What Nintendo's SNES Classic needs most

Commentary: If Nintendo resurrects its 16-bit system, it might as well be perfect.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
2 min read
Evan Amos Vanamo Media

Let's accept two things: the NES Classic, that crazily-popular little game console, looks like it will disappear forever. (Why? No one really knows.) And, if reports are accurate, an SNES Classic will make its inevitable debut later this year.

Update, June 2017: It exists! The SNES Classic is coming.

Of course, we all knew an SNES Classic would be the next step. Nintendo wants to mine our childhood in bite-sized increments, and serve it up slowly and deliberately.

But if an SNES Classic is really coming, to recreate the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and its legendary 16-bit library, well then Nintendo had better do this right. Of course, it should pack in all the classic games. But here's what else it should have.


These are too short.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Make the controllers wireless.

The NES Classic is adorable, but its controllers are way too short. As in, practical joke short. I needed to keep my NES Classic dangling away from the TV on a nearby table to allow the controllers to reach my chair when playing. Wireless controllers exist, and some even add a reset function that skips having to run to your console each time you want to pick a new game (yes, this happens on NES Classic).

Enlarge Image

Cut the cord.

Evan Amos / Wikimedia Commons

Include two controllers in the box.

Only one NES controller with the NES Classic, when so many of its games have two-player modes, is cruel. The SNES Classic should have two controllers, standard.

Include NES Mini inside.

It's time to think of these game consoles like nesting dolls. If the NES Classic is really not coming back, then package those 30 games into the SNES Classic somehow. That could also justify a higher price.


Yes, and yes.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Keep using those industry-standard cables.

Micro USB for power and a regular HDMI port on the NES Classic were godsends for simplicity. Do the same on the SNES Classic, and avoid proprietary easy-to-lose cables.

Include cross-buy download codes for Nintendo Switch.

If you want to create more Switch fans, lay a trail of magic breadcrumbs. If Nintendo included a code with the SNES Classic that added its games to a Nintendo Switch owner's library, there wouldn't be any need to purchase the games twice. Why would Nintendo do this? Maybe to encourage fans of retro games to make the upgrade to the more expensive Switch. Or, at the least, offer SNES Classic owners a discount to getting those games on Switch. Nintendo explored this path before, in a way, when it offered early Nintendo 3DS owners an Ambassador's Program bonus download of 20 NES and Game Boy Advance games.


If the SNES Classic has shortages like the NES Classic did, will people run out of patience? Or will the scarcity method work to Nintendo's advantage, whipping up a constant state of "How do I buy this" frenzy? Let's all hope the SNES Classic is widely available, because if Nintendo discovers that this system of limited-run novelty consoles works, it'll be bad news for anyone's future holiday gift planning.