Yesterday, Nintendo announced the SNES Classic, a console that resembles the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that comes with 21 pre-installed classic games for the system and two controllers all set up for modern televisions for $79.99. I posted my quick initial thoughts on the announcement of the SNES Classic on Twitter and Facebook. However, I think I need to express my thoughts a bit more thoroughly as well as update my thoughts a little. More information has been released in the 24 hours following its initial announcement. I’m going to break this up in positive and negative categories, starting with the positives.
Positive 1: The Games Line-Up
The line-up of games being included in the SNES classic is awesome. Final Fantasy III (or VI), Mega Man X, Donkey Kong Country, Super Metroid, these are all classics and must plays for most gamers and the list goes on. The two Kirby games and maybe Super Ghosts n’ Ghouls are the weakest games on the list and the only bonafide classic I can think of that’s missing from the line up is Chrono Trigger. Even Star Fox 2, which those who have played the ROM say is a bit shaky in quality, is a selling point since this is the first official release of that game over 20 years after it was completed. Literally my top 5 SNES games are on this lineup. I really have no complaints really with the line up.
Positive 2: Two Controllers with 5ft Cables
The SNES Classic comes bundled with two controllers, meaning that you’ll have everything you’ll need in the box. No extra accessories to buy or memory cards or anything. It’s as plug and play as you can get! That’s what you need for this kind of product who’s main selling point is convenience. Furthermore, Nintendo has confirmed that the cord for the controllers will be five feet long. The cords for the NES Classic were a comically three feet long, so this is an improvement. It still feels a bit short to me. I think it should’ve been six feet at least and really something more comfortable like nine feet, but it’s not a severe problem the way the NES Classic controller was.
Negative 1: Limited Run
Nintendo has confirmed that no shipments are planned after the end of 2017. Now they haven’t confirmed that they will discontinue the console after 2017, but they did the same thing with the NES Classic and they wound up discontinuing it despite demand not being fulfilled so it stands to reason that they’ll do the same thing here. The possible silver lining is Nintendo is saying that they are ramping up the amount of units to be shipped to be “significantly more” than that of the NES Classic, but they wouldn’t provide solid numbers so the proof remains to be seen.
Negative 2: Nintendo’s Handling of the NES Classic
This is the main issue I have with this and its simply that Nintendo can’t be trusted. Nintendo has a long history of bad business practices towards consumers, developers, press, business partners, and its fans, but for the sake of keeping this focused, I’ll stick to just this system’s counterpart, the NES Classic. It was a great idea that should have been an easy win for Nintendo. High demand from fans, reliable revenue for Nintendo, everybody wins. However, they made the puzzling choice of not including a menu button on the controller (and the same problem might be the case for the SNES Classic) and comically short cords on the controller. This made it cumbersome to use. Furthermore, Nintendo never shipped enough units of the thing, meaning that many people who wanted it never got it. That’s just leaving money on the table. If Nintendo does the same thing with the SNES Classic, word will spread about it really quickly and people just won’t deal with it, specifically the lapsed gamer who played these games as a kid. You are selling convenience, and it needs to be sold conveniently. Most electronic devices that are super successful are convenient to use and get. However, these are also older games and the casual buyer won’t be willing to go the extra mile of waiting in line or hunting it down online or via phone call for older technology, especially if they already went through that with the NES Classic.
If Nintendo does this well, then it’ll be what the NES Classic should’ve been. An easy win where both Nintendo and their fans are happy. As a matter of fact, after it comes out, if I have the money and I can find a SNES Classic with little trouble, I might actually buy it. Nintendo should know better by now. They should’ve known better before, but definitely by now. If I start reading news stories about how Nintendo only gave a Best Buy two SNES Classic units to sell, the answer is clear. Nintendo doesn’t want your money. If I read yet another story about how Nintendo didn’t project the amount of units it would need or it exceeded projections, the answer is clear. Nintendo is bad at their jobs. Whether their intentions are nefarious or inept, Nintendo is not to be trusted and that should not be rewarded with money and headlines. Wait and see. If the SNES Classic comes out and it has all the problems from before, or even new problems, don’t buy it. I know there’s people who will want to defend Nintendo because they’re different or this is better than emulation or whatever, but at the end of the day, it’s as simple as this. How do people buy what isn’t available? If they don’t ship enough units, that’s not me or you or anybody telling people not to buy it. That’s Nintendo telling them not to buy the SNES Classic. “You want this new SNES? TOO BAD! You can’t have it!” Simple as that.