Where and how to get a Super NES Classic Edition

You don't want a Super NES Classic Edition console. You need a Super NES Classic Edition Console. You're dying to dive back into Dinosaur World and conquer King Koopa in Super Mario World. You can't wait to return to the days when Final Fantasy 6 was still known to Americans as Final Fantasy 3. You've always wanted to try Earthbound, but $200 is more than you're willing to spend. Plus, the SNES Classic comes with the never-before released Star Fox 2. Maybe it's good. Maybe it's not. Either way, for hardcore fans, receiving a brand new Super Nintendo title in 2017 is something to get excited about.

And then the pre-orders started, and you didn't manage to snag one of Nintendo's stylish mini consoles. That's okay. Neither did the rest of us. While most stores sold out of the SNES Classic immediately, it's not time to panic quite yet. You can still get a Super NES Classic. It's just going to take a lot of time, attention, and patience—or a lot of money. Your choice.

Buy one off of eBay

The most reliable way to get a Super NES Classic is to buy one from scalpers on eBay. Just be warned: it's going to cost you. For example, last year's limited edition NES Classic, which was manufactured in even smaller quantities than the Super NES Classic, retailed at $60. Officially, it's sold out everywhere. There aren't more coming. But eBay is absolutely full of NES Classic consoles, many of which haven't been opened. The catch? They seem to sell for between $180 and $250—three to four times as much as the original asking price.

Judging by the few Super NES Classics already listed on eBay, it looks like that trend is going to continue. Right now, prices fall between $200 and $350, which is a pretty big change from the Super NES Classic's $80 MSRP. Expect those prices to change, too, as more machines enter the market, and as the decidedly finite supply of machines starts to run dry. People want this console, and sellers are going to milk you for every buck they can.

If you decide to go the eBay route, we have two more pieces of advice. First, wait until the Super NES Classic actually arrives in stores before buying. Right now, sellers are hawking pre-ordered consoles, and there's no way to know for sure whether or not these merchants will actually receive copies.

Secondly, look at the photos and make sure that you're getting an actual Super NES Classic. With the NES Classic, many people put original Nintendo Entertainment Systems—like, the ones from the '80s—on eBay, threw the word "classic" in the title, and jacked up the price. Technically, that's not a lie, but it's pretty shady. The same thing will probably happen with the Super NES Classic, so make sure that you're buying the mini-console with pre-loaded games. If you have to take cartridges in and out of the machine, it's a different, older product.

Check out Amazon's third-party sellers

If you don't want to bother with eBay's auction system, or you feel more comfortable the extra security that the Amazon brand carries, you can also buy a Super NES Classic from one of Amazon's third-party merchants (just click the link that says "Other Sellers on Amazon" on the product page). As with eBay, these are individuals or small companies who got their hands on a Super NES Classic and decided to resell it, usually at a marked-up price. Right now, the NES Classic can be found for $130 to $400, which is two to seven times more than the normal price. The Super NES Classic isn't listed yet on Amazon's partner stores, but should be once the console comes out on September 29, 2017.

As with eBay, make sure that you're getting the right product (anything that says "games not included" is a no-go), and try to stick to merchants with high ratings and lots of reviews. Newer sellers are more likely to be scams. On the plus side, while you're not technically buying a Super NES Classic from Amazon, many of the consoles listed, while more expensive, will be managed by Amazon itself, meaning that you'll get the same consumer protections as you would with a regular Amazon order, and occasionally you'll get free shipping if you subscribe to Amazon Prime. Amazon isn't a huge improvement over eBay, but when you're dealing with scalpers, it's always better to be as safe as possible.

Run, don't walk, to your local GameStop

If you live in a relatively remote area, check out your GameStop. While the company sold out of Super NES Classics online almost immediately, the brick and mortar stores accepted pre-orders too. You just had to go to the store in person.

Of course, that was on pre-order day. By now, most GameStops in major urban areas have probably whisked through their pre-order allotment. Still, if you're desperate, hop in the car or on the bus and check it out. If you live in a less populated area, there might still be a few pre-order slots open, and you don't want to miss it.

Once again, however, be prepared to pay a little more than Super NES Classic's $80 asking price. GameStop knows that the mini console is going to be a hot item, and some customers say that they had to buy the Super NES Classic in a bundle that includes extra controller and a special $45 book (of course, the book is still available on its own, too—not everything bearing the Super NES Classic's name sold out immediately).

Keep an eye on Twitter

If you want to know when more Super NES Classic units become available, keep your Twitter feed open at all times. When the first round of pre-orders went live on August 21 and August 22, journalists, publications, and gaming personalities quickly let their follows know. If someone beat you to the punch, that's probably why. Twitter feeds devoted exclusively to video game deals (we like Cheap Ass Gamer) also helped spread the news.

If more pre-orders become available, or if extra copies arrive on release day, those same accounts will probably let you know ASAP. Of course, if you look away from Twitter for a mere second, you risk missing the opportunity to score a pre-order, so only use this technique if you're already a social media addict. Also, while it's nice to know that you're not suffering alone, all of gaming Twitter starts airing their grievances at once when the pre-orders inevitably sell out. It's almost as bad as those smug jerks who brag that, despite all of the odds, they managed to score a Super NES Classic while you didn't.

Almost.

