The NES Classic Edition is a product so elegantly simple that it essentially sells itself. Pretty much everyone has some form of nostalgia for old school Nintendo games, so the prospect of owning a cute, miniature diversion of one of the most iconic video game consoles ever made isn’t really a tough sell. Although it’s hard to complain too much about a $60 device that showcases some of the most important and influential video games of all time, there is certainly room for improvement when it comes to the NES Classic’s design.
With Nintendo’s product already proving to be a massive success, there’s a very good chance the company will put out a miniature version of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) at some point in the future, possibly even next year. While I don’t expect that Nintendo will really change much of anything when it comes to its design or what it offers — it’s safe to assume it will come with 30 games and one controller as well — I’m hopeful that they will reconsider this position and try to make the SNES Classic truly live up to its name. Here are some ways that Nintendo could improve upon the NES Classic’s design with an updated SNES.
10. Sturdier Design
This is a really minor complaint, but as adorable as the NES Classic is, it feels a bit cheap. I mean, it’s only $60, so it is a pretty cheap product, but Nintendo could have put a little more effort into making the thing not feel like it’s going to be crushed if I hold it the wrong way. It’s hard to say what specifically could be done to make a SNES Classic feel sturdier, but if Nintendo can find a way to make it feel a bit more solidly constructed, it certainly wouldn’t hurt!
9. Ship Enough Of Them
Nintendo is really good at creating demand for their products. Unfortunately, a lot of this demand seems to stem from the fact that they seem incapable of shipping enough initial supply to fill said demand. When the NES Classic hit store shelves on Nov. 11, it was almost impossible to find one in the wild, with most stores lacking the stock to fulfill orders from those who lined up early, let alone enough to see them through the first day. This supply problem also resulted in scalpers scooping up units in order to turn them around for hundreds of dollars online, which certainly isn’t something to cheer about.
To be fair, this sort of situation is to be expected with new tech product launches, especially when they’re as hotly anticipated as the NES Classic, but Nintendo still should have foreseen this and worked to get more systems out leading up to launch. As it stands, consumers will likely be hard-pressed to get a NES Classic in time for Christmas, which just seems absurd for something that is, at the end of the day, a replica of a 30+ year old video game console. If and when it comes time for the SNES Classic to make its debut, Nintendo needs to make sure they have enough initial supply to meet demand, or at the very least take steps to limit the ill effects of the scalper market (which admittedly is difficult to do). Unfortunately, this is Nintendo we’re talking about, so it’s not going to happen, but it doesn’t mean we can’t at least hope they’ve learned their lesson from the botched amiibo and NES Classic launches.
8. Back To Menu Option
A simple quality of life improvement that would go a long way, the SNES Classic needs to have an option that allows players to return to the home screen while they’re in the middle of playing a game. This is a feature that the NES Classic lacks, as you must physically reset the console if you want to return to the main menu to select a different game. Sure, this is in keeping with how you used to have to switch games, but this is 2016; most of the time we don’t even need to get up to change games anymore. The SNES can still have a reset button for those who want to do things the old fashioned way, but it should include a “back to menu” option in the system UI as well.
7. Pack in a Second Controller
While it makes sense that Nintendo decided to only ship the NES Classic with one controller and sell additional pads separately — more money! — they really should have thrown in two controllers and called it a day. The original Nintendo Entertainment System shipped with two controllers and considering there are quite a few games on the Classic that are best enjoyed with two players, it would have been fitting for Nintendo to replicate that original experience as closely as possible. Fortunately, there’s an opportuniaty to do just that with the SNES Classic and Nintendo should seriously consider packing in a second controller. It would be seen as an act of goodwill on their part and the best part is that there would still be plenty of opportunity to sell additional pads …
6. Give It Four Controller Ports
While purists may throw up their arms in disgust at the mere suggestion that the SNES Classic ship with four controller ports, having the ability to connect four controllers right out of the box would only strengthen the system’s appeal. The SNES isn’t exactly known for its bevy of four player games, but it did have its fair share, including favorites such as Super Bomberman and NBA Jam (both of which MUST be on the SNES Classic). It would be ridiculous to force people to go out and buy a peripheral to allow four controllers to be connected and frankly, staying true to the console’s original design only makes sense if its practical. I’d say that making the SNES Classic more user friendly trumps aesthetic concerns in this case.
