Tech review: Super NES Classic Mini games console from Nintendo

The Super NES Classic Mini is a big fat slice of gaming heaven.

The nostalgia rush it provides is like time-travelling back to the mid-90s or having the 90s injected directly into your 2018 vein.

Between pop groups reforming, old movies being remade and TV shows getting rebooted, it seems we just can’t let go of the past. This obsession with bygone eras now extends to reliving gaming history – and I have to say I’m all for that when the retro relics are as good as this little gem.

The SNES Classic Mini from Nintendo matches the look and feel of the original console that was released in 1992. Well, I say feel, but this gadget fits into the palm of the hand which I don’t think the old one did. Or maybe my hands have just got bigger – nope, I’m pretty sure it’s just smaller, but it’s still great and proves that the best things can come in small packages.

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Once you get it out of its box, setting it up is really easy. To start with you just lift the hatch up at the front to connect the two wired controllers (having two of them is a point in its favour since you only get one with the stingy modern consoles). Then you put the HDMI cable into your TV and finally you plug it into the mains using the … oh wait.

You can’t actually plug it in because there’s no plug in the box. Despite it coming with a USB cable, there’s no AC adaptor. After the controller bonus, this feels mean. Grumbling to myself, I grabbed an iPhone adaptor which wasn’t ideal but did the job.

After this blip the gaming fun begins, and boy what fun it is. Things have moved on from the original console a quarter of a century ago so there are no cartridges that are going to need blowing on in order to get them working – instead the machine comes pre-loaded with 20 classic 90s games plus one bonus title that was never released first time around (a sequel to Star Fox).

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There are some online lists of the games left off this new device but I think all the main iconic games that first come to mind when thinking of the SNES are all on here, including Super Mario World 1 and 2, Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Donkey Kong Country and Street Fighter II Turbo.

There is unbridled pure joy to be found in replaying these 16-bit games which, to me at least, come from the golden age of video games. The 90s was the decade when games were most fun. They were simple yet had started to become more complex, deep and ambitious. They were also all about the enjoyment – in the days before games became all about online multiplayer and fleecing players for yet another bit of DLC, they were about challenging your skills against the game itself or against your mates in a social setting. Games weren’t about the micro transactions or the deluxe editions, they were just about the pleasure of playing. You’ll see what I mean if you dive back into these games for the first time in 20-plus years or experience them for the first time.

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As a veteran of when these classic games were just new games, I’ve greatly enjoyed getting stuck into them again. Sure, many of them haven’t aged well in terms of graphics, but they do mostly stand up very well in the gameplay department. A lot of the concepts behind these games either became genres in their own right or have formed the basis for many modern games. If aspects of the games look and feel familiar, it’s because they are still present today.

Speaking of familiar, it’s amazing how quickly I just got right back into the groove with these old games – muscle memory kicking in as I made the Italian plumber run and jump or steered Koopa Troopa around a race track.

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The SNES Classic Mini – available from (and in the case of this review, courtesy of) online marketplace eBay.co.uk – works like a dream. After the relatively easy set-up, it’s then really easy to switch between games and to save progress. The games run very smoothly too, providing glitch-free enjoyment.

All in all, this is a very well made and presented device which comes with an impressive selection of games. For around £70, it’s a great value pass back to when games weren’t bigger but were better in my opinion. Even if you don’t agree with me on that argument, there’s no denying the Super NES Classic Mini is a fantastic taste of what games were like, either for a nostalgic treat or for a new generation. It will surely be at the top of many a Christmas list this year and under many a tree – at least it deserves to be.