The SNES Classic, like the NES Classic released last year, is a cute nostalgia box. The microconsole comes with two controllers (you remove the front panel to plug in controllers), HDMI cable, USB power adapter, and is pre-loaded with 21 games. Nintendo included mix of games from classics like Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Mega Man X, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Want a multiplayer game? There’s Super Mario Kart, Street Fighter II Turbo, and Contra III: The Alien Wars. There are is a decent selection of RPGs too with Final Fantasy VI (aka Final Fantasy III), Secret of Mana, Super Mario RPG, and Earthbound. Chrono Trigger is missing and it would have been nice to have one of the underappreciated Quintet games preloaded, but the SNES Classic has a solid lineup.
All of the games look sharp in 720p and the settings menu offers three display modes – 4:3, pixel perfect, and a CRT filter which renders scanlines. The CRT filter is a neat novelty while pixel perfect produces a crisp, clean image. New for the SNES Classic are optional frames like the giant stereo speakers in a screenshot below.
The SNES Classic supports suspend points and each game has four slots. To save a game you have to return to the main menu by sliding the reset button up, press down on the d-pad to access the suspend point sub-menu, and then press Y to save on one of the slots. After saving, you can reload or use the new rewind feature. The amount you can rewind differs depending on the game (Earthbound had a couple of minutes, for example), but most games have roughly 40 seconds of gameplay before you saved to start from. Rewind starts from the time before the save state and the system plays through your actions in real time. You can use L or R to jump forward/backwards 10 seconds and press Y to pause. Press start and after about a second the system switches control right back to you. This is a neat addition for punishing games like Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts or playing through Star Road in Super Mario World.
What’s brand new is a final version of Star Fox 2, a completed, but unreleased sequel to Star Fox. The game is locked when you get the console (its icon is shown as a gift box) and can be unlocked by beating the first level of Star Fox. While it is a sequel, Star Fox 2 is quite different from Fox McCloud’s first adventure. The game is an interesting mix of a defense game with dogfights that look more like Wing Commander than an on-rails shooter. Corneria is under attack again and instead of flying in 3D space with Fox’s team you pick where two team members fly on a map. If you collide with an enemy, the game shifts into flight mode where you see a reticle and can shoot down other ships. Elements like charged lasers and the Star Wolf team from Star Fox 64 show up for the first time here.
The goal of the game is to keep Corneria safe from missiles launching from bases on other planets and enemy carriers, while moving towards Venom. When you move the Star Fox team forward, enemies move too kind of like Shiren the Wanderer. Time passes during dogfights as well and if you spend too much time trying to shoot Pigma down or exploring a captured planet, Corneria could be left in a precarious situation. Blending real-time strategy elements with a space shooter makes Star Fox 2 a unique game, but don’t expect flying through too many obstacles. Planets are similar to All-Range Mode levels in Star Fox 64. Players need to touch switches to open up a path to a boss and walker mode is much more useful for achieving that goal. You can beat Star Fox 2 in under an hour in Normal Mode, which probably should have been called “Easy Mode.” Hard Mode feels like the real difficulty and there is an additional challenge of finding hidden gold medals scattered in levels. Star Fox 2 is a nice surprise that you won’t find on Nintendo’s Virtual Console same with the original Star Fox.
The SNES Classic is an awesome device with lengthy games from Nintendo’s golden era. If you’re able to find one these you’ll want to pick up a longer HDMI cable so the console is nearby to use suspend points and it would be nice if there was an official way to add more games to the system. The microconsole along with Star Fox 2 launch tomorrow.