The SNES Classic is a Classic Nintendo Cash Grab

Image: Nintendo official website

 I’m not going to tell you that the SNES Classic is in and of itself a bad idea. As a collector’s product, a small plug-and-play retro game emulator is a pretty good idea, a way to enjoy retro gaming in an ‘authentic’ manner guaranteed to invoke all kinds of nostalgia. As an overgrown emulator in a sweet plastic casing reminiscent of the original console, it’s a slightly tacky if impressive statement, a crown jewel for any Nintendo collector with the disposable income to spare.

And that would be fine, if it weren’t for the fact you all already own a better version.

It’s true! If you own a Wii U, a 3DS, a 2DS or a 3DS XL, you already have access to the vast majority of what a SNES Classic offers. On demand, you can delve into the handy Virtual Console service and pick from an assortment of easily downloadable ROM files, downloaded straight into your hardware. And yes, the titles on board the SNES Classic are all there. Super Metroid? Blam. Final Fantasy III? Voila. Super Punch-Out!!? In your library before you can say TKO.

The 21 games the SNES Mini has to offer are definitely classics, but they're also available cheaper individually (Image: Nintendo official website)

The 21 games the SNES Mini has to offer are definitely classics, but they’re also available cheaper individually (Image: Nintendo official website)

The problems within this luxury item, therefore, are twofold. Firstly, a SNES Classic requires you to front your cash for a bunch of games you may not actually want. You may like Kirby Super Star, but do you like Super Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins and Secret of Mana too? Do you actually want to pay money for Kirby’s Dream Course? Purchasing a SNES Classic is paying a non-negotiable price for the entire package, and every piece of it you don’t want is literally money you’re throwing away.

And if you do like all of the games the Classic contains: do you not already own at least some of them? The library the device contains is tempting indeed, but the kind of person who would be interested in owning them will have already bought the files on their other devices. At the time of writing, I, being as casual about retro gaming as I am, already own nine of the games it offers. The small discount you get for buying them all in bulk is mitigated when you consider you’re being sold things you already own.

The SNES Classic hoards Star Fox 2 like a precious jewel, transforming the Classic from nostalgia trip to an exclusive treat for the wealthy.

But the astute reader may have already noticed one flaw with the above argument: Star Fox 2. Unavailable on the Virtual Console, the Classic is the first place anyone can legally play the unreleased sequel to the SNES hit, which nobody will be doubling down on purchasing. Some see that as an additional, exciting feature, a selling point for the console: purchasing it is the only way to get it, after all!

But to me, this inclusion is the certainty I needed to identify the SNES Classic as what it was, a cheap, insulting cash grab that’s exploiting your nostalgia to rinse out your wallet. Mush-mouthedly claiming that they “found a way” (direct fucking quote!) to port a supposedly unportable game to the console but not to the Virtual Console, the SNES Classic hoards Star Fox 2 like a precious jewel, transforming the Classic from nostalgia trip to an exclusive treat for the wealthy, lucky and devoted. It’s a rich boy’s steam bundle, a licence fee to an exclusive club. It’s crass, it’s asinine, and for some unholy reason, it’s working.

I only hope they don’t ransom off Mother 3 this way.

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