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I held the SNES Classic, but will I ever be able to buy one?

Nintendo's little retro box looks great, but Nintendo hasn't answered my biggest concerns.

Scott Stein/CNET
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I've seen the Super NES Classic. I just haven't played it.

Nintendo announced the follow-up to its wildly popular NES Classic in the most unexpected way possible, mid-Monday. At that time, my colleague Dan Ackerman and I were, coincidentally, already meeting with Nintendo. After the announcement, we were allowed to look at what was in a tiny briefcase. It was the SNES Classic, in the plastic.

So yes, we've seen and held the new SNES Classic. But we didn't get to play any games. Literally, we just held a box, the system and the controllers.

This is what it looks like next to a bagel. It's tiny, like the NES Classic before it.


It's bigger than a bagel.

Scott Stein/CNET

It's cute! 

The controllers feel exactly like Super Nintendo controllers that I remembered from my cousin's house. I had all Sega systems, and never owned an SNES. The cord, which is wired, should be longer than the ridiculously short NES Classic. But I didn't get a chance to measure it across a living room.

The front ports aren't really ports at all: they're fake, and open up to show the real ports underneath... which are the same as the NES Classic. Or, the original Wii remote's acessory jack. This should mean that wireless retro controllers like the 8BitDo with more buttons should work fine, which is great news.

Now, here are my concerns and questions... none of which were really answered for me by Nintendo.


The controller is perfect.

Scott Stein/CNET

Is this another limited-time, hard-to-find collectible?

Every indication says yes. Nintendo says there will be a greater supply of the SNES Classic compared to its predecessor, which sold 1.5 million systems in just a few months.

But Nintendo will only commit to the SNES Classic being sold through the end of 2017. In classic Nintendo language, that doesn't confirm or deny availability beyond that point. But it makes me very concerned about anyone being able to easily buy one.

What about those NES Classic games?

What happens to people who still want a taste of original old-school Mario? Right now, Nintendo seems content to let everyone play 21 fantastic 16-bit games on the new system. For fans of NES games... well, maybe, go buy a Nintendo 2DS XL or wait for the Switch's retro games in 2018. Nintendo has no plans to bring the NES Classic back, as far as it has communicated so far.


It's a sensational bunch of games, including the unreleased Star Fox 2.

Scott Stein/CNET

How do the SNES games look?

Fantastic -- on paper. The collection of 21 games, while nine fewer than the NES Classic, are generally higher quality. Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Earthbound are some of the best games Nintendo has. A second controller is a nice touch, given the presence of such two-player titans as Street Fighter II, Mario Kart and Donkey Kong Country. The price works out well, too: at the $8-a-game price of Super NES games on Nintendo's Virtual Console, this collection would cost $168 a la carte.

But do the games look good? I assume the answer is, of course, yes. I'm also curious whether the system allows different video modes like the NES Classic does: stretched-out pixels to fill a widescreen better, or a simulated fuzzy CRT display mode that feels like a tube television.

Will there be game save slots?

The NES Classic could save multiple games at once via a nicely-done save-slot system built in. Again, one would assume that the Super NES Classic has the same functions. But... Nintendo hasn't shown anything about the system's interface yet.


When will this disappear, too?

Scott Stein/CNET

Is limited-edition hardware the new Nintendo?

I was painfully aware of how hard it was to buy the NES Classic earlier this year, and so were many people. Nintendo basically put a great toy out there and then pulled the rug out from under us. I'm concerned about the same thing happening again. I really don't like how Nintendo's collectible Amiibo have become tough to find at times, and I already have too many limited-edition things my kids ask for. 

I just want to be able to easily buy a Super NES Classic and not have a panic attack. Sure, Nintendo can't guarantee availability of its products in stores. But if it's a limited-time offer, well, that's going to be a problem for shoppers. Possibly. It's still tough to buy a Switch.

But I'll tell you now, the SNES Classic sure looks great next to a bagel.