Who needs the Super NES mini when the actual console has four new games arriving in July?
It's raining game tapes.
As with the Classic NES Edition, Nintendo has somehow managed to burrow into the collective reptile brain of a whole lot of video game nerds by announcing the Super NES Classic Edition mini-console. Somehow, a tiny simulacrum of a 26-year-old console containing less than two dozen games has been the hottest news of the week.
And, OK, yeah, I'm interested in it, too, if only because the legitimate cartridge version of EarthBound a friend gave me years ago seems to have vanished when I moved across the country in 2013. But those of us who still game on original Super NES hardware don't need to wait until the end of September — or however long it takes us to lock down a Super NES Classic Edition order — for exciting new Super NES experiences. As it happens, no less than four all-new (or effectively new) Super NES and Super Famicom games should be shipping within the next few weeks. What a weird time to be alive.
The first of these, Kaizou Choujin Shubibinman Zero, shipped in Japan today. Coming to us courtesy of Columbus Circle, the company behind those new Famicom cartridge releases I posted about a few months ago, Shubibinman Zero is a sequel to the TurboGrafx-16 game Shockman. While "new," the game actually appeared on the Super Famicom's Satellaview 20 years ago; the Satellaview, of course, was a Japan-only download service for their Super NES which allowed players to download games and other applications to a flash cartridge. The Satellaview play host to a number of interesting works, including 16-bit remakes of Excitebike and The Legend of Zelda, along with Chrono Trigger sequel Radical Dreamers, which Squaresoft later reworked into Chrono Cross.
Shubibinman Zero isn't one of the better-known games to have made its sole appearance on Satellaview, but even so, it's pretty exciting to have what appears to be an officially licensed physical release of the game. Sadly, it's probably too much to hope that Nintendo will jump on the bandwagon and give us late-issue carts of Excitebike BunBun Mario Battle Stadium or puzzler Sutte Hakkun. While Columbus Circle unsurprisingly will only be publishing the game in Japan, Amazon.co.jp now offers international shipping, meaning you can procure your own copy for about $60... though of course you Super NES owners will need to file down the region-lock tabs in your console first.
Meanwhile, on the English-speaking side of things, Piko Interactive's campaign to bring two formerly Japan-only releases to the U.S. and PAL regions is finally reaching fruition. Iron Commando and Legend should be shipping to their crowdfunding campaign backers within the coming week, and the games are also available for order on their online shop.
Both games are cut from the Final Fight-esque brawler cloth that proved to be so inescapable during the Super NES era, so they probably aren't the most inspiring works imaginable. But, still, they look pretty decent.
"Decent" may be more than we can reasonably hope for with the fourth and final Super NES release for July 2017, Retroism's Unholy Night. Despite being designed by former SNK developers, early word on this fighting game is that it's pretty janky. Maybe that's just high expectations and unforgiving fans speaking, because it would be nice to think that the one genuinely new creation in this entire mix would be worth playing. Whether good or bad, it'll be launching July 10, and you can grab it from Amazon.com.
Admittedly, none of these games look to be on par with the legitimate classics Nintendo has announced for the Super NES Classic Edition. That's not really the point, though. The point is: Wow, how weird is it that the Super NES is seeing so much action right now? What even is a 2017?