It has been rumored that Nintendo is planning to release a miniature version of the Super Nintendo later this year. In the same vein as the NES Classic Edition that was released last year, this new mini SNES should come pre-installed with a bevy of fondly-remembered, acclaimed games. Similar to last year, I fully expect gamers and collectors to line up in droves to buy the SNES Mini. Even more will scour eBay and third-party sellers on Amazon in an effort to get their hands on one.
I personally own an NES Classic. It’s a great little system that oozes nostalgia and brings back so many great childhood memories. The tiny console hasn’t been immune to criticism, however. For one, notorious supply issues plagued the console from release up to its eventual discontinuation. Nintendo’s inability or unwillingness to meet consumer demand for the NES Classic frustrated gamers worldwide. Another issue needs to be considered, though. With the amount of hype and nostalgia that these new-retro consoles generate, is Nintendo sabotaging their main-line home products?
Let’s take the NES Classic, for example. It released just in time for the holidays, and gamers rampantly stumbled over themselves in an effort to acquire one. Meanwhile, Nintendo’s long-forgotten Wii U languished on store shelves as it continued its death march. Perhaps instead of releasing a mini NES, Nintendo could have released a “NES Edition” Wii U console. They could have pre-installed the same 30 games, included a NES controller, and given the system an NES aesthetic treatment. Nintendo could have aggressively priced this special Wii U at $200 and proceeded to collect money hand over fist. It would have been a great last-ditch effort for Nintendo to move more Wii Us and send the console off in style. Essentially, Nintendo themselves killed off whatever minuscule breaths of life the Wii U had left with one minuscule retro console.
Now it has been nearly six months since the NES Classic released. The Wii U is dead, and the Switch is here. Nintendo’s newest console has been a roaring success out of the gate, outselling both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the NPD report for March 2017. While the Switch isn’t perfect, it is a very good console and is currently riding a huge wave of momentum.
The current upward momentum of the Switch is something Nintendo needs to maintain throughout the year, and especially during the highly-competitive holiday shopping season. Sony’s PS4 slim and Pro systems will have been on the market for over a year, and will likely see significant price drops by then. Meanwhile, at this time Microsoft will unleash it’s beast of a console, Project Scorpio. This will be the first holiday for the Switch, and it is in the face of some exceptionally stiff competition. The Switch needs to be pushed by Nintendo, hard. The last thing they want to do is push it to the side by releasing another low-cost retro console that will hog the spotlight.
Finally, Nintendo also needs to consider their focus at the current time with these SNES Mini rumors floating around. Is this really an appropriate time to announce a SNES Mini when Virtual Console support is still missing from the Switch?
When done properly, old-school consoles like the NES Classic and rumored SNES Mini can be occasional fun diversions from today’s mainstream gaming machines. I fully admit that I will buy an SNES Mini if one releases this year. Whenever it releases, it’s going to be a runaway success. Nintendo just needs to be careful that it isn’t successful at the expense of the Switch.