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SNES Classic preview Ross Miller/Polygon

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SNES Classic pre-review: 9 things you should know

It’s the Super Nintendo you remember, only much smaller

Do you remember how much fun you had discovering secrets in Donkey Kong Country? Or the abject hatred you felt listening to the sound of baby Mario crying in Yoshi’s Island? (Trust me, it’s worse than you remember.) I’ve spent the weekend playing with a retail SNES Classic, which launches this Friday in short supply and great demand.

I’m going to need a few more days to say anything definitive about the console — both because I want more time to form an opinion, and because the God of Embargoes decrees it so — but here are some quick thoughts in the interim.

SNES Classic with original SNES on the left
  • The thing is tiny — REALLY tiny. Next to the original Super Nintendo, the SNES Classic is absolutely minuscule.
  • Some parts of nostalgia aren’t great, and that includes the cords, which measure slightly over 4.5 feet. At that length, I found myself having to sit on the floor to play, instead of being able to comfortably lean back on the couch. I’m sure a different writer could argue that this adds to the feeling of nostalgia — of being a child again looking up at your TV set — but frankly, it just hurt my neck. (Another concern? Tangling — these cords just love to become entwined with one another.)
SNES Classic preview
  • Similarly, while the controller is more or less a perfect recreation of the original SNES gamepad, it’d be really nice if Nintendo had added a “home button” or some method of getting back to the top-level menu. (This was a problem with the NES Classic, too.) As it stands, if you want to select another game or save your state for later, you have to actually get up and hit Reset on the console. It’s annoying.
  • The game selection is superb, and everything I’ve tried so far plays flawlessly.
  • Being able to sort the list by games that offer two-player mode is especially great for reminding your friends how great it was that you, and only you, managed to score a pre-order.
  • The CRT filter, which imitates the scan line effects seen on old television sets, is great. That said, I typically kept the system in Pixel Perfect mode, unless I was playing a game with very thin text or any game with 3D graphics — in those cases, it’s just rough to look at without some of that emulated vintage blurring.
  • Star Fox 2 is not at all what I expected it to be, mostly for the better. It’s fascinating.
  • Donkey Kong Country has one of the all-time greatest video game soundtracks.
  • The SNES Classic’s menu music is bangin’.

More to come later this week!

SNES Classic resting on top of the original SNES
The front of SNES Classic (right) next to the original SNES
The rear ports of the SNES Classic (right) next to the original SNES
The original SNES controller (left) next to the new SNES classic controller
The original SNES controller (left) next to the new SNES classic controller
The controller ports of the SNES classic
The rear ports of the SNES Classic