Last year, Nintendo released the Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System, known better as the mini NES. Upon release, it was a huge success, selling out within minutes to consumers and scalpers alike. Unfortunately, thanks to Nintendo’s notorious supply issues, getting your mitts on one after launch was an impossibility unless you wanted to pay over double the retail price. Still, it was a critical success, barring a few cord length issues.
This year Nintendo will repeat the trick with the Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which is even more of a mouthful than it’s big brother!
Unsurprisingly, Pre-orders for this nifty little machine have once again sold out, though Nintendo maintains it will not suffer from the same supply issues that plagued the mini NES and the Switch. (we will hold our judgement until after launch to see if they are correct.)
If the success of the mini NES and SNES have told us anything, it is that retro sells. And it sells big.
The world is going through a retro phase at the moment. Former movie series’ are being rebooted to varying degrees of success. Planet of the Apes. Yes. The Mummy. No. High-street brands, long dead, are returning to their, ahem, former glory and music is seeing the return of the LP as a viable listening experience, if a little hipster. We prefer the good ol’ CD and Walkman pairing ourselves.
Recently, Sony has attempted to capitalise on this trend. The creators of the PlayStation have remade or remastered many of their games in recent years. Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts have all got the treatment. Crash and the not yet released Final Fantasy VII are full remakes, and Kingdom Hearts was remastered. Again.
But, could Sony join their Japanese competitor and release a scaled down mini version of their very first console, the PSOne?
The short answer is yes. Sony could very easily manufacture a PSOne Mini and fill it with all manner of games from the past. Spyro, Gran Turismo, Tomb Raider and Metal Gear, could all make their way onto the console. These are games unlikely to get the remake treatment that Crash Bandicoot has been given, yet Sony could still get in on that sweet retro cash without the investment in rebuilding them from the ground up.
The biggest stumbling block to a mini PSOne would be licensing issues. The mini NES was filled mainly with Nintendo published games. They own the IP, so they don’t have to accrue licensing rights. Capcom, Konami and Namco were the only publishers Nintendo had to do business with for the mini NES.
The PSOne Mini would not have that luxury. The cost of paying publishers could outweigh the benefits of the system, something Sony would be aware of if they planned such a console. What would Square Enix charge for Tomb Raider, a PlayStation icon, for example? Depending on the answer, it simply might not be worth it for Sony. Plus, would Square or Konami, even allow such huge and still running franchises to be used on a system like a potential PSOne mini. If you removed games like Crash and Final Fantasy 7 (already or being remade) and Tomb Raider and Metal Gear (currently running series/publishers unlikely to allow it) then would the system even sell that well? Seems unlikely.
Sony doesn’t have a console on the horizon for this year, a PSOne Mini could be the ideal answer, especially if Sony has a weak first party game line up for this fall. It looks unlikely that Sony will release a PSOne mini ever, let alone this year, but if they do, and with certain games, it would almost certainly rival any Nintendo mini system for popularity. And we would be first in the queue to get our claws on one.