The SNES Mini Classic is an elusive plug-and-play console from Nintendo that contains 21 games from the original Super Nintendo console. Retailing at around £80/$80 it provides an affordable and easy way to experience some of best games of the 16 bit era. This article identifies and explores some of the key titles that contain strong sci-fi or futuristic themes.
#5 – Contra III: The Alien Wars
Perhaps the least science-fiction game on this list, Contra III features a futuristic setting and a titular war against aliens that quickly gets easy to overlook amidst the frantic run-and-gun action. Its a little disappointing that the UK version of the SNES mini did not receive the localised version of this game, Super Probotector: Alien Rebels, which replaced the two flesh-and-blood heroes with cold, calculating robots. Contra III’s gameplay is pure nostalgia, which leads to one of its chief drawbacks: It’s hard – dang hard. The SNES mini has a handy ‘restore point’ function allowing you to create a save point to hop back into almost instantly – its a lifesaver. Think a boss is coming up? Create a restore point and keep hopping back into it until you win. If you’re going to seriously tackle a hard game then you’ll definitely stand a better chance on the SNES mini.
Its true saving grace (and why it got the fifth spot instead of Megaman X) is its co-op mode. The SNES mini is at its best as a shared experience, and Contra III is one of the better co-op games on the system meaning if you’re playing with a friend you’re sure to load it up regularly. If you’re not playing with a friend…well, maybe stick with Megaman X.
#4 – F-Zero
It should go without saying the entire mini SNES library is composed of quality titles. This is one of them. Mario Kart may be the go-to racing game, but if you want real speed then F-Zero is where you’ll find it. Futuristic racing games have become a whole sub-genre in the wake of this hit. Its lack of multiplayer mode is felt as strongly on the SNES mini as it was upon its original release. Similarly, its Mode 7 graphics hold up well but certainly won’t be for everyone. The game’s ‘star’ is the blue-clad bounty-hunter, Captain Falcon, better known now for his appearance in the Smash Bros fighting games and for the iconic ‘Falcon Punch’. Undeniably fun even to this day if nothing else F-Zero is a welcome change of pace from shooting at things for any sci-fi fan.
#3 – Earthbound
Earthbound is something of a ‘marmite’ game – you’ll either love it or hate it. For roleplaying aficionados its a breath of fresh air – instead of the usual swords and sorcery staples the game follows a baseball-cap wearing, yo-yo wielding young boy (with psychic powers) in a modern (ish) setting. It oozes charm and has an incomparable amount of heart and humour and is a genuinely reward, and touching, adventure. the trade-off is the pretty substantial amounts of grinding you’ll find yourself doing, some sharp difficult curves, quite a lot of text and a fairly static battle system that can be a pretty big turn off. You might not manage to finish it, but if you own a SNES mini then this is one you need to try.
Again, the Snes mini’s ‘restore point’ functionality is a huge bonus here – being able to drop out before the next in-game save point, say, when the washing machine has finished, or you realise you were supposed to leave the house ten minutes ago, generally makes playing these games much more compatible with adult life. One last thing to note about Earthbound is that its the game you’re second least likely to buy a physical copy of: it was never released in the UK and is insanely expensive in the US. The game you’re least likely to buy a physical copy of? Well, that’d be:
#2 – Star Fox 2
Star Fox is pretty legendary – just try typing ‘Do a Barrel Roll’ into Google. Leaving aside the slight irritation the UK version wasn’t localised to have Starwing like the original European release, Star Fox saw ace pilot Fox McCloud lead a team of almost-as-ace pilots on a galaxy spanning mission to stop/explode an evil genius. Its pretty much the best premise going. It was a fantastic rail shooter with lovable anthropomorphic characters who flew space ships. What more could you want? The never-before-released sequel, naturally.
With an expanded cast of characters, new features and modes, but with the same gameplay you remember the addition of Star Fox 2 was a surprising but welcome bonus to the line-up. Nostalgia is great and all, but Star Fox 2 manages to serve up something both nostalgic and brand new.
#1 – Super Metroid
Samus Aran, first lady of gaming, stars in what is often called one of the system’s best games. There were two games in the Metroid series before this but this remains the definitive experience. Super Metroid delivers in every way, and is as easy to pick up and play as it ever was. Alone on an alien world Samus fights and explores her way through the planet, unlocking new equipment, abilities which leads to more exploration. The thing that makes it stand out is how it manages to create what few games of its time did: atmosphere. The music, graphics and gameplay all combined for a transportive experience.
Another solid reason why sci-fi fans should check it out is its connection to a certain space-horror gem. The game is reminiscent of, and inspired by Ridley Scott’s Alien in a number of ways – the least subtle of which is a big flying monster called Ridley.