All of us - everyone here at Gamereactor and each of you - will have grown up with Nintendo in our lives to some degree. Whether it was the console at your friend's house that you played from time to time, or an occasional treat to borrow one back in the days when it wasn't unusual to rent a console for a week, many people will have encountered Mario and his friends at some point or another. Of course, there are also those of you who fell deeply and madly in love with gaming precisely because of Nintendo, its consoles, the games they offered, and the worlds you were transported to.
When the NES Mini landed we were offered a glimpse into our childhoods (or for you retro gaming enthusiasts out there, last Tuesday-week), via a collection of brilliant but yet ultimately dated classics. It was a great success, demand was overwhelming, and now Nintendo is looking to pull the same trick with the SNES, although this time the software included therein means this latest pint-sized console offers just that little bit more in terms of relevancy.
It's swings and roundabouts, though, because we probably just about prefer the form factor of the NES Mini, with its classic hard edges and bulky casing. The Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System (or SNES Mini as we'll call it from now on) is thinner, softer, less brutal than its predecessor, but perhaps a little less charming overall as a result. We still like it a lot, though, and once again you'll be happy to pop it back on the display shelf when you've finished playing.
Cute design aside, the real success of the SNES Mini is its software. Sure, these are games that still feel a little dated at times, but the quality and complexity is there to a degree that it just wasn't for the NES Mini. While it's true that most of the games don't stack up to their modern day equivalents - games like Shovel Knight that mimic the style of the era but update the formula with modern day trimmings - there's still enough variety and quality to make a good number of these games worth revisiting. Better still, there's enough variety to give nearly everyone something that suits their tastes.
Racing fans have two all-time classics to contend with, in the form of Super Mario Kart and F-Zero. Both games have the screen swinging from side to side as you take corners at speed, and F-Zero in particular offers pulsating visuals that must have been mind-blowing back in the day. We should probably also mention Star Fox (and Star Fox 2, a game developed in the '90s but only debuting on this console in 2017) as it's the other game that lets you get behind the wheel, although in this case you're piloting a ship and shooting enemies out of the sky.
We're not afraid to admit that, when playing the SNES Mini for this review, we paused longest on Super Mario World, a platformer that still somehow manages to feel fresh and fun even to this day. It's a glorious nostalgia trip, and fans will have a great time revisiting one of Mario's most important adventures. Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island has also aged pretty well. Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, on the other hand, didn't really do much for us; it's not a game we played back in the day, and it's not one we're going to revisit in 2017. Simply put, like us, you're not going to enjoy every title that comes on the console.
Fighting fans can enjoy old-school boxing title Super Punch Out, but undoubtedly the highlight is Street Fighter II Turbo, a game that needs no introduction and that still remains enjoyable, more so when you've got a friend to trade blows with. There's more action to be found in Mega Man X and Contra III: The Alien Wars, and both sci-fi games bring challenging, at times punishing run and gun gameplay to the table. We should probably mention them in the same breath as Super Ghouls 'N' Ghosts, a lovely-looking action-platformer that stands out as one of the most visually charming titles included.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is one of the meatier games on the SNES Mini, and stands as yet another iconic title from another celebrated series. RPG aficionados also have the small matter of Final Fantasy III to tackle, and Secret of Mana (a game that is in the process of getting a remake, which is maybe why it made the cut here) is also included, as is Earthbound, an RPG where the late, great Satoru Iwata was one of the key programmers.