Image: Damien McFerran / Nintendo Life

Not all micro-consoles are created equal, the SNES Classic Mini being the perfect example of this (not-so-universal) truth. The western versions may have the same game selection but the North American and European editions showcase radically different case designs, which has led to some particularly dedicated Nintendo fans buying both, just so their lives can feel complete

However, we'd argue that picking up the Japanese model - dubbed the Super Famicom Mini in that region - is a far worthier objective, especially if you own the - let's face facts - downright ugly North American SNES Classic Edition. Not only does it offer a gorgeous design, it actually boasts a slightly altered game lineup, too.

First things first however, this console is almost exactly the same as the European model in terms of pure aesthetics; the key difference being that it has the Super Famicom logo on the top, rather than the Super Nintendo one. The pads are a similar story, with the Japanese branding appearing in pride of place for all to see. The console's packaging is - to our eyes, at least - far superior though; it's a faithful replication of the box the original console shipped in all those years ago and makes excellent use of the system's iconic red / yellow / blue / green colour scheme.

The menu system is pretty much the same as well, right down to the screen borders and music. The big difference is that all the text is in Japanese (as you'd expect) and the game lineup is changed. Gone are EarthBound, Kirby's Dream Course, Super Castlevania IV, Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting and Super Punch-Out!!, with Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, Super Formation Soccer, The Legend of the Mystical Ninja / Ganbare Goemon: Yukihime Kyūshutsu EmakiPanel de Pon and Super Street Fighter II: The New Challengers taking their places. Box artwork is Japanese too, which is better in almost every respect; our only grumble is that the UI seems to have been built with western landscape boxes in mind, and the portrait-oriented Super Famicom offerings look a little odd.

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Here's the full list of the 21 games included on the Super Famicom Mini:

Some of these changes make sense; Super Street Fighter II is a more recent game than Street Fighter II Turbo, even though opinion is divided on which is the best outing. Ganbare Goemon is also an excellent title and one which arguably would have made more sense on the SNES Mini, perhaps in place of Kirby's Dream Course. We can also understand Fire Emblem making the cut, given the popularity of that franchise in Japan, and Panel de Pun is simply brilliant. However, Super Formation Soccer isn't exactly a classic - it's not even the best soccer game on the console, for crying out loud - and losing Super Castlevania IV hurts, too.

With the option available to hack both the SNES Mini and the Super Famicom Mini, bickering over which games are included out of the box seems churlish, but there will be a great many buyers who won't want to sully their system by mucking around with its internal memory, and will therefore be locked into the games which ship from day one. While the packaging is scrumptious and the case design amazing, we can't see any real reason to pick the Super Famicom Mini over its western equivalents - unless you can read Japanese, in which case the addition of Fire Emblem and Ganbare Goemon will be most welcome (although to be fair, the latter is perfectly playable even if you can't read Kanji).

If you still want one regardless, you'll have to resort to using resellers online or import one directly from the Far East. While there's little reason to own one if you've already got a SNES Mini, those of you who crave a complete collection may find the Super Famicom Mini impossible to resist - especially when you think about how lovely that box will look on your shelf.

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