Last year, it was all about the 80s when Nintendo released a miniature version of its original console system. This year, they move into the 90s with a mini Super NES that packs in 21 preinstalled games.
From an aesthetic standpoint, the console is amazing. Just like last year's version looked exactly like a shrunken original Nintendo, this is a smaller Super NES, right down to the 'Power" and "Reset buttons, as well as updated takes on the system's original controllers (they feature more modern connections).
To get started, setup is simple. All you have to do is plug an included HDMI cable into the system and your TV. Plug the power into a wall socket, attach the controllers turn it on and you're good to go.
From there, you're taken to a screen that lets you select any game, including classics like Contra III, Donkey Kong Country, Earthbound, F-Zero, Final Fantasy III, Kirby Superstar, Kirby's Dream Course, Mega Man X, Street Fighter II Turbo, Super Castlevania IV, Super Ghosts and Ghouls, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Star Fox, Super Metroid, Punch-Out, The Legend of Zelda: A Link To the Past and Yohsi's Island. There's also, Secret of Mana, which was never released in the US and Star Fox 2, which was never released anywhere.
One nice addition to the system is a "suspend point list" feature that creates up to four save points in each game, allowing you to return to them at a later date.
A second interesting feature lets you make some display alterations, like adding a CRT filter to the screen to really get that 90s video game vibe. You can also pick the 4:3 aspect ratio, which is another way of emulating an older TV or you can switch to Pixel Perfect mode, which uses the original resolution of the game system.
All in all, for an MSRP of $80, if you can get your hands on this super-popular system, it's worth it. The classic games are still fun, and the role play games like Final Fantasy, Super Mario RPG and Secret of Mana offer hours of play for a fraction of what it cost to buy the system and all of these games when they were originally released.
Most of the games are still fun, decades after launching, but as you can imagine, the graphics are still 16-bit and therefore a lot less impressive than any of today's games. Of course, you're more likely playing these games for nostalgia than for advanced gameplay mechanics and hyper-realistic character design.That said, while some games are still a lot of fun - especially Super Contra III and Super Mario World - several have not aged well. For example, playing Super Mario Kart lost its charm after a few minutes due to muddy graphics.
One drawback is that there is no mode to fully utilize today's bigger, more rectangular TVs by having games fully fill the field. To be fair, I'm sure blowing up 16-bit graphics to HD scope would cause the games to look terrible. To combat this, Nintendo lets you pick a variety of frames that can fill in the blackness. There are 12 to choose from, including red curtains and an old-school CRT TV set.
Another challenge is that the included cables are short, so you may need an extension cord to keep the console in reach in order to use the manual reset and power buttons.
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