No wait, that's not it. What the whole world wants to know is this... why the hell do we have to buy a New 3DS to play Super NES games that were released over twenty-five years ago? The answer is as sobering as it is surprising. Put bluntly, the 3DS as it was first designed in 2011 isn't very good hardware. Like, at all. Oh sure, everyone was dazzled by the near GameCube-quality visuals of its launch title Pilotwings Resort, but it's become increasingly obvious in the years since that the system wasn't designed for the long haul.
|Yes, Abdul's stand looks like an|
Atari 5200 character, but trust me, this
was hella impressive back in 1999.
(image from Moby Games)
The 3DS had a big change in architecture from the Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance; it uses a GPU that specializes in stereoscopic 3D. When you bring software from an era when games were composed of sprites and backgrounds into an emulator on the 3DS, you wind up doing a lot of work in a very roundabout way. And that offsets the performance gains you get with the CPU. That’s why I said “they [Genesis games] probably won’t work out.”
|We did eventually get Gunstar Heroes,|
so I guess I can't complain TOO much.
(image from USGamer)
Things are getting pretty nerdy all up ins, so let me put it to you in simpler terms. Emulating classic systems on the 3DS is like dicing tomatoes with a butter knife. It's possible in theory, but it's messy in practice, and it doesn't take long before you realize you've got the wrong tool for the job.
This leads me to the unfortunate conclusion that the original 3DS was never the right tool in the first place. It was incredibly shortsighted for Nintendo to develop a handheld which can't handle their library of classic games, especially when you stop to consider that Sony's last generation PSP can. The New 3DS has the muscle to emulate Super NES games and a whole lot more, but from where I'm standing, the system looks like a Band-Aid for a self-inflicted wound.
* Granted, there is an emulator called BlargSNES which kind of runs Super NES games on the old 3DS, but its compatibility is limited and even the games that do run don't run perfectly. Blarg, indeed.