Review: Super Famicom Classic Mini

Review: Super Famicom Classic Mini

A few years ago during my travels to Japan, I had the opportunity (twice!) to play the original Super Famicom, thanks to the few hotels that have done a good job in maintaining the Super Famicom Box.

The Super Famicom Box is a long horizontal black box with Super Famicom controllers, and some can still be found in the rooms of various hotels in Japan. Each came with 3 to 5 different games to play, and customers needed to pay a 1000 yen (USD8.94) fee for 24 hours of play time.

My encounter with the Super Famicom Box marked the first authentic experience I had with SNES/Super Famicom games such as Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, and Donkey Kong Country. After hearing about the Super Famicom Classic Mini (SFC Classic Mini), I thought it’d be fit to get the SFC Classic Mini over the SNES Classic Edition.

Packaging

The Super Famicom Classic Mini comes in a sturdy box that replicates the design of the original Super Famicom packaging released back in the 1990s. I was impressed by the colorful appearance of the packaging, as it’s hard to find something as colorful as the SFC Classic Mini’s packaging these days.

Opening the box revealed the Super Famicom Classic Mini control deck, two Super Famicom Classic Mini controllers, a USB cable, a HDMI cable, and a instruction booklet. It was slightly disappointing to see instruction manual printed in black and white, given that the original manual was printed in full color.

The Build Of The System

Nintendo has done a very good job with replicating every detail of the Super Famicom. The SFC Classic Mini’s controllers look and feel the same to the original Super Famicom controllers I’ve played in Japan, but I swear they are slightly smaller than their original counterparts.

I couldn’t comment much on the SFC Classic Mini’s control deck since I’ve never seen an actual one with my own eyes before, but the texture, detail, and quality of the control deck is really amazing. Based on photos I’ve seen of the original Super Famicom and the SFC Classic Mini in real life itself, I’d say it’s pretty much looks like the same thing, just smaller than ever.

Another thing I like about the control deck are the power button (which you need to flick it on, similar to most consoles in the old days) and the reset button, all of which are pretty responsive. Reason why I like them? It feels like the 1990s.

UI and Features

If you’ve played either the SNES Classic Edition or the NES Classic Edition, the menu and features on the SFC Classic Mini are pretty much the same thing.

The moment the SFC Classic Mini is powered on, you’ll be greeted by a game selection menu of 21 titles. Games start the moment they are selected in less than a second, which is pretty fast for today’s standards, and up to four save points can be made per game.

To return to the menu, simply press the reset button. As I’m playing pretty close to my monitor I had no issues with this, but it could be a problem for those playing far from the big screen.

A few features which the SFC Classic Mini (and SNES Classic Edition) possess that the Famicom Classic and NES Classic Edition don’t are the ability to rewind gameplay, My Demo, as well as changing the background that surrounds the game on the screen.

The rewind feature is truly a life saver especially when playing games such as Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, Super Mario RPG, and pretty much any other game. It allows players to rewind up to around 30 seconds of gameplay and resume from the time before they made a mistake. This is one feature I hope Nintendo adds to their Virtual Console emulator on Nintendo Switch.

My Demo essentially records your gameplay from all 21 games and displays them whenever the system is idle. It’s a neat feature but if you do not want other peeps to see how bad you play a certain game, you can turn the entire thing off.

Last but not least is adding a frame (or background) to the two sides of the screen so that it doesn’t looking boring. Unfortunately the selection for these frames are really limited, but the wooden panel did the best for me.

Games

Now of course the most important thing to talk about are the selection of games and how they perform on the SFC Classic Mini. Overall everything runs smoothly and looks perfect on the screen. I didn’t encounter any frame rate drops or errors.

One thing that some of you may have on your minds are – “If I don’t understand an ounce of Japanese, will I be able to play these games?” The answer to that question is, not all but most. Games like Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, Super Metroid, and Soccer do not require much knowledge of Japanese.

However if you’re talking about RPGs like Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light and Super Mario RPG, then basic Japanese knowledge is a must. Based on what I can tell it isn’t too hard to understand even if you’re a beginner. Even Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon plays almost the same as modern Fire Emblem titles.

I personally feel the game selection is really stellar on the SFC Classic Mini. There’s literally something for everyone – Mario (check), Mario Kart (check), The Legend of Zelda (check), Kirby (check), Fire Emblem (check), Star Fox (check), Yoshi (check), Final Fantasy (check), Street Fighter (check). In my experience you probably wouldn’t be playing every single game either as I bought the SFC Classic Mini primarily for all of its first party Nintendo titles.

The only thing that may disappoint some people is the lack of Earthbound/MOTHER 2. Sadly Earthbound is only on the SNES Classic Edition, so if that is important to you, you may want to consider getting the SNES Classic Edition or Mini instead.

Conclusion

The Super Famicom Classic Mini is an amazing device packed with dozens of hours of fun, especially for its price (7980 yen/USD71 excluding sales tax). Whether you’ve experienced the glorious days of 16 bit gaming, only played modern games released in the 21st century, or are a collector, I highly recommend you to get one to time travel back to the era of 16 bit games.

Pros

  • 21 amazing games for an affordable price
  • Modern and useful features that help players
  • Something nice to look at on your desk

Cons

  • Extremely hard to find

Verdict: If you can wait till its back in stock, make sure you buy it!

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