How Good Is The Mini SNES’s Emulation?

How Good Is The Mini SNES’s Emulation?

Image: Youtube (Digital Foundry)

Thanks to the wonder that is Australia Post, most people who pre-ordered the Mini SNES will get their retro console sometime today. But as was the case with the Mini NES, the question remains: how good is the Mini SNES’s emulation?

Digital Foundry got their hands on the Mini SNES, and good news: some of the scaling issues present in the Mini NES have been fixed. The 4:3 mode in particular is a lot better to use, thanks to the addition of some interpolation that gets rid of distortion and shimmering when scrolling.

That said, the Mini SNES has some quirks of its own. It’s pretty good, but the CRT filter is a bit crap. There’s some weird visual noise that can be visible when you slow the action down, and sound playback is delayed by a few frames compared to real hardware.

All in all, the Mini SNES works well enough in practice. The sound is decent in general, mind you, and don’t forget the rewind feature that lets you roll back the last minute of gameplay.

For those getting their Mini SNES today: what will be the first three games you play? Star Fox, Star Fox 2 and F-Zero games for me.


  • Got mine from JB Hifi on Saturday. Plugged it in for a moment to make sure it works then put it away for now as work and other factors are in the way.

    But I am looking forward to playing some Super Mario RPG. Started to on the Wii Virtual Console but never got to finish it.

    Kind of amazing how since the Wii U and Switch, Nintendo still hasn’t gotten back to where it was in terms of library offerings.

  • Super Mario World
    Star Fox (was expecting it to be Star Wing like it was during the SNES days)
    Megaman X
    Super Metroid
    In that order is what I played last night.

    • Our PAL SNES mini has the 60hz US games, so it is correctly star fox.

      I love our case design, but will happily have the 60hz roms on board.

      • You’ll probably find 60 hz is nothing but detrimental to a game like starfox.
        To begin with the game runs at less than 20 fps, often less than 10…
        And for games using external chips, PAL hardware is an order of magnitude more capable. (well, OK, not quite, but a critical capability is about 3 times better on PAL systems than NTSC thanks to a quirk about how those two TV systems work)

        If anything for a game like starfox the 50hz PAL version is going to be the better version.

        As for the snes mini… As I have a Super Famicom to hand I can say definitively that real hardware runs the game better.
        I think the framerate is about the same, but the snes mini introduces a huge amount of extra input lag.
        Can’t be helped unfortunately.
        Emulation will do that.
        As will HDMI and trying to run such a thing on modern HD televisions.
        All of which individually cause games to be less responsive and more laggy, but all of them together? Ouch.

        Don’t get me wrong, the games are perfectly playable, but when you have a real snes using a CRT television to do direct comparisons, it’s very obvious.

        anyway, 60 hz is not a benefit for starfox. Never has been. In fact the PAL version likely runs at a higher framerate and resolution. (because PAL systems are vastly superior if expansion hardware is involved).

        Now F-Zero though… THAT benefits a huge amount from being 60 hz…

        • You have confused two separate statements as being connected.

          We have the 60hz roms on the snes mini, which is in the large majority very good! See f-zero etc.

          Starfox is called starfox because it’s the 60hz version. It was never going to run well either way, i don’t really care.

          • Ah, you’re right.
            “so it is correctly star fox”

            Sorry about that.
            What I said is true, but not really relevant to what you said. XD

            All I can say in a general sense is that starfox runs worse on this thing than it does on my Super Famicom.
            But the reasons don’t seem entirely obvious.

  • I had a chance to buy one of these off the shelf yesterday and ended up walking away. My main factor was that I already have a Raspberry Pi with a SNES collection on it. I wasn’t sure if paying $120 for a console with a smaller collection of games was worth the price and effort

  • Got mine online from JB yesterday. First game I played was Donkey Knog Country. Ended up buying some cable extenders as the controller length is terrible. I’m happy with it.

  • I picked mine up from EB Games on Saturday so I was playing it most of the weekend, and I was playing with my 7 year old daughter and showing her the games I liked to play when I was growing up. She found a lot of them somewhat difficult to play although she enjoyed playing co-op Kirby and she’s also enjoying playing Super Mario RPG on her own.

    One comment she made was “These controllers feel nice”. I just nodded “Yes, yes they do”.

    • One comment she made was “These controllers feel nice”. I just nodded “Yes, yes they do”.

      Until you play Mario Kart for a couple of hours and your left thumb is about to fall off…

      • For me it’s my middle fingers. The underside edge (if you can call it an edge :P) of the controller just presses right into the side of that first joint so badly, gets really sore before long.

  • It had better be better at emulation than the wiiU is at emulating 64 titles. That delay/input lag turns me right off.

    • That input lag is due to HDMI, not the emulation. HDMI naturally has some input lag in it which is unfortunate, and different TVs also have a certain degree of lag even in “Game” mode. It’s usually not a big deal unless the game is very specific about timing (for example, Guitar Hero/Rock Band – that’s why those games allow you to calibrate the game to suit your TV).

      The only 64 game I really found the HDMI input lag to be an issue with was Donkey Kong 64 as there was a specific minigame in it that was next to impossible without constantly pausing and unpausing the game.

  • I picked mine up on Saturday, invited some mates over for a few beers and games. I was surprised by how many of my friends wanted to play some retro nostalgia, only to have never actually played any of the games on the mini Snes, and then admit they only ever had Segas and exclaim that “This game sucks”. It felt a little awkward watching them struggle with the first few zones in DK Country and the games mechanics e.g. not holding down the sprint button. These people I had reminisced about games with for years and suddenly they didn’t know the 101’s of Super Punch Out or even Super Mario World. I felt like I didn’t know these people at all now.

    • Hey man, I only ever had a Mastersystem (up until the PS1) and I can see the value in DK Country and the rest of the SNES lineup. What kind of self respecting gamer doesn’t get excited over 16 bit era games of any variety, sans nostalgia? I’m sorry, but these people… these sub-human troglodytes… they’re not your friends.

      • I second all of this statement, starting from having a SEGA right through to their not your friends for the aforementioned reasons

  • I should’ve gone for store pickup. Mine was posted last Wednesday with a tracking number (that doesnt work, fuck you Australia Post, you’re useless) and its still not here 🙁

    • Just to be clear, if you’re not aware, “received postage information” or whatever it is is NOT confirmation of being posted. If you order was shipped by EB, you’re probably like me, shipping information lodged on Wednesday, actually posted on Friday.

  • ran through a few of the games like ghost n goblins, contra, castlevania, donkey kong and man, i fogot how hard games were back then. unforgiving!

  • I got the NOT SO Super SNES Classic Mini SFC HDMI Game Console this morning. Plugged it in and so far i find this unit pathetic. First thing I noticed was that it aint got the nice on screen menu shown in all my pre-purchase checks. What comes up could have been drawn by ‘Donkey Kong’ with a crayon. The games themselves were also drawn by the same monkey but with an 8bit crayon. Did I get stung or are the seller/reviewer’s really that easily pleased. When I play the same games on my old (steam powered) SNES the quality is far superior, yet this wee unit is supposed to give ‘stunning playback and graphics’ in comparison. Trying to play ‘Ghouls n Ghosts’ when your main character is a couple of jumbled pixels is impossible. Any suggestions appreciated?
    Thanks in Advance.

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