I feel like I should make one thing very clear from the outset: I am NOT a fan of how Nintendo handled the NES Classic Edition. The holiday product that helped fill the gaping hole in their holiday lineup was produced in astoundingly short supply, with the majority of the units seemingly winding up in the hands of scalpers who were able to — pardon the expression — game the system through hacks, bots, and other means.
As far as I know, I’m the only person among those I know offline as well as on who even owns one, and even that only occurred thanks to the generosity of an EB Games employee who graciously allowed me to take the one he’d set aside for himself, after I’d waited 41st in line on a shipment of 40 units on launch day in the hopes something wouldn’t pan out for someone in front of me. I do hope he was able to get one for himself later, as quantities and further shipments were all big question marks, never mind the prospect of pre-ordering. EB Games, owned by GameStop, a company that’s downright notorious for the way it pushes pre-orders, couldn’t even offer pre-orders on this thing.
But friends and family who were interested wound up disappointed, and ultimately opted to just forget about the idea of ever owning one.
Even managing to acquire one myself through what I’ll gladly call a miracle, I was severely disappointed and even angry. Disappointed and angry for others who were interested in this one little grey box which promised to recapture moments from their childhoods and possibly even share that magic with their own children.
But beyond the short supply of NES Classic Edition consoles were the controllers. If the NES Classic Edition was gold in terms of rarity, additional controllers were rarer than platinum. At launch, the EB Games I went to — who had a veritable wealth of the units compared to most places — only got three of the additional controllers. Three. That means fewer than one in every ten people who got an NES Classic Edition could even play the assortment of 2-player games included — at least, without partially disassembling their Wii Pro Controllers, anyway.
By virtue of being compatible with the Wii and Wii U Virtual Consoles through attachment to the Wii Remote should have meant there would be more of them produced than the console they were marketed with. Instead, I’ve yet to visit a store which saw any since launch day, if at all.
In the end, I believe that for most people, the NES Classic Edition equals disappointment. Even for me; part of my intent of getting one was to be able to take it on the road with me to Otakon and other places to play in our hotel room, or even to some friends, maybe share it with the in-laws. Instead, I’m afraid to take it outside of my home for fear that if anything happens to it, that’s that.
That is not how you enjoy a product.
Which brings us to today. Only a few months after Nintendo announced that they were discontinuing the product and revealing that it was apparently never meant to be a long-term proposition like its contemporaries in the market, they have announced a successor that many felt would follow — that is, if Nintendo didn’t create an NES Classic Edition 2 or even just release another batch of the original for the holidays.
Hearing that the Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition (or Super NES Classic for short) is coming this fall is enough to make one wince — my own knee-jerk reaction when my wife told me the news was something along the lines of “**** off”. But my cursing might have been a bit hasty, as digging deeper than the headline reveals Nintendo may have learned some lessons from before, and will hopefully be working harder to avoid disappointing their fans and consumers so immensely this time around.
While the Super NES Classic is arriving in the fall once again, this time it’s much earlier: September 29th, 2017, roughly a month and a half sooner than the more holiday-oriented November 11th “Nintendo Day” they released the NES Classic on last year. Hopefully the added time will work out, as Nintendo has told Kotaku that they intend to ship them through the end of the calendar year, giving us a much clearer time table for acquiring one than before.
What’s more, they note that while they won’t provide specific numbers, they will be shipping “significantly” greater quantities than they did for the NES Classic. The official website even states “Retailer info coming soon!” at the bottom, which I believe is already an improvement over the situation leading up to the launch of the NES Classic.
“While many people from around the world consider the Super NES to be one of the greatest video game systems ever made, many of our younger fans never had a chance to play it,” said Nintendo of Canada’s General Manager and Senior Director, Pierre-Paul Trepanier, in a press release. “With the Super NES Classic Edition, new fans will be introduced to some of the best Nintendo games of all time, while longtime fans can relive some of their favourite retro classics with family and friends.”
The cost for the unit will be $99.99, but the contents will differ somewhat. In addition to the console itself, loaded with 21 games versus the NES Classic’s 30, there will be a USB charging cable with AC adapter and an HDMI cable included, as well as two controllers. Nintendo has not mentioned selling these separately, however, but the second controller is probably what balances out the reduction in the number of games. As modders have shown, the NES Classic could hold many more games than what came pre-installed, and the same probably holds true here, but Nintendo has a value prospect they like to maintain for their titles.
As for the games, a second controller is arguably of more use in the batch included here:
· Contra III: The Alien Wars
· Donkey Kong Country
· Final Fantasy III
· Kirby Super Star
· Kirby’s Dream Course
· The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
· Mega Man X
· Secret of Mana
· Star Fox
· Star Fox 2
· Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
· Super Castlevania IV
· Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts
· Super Mario Kart
· Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
· Super Mario World
· Super Metroid
· Super Punch-Out!!
· Yoshi’s Island
The quantity may be smaller here, but the significance is unmistakably larger. While all of the NES Classic games appeared on one Virtual Console or another across the Wii, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii U, three titles here never have. Well, sort of.
Yoshi’s Island was a part of the Nintendo 3DS Ambassador Program, as well as a part of the Virtual Console library proper on the Wii U — but only the Game Boy Advance version, whose audio and resolution is generally regarded as inferior to the Super FX Chip-powered original release on the Super NES.
The Super FX Chip is the key to what makes this collection so significant, as games which used it were never released on the Virtual Console. That includes the original Star Fox, whose soundtrack greatly outdoes those of any subsequent release in the series, in my opinion. I’ve long waited for Nintendo to overcome whatever hurdle might have been preventing it (or to just remake it), and if this is how they do it, I’m all in.
Sweetening the pot is the unthinkable: Star Fox 2. When Nadia told me that this was included on the Super NES Classic, I immediately went from “**** off” and thinking “not this again” to “Day One, must have.” Though elements were cribbed to varying degrees of success (Star Fox Command just didn’t work for me, thanks to its controls), this game has never seen an official release, despite having been finished literal decades ago — which is also how long I’ve been waiting for this opportunity.
Sadly, one game I had hoped would be alongside its Super FX siblings is Stunt Race FX. It’s not the only classic “missing” from this collection, though, as my wife points out over on USgamer, so hopefully we’ll see a Super NES Classic Edition 2 someday that helps fill in a few gaps.
As for the two controllers, they’ll be usable in nine of the 21 titles featured here: Contra III: The Alien Wars, Donkey Kong Country, Kirby Super Star, Kirby’s Dream Course, Star Fox 2, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World, and Secret of Mana, which unfortunately looks like it’s been left a little short due to the game originally supporting three players.
Only time will tell if Nintendo has truly managed to remedy where the NES Classic Edition fell short of hopes, dreams, and expectations when the Super NES Classic Edition is released in just a few short months. But clearer communication about the duration of the product, a pack-in solution to the second controller issue, promises of greater quantities, and a selection which goes beyond warmed-over Virtual Console releases shows a lot of promise, and may even get a few people who shrugged off the existence of the original to take a look.
As for me? Well, I’ve got an early day ahead of me on September 29th, so I’ll say I’m glad the weather will be warmer than the last time I did this song and dance. And maybe this time, I’ll even be able to get a spare, just in case, so I can take one with me without worry or fear.
David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.