“Come here, boy,” growled the grizzled old man, his breath stale with orange Doritos dust. “Let me tell you about a war. A console war.”
With the trepidation of a rabbit staring down the maw of a great lion, I move slow and take a seat on the geezer’s Mario-themed bean bag chair. I can feel the floor through the worn, almost beanless bag. Various video game-themed posters dot the walls, covering all but the smallest spots of decayed, flowered wallpaper.
The Super Nintendo Entertainment System Classic console.
Soothing his jagged voice with a thick slurp of Mountain Dew, the mysterious stranger speaks further. “In those days, we were all soldiers in the front lines of the great console wars.”
He coughs in violent convulsions. The years in the trenches weigh heavy on his weary head.
In a blunt, yet hesitant tone, I query: “But, what was the point? Nintendo and Sega were nothing more than brands. Why hold allegiance to a corporation when you’re nothing but a walking dollar sign to them?”
An incredulous look smears across the ugly mug of the frightening mirror of a man before me. “Why… How dare… Sonic wasn’t better…. Than Mario.”
The man falls to the floor in a heap. He’s fought his last battle in the war. Spotting the Super NES Classic Edition in the corner, I take the sought-after device.
I leave the Mountain Dew as I sprint from the crime scene.
* * * * *
As foolish as it sounds to be loyal to a brand-name, that was what it felt like being a kid in the 1990s era of gaming. My parents could only afford one console at the time, so decisions were made. Sometimes this meant getting the console that wasn’t the one your friends all received.
What followed was ostracization to an extreme degree.
Being the lone supporter of a console felt like I had to double-down and defend the decision. Perhaps this has more to do with children being awful and cruel, but the whole experience put a chip on my shoulder.
After all, I was the lone Sega Genesis owner in a sea of Super Nintendo fans.
As an adult I’m no longer hindered by a lack of my own funds for games. After all, who would want to define his identity based on loyalty to worldwide brands and the goods they create? The release of the Super NES Classic Edition ($79.99 MSRP) is a chance to see what I was missing out on all those years ago, in a hand-sized console that’s as much collectible tchotchke as it is gaming device.
The console comes with two corded SNES controllers, an HDMI cable, USB power adapter, and 20 pre-packaged games. What’s striking about the device is the size of the actual unit, which literally fits in one hand. Likewise, the controllers replicate the original’s classic design and feel, though improved in the shoulder button and d-pad department.
Game art for ‘Donkey Kong Country.’
I love that the SNES Classic fits in next to my modern consoles while, at the same time, small enough to be tucked away on a desk. The size also makes it a great travel device, as the console and cords easily tuck into a bag.
Nintendo corrected a grievous error from last year’s NES Classic release by making the controller cords a full foot longer, though in a perfect world the controllers would be wireless. That’s about all that has changed from the previous classic console to this one, as the SNES Classic uses the same chip, memory, and storage.
The game selection is a mix of expected classics and choices that may be a bit too dated in regards to look, feel, and how smoothly they play. It should come as no shock that the likes of Super Mario World, Super Punch Out, and Final Fantasy 3 are present. That said, I’m not sure if anyone out there is getting excited over the inclusion of Contra III or Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts.
The games play just as they did in the past, warts and all. There are slowdowns and glitches where you would remember them, so in that regard I commend Nintendo for not updating anything in a noticeable way.
The SNES Classic is a fantastic package that brings one of the best and most beloved consoles in history to a new generation. Of course, this all depends on if you can actually get your hands on one, but if you do then you’re in for a glorious nostalgia trip.
And if you’re like me, perhaps you can use the SNES Classic as a chance to move past your childhood angst and find the joy in playing video games from all genres and devices.
After all, why fight a console war you can’t win? War never changes.
The SNES Classic Edition is available now.
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