In September 2017 the dreams of retro videogames fans around the world were realised once again. The successor to the sold-out NES Mini, the Super NES Mini, hit stores worldwide. The Super NES Mini will follow the mould of the NES Mini by including 21 of the most classic games the platform has ever produced.
The Locked 16 (9-12):-
Developer: Nintendo + Argonaut Software
Original Sales: 2.99 Million
Shigeru Miyamoto’s science-fiction third/first person rail shooter Star Fox heralded the birth of yet another successful Nintendo franchise.
The Star Fox series is famous for its animal crew of Fox McCloud, Slippy Toad, Perry Hare and Falco Lombardi. They fly together in the distinctively-shaped Arwing spacecraft across various missions to seek out the evil scientist Andross.
Shooting down/avoiding enemy ships, robots and asteroids of various sizes has lost little of its charm in 24 years. Ok, maybe just a little. The use of the Super FX chip powers up Star Fox to the point of being overworked at times. Polygons wobble frequently and at times the frame rate crawls, which hinders aiming and avoiding oncoming obstacles.
The three map paths-to-completion do their best to very the difficulty whilst avoiding repetitiveness. The bosses get bigger, bolder and more bizarre; from simple spaceships to a two-headed big-bastard dragon. That fires eggs. Yep.
Most will probably devour the first stage at speed to unlock the previously-unreleased Star Fox 2, which is arguably the biggest draw for the console. More on that later, but Star Fox is still very much an enjoyable, if a little jerky, space adventure.
Star Fox 2
Developer: Nintendo + Argonaut Software
Original Sales: N/A
It’s incredible to believe that a new SNES title has been released in 2017. Star Fox 2, originally intended for a SNES release but ultimately cancelled, is a sequel 25 years in the making.
Fox McCloud and the crew are back, along with some new friends, of which 2 make your pilot/wing-man team. Star Fox 2’s looks instantly familiar once the action starts, but the mission blueprint is of a different nature to the original. Andross is back, but instead of seeking him out on his home planet, he’s coming after Corneria. Your 2-man crew navigate a map screen with enemies moving as you move. Should your paths cross, for example an enemy ship, a battle is initiated. If you allow Corneria to amass 100% damage, it’s game over. If both your team members succumb to becoming space fodder, it’s game over. There are no extra lives here. It’s an inventive structure that expands on the linearity of the original.
The cross-heir view from the originals’ asteroid levels require urgency but a little patience, given the sections get a little jerky at times. The more infiltration-driven missions transform your ship into what can only be described as a robotic chicken of sorts. These walker sections require the use of floor switches to obtain items and unlock the next area. Unfortunately they are also very thin in the challenge department.
Which leads to Star Fox 2’s biggest problem; it’s over almost as soon as it’s begun. It takes little over an hour to complete, with the only incentive to return being to try and improve on your completion grade. What Star Fox 2 lacks in challenge and intuitiveness is however made up a little by the fact you’re playing a modern piece of nostalgia. Yes that is very much a cliche, but i don’t care.
Star Fox 2 unleashed my inner child from start to finish. It may be a case of what might have been, but Star Fox 2 deserves the lease of life the SNES Mini has given it. Just don’t expect to be racking up more hours compared to other SNES Mini titles.
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
Original Sales: 1.1 Million
So. Damn. Hard. If you asked me for 3 words to describe Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, they are all i could muster. Dark Souls is admired for its challenging and unforgiving nature, and the same can be said for this Capcom classic.
If you’ve never played Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts before, i wouldn’t make it your first port of call once your SNES Mini is powered on. It is an incredibly challenging platformer that features re-spawning enemies, requires pixel-perfect reactions and a lot of patience and practice. Particularly with the double-jump mechanism; once you’re in the air all manner of control has gone until you land. And even then it’s probably into more trouble.
It may seem crazy to list all the negatives from the get-go, but these simply serve as a warning. It may require utmost precision, but it also rewards it; the scenery and levels look and feel fantastic. From blizzards to lava-filled caves, castles to pirate ships, all levels of spooky are covered. It certainly trumps fellow SNES Mini horror-platformer Castlevania IV in my book. It’s also incredible to think that as a 12/13 year old i was able to finish Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts without the aid of save states or battery back up.
Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is the most chilling and atmospheric 16-bit platform adventure ever. It is insanely challenging, but in being so it also gives it even more charm. It has been a pleasure to be re-acquainted.
Super Mario Kart
Original Sales: 8.76 Million
Despite Mario Kart 8 technically being the most balanced and best Mario Kart, the original SNES classic will always be my favourite. It was the first video game i ever bought with my own money at the tender age of 11.
That may well be an unrealistically biased and nostalgic view, but there is no doubting the very first Mario Kart gives all its successors a run for their money.
The fast yet compact tracks, powered by the Mode 7 scrolling graphics engine, are full of twists, turns and diverse Mario-themed terrain. Different skills on different tracks herald the best records and rewards; hop-and-drift mastery gets you through the Donut Plains, stepping off the gas to navigate the many right-angles of the Bowser Castles and Ghost Houses, and so on.
It’s no surprise that tracks from Super Mario Kart have been recreated in it’s successors. Donut Plains in MK8 fits the drift narrative perfectly, and an MK8 version of the original Rainbow Road is also a fitting tribute.
And seeing as the SNES Mini is a fitting tribute to the platform itself, for it to not include Super Mario Kart would be a crime. And there’s not a blue shell to be seen.
12 down, 9 to go! Are you excited yet? You should be! Catch you next time!