The SNES Classic Edition is a handsome plug-and-play console from Nintendo. It's pre-loaded with 21 games, including Star Fox 2 – a coveted polygonal space shooter that never received an official release until now.
Nintendo carefully selected each game available on the SNES Classic, but how playable are they in this age of HD remakes and virtual reality? Do the games of your childhood hold up?
Nadia reviewed each title on the SNES Classic (with some help from Jeremy Parish) and analyzed their history and modern worth. Prepare for a tsunami of nostalgia.
Super Mario World is Still Platforming Magic
LINK: "Yoshi is a big part of what makes Mario World a special game. Sure, Mario can get the job done on his own, but cavalry is always cooler than foot soldiers. Moreover, Yoshi can step on hazardous terrain, and riding him lets Mario take a hit from an enemy without losing his power-up (or his life). You can also vault off his back to get a little extra height during a jump. This is especially handy when you're – ahem – in danger of falling into a pit."
F-Zero: Who Needs Depth When You Have Speed?
LINK: "Though it's never explicitly stated, F-Zero asks you to find a winning balance between caution and speed – but it doesn't make finding that balance easy. First, you need to consider your vehicle. Do you want to use the Golden Fox, which accelerates quickly, but controls poorly, and bruises very easily? Or do you want the solid Fire Stingray, which controls well and has a high top speed, but accelerates very slowly?"
Super Castlevania IV Feeds the Souls of Classic Castlevania Fans
LINK: "Super Castlevania IV's disparity is part of its appeal. The NES Castlevania games share a distinct aesthetic, and the 2D Castlevania titles following Castlevania IV all inherited key traits from their great-grandfather, Rondo of Blood for the PC Engine. But Castlevania IV's subdued color palette, percussion-heavy soundtrack, and loose whip-handling is one of a kind."
Love "Nintendo Hard" Games? Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts is the Punishment You're Looking For
LINK: "I never got around to playing Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts until I was an adult, and I think that's a bit of a shame. It's the ideal 'birthday game,' i.e. it's the perfect game to get if you're a kid who only receives video games for special occasions. There are no saves in Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, and no passwords. If you honestly have the time to sit down and commit it to muscle memory, you'll discover a game that's as handsome and charming as it is merciless."
Contra III Tests Your Reflexes Like No 2D Action Game Before It – Or Since
LINK: "From the second you hit 'Start,' Contra III swaps every drop of your blood for adrenaline. There is rarely a second where you're not fighting for your life against enemies, pits, and stage hazards, and yet each stage flows as silkily as melted chocolate from a ladle. Your childhood adoration for Contra III is assuredly rust-proof."
Let The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Sell You on the SNES All Over Again
LINK: "It's been over 25 years since The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past came to the Super Nintendo. That's two decades and some change. Five console generations. A quarter of a century – and I've still yet to play another game with an opening scene that's half as intense."
The Original Super Mario Kart is No Longer the Best, but Gosh, it's Still Fun
LINK: "This may sound strange, but Super Mario Kart is the SNES Classic Edition's most perfect inclusion. It's not a perfect game, but no other title on the mini-console's roster does as thorough a job projecting the SNES Classic's mission statement: 'SNES games are simple, but still wildly fun.'"
Star Fox: More Like Slow Fox. Ayy.
LINK: "Here's the thing, though. Star Fox is blameless for its frayed seams. Its level design is solid. Its characters are iconic, and its worlds are imaginative. Its soundtrack is sublime; one of the SNES' very best. Even the spartan graphics don't bother me, as Star Fox's low-res polygons still manage to construct interesting enemies and bosses. The issue here is the SNES' hardware. It was never meant to handle anything like Star Fox, FX Chip or no FX Chip."
Street Fighter II Turbo is Still the Reigning Champ of 16-bit Fighting Games
LINK: "Street Fighter II Turbo shares a lot in common with another popular game included on the SNES Classic: Super Mario Kart. Both are revolutionary titles that helped birth new genres, and while both seem simple when held up against newer entries in their series, there's still a great deal of fun packed in those candy-colored pixels."
Secret of Mana Has Some Bugs, But it Has a Lot of Heart, Too
LINK: "Secret of Mana carries the heart and soul of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. You take up a variety of arms and swing them at foes who get up in your business on your journey to save the world from a power-hungry Empire. Along the way, you learn magic spells (offensive and defensive), meet friends who help you fight, and journey through deserts, tundra, and sacred forests. You even meet a white dragon who carries you on its back, and these flights make lovely use of the Super Nintendo's Mode-7 capabilities."
