While Nintendo’s NES and SNES Mini consoles set Target checkout queues ablaze at their release, evoking nostalgia and curiosity among many, one of their biggest complaints (besides from the short controller cable lengths) was their locked nature. The libraries of games included were well curated – no argument there – but Nintendo missed out on a great opportunity to expand revenue but not granting the devices access to the internet – possibly to services like Virtual Console.
Looking aside from making money, many were disappointed about the limited list of games the consoles could play. You were bound to get bored of them… eventually. A manufacturer from China is hoping to address this problem as they’ve developed a peripheral that allows original SNES cartridges to be played through the SNES and NES Mini’s. Sporting an aesthetic that wouldn’t look out of place for any other add-on you might have plugged into a console in the early 90’s, the Classic 2 Magic simply plugs into the power port of the Mini’s and is then plugged into a power source, essentially acting as a pass-through.
Better yet, it’s region free. This means it’s compatible with all Mini’s around the world but will also play SNES cartridges from any region too. The device also sports its own USB port, meaning ‘backup’ ROM’s of games can be played. If you get a bit sick of the SNES, emulation support for a bunch of different systems is also a feature. Yes, that now means you play Vectrex games on your SNES or NES Mini. Get keen.
You might be wondering how the Classic 2 Magic works. While no disassembly of a Mini is required, it appears to mod the firmware of the Mini console – akin to something like the hakchi2 softmod that enables emulation. This adds a hardware component, and as far as I know, this is the first device that allows you to play actual cartridges on the Mini’s.
There is of course a legal grey area with using ROM’s (ahem, “backups”) but surely there isn’t anything wrong with using original cartridges. At the very most it likely breaks Nintendo’s terms of service, if that bothers you – but hey, I’m a simple video game writer, not a lawyer.
The Classic 2 Magic is set to release in September for a reasonable price of $60 (presumably in US dollars). Currently, there are suppliers set for China and Europe, with America and “rest of the world” coming soon.
This hardware simply caches the ROM to the USB drive and then plays it using Hakchi2 CE. The only difference here is allowing you to use a dumped ROM from your own cart vs other sources. The system still emulates the Cartridge using the classics built in Emulator “Canoe”.
Canoe has issues playing PAL titles and many other NTSC & NTSC-J titles have various issues as well. While many of these are now fixed when adding games using Hakchi2 CE, I’m not sure it’s able to patch ROMS that were dumped from physical carts. PAL titles require RetroArch+Cores in order to play correctly.
– viral_dna TeamHakchiResources