Super NES classic edition is Nostalgia

Super NES classic edition is Nostalgia

Nintendo tapped into the retro gaming trend last year with the release of the NES Classic Edition game console, a $60 gadget that came loaded with 30 vintage games, which became an unexpected hit. Now, the Japanese video game giant is again nodding to the past with the Super NES Classic Edition console.

When the original Super NES console was introduced in the United States in 1991, it was beloved by a generation of fans because it introduced games with narrative adventures that demanded a new level of engagement compared with previous systems, whose games merely replicated the endless levels and high scores of arcade games.

The Super NES Classic, which is being released on Friday, looks exactly like the original, except but small enough to sit in the palm of your hand. The $80 console comes preloaded with 21 16-bit games from Nintendo’s early 1990s glory days, including “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past,” “Super Mario World” and “Yoshi’s Island,” as well as third-party titles like “Final Fantasy III” from Square and “Super Castlevania IV” from Konami. As a bonus, the game package also includes a never-released sequel to “Star Fox,” one of the first three-dimensional games developed by Nintendo.

So what was it like to delve into the past? I spent a long weekend testing the Super NES Classic, with a little help from my 8-year-old niece Caroline, who provided a fresh perspective on a console that became obsolete long before she was born.

Our verdict: The Super NES Classic Edition offers hours of fun, but its lack of many modern features made the console feel like a novelty for misty-eyed gamers.

Here’s a taste of what Caroline and I experienced playing the Super NES Classic Edition.

Installing the System

The console is easy to set up: Just plug it into a TV via the included HDMI cable.

After that, I had a blast exploring the dungeons of Hyrule in “The Legend of Zelda” and tossing TNT barrels in “Donkey Kong Country.” In fact, I played so long, a creeping ache led to worries about the onset of the dreaded “Nintendo thumb.”

But as fun as the retro games are, Nintendo did little to update the gameplay for modern audiences. The Super NES Classic has no internet connection, so there is no way to compete online with friends.

And in a time of wireless technology that allows controllers to be used in any spot in a room, the Super NES Classic controllers are wired and plug into the console, which limits a player’s mobility and leaves a mess of cables draped over the floor. The cables are longer than those of the NES Classic, but they are still only about 5 feet long.

Nintendo does offer games from past consoles for download for the Wii U through its Virtual Console service and, starting Wednesday, arcade games for the Switch through its Arcade Archives service.

Standout Features

But the Super NES Classic does have a few new and nifty features.

One is called Rewind, which lets players back up a minute or so in a game to restart difficult challenges. And each game has four “suspend” points, allowing players to save a game midlevel — unlike in the original system, which forced you to rush to finish a level because your mother was calling you to dinner.

A feature called Frame also allows players to pick a border around games to fit today’s wider-screen TVs. The console also offers three display choices: the original 4:3 aspect ratio of the games, a CRT filter that replicates the same blurry look of cathode-ray tube TVs, and a Pixel Perfect mode that makes the games look crisp and clean.

Caroline’s Experience

It’s hard to imagine that today’s youth would want to play 16-bit games on an outmoded system when they are accustomed to ergonomic controllers, powerful processors, surround-sound audio and high-definition screens.

So the real draw of the Super NES Classic is nostalgia. That’s a theory I tested with Caroline.

Over the hour we played with the console together, she was drawn to the characters she recognized. She wanted to play “Super Mario World,” which she loved once she learned how to make Mario ride Yoshi.

But for a child used to touch controls on mobile devices, other games were harder.

“I couldn’t see what I was doing,” she said of the fast and furious racing game. “Minecraft is simpler.”

Bottom Line

The target for the Super NES Classic Edition is adults who grew up with the original console, which is still a big audience.

The games of the Super NES Classic still stand the test of time as some of Nintendo’s finest, but they feel trapped in the amber of an outdated console.

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