I was lucky enough to grab the much sought-after SNES Classic a couple of weeks ago, and it’s a cool little device for playing a small selection of Super Nintendo games on an HDTV.
However, I’m prepared to take 90s gaming to the next level. I’m talking 16-bit games at 1080p and full compatibility with every game in the SNES library. The retro gaming specialists at Analogue, Inc are providing just that: classic gaming on modern setups with no compromises. It’s the premium throwback console, the Analogue Super Nt.
Many Super Nintendo clones have been released over the years, but they usually have a few issues getting these old games running. A lot of these systems, including Nintendo’s SNES Classic, rely on software emulation to play these games, and, unless the system is extremely powerful (and expensive), getting them to run 100 percent accurate to the original hardware is a difficult task. Even Nintendo’s official solutions can have issues with the sound not matching up right or the colors being a bit off. Such is not the case with the Super Nt.
The Analogue Super Nt is a retro game system built specifically to mimic the hardware of a Super Nintendo, meaning it uses physical SNES cartridges rather than digital ROMs like the SNES Classic. Instead of traditional emulation, the Super Nt is engineered with a Field Programmable Gate Array, or an “FPGA.” An FPGA is basically a reprogrammable chip that can to be programmed to replicate circuitry digitally. The Super Nt is, for all intents and purposes, a regular old Super Nintendo simulated on an FPGA, making the system fully compatible with the full Super Nintendo game library.
Another problem you’d usually run into when trying to hook up an old Super Nintendo to a modern TV is how blurry the image would be, with some noticeable input lag on the controllers. Those old analog signals don’t tend to play well on an HDTV. The main ways to get around these problems were either buy an old, heavy CRT, modify the original hardware and purchase an expensive external scaler, or resort to software emulation and risk the potential accuracy problems with that.
The Super Nt, however, has a digital HDMI-out that allows for up to 1080p resolution and high fidelity 48KHz 16-bit stereo audio, the highest quality audio possible on the SNES. Since the Super Nt is essentially the original Super Nintendo hardware on an FPGA rather than emulation, you get the sharp look of an emulator with the accurate performance of the original console. It’s classic gaming on a modern setup with no compromises! It even has a few extra bonus options, such as an option for scanlines and other screen adjustments.
While the Super Nt does not come bundled with a controller, it does feature the same controller ports as an original Super Nintendo, so you can use old SNES controllers on it. Even the SNES mouse works on it for Mario Paint (and though you’ll be able to hook up a Super Scope, it probably won’t work since those fancy light guns were designed with CRTs in mind). Analogue, Inc is partnering with 8Bitdo, fine makers of retro-style wireless controllers, to provide wireless controllers and receivers to work on the Super Nt. These receivers will even work with modern Bluetooth gaming controllers, like those of the PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch.
Kevin Horton, aka Kevtris, a man who has gone from working in cryogenics to becoming a savior of the retro gaming and hobbyist community, is the lead engineer on the Super Nt project. He has spent many years replicating classic game hardware on FPGA. Horton actually released an unofficial update to Analogue’s NT mini, their NES FPGA-based system, to run games from additional libraries such as the Game Boy and Sega Master System. The potential is there for the Super Nt to be upgraded in a similar way.
The Super Nt is available for pre-order now on Analogue’s website at a price point of $189.99 (plus shipping). It’s actually quite affordable for this type of device. Analogue’s previous retro system, the Nt mini, went for $449, though that was machined from a solid block of aluminum rather than the plastic casing of the Super Nt.
The Super Nt comes in 4 colors: Black, Classic (colored after the North American Super Nintendo), SF (designed to look like a Japanese Super Famicom), and Transparent (for the throwback to when translucent cases on electronics were cool). The systems will start shipping in February 2018.