Above: Super Mario World screenshot courtesy of Nintendo.
According to Eurogamer, which has a fairly good record with this sort of thing—it was the first place we saw that the Switch, then still called the NX, would come with detachable controllers—Nintendo is to launch a "SNES Mini" this year, following their successful NES micro-console.
It was reported late last week that the NES Mini, or the NES Classic, is to be discontinued, opening the door for a successor—and a SNES Mini would be just that. Much rumored prior to Eurogamer's sources-informed announcement that it's incoming this side of Christmas, a plug-in system pre-loaded with a bunch of Super Nintendo classics would be just the ticket for a beneath-the-tree gift, wouldn't it? Obviously.
But what would those classics be? Waypoint's staffers got nostalgic to put together a wish list of games we'd love to see on a SNES Mini.
Danielle Riendeau: Really, the main thing I'd love to see on the SNES Mini are the Donkey Kong Country games: all three of them. I know it's a cliché for me to talk about the games' virtues (take a drink!), but they really were excellent platformers. All feature level design chock full of secrets, support for multiple play styles (each Kong moves differently!) and a sense of space and place in the world.
There were no generic "ice levels" or "desert worlds"—instead, there were snowy mountains teeming with danger and blizzard conditions, underwater caverns with hidden nooks and crannies, bee hives with sticky honey all along the walls. Moving around these beautiful worlds was a pleasure that varied in each stage, and even the underrated third game is a gem. I like to think of them as counterpoints to the Mario series: different, weirder, and ultimately—for me—even more memorable.
Above: Tetris Attack Super Nintendo gameplay.
Patrick Klepek: It'd be lovely if Nintendo took the opportunity not only to expose people to the most notable games the SNES had to offer, but some of its more obscure classics, too. And I played the heck out of Mega Man Soccer and Tetris Attack back in the day.
I don't know that I'd go as far as to call Mega Man Soccer an outright classic, and I'm a little nervous going back to play it might ruin the whole illusion, but damn, I played the heck out of that game. The Mega Man-style power-ups added a fun wrinkle to a decent arcade soccer game. And Tetris Attack? C'mon. It's one of the best puzzle games ever made, full stop.
Robert Zacny: A confession: the SNES era was when I realized I was a PC gamer. It was the SNES version of Doom that did it, without even playing that legendary travesty. My family-friendly video store refused to stock it, so I was left poring over gruesome, gibbous screenshots in PC Gamer and Computer Gaming World.
But if the SNES Mini is a thing, then there a couple games that could coax me back. The first is F-Zero, which was utterly tremendous on that platform. The smeared, undulating textures alongside the track made me feel like I really was racing at deadly speeds in some kind of futuristic death-rally. Coupled with the urgent musical score—just listen to the opening of the Mute City track— F-Zero hit my preadolescent brain like a drug.
The other game I'd love to see again? The SNES version of Flashback. That was one of the coolest games I'd ever seen, as Delphine Software's cyberpunk platformer seemed to inhabit a completely different imaginative universe than the other games I encountered at the time.
Smooth and convincing animations, abstract graphics that invited me to project my own impressions onto the action, and murderous replicants lured me into Flashback's cyberpunk-Jason Bourne storyline. I could buy the 2013 remake, of course, but I'd rather play the original edition unspoiled.
Above: Secret of Mana Super Nintendo gameplay.
Mike Diver: I never had a SNES to call my own, but both friends and family members did, so through them, and beside them, I got to play all manner of local co-op games. Super Tennis, a launch title for the console, was actually awesome, and Super Bomberman was a staple of afternoons when we should have been revising for exams. (Both of those would be great on the SNES Mini, thank you very much.) Oddly, perhaps, I also played through a lot of terrific RPGs on the system as shared experiences, swapping the pad around for Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI—which was confusingly titled Final Fantasy III on the US import copy I had any kind of access to, but that's another story.
One RPG that we could play together, though, with a controller each, was Secret of Mana—and, oh boy, would I ever love to see that on the SNES Mini. For me, while it's no Chrono Trigger, it's one of the finest jewels in Square (Enix)'s 16-bit RPG crown. It still looks beautiful today, and the title music alone can set me off, eyes getting misty, the mind racing back to its Mode 7 map screen, Flammie flying us wherever we needed to go next.
As action RPGs go, for my money at any rate, Secret of Mana is right up there with A Link to the Past—and while it did move to the Virtual Console in 2008, unlike old Final Fantasy titles and, indeed, Chrono Trigger (which I have today in its definitive DS port), it's never been much of a multi-platform title. Yes, I tried the iOS version—what a disaster. That'd be my most-wanted for the Mini, then, in terms of software—and it could happen, what with Square's original Final Fantasy appearing on the NES Mini. And let's have Super Metroid too, while we're at it, since I've never properly played that. That's got to be a frontrunner for inclusion.
What I really want in the micro-console, though, putting the actual games to one side, is longer controller leads. I've got wooden floors downstairs and my knees, Nintendo, think of my poor, sore knees. Let a man sit on the sofa while he plays his retro games, please.
Danika Harrod: I owe who I am today to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and Super Mario World. Navigating puzzles and making my way through dungeons at a very young age set me up for trials I would endure in future Zelda games. Everything took me forever, but it felt good to do it myself.
Super Mario World was my #1 every day game. I played it with my parents, my younger sister staring wide-eyed from her crib. Dear Nintendo, if you can hear me, I want to play these games again… Please!
Above: ActRaiser Super Nintendo gameplay.
Austin Walker: When I first saw the list of 30 games on the NES Classic, I have to admit, a few titles seemed like they just didn't belong: Star Tropics, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. Don't get me wrong, they aren't bad games (well, maybe you were, Simon's Quest), but they weren't obvious classics, either. And that's why I love that they were there: The NES was an amazing system with a huge variety of games, and representing that variety is maybe more important than just showing off the best of the best.
Now that the SNES Classic is (hopefully) coming, I hope that Nintendo continues that strategy. And that's why the game they absolutely, positively need to include on this thing is ActRaiser.
Originally released in Japan in 1990, ActRaiser puts players into the role both as a benevolent (if a little mysterious) god, The Master, and as that god's helpers, a celestial angel with a bureaucratic streak and a more earthly avatar, a heroic statue of a knight that comes to life when struck by divine lightning.
ActRaiser shifts between two characters throughout the game: You spend time as the city-building angel who helps the Master's followers by building their roads, giving their crops the sunlight they need, and saving their children (all from a top down, largely menu driven perspective). But when the angel hits a block, the avatar steps in, and ActRaiser becomes a pretty challenging action-platformer.
It's not a perfect game by any means, but the SNES Classic shouldn't be a collection of perfect games. It should be a snapshot of the SNES, a platform that surprised players, encouraged developer experimentation, and was filled with games that explored scale and scope like none that had come before.