I feel like a chump. Nintendo’s SNES Classic system released this morning and I spent the better part of my morning driving between Targets and Walmarts looking for a small plastic box that resembles one of my favorite childhood toys. I didn’t get one, but I did waste a lot of gas.
I couldn't find an SNES Classic this morning, so I just threw 80 dollars in the garbage.
— Ben Reeves (@BenjaminReeves) September 29, 2017
I feel like a fool, because I really don’t need an SNES Classic for the games. I’ve already played most of the titles collected on the system, and if I want to play them again, I still own most of them (a couple times over in some cases). Hell, I still have my original SNES system.
So, I really don’t need an SNES Classic…but I want one.
I’ve been mulling over this dilemma for several months, because, at first blush, the SNES Classic seems like an incredible deal (read our review). For only $80 you get these games:
Contra III: The Alien Wars, Donkey Kong Country, EarthBound, Final Fantasy III, F-Zero, Kirby Super Star, Kirby's Dream Course, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Mega Man X, Secret of Mana, Star Fox, Star Fox 2, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting, Super Castlevania IV, Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, Super Mario Kart, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Super Mario World, Super Metroid, Super Punch-Out!!, and Yoshi's Island.
That’s 18 SNES Classics, 1 never released Star Fox title, and 2 Kirby games. Seriously, that list is not filled with fluff. Those are all great games, and many of them hold up decades later. Games like Final Fantasy III, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Metroid aren’t just some of the best games on the SNES, they are some of the best games of all time.
And that’s part of the problem. These games are so good that they’ve been repackaged and resold several times over. If you’re anything like me, you’ve already bought most of the games on that list when they came to Nintendo’s Virtual Console. If you want to play some amazing SNES games, you don’t need to spend $80.
To gather some actual data, I turned to the online price charting resource PriceCharting to get a picture for what these games would cost you if you bought them all today in cartridge form. Here is the approximate resale value for each game these days:
- Contra III: The Alien Wars – ≈ $36
- Donkey Kong Country – ≈ $17
- EarthBound – ≈ $135
- Final Fantasy III – ≈ $46
- F-Zero – ≈ $8
- Kirby Super Star – ≈ $42
- Kirby's Dream Course – ≈ $26
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – ≈ $28
- Mega Man X – ≈ $27
- Secret of Mana – ≈ $50
- Star Fox – ≈ $12
- Star Fox 2 – Doesn’t exist, but I’m willing to sell you something.
- Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting – ≈ $18
- Super Castlevania IV – ≈ $38
- Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts – ≈ $22
- Super Mario Kart – ≈ $25
- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars – ≈ $48
- Super Mario World – ≈ $18
- Super Metroid – ≈ $47
- Super Punch-Out!! – ≈ $25
- Yoshi's Island – ≈ $29
Grand total: $697
For comparison’s sake, here are the prices for all of the games featured on virtual console.
- Contra 3: The Alien Wars – NA
- Donkey Kong Country – $7.99
- EarthBound – $9.99
- Final Fantasy III – Not on Wii U virtual console, but you can buy it for about $20 for the DS
- F-Zero – NA
- Kirby Super Star – $7.99
- Kirby's Dream Course – $7.99
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – $7.99
- Mega Man X – $7.99
- Secret of Mana – ON wii
- Star Fox – NA
- Star Fox 2 – You Wish
- Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Hyper Fighting – NA
- Super Castlevania IV – $7.99
- Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts – Wii
- Super Mario Kart – $7.99
- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars – $7.99
- Super Mario World – $7.99
- Super Metroid – $7.99
- Super Punch-Out!! – $7.99
- Yoshi's Island – $9.99 (DS version)
Grand total: About $110
Note: I’ve listed the Wii U virtual console price, but you might be able to find some of these on the original Wii or 3DS as well.
As you can see, if you want to go out and buy the original versions of all the games featured on the SNES Classic, you’ll need to spend almost $700. When you look at it that way, the SNES Classic seems like a pretty good deal. But don’t pull out your wallet and rush off to the store just yet. How much time are you really going to spend with all the games on that list? If you simply cherry pick the 2-5 games you really want, you’ll probably be out some money. In fact, unless you know you’re going to spend a lot of time with more than 10 games on that list, you’re better off buying each game individually from the virtual console.
Of course, the real reason that people want the SNES Classic in the first place, isn’t the games – it’s the nostalgia. Nintendo has built a tiny piece of plastic that feels like a long summer afternoon at my cousin’s cabin (the good ones). I’m sure a lot of people are hoping to relive the happy times they had with their original SNES by setting this small SNES-shaped console next to their TV. But, if that’s all you want, why not buy an actual SNES console, because you can find those online for around $50. Or, you could just put a cardboard picture of the SNES next to your TV, because how much do you look at the machine after you’ve started playing games anyway?
On the other hand, maybe you’re looking forward to holding that rounded SNES controller in your hand one more time. You don’t need to spend $80 to do that either. There are cheap SNES knockoffs for modern consoles for as little as six bucks. I’m partial to 8Bitdo’s SN30, which looks and feels like the original thing and works with the PC, Mac, iOS, Android, Wii U, and the Switch. I found SN30s for sale on eBay for less than $30.
If you still want an SNES Classic after all this, that’s fine. If you’re happy to spend $80 for a few hours of warm nostalgia, that’s great. If you’re excited to give Nintendo $80 because all you want to do is play Star Fox 2, more power to you. I won’t stop you. It’s your money.
However, if the SNES Classic comes out with limited supply, and you’re not able to get one, maybe that’s not the end of the world (it doesn’t have Chrono Trigger anyway). There are plenty of ways to experience Nintendo’s classic games, and myriad ways to relive the 16-bit glory days. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go get in line to pick up my SNES classic.