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Nintendo Explains Why SNES Games Will Only Run On New 3DS

by Matt Miller on Mar 09, 2016 at 12:54 PM

Last week, we reported on Nintendo’s announcement that some Super NES games were finally coming to the 3DS, and further discussed our disappointment that older units aren’t in line to receive the new feature. We reached out to Nintendo regarding the decision to only include the New 3DS in the SNES experience, and today Nintendo provided us additional details.

“As previously announced, New Nintendo 3DS has an improved CPU, which enables Super NES games to run on the system with quality results,” Game Informer was told by a Nintendo representative. “The Super NES games also include Perfect-Pixel mode, which allows players to see their games in their original TV resolution and aspect resolution.”

The clarification indicates that older 3DS units aren’t up to the task of rendering Super NES games at an appropriate quality level for Nintendo’s standards. That clarification is still likely to trouble the millions of players who don’t own one of the newer units, but hunger to play older games like Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, and Super Metroid.

This article includes additional reporting by Brian Shea.


Our Take
The cynical view in this instance is that Nintendo is trying to drive purchases of its New 3DS unit through this new functionality, and that the company is purposefully withholding the functionality on older devices. It’s a possibility, but it’s worth noting that we know next to nothing about the process of enacting backwards compatibility on the 3DS hardware, and emulation can be a significant challenge on any given platform.