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SNES Classic Mini

SNES Classic Mini versus Raspberry Pi with RetroPie

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Over the last couple of years there has been a revival when it comes to retro gaming, 80s and 90s video games and especially retro game consoles with built in games. Last year I was gifted the SNES Classic Mini and even though I was never really into Super Nintendo as a kid (I loved my Mega Drive too much!) I was delighted at playing some classic old skool video games like Street Fighter 2 and of course Mario Kart! Even though I own the SNES mini and I have an original Sega Mega Drive, I wanted to know if there was a gaming system that encompasses all the retro games my hearts so desires from not just one, but various video game consoles.

I did entertain the idea of bagging one of these Pandora’s Box which not only looked epic with the feel and touch of playing retro arcade games, but it was reasonably priced and it could sit pretty anywhere on a surface without taking up too much space in my compact flat.  

Then my imagination spiralled a little and decided that I had all the fun tokens (I don't!) and I should just go big or go home with a table top video arcade machine I had played one similar at the 8-Bit Gaming Conference in Dublin last year, and I may have got over excited screaming at the inanimate object!

But then I decided to calm myself down and think about something different that could satisfy my unhealthy obsession with wanting to play retro games all the live long day! That is when I came across the DIY starter kit for Raspberry Pi with RetroPie. It’s essentially a tiny computer where you build and install yourself that can run a shit tonne of games from so many consoles that you can find in a museum! The price was also cheaper than buying just one retro gaming console, so it seemed like a no brainer! However, before I embark on this little project of actually building my own retro gaming system, I decided to see if it was worth it by comparing it to my SNES plug and play gaming console. With a little research and asking all the questions, here's what I found!

Why the SNES Classic Mini is awesome!

If you’re all about the simple life, the SNES is the way to go. You can literally play this out of the box with no need for stress. It also has that authentic feel you will only get from a genuine Nintendo product and your nostalgia levels will go through the roof!

Why the SNES Classic Mini is a bit of a nightmare!

Yes, you can plug and play straight from the box, but you are rather restricted to what you actually have to play. Unless you know how to modify your console which can be tricky or daunting for a novice, then you are stuck with the 21 pre-installed games. There’s also no game slot like the original SNES or like the Sega Mega Drive all in one console that allows you to use original game cartridges.

Price: £69.00
Number of games: 21
Connections: HDMI, Micro-USB (Power Supply)
Includes: 2 controllers, HDMI cable
Processor: Quadcore ARM Cortex A7
GPU: Mali - 400 MP
Memory: 256 MB DDR3
Storage: 512 MB

Why Raspberry Pi with RetroPie is awesome!

The obvious reason why Raspberry Pi is great for retro gaming nerds is the fact that you can play an infinite amount of classic games from Nintendo64, PlayStation, SEGA, Gameboy, Atari to name a few. By downloading RetroPie you can add all your fave retro games and thousands more. It’s a lot more powerful than your pre-built gaming consoles and can be tweaked and customised to your exact liking. You also can configure and use your controllers from say your Xbox or PlayStation, so purchasing the ‘retro styled’ gamepads are not necessary. The Raspberry Pi also has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity which makes all round usability with different tech (keyboard, controllers etc) a lot easier. It may seem like a daunting DIY project to build your gaming emulator, but it’s quite straight forward with many guides online to help troubleshoot and run you through the basics.

Why Raspberry Pi with RetroPie is a bit of a nightmare!

You will have to spend at least an hour out of your day with the initial setup. It is a project fine friends and not a pre-built gaming console like the SNES Classic Mini, so there’s no getting around that. Sorry not sorry! Also, you will have to pirate certain ROMs for SNES games which is simple enough, but as you don’t own them from Nintendo, you will be illegally downloading.

Price for the starter kit: £64.99
Number of games: Infinite
Processor: Quadcore ARM Cortex A7
GPU: Broadcom VideoCore IV
Memory: 1 GB DDR3
Storage: Micro-SD
Connections: HDMI, 4x USB, Ethernet

In conclusion…

The SNES Classic Mini is faster (with very little lag in gameplay) and simpler. It looks all shiny, authentic and retro from the get go. It’s also 100% legal with Nintendo’s blessing! On the other hand, RetroPie is more powerful, flexible and heaps more customisable.

