The SNES Classic has a very well-curated, if incomplete, library of classic games for the console. But, for all the completionists out there, or all the people who don’t want to fiddle with a Raspberry Pi and a bunch of emulator software, somebody’s already figured out how to cram even more games onto the SNES Classic.
As PC Mag reports, the SNES Classic has the same hardware as the NES Classic, so hackers already knew what they were working with. If you know what you’re doing, you can crack the system with a simple software tool (and a slight risk of ruining your system) and start adding games. Curiously, the SNES Classic has enough memory for up to three times as many games as it ships with, which makes us wonder if perhaps Nintendo has grander plans for the tiny little box. After all, it’s made a fortune selling classic games via the eShop and the Virtual Console.
Likely you’re already wondering if this is legal, and that’s a thorny question without any good answer. The short answer in most cases is “no, but also nobody cares if you do it.” A lot of old video games are classed as “abandonware,” kind of the digital equivalent of that ratty old building stuck in probate that lurks in every neighborhood. The vast majority of video games are made, released, and then forgotten, except by the fans who’ve played them and the people who bought them.
A lot of video games were made by companies that wound up folding or being sold off, and figuring out who owns the rights to what isn’t worth the thousands of dollars that search would take, especially when there’s no money in figuring it out. So downloading and playing an old game may well be technically illegal, but it’s not clear most of the time who the “victim” of this crime would even be.
Still, that might soon become a pressing question. The SNES Classic is selling briskly, even without the NES Classic’s shortages. And interest in classic games and gaming history is on the rise. So, if you have an SNES Classic, maybe hold off on cracking it just yet.