I'm a fully signed-up, every-perk-unlocked, lifetime subscriber to the school of thought that screams, over and over and over again: don't pre-order video games. Until you see them running, playing, acting "as sold," just don't. Because what we're told we're getting, some of the time, really isn't what we end up with.
But I've gone and broken my own rule. I couldn't help myself. "The Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System is available to pre-order at the #NintendoUKStore!" claimed the company's official UK Twitter account. I knew it'd already sold out at Amazon and other online outlets. I clicked. In stock. I paused. I put the micro-console into my basket. And out. And in again. I did this a few times. I clicked away from the page.
"Damn, missed it," grumbled friends on Twitter. "Sold out already." Apparently the Nintendo Store stock disappeared inside 30 minutes—hardly surprising, given the precedent set by last year's like-hen's-teeth NES Mini, aka the Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System (you see, they have a system), and the quality of the 21 pre-loaded 16-bit delights the SNES Mini provides. (Check the full list here.)
Curiosity called. Had I closed the store page with my basket cleared? I checked. It was still in there. I sucked it up. I opened my wallet. I put in the numbers. The confirmation email came through. I hoped that my sensible-with-money wife wouldn't scold me when I got home. (She did, incidentally, briefly: "Do you really need this?" I mean, no, it's a bunch of video games in a small grey box, nobody needs that. But I really, really want that, so, y'know. Once in a blue moon it's OK to treat yourself, right?)
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Pre-ordering video games is a Bad Thing, nine times out of ten. Hell, 99% of the time. You're putting money on the table, be it taken immediately or otherwise, for something you simply cannot predict. I will, he says now, never do it for a new release—as much as I have loved Breath of the Wild this year, accepting as I do now that it's a masterpiece, no way would I have put down money for it before those reviews started rolling in (or before I'd played a bit of it, which I was fortunate enough to do). That's why I am yet to order the game's DLC packs—I know what's coming, it looks great, but let's see what the actual reaction is, shall we? Alas, Nintendo lock you in for both packs or nothing at all, which isn't cool IMO—especially given the story content coming at the end of the year could so easily go either way.
The SNES Mini, though? Known quantities, for the most part. I've been wanting to replay Secret of Mana properly for years now, since the shoddy iOS version made me chuck my iPhone across the room. I've never played EarthBound, as it never got a UK release back in the 1990s, and while I've been temped by it on the eShop, its inclusion in the SNES Mini makes me think: I'll probably hold off that spend and enjoy it in September. Star Fox and the still-gorgeous Yoshi's Island have been unavailable anywhere for ages, decades, (I think) due to something regarding their use of the FX Chip. Their places in the SNES Mini line-up is both important in terms of game preservation, and for spinning me back to blasting space ships on the carpet of a best friend's back room, years before GSCEs and proper girlfriends and adult responsibilities.
I've not just put down my pre-order for nostalgic purposes, though. My kids are growing into Nintendo with every passing day. They've played the newer Mario games, made their own levels with Super Mario Maker, learned how to drift karts and deal with goombas. I cannot wait to share what, for me, were some of my earliest and best Nintendo experiences with these wide-eyed beginners. And this Mini comes with two controllers (with longer leads this time, too), meaning instant Super Mario Kart Battle Mode fun. Cannot. Wait.
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So, I'm not proud, exactly, of breaking my no pre-order rule. I still feel kinda icky about it. But I think it's alright to allow special exceptions when what's on offer is so irresistible, across generations of players. I look at these games, not one dud amongst them, and I know my kids are going to love them like I did. And, of course, many Nintendo fans were left disappointed when the NES Mini stock dried up so fast, only for the company to discontinue the product completely in April. That was absolutely a factor in Getting In There, now.
Apparently, though, Nintendo has listened to complaints regarding those stock shortages, and will produce "significantly more" units for its 16-bit successor. So, please—don't be foolish and head to eBay already, where Some People (uh, there's always Some People) are asking for up to £300. Fudge that. And fingers crossed that some of these things will be out there, in the wild, come their launch at the end of September, and I'll look back at my pre-order as a rash action, so very unlike me, and not to be repeated.
Until the N64 Mini comes calling, obviously.