If you want to get a quick fix of a nostalgic high, then the SNES Classic Mini is your best option. However, if you take off your rose-tinted-retro-specs and see past the need to have a replica of an old gaming system, then with a little patience and configuration the Raspberry Pi with RetroPie allows you to re-discover all the classic games from your childhood from so many fab old skool consoles at your fingertips.

I think I’m going to give RetroPie a go and see if I have the will power to build a piece of tech without losing my shit/starting a fight with a screwdriver! I'll let you know how I get on!

 

5 Thoughts About The SNES Classic Mini

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I never was into Super Nintendo (SNES) growing up. Yes, I have just blasphemed and I’m sure your eyes are bleeding with such an outrageous statement! My only real brush with Nintendo was the Game Boy that I adored. My parents were fine advocates of second hand items “Give it a wipe and it’ll be as good as new again!” So, when it came to game consoles, my brother and I were always years behind the latest gaming trend. When my friends were swooning over the original Nintendo, I was playing Frogger on the Atari. When they advanced to the Sega Mega Drive or SNES (nobody had both! Pick a side!) I was patiently waiting for tape cassettes to load in my ZX Spectrum and then playing Paperboy and Dizzy. So, when my mother bought me a brand-new Sega Mega Drive I cherished it like it was my own child/pizza! 

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I received the SNES Classic Mini for my birthday last year and of course I was delighted! Any retro gaming console with built in games is going to have me salivating like these! Plus I always had a soft spot for Street Fighter on the SNES after I played against my next-door neighbour when I was about 12 and hammered the shit out of him with Ryu’s dragon punch and hurricane kick!

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But I digress...

I unpacked the console and immediately Forest Gumped my way to setting it up without instructions… because instructions are for the weak! I then executed the sitting lotus position on the floor mere centimetres away from the telly and then proceeded to gush out loud. A lot of people are not fans of the smaller reboots of plug and play retro consoles. It’s like ‘real’ DJ’s getting pissed off at other DJ’s who don’t use vinyl because they think they’re bastardising a much-loved skill and artistry. Yes, the old skool ninja ways are still hugely important and the quality is no doubt pure, but I also think that if you’re enjoying it, then why does it matter how it’s produced? Here were my 5 initial thoughts when I set about playing my new SNES Mini for the first time.

One

“OMG! This is so tiny and cute I can hold it in one hand and not freak out that I’m going to break it for being a clumsy smart ass.” The SNES Mini is very compact and light and feels more like a toy prop compared to the original SNES from 1992. I may have picked it up, waved it in the air a bit and thought, “Wow, this looks like it’s fake!” and “Why isn’t this a Mega Drive?!”

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Two

“If this doesn’t have Street Fighter, then I hope you kept the receipt!” The SNES Mini does of course have Street Fighter 2 pre-installed ready to go. It also has 20 other retro games including the classics like Super Mario, Donkey Kong, Zelda and Contra.

Three

“Where the hell do I connect the controllers?” The SNES Mini is not an exact functional replica of the original. The main features on the console are just for aesthetic purposes. So, no you can’t use cartridges as the slot is just an illusion of lies! And yes, you might have a few minutes of shouting hysterically that your console is broken, and then realise (with a little patience and deep breathing) that the original controllers ports are also make believe! The new controller ports (Nintendo Wii remote style) are stealthily hidden in a compartment under the pretend ones. Sneaky genius! 

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Four

“Where is the mains plug or is this so advanced I have to remotely power the SNES Mini with thoughts and prayers?!” The small console does come with a USB lead, but you will need your own plug to connect it to a power supply. This isn’t a big deal as I used my iPhone plug that was kicking about the house, so you will be able to grab one from your smart phone or other generic electrical device to make the magic happen!

Five

“Oh yeah, I forgot how much I actually suck at Mario!” After having irrational meltdowns setting up the really quite simple SNES Mini, it was amazing to relive the memories and give my thumbs a workout! If you just want a taste of good old Nintendo retro gaming, then these handy consoles with built in games are fantastic. However, if you want to immerse yourself in the full Shangri-La of 1990s gaming, then you can purchase a second hand original SNES Classic quite easily online from a specialist retro gaming shop like The R.A.G.E for my Irish peeps and RetroPlayers for my UK pals! You can then buy all the old cartridges your heart so desires!

For me as a part-time SNES lover, the Super Nintendo Classic Mini pushes my buttons!

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