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SNES Classic review: Nostalgia this perfect is a rare thing

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Nintendo Super NES Classic Edition

(Part #: 105956)
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The Good The SNES Classic Edition provides a pixel-perfect Super Nintendo experience by packing in 21 games and two authentic SNES gamepads with longer cords. Games can be paused, rewound and saved.

The Bad There's still no way to back out into the game selection menu without hitting the reset button.

The Bottom Line The SNES Classic is a nearly perfect retro console that’s a slam-dunk recommendation for everyone -- provided you can find one.

8.5 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Ecosystem 8.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Value 9.0

Update: Nintendo has confirmed that the SNES Classic reviewed here and the older NES Classic will return to retailers on June 29, 2018 and be available for the rest of the year.

There's little mystery as to why 2016's NES Classic was the must-have gift of the year. The miniaturized game console jammed 30 beloved titles from the 1980s-era Nintendo Entertainment System -- from Super Mario Bros. to Punch Out! -- into an HD-ready box that sold for a mere $60. But with Nintendo being Nintendo, the Mini NES was nearly impossible to find, and the limited edition box was discontinued even as it was being sold for near-criminal markups on eBay.

The NES will apparently be resurrected in 2018. In the meantime, though, we have something even better: The SNES Classic. The sequel system goes on sale in the US on Sept. 29 for $80. A version with a slightly different exterior (mimicking the original's PAL version) will be available in the UK for £80 the same day, and Australia a day later for AU$120. 

It packs 21 titles into a mini Super Nintendo box, and -- unlike the somewhat uneven list of 8-bit titles in the NES Mini -- the games included here are nearly all bona fide classics from the early '90s 16-bit era. From Super Mario World to Donkey Kong Country, the list reinforces just how killer a console the SNES was back in its day. It even includes Star Fox 2, finally playable by the public 22 years after its planned release was cancelled at the last minute.

SNES Classic Edition

Sarah Tew/CNET

The rest of the collection includes Contra III: The Alien Wars, 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, 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 Metroid, Super Punch-Out!! and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.

The SNES Classic improves on its predecessor in one major department: the controller. First, Nintendo has included two SNES controllers as opposed to the single one that came with the NES. Even better, they've lengthened the wires from an almost unusable three feet (about a meter) to a more forgiving four-and-a-half-foot cord (1.4 meters). Ideally we'd like something in the six-foot (2 meter) range, but this is certainly an improvement.

The SNES pads feel just like you remember them and work great. The universal Nintendo port they plug into also allows for use with the Wii's Classic Controller and the Classic Controller Pro. The only thing I don't love is the little plastic flap you need to flip down to access the ports. It feels a little cheap, but otherwise the SNES has a much more solid feel to it than the lackluster retro Atari Flashback 8 and Sega systems from AtGames.

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