One of the bigger surprises of the Nintendo Direct that recently aired was that Super Nintendo games would be made available on the New 3DS as part of the Virtual Console. This brings the number of supported platforms to five; six if you happened to be an early adopter of the platform. There’s a lot of nostalgia in its initial lineup, but how well do this stack up?
Let’s get my sole major criticism out of the way. Their excuse for not selling these titles on the 3DS, making them New 3DS exclusive, is a little flimsy in my own eyes. I get that emulating the performance of a 20+ year old device on hardware that it’s not designed for, and keeping good performance and a quality experience is a big deal, but it’s a disappointing reason for splitting the original and New 3DS hardware up.
If that’s the case, as a 3DS Ambassador – a person who bought the 3DS at launch – why am I able to play certain Gameboy Advance games with slightly reduced system functionality? I even have Metroid Fusion and The Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap currently running on my New 3DS! Surely this would have taken more of an effort to run to satisfactory standards than the Super Nintendo library?
Back to the Super Nintendo games, and if I was to recommend that you do one thing before even beginning to play any of the Super Nintendo games, it would be to switch to original resolution in the touch screen Virtual Console menu. You’ll need to do this for every game, but it reduces the blurry textures at the cost of a few pixels. Since it doesn’t fill the whole screen anyway, it doesn’t make much of a difference and makes the games look as intended.
Other than that, all the additions to the experience are about adding and managing save states, which are an old staple of the Virtual Console experience. This is in addition to each of the in-game save features, but a lot of them are designed to trigger only at certain points. Super Mario World is a particular offender here as it triggers the option to save after every Ghost House or Fortress. This makes all the games more accessible for the casual audience, so it’s welcome here.
As for the game selection, there’s no better start. Super Mario World is still one of the best platformers out there, though you’ll likely have it on various other formats already. Earthbound is however important, especially given as it is the developer’s inspiration behind 2015 cult hit Undertale. It’s definitely seen a resurgence in popularity over the past few years and its appearance as part of the launch of the Super Nintendo Virtual Console is no happy accident.
I will certainly not beat about the bush in saying that Super Metroid is still my number one game on the system and being able to play it on the go is a new thing for me. Super Metroid also makes the distinction between NTSC and PAL versions on offer, most notably with the language options. All four games do have the faster 60hz refresh rate on offer with the NTSC versions though, which certain audiences will prefer.
There was a version of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the Gameboy Advance years ago, but having the original Super Nintendo version to hand in this day and age is still going to keep me occupied during the morning commute. Having finished its “sequel” on the 3DS a few months back, it’s nice to go and revisit the SNES classic.
Then there are the games that are coming in the next fortnight to European audiences. F-Zero and Super Mario Kart are the racing staples of the era and well paired for the game launch promotion, while Donkey Kong Country and Donkey Kong Country 2 are among Rare’s most celebrated games from when they were part of Nintendo. Their inclusion, especially part two, is a no brainer.
With some upcoming releases for the Wii U, it would not be a major surprise to see the likes of Star Fox or Kirby Super Star come to the Virtual Console. As for the Super Nintendo Virtual Console on 3DS, I’d say they’re worth a punt. They perform as well as they did back in the day, in some cases are a fraction of the cost of their Super Nintendo equivalents today, so it’s really comes down to if you’re okay with squinting at the small screen.
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