Mega Man X is the Best Entry in a Long and Celebrated Series
LINK: "Whichever Maverick you choose to fight, getting to the final showdown requires a lot of shooting, charging, jumping, grabbing, and climbing. X moves with a graceful flow that makes the game's intro text redundant: A few minutes in X's company makes it obvious he's Dr Light's best work."
Super Metroid Changed Action Games Forever, and it's Still Grand
LINK: "Only a handful of games worked like Super Metroid in the decade following its release, but once the indie game revolution kicked into gear, Super Metroid became a template for dozens upon dozens of budding designers. Pro creators have done their share of lifting as well; would Dark Souls or Batman: Arkham Asylum be half as beloved if they didn't adapt the flow of Super Metroid into immersive, 3D spaces?"
Super Punch-Out!! Isn't as Iconic as its Predecessor, but it's Still a Fistful of Fun
LINK: "Super Punch-Out!! looks and plays a touch differently from its NES predecessor, which may cause a small torrent of confused noises to escape the throats of people who aren't overly-familiar with the Punch-Out!! series' history. That's understandable. Super Punch-Out!! is less of a direct sequel to NES Punch-Out!! and more of a console realization of the series' arcade roots."
Final Fantasy III is One of the Best RPGs on the SNES – and of All Time
LINK: "If Final Fantasy IV and Secret of Mana are the games that taught me RPGs can tell cool stories about good versus evil, Final Fantasy III SNES is the game that taught me RPGs can tell epic stories about personal sacrifice and struggle. I'm not one to roll my eyes at the narrative in modern Final Fantasy games (well, not all of them), but Square-Enix has yet to weave another tale that has Final Fantasy III's power and emotion, as well as its maturity and clarity.
Donkey Kong Country Isn't Just About Pretty Visuals
LINK: "Most of the levels push you from left to right and don't encourage much exploration beyond 'find breakable walls for bonus rooms' (and said bonus rooms only offer one-dimensional puzzle games for extra lives and other unimpressive prizes). Still, Donkey Kong Country's gameplay flows well, and its levels boast a surprisingly oppressive atmosphere that was uncommon in platformers at the time."
Kirby's Dream Course Is a Subdued Game, but It Still Deserves Its Place at the Big Kids Table
LINK: "Remember when I compared the SNES Classic's line-up to a dinner party guest list back in my review of Mega Man X? Well, Kirby's Dream Course is at that party, too. He's the tag-along kid who's standing off to the side with a wide smile, holding a picture he drew. He's adorable beyond words, and you give him a pat on the head and a kind word, but ultimately most of your time is taken up rushing from one esteemed guest to another."
If You're an RPG Fan and You Haven't Tried EarthBound, it's Time to Remedy That
LINK: "I always tell prospective new players, 'Just do a little bit of grinding, have a bit of patience, get through Peaceful Rest Valley, and play through the Happy Happy Village scenario.' That's when the game takes off, in my opinion. Not only because you finally gain a friend, but because it's where EarthBound's plot spreads its wings and reveals the shadows under its deceptively bright plumage.
Yoshi's Island is a Perfect Cap for the SNES's Proud Library of Action Games
LINK: " Yoshi's Island might be the liveliest-looking place Nintendo's ever designed thanks to its storybook-inspired graphics. Everything in this game moves, breathes, dances, sings, and walks on stilts. Crystal-studded caves are complimented by tall waterfalls, and even familiar death traps like mini-fortresses surprise you with hazards that pop out of the background."
Super Mario RPG Bridges the Gap Between Action and RPGs with Great Success
LINK: "Another reason why Super Mario RPG's contributions to the genre can't be over-stated: Like Final Fantasy VII, it introduced a not-small number of RPG-avoidant people to the genre. Mario's familiar mustached face was a big draw, but so was the 'timed hits' system. It gave players some control over fights, which in turn made the RPG aspects of the game less intimidating."
Kirby Eats His Way into Our Hearts with a Charming Game Collection
LINK: "Kirby Super Star may not be a member of platforming royalty like some of the games included on the SNES Classic Edition, but it's fun, well-rounded, and very enjoyable to be around – like its puffy protagonist. Don't forget to give Kirby the attention he deserves when you get your own SNES Classic."
Star Fox 2 Makes Some Bold Technical Choices at the Cost of the First Game's Charm
LINK: "Solving Zelda-style puzzles in a Star Fox game isn't my idea of a good time to begin with, but the walled-in 'dungeons' you slog through are garish jumbles of polygons with bad frame rates. They quickly become tiresome to traverse. Star Fox games have long been criticized for giving us mechanics nobody asked for—submarine trips, tank combat, dinosaur clubbing—and I suppose Star Fox 2's walker is ground zero for these diversions."