Attempting to buy the Nintendo Classic Mini NES was a colossal pain in the bum. A lack of available units coupled with bad website management left thousands of customers angry and empty-handed.
Now, the terror is set to unfold all over again with the release of the Super Nintendo Classic Edition. But there is hope. Here's how to increase the odds of bagging your very own SNES Classic on launch day.
We've all felt the frustration of missing out on a popular online product. It sucks - especially if you made it all the way to checkout, only to receive a 'sold out' message at the last second. While there's not much you can do about website crashes and other technical issues beyond your control, there are smarter ways to shop online. Here are a few tips you can employ to increase your chances of success.
Expect limited stock (again)
Nintendo has assured us it will be manufacturing "significantly more units" of the SNES Classic compared to the notoriously hard-to-find Mini NES. However, it has refused to share specific numbers so we have no idea how many will make it to Australia. Demand for the SNES Classic is expected to be much higher than the Mini NES, so the extra supply might not necessarily translate to a smoother shopping experience.
Hopefully the situation won't be quite so dire as the Mini NES - but don't expect it to be a walk in the park either. If you're still recovering from last year's fruitless console hunt, you may want to sit this one out.
Despite massive consumer interest, Nintendo abruptly stopped manufacturing the Classic Mini NES in April. The SNES Classic is expected to receive a similarly short self life. Here's what Nintendo has to say in regards to unit availability:
Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition is currently planned to ship from Sept. 29 until the end of calendar year 2017. At this time, we have nothing to announce regarding any possible shipments beyond this year.
Our long-term efforts are focused on delivering great games for the Nintendo Switch system and continuing to build momentum for that platform, as well as serving the more than 63 million owners of Nintendo 3DS family systems. We are offering Super Nintendo Entertainment System: Super NES Classic Edition in special recognition of the fans who show tremendous interest our classic content.
Assuming Nintendo doesn't have a change of heart, it would seem that the SNES will only be available for a short period of time before disappearing indefinitely. In other words, you need to act fast.
How to pre-order
At this point, the above retailers are just taking everyone's money with no guarantee of delivery. We wouldn't be surprised if they begin issuing a large number of sheepish refunds prior to launch. Still, this is currently your best chance of securing a unit in Australia. Fingers crossed!
How to buy in store
EB Games, JB Hi-Fi, Target and Big W all sold the NES Classic in 2016 (albeit in farcically tiny quantities). It's safe to assume that the same retailers will sell the Super Nintendo Classic Edition. The official Australian launch date is September 30 - keep an eye out for advertisements in the weeks prior to launch and show up on day one.
Online Auction Sites
Sadly, this is likely to be the only available option for many Aussie Nintendo fans - especially if stock is as hard to come by as the NES Classic. You can expect to find plenty of listings on Ebay and Gumtree in the days after launch. You can also expect highly inflated prices. For what it's worth, a retro collector who spoke to POPSUGAR Australia estimated that an original SNES and all the included games would set you back over $700 - so maybe paying double the RRP isn't so bad after all.
Online flash sales
You can bet your bottom dollar that various retailers and daily deal sites will be cashing in on SNES mania with "special" flash sales. Typically, these will kick off at a designated time with stock selling out in minutes, if not seconds. Provided the site's servers are suitably equipped to handle the load, you can increase your chances of "winning" by following these tips:
- Use fast, reliable internet: Well, duh. If your home internet is a bit rubbish, you might be better off buying through your smartphone.
- Log in well before the sale starts: At the very latest, you should open up the site 15 minutes before the sale is set to begin. With that said, don't constantly refresh the page. Hammering refresh will achieve nothing (except possibly crashing the website.)
- Use two devices: Get a friend or family member to follow the same process, thus doubling your chances. (In the unlikely event that you're both successful, you can sell one of them on eBay for a tidy profit. You blackguard.)
- Have a backup 'guest' tab ready: During EB Games' infamous NES Classic website crash, the retailer sent out an urgent tweet urging people not to use their EB World profile. (Previously, customers had been advised to sign into their accounts before the sale to improve their chances.) It therefore might be worth keeping an incognito tab open on the relevant flash sale page, just in case.
- Make sure shipping details can be auto filled: If the computer you're using doesn't have any of your details saved, sort this out ahead of time. If the fields can be auto filled, the checkout process will be much faster. (You can do this by purchasing a random product, paying for it online and immediately cancelling. The cookies relating to order processing will now be saved.)
You should be able to snap up the SNES Classic from overseas buyers - just check if they ship to Australia before going through the whole checkout process. Also be mindful of exchange rates and shipping costs: only buy this way if you're willing to foot the extra expense.
Build Your Own!
If you're desperate for a SNES Classic and don't want to wait, you can build your own. What you'll need is a Raspberry Pi and a 3D printed case. If you don't have a 3D printer, maybe ask a friend nicely to borrow their unit. There are also 3D printing services you can call on for this project.
You can find the instructions for this DIY Super Nintendo here.