Why You Should Care About the NES and SNES Classic Editions

By Sean Michael-Patrick Thompson
November 10, 2017

A little over a month ago, we saw the release of the SNES Classic Edition, a new plug-and-play console featuring pretty much the best twenty games of the early nineties, and a never before released game, Star Fox 2. I’m sure most readers on this site would be thrilled to take on A Link to the Past again, and the rest of the lineup was full of games I loved in my childhood like Donkey Kong Country and Kirby Superstar plus some highly rated titles I never had a chance to play like Secret of Mana.

Getting my hands on one of these consoles was an uphill battle, but with much persistence I did manage to snag one within the first month after release. Amidst all my frustrations posted on Twitter and Facebook over the course of my adventure, I was met with much criticism and many even questioned why I would want such a thing if it was so difficult to obtain. I think this type of console is great for many reasons, and it is a worthwhile purchase because it benefits not only the gamers, but also the big N, allowing them to make more great content for the gamers. It’s like the circle of life but nerdy.

First off, was it a good value?

At eighty dollars for twenty-one games, that is pretty much like paying a little less than four bucks a game, which is actually quite a bit less than you would pay individually for the games on Virtual Console for Wii U or 3DS, and some of these games are not available for VC in the first place. On top of that, even the development team for Star Fox 2 had literally given up on the game ever seeing the light of day, and as the only legal way to play this game currently available, that has a mean draw by itself.

One interesting debate came to my attention when a buddy of mine said he preferred to play games on their original systems. My primary argument was that this emulation feels so close to the original experience, and again the price of these games was far lower than trying to get a copy for the original console. Many of the original cartridges are now harder to come by, and most of them will sell for upwards of fifteen dollars each. Value is built into the system whether people want to believe it or not. Four bucks each is a steal, even for retro gaming.

Was it worth the hassle?

A big problem I had was the struggle to get my hands on this thing. It was far more effort than many deem necessary, but in the end, I am happy to be able to play these games in astounding quality emulation on my own TV. Plus, the reason it was so hard was because I was an early adopter. With the release of any new technology in this day and age, there will be a period after its launch wherein obtaining such can be a fickle challenge. Just this year we saw a similar situation with Nintendo Switch before it evened out, as well as the new iPhone 8 and Google Pixel XL, so it is clearly not just Nintendo.

Trust me, I know they really dropped the ball with the original NES Classic, but this time around they are showing us fans that they are trying their best to keep up with demand. Restocks are frequent at every outlet, and they are even bringing back the NES Classic next year to hopefully meet demand for both within the foreseeable future. It sucked for those who wanted one, but eventually all signs point to these becoming regularly produced consoles, thus alleviating our worries.

It was a ripoff since you could download and run ROMs on your PC, smartphone, or other devices.

Finally, the biggest gripe I heard among fans and naysayers alike. Access to these games is easy and free on third-party software, so why not do it? Two big reasons stand out to me. Number one, in most cases it is illegal to run an emulation of a copyrighted game. There are a few exceptions, obviously the Virtual Console service, or other emulators which are available from and/or sanctioned by the owners of the IP being emulated. There are also some loopholes I have heard work, like claiming that the version is a “backup copy” of a game you own on the original device, but that excuse is sketchy at best. Even so, many choose to illegally play games with emulators constantly. It is a victim-less crime, right? Nobody gets hurt, so who cares? You should because of reason number two.

The victims are the developers who poured their heart and soul into these games. If all their games were free, they would make no money and be forced to do something else for a living and nobody would ever get video games. Perhaps an indy title would come out here and there, but the AAA industry we know would simply cease to be. Of course the natural argument to this is “but many of the developers for those original NES games are old and retired.” What about the distributor that would otherwise sell you the game? If nobody bought games at Gamestop or Amazon, again the industry would cease to be. This is not a victim-less crime, it affects not only developers but honest Joes trying to make a living selling used games, and by harming either of those two important parts of the industry, it also hurts the fans.

What’s your take? Did Nintendo lose your trust with the issues stocking the NES Classic? Did you boycott the stupid thing because you think it needed Chrono Trigger? I would love to talk more about it, so let me know in the comments or on Twitter and help keep the conversation cruising.

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