Now the SNES Classic has been out for a week, I’ve had enough time to discover, and rediscover, an assortment of old titles. Yes, it’s every bit as fun as you’ve heard and this little console will be the perfect Christmas gift for any video gaming fan, whether they have a soft spot for retro titles or not. But beyond anything else, this last week has reminded me how unforgiving 90s games were. The haunted mansion levels of Super Mario are an absolute chore; Baby Mario getting seperated from Yoshi every five seconds is just painful; and do not even get me started on Donkey Kong Country. I’m halfway through a co-operative playthrough with my flatmate and I think I’m getting a sore throat after shouting so much over every mistimed jump. But all of this challenge makes it so much more rewarding when you finally do make it over the obstacles. These games all have so much charm, and it’s hard to believe just how old games like A Link To The Past and Yoshi’s Island are when they still look so good over twenty years later.
Beyond the aforementioned platformers, there’s a whole host of timeless RPGs I can’t wait to get stuck into (I don’t ever need an excuse to replay FFVI, Secret of Mana is a really enticing co-operative RPG, and the quirky Earthbound is sure to be fun when I eventually commit to it). The famous omission of Chrono Trigger is indeed disappointing, but with so many other great titles to choose from it feels slightly unthankful to nitpick.
Possibly more entertaining than all of these so far, is Street Fighter. For a quick blast of five minute fun, it’s extremely easy to pick up and play, and most importantly of all, we can now decide who makes a cup of tea in my flat based on who loses the round. I’ve never felt more British. The fact the Classic comes packaged with two controllers makes multiplayer games like Street Fighter, Super Mario Kart, Donkey Kong Country etc. extremely accessible, and there’s no denying the console is more fun with a friend.
Certain things about the console do make you realise the benefits we have in the modern age of gaming. Yes, the wired controllers get tangled up, and more irritatingly every time you want to change a game you have to press a button on the console itself rather than having a shortcut on the controller. Even though reading that sentence aloud makes me feel incredibly lazy, it shows how we have gotten so used to things like digital games and wireless controllers today. Despite being a bit annoying, it feels almost authentic to the console itself – a real session on the SNES Classic can honestly make you feel like you’re back in the 90s.
The Classic is such a great showcase of one of the finest era of video games, before people really had any expectations in gaming and they could constantly be surprised. Developers had to use imagination to make their games stand out, they had to be creative with the technology they had, and as a result gaming continued to grow into the industry it is today. Difficulty would bring you closer to your friends, as you all try to beat the same level or scream at each other for failing. A lack of online walkthroughs meant rewards for finding secrets were even greater, and still today I can be aimlessly wandering around in A Link To The Past and finally discover a secret that will give me a sense of accomplishment greater than just looking up the answer online. The SNES Classic is like peeking through a window into the old era of gaming, and most importantly of all, it’s fun. It helps that it comes with some features to make those challenging games a little bit easier, such as a rewind feature that has stopped me from throwing the console out of the window, or into the bin.
Through my entire week spent with the SNES Classic, it’s briefly made me wish more modern games would include local multiplayer, and that a lot of modern games were simpler. For owners of a PS4 like myself, choice is relatively limited if you want a local co-operative experience – although as an aside Overcooked is a fantastic choice if you haven’t played it. But times have changed, gaming has changed, and rather than complain about the ‘good old days’ it’s instead nice to have the SNES Classic as a reminder of what once was, and enjoy it thoroughly, before going back to a gorgeous title like Horizon Zero Dawn (pictured below) and being even more stunned at how far technology has improved since the days of the SNES. This is multiplayer, retro fun at it’s finest and you shouldn’t miss out.