Why I can’t wait for the Mini SNES

Nintendo just announced the release date of the Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System (sweet Jesus, that’s a bigger mouthful than trying to knock back a whole Dagwood dog in one bite, let’s just call it the Mini SNES from now on). Hold on to your mothers because things are about to get messy. Despite Nintendo announcing they will be shipping more units for the Mini SNES than they did for the Mini NES, retailers such as JB Hi-Fi and EB Games have already sold out of stock. I know, I know, EB Games have already put it back into stock, but let’s face it, it’s only a matter of time before digital retailers’ shelves become as barren and deserted as a western town with a tumbleweed rolling through it, and we’ll all have to initiate a purge night to see who is worthy of the units that eBay scalpers ending up selling for prices that would make Dr. Evil blush. Despite this, I am as excited as a kid on Christmas for the Mini SNES. I’m still playing my Mini NES; they’re just great, convenient consoles. Not only are they nice and shiny in HD, but being able to create save states anywhere is just bloody handy! The Mini SNES carry all these features over (and comes with an extra controller to boot) on top of having solid list of games coming with it. Super Mario World, Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, Star Fox (and the unreleased Star Fox 2!) and Donkey Kong Country just to name a few. But the one game that I am more excited to experience in this new incarnation than any other is Super Castlevania IV.

I am a self-admitted, die-hard Castlevania fan, and Super Castlevania IV may very well be my favourite game of all time. If not, definitely top five. Castlevania is one of the greatest video game series ever, hands down. If you happen to be one of those under-the-rock dwellers who have never heard of Castlevania, let’s do a quick refresher. The original Castlevania (or in Japan: Devil Castle Dracula) was developed and published by Konami in 1986 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. In it the player controls Simon Belmont who must venture into Count Dracula’s castle to destroy him. The game employs a vibrant colour palette which contrasts well against the mostly gothic aesthetic of each level. The players face off with enemies that seem to be inspired by the old Universal Monsters such as Frankenstein’s Monster, The Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon and of course Dracula himself. Castlevania was received well enough upon release to warrant two sequels, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest (which is such a weird game that I can’t even begin to talk about it here, lest this becomes an article about why it is such a horrible night to have a curse), and Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. These three games are all considered classics in their own right, and set the foundation for the Castlevania series. That is until Castlevania: Symphony of the Night came along, with its large, interconnected world and RPG chops. Don’t get me wrong, I love Symphony of the Night — especially with its Count Orlock boss fight( sorry, Orlox) — but nothing compares to that platforming formula laid down with the original game.

This is why I love Super Castlevania IV so much. Originally released on Halloween of 1991 for the Super Nintendo, it smashes Castlevania into 16-bit glory. A remake of the original 1986 NES game, Super Castlevania IV has expanded gameplay, better graphics, more levels and a soundtrack that will be stuck in your head for days. The soundtrack is so good that Mondo Tees just released it in vinyl with original art work. Gameplay is similar to the originals, but now Simon has the ability to use his whip in eight different directions instead of being limited to just whipping in front. Instead of starting at the front of Dracula’s castle, Simon now has to battle through several levels of forests, caves and ruins before he even reaches the front of the castle. It’s a classic Castlevania platformer, one of the last aside from the super rare Castlevania: Rondo of Blood which was also a prequel to Symphony of the Night which spawned the Metroidvania style of gameplay for the rest of the series.

As soon as I heard about the Mini SNES I said to myself that it couldn’t be a proper release without Super Castlevania IV, and while there are many other games that I also had on my wish list (TMNT: Turtles in Time, BlackThrone, MechWarrior, True Lies) I’m still extremely impressed with the line-up. These Mini consoles embrace everything special about Nintendo as well as the power of nostalgia. The games they give us allow us a direct link to our own, individual gaming histories. Every time I play Super Mario World it takes me back to watching the Mario Bros movie on an old, rickety VHS that would always skip and we constantly had to track because my brothers and I had watched it so much. Afterwards we just had to jump on the SNES for a game. Castlevania is a series that was there at the beginning for me, and I’ve played nearly all of them. I was always going to pick up the Mini SNES, but being able to play Super Castlevania IV with the convenience that the console provides just sweetens the deal so much more.