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The SNES Classic Edition is great for Nintendo, if not fans

The SNES Classic Edition is great for Nintendo, if not fans

Nintendo confirmed the release of the retro SNES Classic Edition, a mini version of the classic system that comes with 21 games, due out on September 29, 2017.  

In a move that really should surprise no one, Nintendo today announced the release of a retro SNES Classic Edition, a mini version of its famed system that contains 21 pre-installed games, including the previously unreleased Star Fox 2. The system will come with two wired controllers and an HDMI cable, and run $79.99.

A complete list of the games included with the system is below, and it will include some of the most iconic titles released on the original Super Nintendo. The headliner, however, is arguably Star Fox 2, a game that was completed but never released.

The sequel to the best-selling Star Fox was initially expected to hit stores Summer 1995, but Nintendo worried that the 3D game would be compared unfavorably to the then-recently released Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn. The Nintendo 64 was also initially expected to release around that same time or soon after (although it was later delayed until the next year), so Nintendo wanted to have a clean break from SNES 3D games and the 3D games that would define the N64. Star Fox 2 ended up paying the price for that, and this will be the first time that the game has been released.

The SNES Classic Edition includes:

  • Contra III: The Alien Wars
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • EarthBound
  • Final Fantasy III
  • F-ZERO
  • 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 release of a SNES Classic Edition has been rumored almost since the moment that the NES Classic Edition was announced. Most of those rumors were actually just wishful thinking at the time, but given how big a hit the retro NES became, in retrospect, it seems like an obvious move. It also may help to explain why Nintendo discontinued the NES Classic Edition. Sort of.

Nintendo seems to be playing the short game, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but will eventually lead to decisions that could have long-term consequences.

Like the retro NES, the retro SNES will probably be a huge hit, possibly much bigger than its retro predecessor. The retro NES sold itself based on the nostalgia of the system and the games, but for modern gamers, the older titles may have left them wanting more. The SNES only jumped from 8-bit to 16, but the games became significantly more intricate. Some of the titles coming on the retro SNES are huge and take dozens of hours, which may make the retro console appeal beyond nostalgia.

The sales will, of course, be dependent on how much stock there is. Nintendo either deliberately or accidentally underestimated the demand for the NES Classic Edition, which quickly became the “it” gift of Holiday 2016 – possibly in part because of the shortages, which gave it a sense of exclusivity. Now with the retro SNES system coming, don’t expect Nintendo to continue production either – it could hurt its sales of those that want the nostalgia. The release date of the SNES Classic Edition should help to ensure that there are enough consoles for the holiday season (supplies willing), but it will also probably drive demand down as a Christmas gift at least. The reason for that seems fairly obvious: Nintendo wants people to buy the Switch.

At first glance, the timing of this announcement is a little odd. E3 2017 was just a few weeks ago and Nintendo garnered a lot of attention. It would have made sense to debut the retro SNES then and there, but not doing so is understandable. By keeping SNES back, the focus of the show could be on the Switch and Nintendo’s future. It also avoids the obvious question of why Nintendo continues to release its classic games on retro consoles instead of having them all available on the Switch via the Virtual Console.

If ever there were a Nintendo system that was perfect for the Virtual Console, it’s the portable Switch. People could load up on dozens of games and play them anywhere. What Nintendo fan wouldn’t be interested in playing Super Metroid during their commute or Donkey Kong Country on a road trip? It would also greatly help to bolster the Switch’s still-anemic library. But Nintendo doesn’t seem to be willing to do that yet, probably because it is thinking in the short term.

From a business perspective, it’s hard to argue against Nintendo’s plan. The SNES Classic Edition will make Nintendo a lot of money. It requires almost no development costs, the games are ready to go, and the manufacturing fees will be relatively minimal. It also markets itself and helps to raise money for a company that continues to look for new sources of revenue after a few bad years. It’s a smart business move, even if it does mean Switch owners will still be denied access to one of the most promising features of the Switch.

For now, fans of Nintendo’s classic library that bought a Switch will have to wait to access to those games. Nintendo hasn’t even confirmed that the Switch will have the full Virtual Console – its answers to that question have been confusing and muddled – but there will be some older games available when the Switch’s online service goes live in 2018. Just before E3, a spokesperson for Nintendo said that the decision on bringing the full Virtual Console to the Switch was still “undecided.” That suggests that it is very much possible (and it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t), but Nintendo is still trying to squeeze the most out of its classic library.

Again, that may be a good business decision, but it’s not so great for fans.

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Founder and DBP boss. Ryan likes the Kansas Jayhawks, long walks on the beach, and high fiving unsuspecting people.