Nintendo explains why only the New 3DS can play SNES games

Nintendo has explained why they limited SNES Virtual Store games to the New 3DS, and the reasons are actually quite sound.

Published Thu, Mar 10 2016 5:05 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 12:00 PM CST

It was a bit concerning when it was annoucned that only the newest of Nintendo's 3DS models could support playing SNES games through the Virtual Console, but apparantly there's a really good reason for this.

Nintendo explains why only the New 3DS can play SNES games |

And those reasons are technical in nature. The CPU, though only slightly less powerful than the new 3DS, just isn't quite powerful enough to actually handle SNES games at all. Those games are emulated using a Perfect-Pixel mode which allows you to play them at the original resolution that they were made in, which theoretically shouldn't be such a technical hurdle. But with the added overhead of emulation in an already limited environment, that just adds to the processing requirements, making it a bit more difficult.

But then, perhaps it's that they don't want to compromise on the experience that users would have. Why let the original 3DS users play it with a horrible experiences, because that would only lead to accusations of "unoptimized" games and poor development when in fact RAM might be limited by just enough to make a substantial difference, or that one more usable core is needed to make it run at the original framerate, and not a frame below. In retrospect, it's not really a bad idea to limit it if you want your customers to actually enjoy the experience and not complain too much.


Jeff grew up in the Pacific Northwest where he fell in love with gaming and building his own PC’s. He's a huge fan of any genre of gaming from RTS to FPS, but especially favors space-sims. Now he's stepped into the adult world by becoming a professional student looking to break into the IT Security world. When he’s not deep in his studies, he’s deep in a new game, revisiting an old game, or testing the extreme limits of his own PC. He's now a news contributor for TweakTown, looking to bring a unique view on technology and gaming.

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