Back in the days when Nintendo and Sega ruled the console gaming world, I used to play all kinds of SNES games with friends. I remember well how we played games like Super Mario World, Mario Kart or Donkey Kong Country with each other on a single system. It was lots of fun, not because the games had super shiny graphics and all, but because game design, replayability and the overall experience was better than anything you get today.
While you can buy SNES games as virtual console games for Nintendo Wii or Wii U, I think that Nintendo failed to tap into the online gaming market. Yes, the Wii has Internet play and all, but as far as I know, you can't really fire up Super Mario World on the system to play the game with a friend in another apartment, town or even continent.
I can name more than ten games out of my head that I'd like to play with friends online but it seems that this is not possible right now.
Enter SNESbox. I discovered the service a while ago and was not really sure if I should write about it as there is a high chance that it will get pulled if Nintendo finds out about it. Then again, Nintendo may be clever this time and broker a deal with the service instead.
So, SNESbox provides you online access to 1861 Nintendo SNES games that you can play on the site either with a keyboard or a gamepad that you connect to your computer. What makes this service special is that you can play games with a friend together. It provides you with online multiplayer for all the best - English - SNES games.
The site offers all classic SNES games, from Super Mario World and Kart over Mortal Kombat and Donkey Kong to Contra and Zelda. Not all games are multiplayer games, and the selection of single player games is excellent as well. I have already mentioned Zelda, but you also get access to excellent games like Chrono Trigger, Super Metroid, Earthbound, all Final Fantasy games or Super Star Wars.
To play a game simply click on it. It takes a couple of seconds to load the emulator and game. First thing you see is the selection menu where you can select to play alone or with a friend via the Internet. If you select the multiplayer option, a custom url is generated that you need to provide your friend with. You can send it via email, chat or any other form of communication that you have available. The game then waits for your friend to load the link before it starts. Single and multiplayer are from here on out identical again.
First time users need to configure the keyboard setup first before they can play. A click on load defaults here sets the keys to the defaults, which means you move with WASD and control the A,B,X and Y buttons with K,J,I and U. Select is set to T and Start to space. It is highly recommended to connect a gamepad to the PC though as it improves game play significantly.
Games play in a small frame in the browser window by default. A fullscreen mode is available, but only if you connect a gamepad to the computer. Before you do that, you need to download a small file and run it on your computer. I have not tested that yet as I never tried to connect a pad to the PC before.
If you want to play with a friend, you have to select the multiplayer game mode the game provides you with. You share a single screen so that you always see what your friend is up to and vice versa. I have not tried Mario Kart yet but suppose it will use the split screen technique for multiplayer just like the original games did.
Note that saving games in the game itself does not appear to be working. You can however save the state of the game if you create an account with the site. When you do, that option becomes available at the bottom of the screen when you move the mouse over it.
For some games, saving is essential as you can't really play them in one go. To create an account click on the save game state icon when you play a game and then on the sign up link that appears next to sign in. Just enter a username, password and email address and you are good to go.
When you load a game that you saved previously, you get the option to load the game's saved state instead to continue where you stopped playing the last time. Keep in mind that you only get one saved state per game.
A click on the settings button at the top opens a nav bar with a search option. If you are looking for a particular game, use it to find it.
What more? If you are more the NES kind of player, you can switch to the system at the top to play NES games online instead. Game selection is great and the two player over Internet option is available for these kind of games as well.
Emulation for the most part is great and fluent. When I tried Donkey Kong with a friend we heard a nerve wreaking sound every now and then which was not there in the original games. Our solution was to reduce the volume of the game to reduce its impact. Not a big problem as we talked a lot while playing anyway.
SNESbox provides you with the best SNES multiplayer gaming experience that you can get. While it is the online mode that sets it apart from other sites that let you play Super Nintendo games on the Internet, its excellent selection of games and ease of use make it the top destination for all things SNES and NES.
Now, I only wish the developers would create a Genesisbox, Amigabox and C-64box as well.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.