It seems like no one can pre-order an SNES classic. Nintendo’s second foray into the “plug and play” style of game consoles may be just as popular as the NES classic that released in 2016. Pre-Orders for the SNES classic sold out within minutes of posting across online retailers and their limited stock has created a little retail panic. For many the SNES classic represents a one-way ticket back to childhood, back to the 1990s where fun and games were just that. They want to play games like Super Metroid, Earthbound, Super Mario World, or The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. So, you couldn’t get one? What are your options? I’m here to help. Luckily, I’ve been around the block a few times with retro gaming and there are some great alternatives to trying to find an SNES classic or paying $300+ for one on eBay.
Easy Yet Costly: Just Buy an SNES
This option may sound really simple, but that’s because it is. Even though the SNES came out in the US in 1991 it’s still readily available all over the place. You can find used consoles on eBay, Amazon, or Gamestop.com. If you want to save a little on an SNES you can always visit your local flea market, hit up a garage sale (they’re sometimes PACKED with games, and often super cheap), or find a local hobby/retro gaming store. I live on Long Island, NY so I know of a few retro gaming shops that I can visit and absolutely find SNES consoles at. Games are about as easy to find as well, while some may be costly, they’re out there. Some of the classics also tend to be on the less expensive side, games like Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country generally sell for about $20 on the likes of eBay. This option works best if you already have games and no longer have a console.
Pro-Tip: If you plan on playing your SNES games on a fairly modern you may experience some input delay and some graphics issues. These consoles weren’t really meant to be played on TVs of that nature, so I suggest you run them in 4:3 mode. In addition, light gun games WILL NOT WORK on most modern TVs. If you’re looking for the classic SNES experience I highly suggest finding a good CRT television or monitor. Many of these are available at the “curb-side” price of being able to lift it into your car on Garbage Day. Many flea markets and garage sales also have items such as these. SNES games look quite good on CRT and you have no input lag!
Input lag: In video games, input lag is either the delay between the television or monitor receiving a signal and it being displayed on the screen or the delay between pressing a button and seeing the game react. Modern games have accounted for this issue, but retro games have not. This will absolutely effect gameplay. I thought for years I had just gotten bad at these games I used to master, until I got a CRT and realized that I was actually better than I was as a kid! Tube TVs ROCK for SNES, as long as you have the space and can lift it. I highly suggest the Sony Trinatron, it weighs about 8000 lbs but looks amazing!
EverDrive: The ethics of this route are a little dubious, but it’s an option. If you “google” Everdrive you’ll be brought to a site that creates and sells these cartridges that are ready to be loaded up with ROMS and played in original hardware. It’s a great option if you’re willing to circumvent some sort of international copyright law. Though I don’t suggest this method, it’s certainly doable. They are a little pricey, but they work very well. There are SNES games that won’t play through the everdrive, though, but the drive comes with a manual that informs you which games will work.
Inexpensive, Complicated, Somewhat Illegal: Emulators and Raspberry Pi
Just like the EverDrive there is shady legality when using emulators or a Raspberry Pi. They’re cheap (or free), and it’s fairly easy to establish. If you have a computer you can easily find a way to download emulators and roms. From there you can play them on your computer or load up a mini computer like a Raspberry Pi. LifeHacker does a much better job than I at explaining the process!
I don’t suggest you use this method, but, it’s an option for those who don’t mind skirting the law when playing their games. Luckily we now live in a world where it’s easy to find the right controller for your emulators. I will always suggest a wired Xbox One controller, but if you want something more “authentic” you can get a USB SNES controller fairly easily. Emulators are fairly straight forward. The classic SNES Emulator has been a program called ZSNES. It’ll run every SNES game out there, fairly well. Roms and Emulators also look pretty crisp on a good HD screen. It’s not a perfect solution but it will help you experience some of the games you may not be able to get your hands on.
One of the strongest aspects of Nintendo’s business is their classic franchises. Luckily on Wii, WiiU, and 3DS you can download quite a bit of GREAT SNES games. If you don’t have a Wii, WiiU, or 3DS you’re out of luck, but if you’re equipped well, this is possibly your greatest option. The games cost about $7-10 USD per title, but they generally give you pretty decent versions of the game to play. Sadly there will be SOME input delay on modern televisions, but it’s easily managed. I’ve bought so many of my classic games on VC which has allowed me to stay very in touch with my old games. No word on how Switch will handle VC but I’m very excited to jump right in once it’s ready!
Find Spiritual Successors
Sometimes you don’t want to have to work hard or pay a king’s ransom to play some classic games. I get it! It’s a pain to do all of this stuff. Sadly, it may mean you can’t play some of these classic SNES games, but there are plenty of games out there that mimic what these great games did back in the 1990s. Almost every major franchise on SNES has a counterpart today. Modern consoles are filled with retro-themed games and remakes making it somewhat easy to find something you’ll love! Not every game on the SNES Classic has a modern counterpart, but you can get pretty close. I suggest you take a look at a service like Steam to try these games out:
- Contra III: The Alien Wars -> Hard Corps. Uprising (Xbox 360, Xbox One)
- Donkey Kong Country -> Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii, WiiU) or Rayman Legends (everything)
- Final Fantasy VI -> Final Fantasy VI (Steam)
- F-Zero -> Radial-G: Racing Revolved (Steam)
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past -> Oceanhorn (Everything)
- Mega Man X -> Azure Striker Gunvolt (Steam, 3DS, Switch)
- Secret of Mana -> Lost Oasis (3DS), Secret of Mana Remake (Ps4/Steam, 2018)
- Star Fox -> Star Fox Zero (WiiU)
- Super Mario Kart -> Mario Kart 8 (WiiU/Switch)
- Super Mario RPG -> Paper Mario (WiiU VC) Mario and Luigi Series (3DS, WiiU VC)
- Super Mario World -> New Super Mario Bros. U (WiiU)
- Super Metroid -> Go to steam…type in Metroidvaina get 100+ games…for real…
- Street Fighter II -> Street Fighter V (Steam/Ps4)
- Super Castlevania IV -> Shovel Knight (Everything)
These games may not be exact, but they’ll definitely scratch any itch that may need scratching. not every game on the SNES Classic has a modern counterpart, but this list does a good job at helping to peak your interest. If you don’t want to buy anything and just want to watch, I play SNES games on Twitch all the time, FIND ME!