27 years after the first 8-to-16-bit Nintendo video game migration, it might be time to do it all over again, so we called the company to see if they’d give us any more info.
Fans of old-school video games were saddened by the news last week that Nintendo has halted production, for the time-being, of its Nintendo Classic Mini Family Computer (also known as the Mini Famicom). The system’s North American counterpart, the NES Classic Edition, has slipped into a similar state of stasis, after a phenomenally successful four and a half months on the market.
Nintendo didn’t expect demand for its miniature retro consoles, which came loaded 30 games in their internal memory, to be as high as it was, which led to severe shortages and sky-high resale prices. Still, with so much money chasing so few units, it’s surprising that Nintendo isn’t just pumping out more, but website Euro Gamer thinks it knows why. According to anonymous sources, Euro Gamer claims that Nintendo is gearing up to launch a miniature version of the 16-bit Super Famicom/Super NES, the successor to the 8-bit Famicom/NES.
▼ The Super Famicom
Euro Gamer’s sources say Nintendo is aiming to have the miniature Super NES on shelves by Christmas of this year (though judging from how quickly shoppers snapped up the NES Classic Edition, Super NES Classic Editions probably won’t be sitting on said shelves for very long). Considering that Japan, the U.S., and the E.U. all got their versions of the mini 8-bit Nintendo system within a few weeks of each other, a near simultaneous rollout in all three territories for the mini Super Famicom/Super NES seems likely.
As awesome as the rumor is, it doesn’t entirely explain why Nintendo is halting production of the Mini Famicom. After all, that hardware is already designed, so continuing production of the 8-bit mini console while developing the 16-bit one seems perfectly feasible. There’s a good chance, though, that Nintendo doesn’t want to milk too much nostalgia from any one part of its history at a time, and shifting focus from the NES to the Super NES helps keep fans’ interest and energy levels up (while also leaving the door open for a later, second-edition mini NES with a different batch of game than the original model’s).
With our interest piqued, we decided to contact Nintendo Japan directly and ask them for more details about the possibility of a Mini Super Famicom. So we called their Japanese customer service number and asked if they could share any more information with us. After being put on hold for three minutes, the representative came back on the line and told us:
“Thank you for waiting. Our company has no Mini Super Famicom information we can offer.”
“So does that mean you won’t be selling a Mini Super Famicom?” we asked, but once again, the customer service rep dodged our question, saying:
“We cannot give you any more information.”
There’s a lot to like about the possibility of revisiting the greatest Nintendo hits of the 16-bit era, since that was when video games fully left behind the single-screen skill challenges of the early arcade era and truly became the progressive gameplay experiences that define the hobby today. Releasing another retro console also gives Nintendo a chance to correct some of the miscues from the Mini Famicom/NES Classic Edition, such as the undersized controllers of the Japanese unit and the inconveniently short controller cords for the U.S. and E.U. spec units.
Now if Nintendo would just do something about the Super NES’ color scheme…
Follow Casey on Twitter, where he still says the North American SNES had the strongest launch lineup of any video game system ever.