5. Nintendo Switch / 3DS Compatibility
It’s difficult to know what sort of compatibility or integration the SNES Classic may or may not have with the Nintendo Switch, the company’s new console set to launch in March 2017, but it seems like there should be a way for the two systems to interact. The most obvious thing would be to allow players to take their SNES Classic games and put them on the Switch so that they can play them on the go. Come to think of it, that’s the only feature that really needs to happen, as anything else would probably be too gimmicky or not very useful. Nintendo should also apply this concept to the 3DS, as many people are still going to be playing them even after the Switch is out. Find a way to let people play their SNES games on the go with the 3DS and Nintendo fans will absolutely lose their minds.
4. More Games
The NES Classic shipped with 30 pre-installed games and while it’s largely comprised of the best and most popular titles to ever be released for the original console, the 30 game limit leaves out a ton of other deserving titles. While there are merits to the act of curation and leaving out bad games that are best left forgotten, I don’t think you will find many gamers who are completely satisfied with only having 30 games to play on the NES Classic. Assuming that Nintendo maintains the 30 game limit for an SNES version, we already have a pretty good idea of some of the games they’ll put on it, but I personally hope that they strive to launch it with more than 30.
These older games barely take up any memory, to the point where it wouldn’t even take much to include every SNES game if the system comes equipped with a decent hard drive. Of course, Nintendo isn’t going to do this, but why limit the game selection to just 30? 50 or even 60 games right out of the box sounds like a much better bargain, but even if Nintendo wants to stick to just 30, there are other ways they could expand the library after the SNES Classic launches …
3. Expandable Storage / Game Packs
One of the more peculiar decisions Nintendo made with the NES Classic is that they seem to have designed it as a one-and-done product: you buy the system for $60, maybe an extra controller for another $10, and that’s pretty much it. While this is a pretty good bargain from a consumer standpoint, it seems odd that Nintendo — a company that ostensibly likes making money — isn’t trying to maximize their return by producing related products to sell to NES Classic owners. While I’m certainly not advocating for Nintendo to nickel and dime its customers at every turn with the SNES Classic, it would make a lot of sense if they tried to prolong its shelf life with things such as expandable storage to hold more games or scheduled game pack releases that let you buy more games for the system.
For instance, if the SNES ships with 30 games on board, maybe Nintendo comes back a month later with a pack of 15 or 20 additional games for $20-30. This would allow Nintendo to keep making money off of the system long after everyone already has one in their home and also keep the SNES Classic on peoples’ minds as they continuously add new games to the system.
2. Nintendo eShop Integration
Another route Nintendo could go down in order to keep the SNES Classic alive post-launch is to integrate it with the Nintendo eShop. While this would entail putting built-in Wi-Fi and driving up the price of the system a bit, it would arguably be worth it in the long run. Instead of selling physical content packs at retail, Nintendo could open up the vault and allow users to download individual SNES games.
To be fair, this is something Nintendo has been doing for years with the Virtual Console but the fact of the matter is that this service has been spotty at best and as the NES Classic has shown, the ports being offered on the VC just aren’t as good as they could be. While one might argue that internet access and a digital storefront dilute the simplicity of design that Nintendo is selling with these miniature console re-releases, but I think that it could only bolster the SNES Classic’s appeal if done properly.
1. Wireless Controllers / Longer Cables
This is absolutely the number one issue with the NES Classic that needs to be addressed if Nintendo continues to put out new versions of their retro consoles. For context, original NES controllers had 91″ long cables; not exactly a generous length, but it at least let you sit on the couch while you played. In comparison, the controllers that ship with the NES Classic are a third of that length at just over 30″ long. This means that you’ll have a hard time sitting anywhere but on the floor directly in front of your TV, unless of course you have the system hooked up to a monitor at a desk.
Simply put, this decision makes no sense, as even if Nintendo’s intent was to mimic the retro feel of the original NES, they botched that by shipping controllers with much shorter cables. If Nintendo puts out a mini SNES, they either need to give the controllers a cable with a respectable length or just make the damn things wireless and avoid this issue altogether.