game controllers, and having to cross over / under a cord every time they enter the living room blows their tiny kitty minds.
The SNES Classic lets you rewind gameplay
Like the NES Classic, the SNES Classic lets you make a save state of the game you're playing whenever you return to the Home menu. Unlike the NES Classic, the SNES Classic records a few minutes of gameplay as you do your thing. You can re-watch this footage, rewind to a certain spot, and resume play from that frame. It's not as smooth and intuitive as the one-button rewind option on Disney Afternoon Collection, but it's a nice feature.
The SNES Classic has two controllers; the NES Classic has one
The NES Classic is packed with a single controller even though many of its games are more fun with two players. According to the elders' legends, you can buy a separate NES Classic controller, but they're shy creatures rarely seen in the wild. You can use a Wii Classic Controller as an impromptu second-player option for the NES Classic, but, well … yuck.
The SNES Classic solves the problem as simply as possible: It's packed with two SNES controllers. Stock up on beer and order about twenty pizzas, a Contra III marathon is in your near future.
By the way, the SNES Classic utilizes the same hardware as the NES Classic, so you can still use a Wii Classic Controller if mismatched peripherals make you excited.
The SNES Classic offers screen borders for its games; the NES Classic doesn't
The SNES Classic's screen borders are a small addition, but a pleasant one. Whereas the NES Classic only offers a solid black frame, you have several choices for your SNES games, including a cityscape at night, a theatre curtain, a space backdrop, and a pair of Nintendo-branded speakers. That's your cue to Play It Loud.