Now you’re playing with Nt power.
The Analogue NT does one thing really well: It allows you to play actual Super Nintendo games – not ROMS – on a modern television. Sure, with the right adapters you could probably hook up your beloved, beat-up SNES to your current HDTV, but colors wash out, strange bars appear at the edges, ugly lines mess up the picture, and games just don’t look how you remember them.
The Super Nt doesn’t make games look exactly like you remember them either. But with an HDMI port, clever engineering, and presumably some sort of blood magic, the Super Nt renders games in gorgeous, clear pixels on your giant flatscreen. Overall, the Super Nt makes SNES games look amazing again – for a price. The MSRP is $189.99, and that doesn’t include a controller.
Above: Super Castlevania IV running on the Super Nt.
This bears repeating: The Super Nt plays old cartridges. It does not play libraries of ROMs you’ve downloaded, nor does it include any of the accouterments of modern emulators like save states and on-demand rewinds. So unless you have a stack/shelf/vault of old games from the flea market and a new TV that makes them look ugly, you probably won’t need a Super Nt.
Analogue’s Super Nt offers new tech that other clones don’t, which it claims is “Engineered with an FPGA. No emulation.” You can check out Analogue’s description of what that means technically below, but what it should mean practically is that every game cartridge that can play in a Super NES, Super Famicom, or PAL Super NES will also play in the Super Nt. In my experience, this is true. I tested not only older Super Famicom and SNES games, but brand-new games like the modern Data East collections. This gives Nt an advantage over, say, the Retron 5, which can only play games in a preset library (excluding any new releases like the new Street Fighter II cartridge from Capcom).
Above: A brand new SNES game running on the Super Nt.
The main problem I encountered with the dozens of Super Famicom and SNES cartridges I tried was due to dirty cartridge pins, and that was resolved after cleaning. (I recommend electrical contact cleaner or 90% isopropyl alcohol; blow if you want to, I can’t stop you.) In the many cartridge swaps I made, I did notice that the cartridges aren’t as secure when inserted into the Super Nt as they are in a Super NES. The cartridge pins can easily be jostled out of contact, so you’d want to place your Nt in a safe spot.
Here’s how Analogue describes the tech that powers the Super Nt:
“Super Nt is designed with an FPGA. An FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) is a special hardware component that is able to be configured to be, well, any other hardware component exactly. The way you configure an FPGA is through HDL (Hardware Description Language) – this is the same way one would create a new IC (Integrated Circuit Chip) for mass manufacturing. FPGAs can be configured to be anything, on the transistor level – meaning when applied to a video game system it can function identically to the original. What this translates to is Super Nt is not software emulator based or based around poorly made SOAC’s (Systems on a chip) like all the shoddy ‘clone consoles’ on the market… An FPGA from Analogue means: Designed in-house (not repackaged emulators like every other product), perfect compatibility, total accuracy, zero lag.”
Graphics and Sound
I’d describe the Super Nt’s picture as akin to Nintendo’s own Super NES Classic Edition. The NT scales games with mesmerizing precision, so each pixel looks vibrant and perfect at 1080p. Keep in mind, though, that games didn’t look quite like this back in the day, since a CRT blurs edges and takes advantage of things inherent to that technology, like scanlines, which modern TVs don’t have. It can get a little closer by enabling the option to turn on scanline simulation (I’m not a fan) but no further filters are provided to help approximate what a CRT looks like. So while the Super Nt is not a zero-sacrifices substitute for a classic CRT setup, it’s a different, convenient – and very pretty – way to play old games.
The stereo audio sound, on the other hand, SNES is faithfully reproduced, so your favorite SNES slap-bass lines will sound just like you remember them.
The Super Nt boots into a slim and functional options menu with a few choices for tweaking the graphics and audio and the ability to launch the packed-in games Super Turrican – Director’s Cut and Super Turrican 2. Both Turrican games feature amazing SNES graphics tech and sound by the very talented Factor 5, who would go on to make the equally impressive Star Wars: Rogue Squadron games for Nintendo 64 and GameCube.
The Super Nt is designed to look a bit like the Super Famicom, which is awesome. It’s somewhere between the fits-in-the-palm-of-your-hand SNES Classic Edition and an original SNES. There are bright status LEDs which, along with its utter ‘90s-ness, make the clear plastic model my favorite to look at.
There are five ports on the Super Nt: Two for standard SNES controllers (or whatever you have that fits those ports), one for power via USB, the HDMI port, and an SD card slot for updating the firmware. It was easy enough to sort out how to install the day-one firmware update Analogue recommends.