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PaigeFTW: The Cynicism Of The SNES Classic

Nintendo’s announcement that it will release an SNES Classic just in time for the holiday season fills me with cynicism more than delight.

            The details are simple: The mini console will contain two controllers and 21 solid, critically acclaimed games, including Earthbound, Final Fantasy III, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and the never-before-released Star Fox 2. It retails for $79.99 and releases Sept. 29, where it will surely find its way beneath many a Christmas tree.

            The litany against the SNES Classic — a blatant cash-grab repackage of titles already available through Nintendo’s Virtual Console service that banks entirely on the warm tendrils of consumerist nostalgia — is easily overcome by, well, nostalgia.

Playing those old, classic titles with those old 16-bit graphics with that old, blobby controller (joysticks still a distant future away) is a direct injection of pure longing for the halcyon days now long past. Games were simpler then — wholesome, even. They captured a purity so rarely invoked today.

How can I begrudge a person for longing for something of those golden years again? I cannot.

But I can begrudge Nintendo’s decision to once again pursue only a limited production run (only through the end of 2017). The company claims this is because it needs to focus on its other projects (namely the Switch), which only comes off as disingenuous.

Limited supply ramps up demand, and demand is very, very high for the SNES Classic — more so than it was for the NES Classic, which is currently enjoying a prosperous run in the secondhand market. Nintendo knows this is a sure bet with a guaranteed payoff.

This is business, I know. Nintendo is, at the end of the day, a company with a bottom line. And yet, this is a move so contrary to the joy of those old games that it makes that is disappointing, all the same.