EVEN JUST MENTIONING the Super Nintendo brings memories flooding back: there's little me, sitting in the playroom at the top of the stairs in my house in Massachusetts, battling my sister in Donkey Kong Country. She still swears she didn't need my help, but deep down she knows I was the only one who could hack the mine cart levels. My family got a SNES a couple of years after its 1991 release, and didn't upgrade for the better part of a decade. Why would we? The SNES had everything.
For me, and for millions of others, the SNES came at a formative moment in our lives and gaming careers. Which means I'm hopelessly biased in my review of the SNES Classic, the $80 console from Nintendo that will hit (and immediately fly off) store shelves this weekend. This is in no way a modern console, and it never tries to be one. It's instead an indulgence in nostalgia, an $80 way to undo all the psychological damage inflicted when your parents tossed your SNES without even consulting you. It feels like home.
Over the last week, I've been knee-deep in Street Fighter II, Star Fox, Super Mario World, and most of the rest of the SNES Classic's 21 included games. Some of the games hold up shockingly well; others are an eye-opening reminder of how far we've come, and how good that is. In general, the console's a bit of an odd beast. It's a largely faithful recreation of the original, but Nintendo missed a few easy chances to modernize. Ultimately, I have some quibbles, but I also have Donkey Kong Country. So I can't really complain.