Follow stock-tracking sites, too

If Twitter isn't your thing, check out websites that let you know whether or not items are in-stock, either online or in brick and mortar stores. If you happen to check one of these sites (most of which are automated) at the right time, you might be able to get a couple-second head start on the competition. In most cases, that's all you need.

While there are tons of sites like this out there, we've had some success with NowInStock.net in the past. The site includes a history of when and where the Super NES Classic was last in stock and how long it lasted, which helps for planning purposes, while the ability to set up browser alerts—so you can keep using the web like normal while you wait—is a godsend. If you're more interested in picking up a Super NES Classic directly from a store, we've heard good things about BrickSeek, too, although that won't help until the console actually hits store shelves.

Head to your local store on launch day

Even if you didn't score a pre-order, you might be able to get a Super NES Classic in stores on September 29, 2017. Toys R Us says that it won't have any online pre-orders for the machine, while GameStop promises that it'll have a few units available for walk-ins on launch day, too. It's unclear whether other retailers, like Best Buy, Target, and Walmart, will follow suit, but if so, we wouldn't be surprised.

If you decide that an in-person purchase is your preferred strategy, make sure to get to the store early. Very, very early. Especially if you live in a big city, you won't be the only person there, and most stores tend to handle big releases like this on a first-come, first-served basis. We wouldn't be surprised to see people bring sleeping bags and camp out overnight, if the stores let them do so.

Getting up at the crack of dawn—or earlier—to get an $80 video game console doesn't sound like the best way to spend a morning, but there's no reason why you can't make it into a party. Bring your 3DS and swap Friend Codes with your fellow Nintendo fans. Lug along your Switch, and challenge others to some local Splatoon 2 multiplayer. After all, everyone is going to be there for the same reason: you're all big Nintendo fans. Make the most of it. Who knows? Even if you don't get a Super NES Classic, you might walk away with a few new friends.  

Import a copy

This won't work if you want to be one of the very first people to own a Super NES Classic, but if you're in a pinch, you can always try to import a machine from another country. For example, while the NES Classic is sold out in the United States, you can still pick up a Nintendo Classic Mini Famicom—the Japanese edition of the device—from the popular international retailer Play-Asia. Compared to eBay and Amazon, the price is reasonable—$110 is more than $60, but well under $250—and Play-Asia is a company that's been around for a while, so you know you can trust it.

You will be making some sacrifices, however. If your desire for a Super NES Classic hinges on nostalgia, keep in mind that you'll be getting a version modeled on the Japanese edition of the SNES, which looks different than the American version (although many people actually prefer the Japanese/European design). The user interface and in-game text will be in Japanese, and the game line-up is a little different, too.

Specifically, instead of Kirby's Dream Course, you'll get Legend of the Mystical Ninja. Panel de Pon, known over here as Tetris Attack, replaces Super Castlevania. You'll lose Super Punch-Out!! and get Super Formation Soccer instead, while the cult-classic RPG Earthbound loses its spot to the strategy title Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem. The Nintendo Classic Mini Super Famicom also has a different Street Fighter title; it comes with Super Street Fighter 2: The New Challengers, and not Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Hyper Fighting. If that's okay with you, check out Play-Asia's Nintendo Classic Mini Super Famicom. Pre-orders should be starting soon, and if the Nintendo Classic Mini Famicom is any example, the mini Super Famicom should be available for a while after launch, too.

Think outside the box

Everyone is checking big outlets like GameStop, Best Buy, and Walmart for the Super NES Classic, but that's not the only place you can buy one. ThinkGeek, purveyor of nerd-related novelty items, isn't the kind of place where you'd normally buy video games, but the site offered a handful of Super NES Classic bundles that lasted a little bit longer than the other options (the higher prices, which were inflated thanks to the extra stuff that ThinkGeek made people buy with the console, probably helped slow sales down, too). B&H Photo and Video, which mainly focuses on camera equipment, offered a few copies as well.

Once the Super NES Classic comes out, don't forget to check off-the-wall brick and mortar stores, either. Last year, the NES Classic appeared at Urban Outfitters, which is primarily clothing store. If there's any kind of shop nearby that dabbles in cool and trendy tech, or appeals to those on the cutting edge of style, it might be worth asking the cashier or manager if they're going to have the Super NES Classic in stock. It's a long shot, but who knows? You might strike hidden gold.

Use a bot

If you're the kind of jerk who likes to ruin things for other people, you can always create a bot to pick up a Super NES Classic for you. You wouldn't be the only one. According to a report on Polygon, the Tai Ding bot, which monitors online stores for stock changes and can purchase a Super NES Classic without any human involvement, has a 93 percent success rate when it comes to securing hard-to-find items.

Bots like that pose a big problem for retailers, and they're one of the main reasons why you probably can't get a Super NES Classic the old-fashioned way. After all, not only do bot-driven purchases happen immediately—no clicking on shipping options or fumbling for a half-remembered password to slow you down—but they work on multiple stores. If you want to pick up an extra Super NES Classic—maybe because you want one for a friend, or maybe because you're planning on flipping it on eBay for some extra cash—bots make that very easy.  

Bots like Tai Ding aren't illegal, but stores don't like them, and they certainly don't feel fair. They're not exactly easy for a layperson to set up, either, and they do cost money: the Tai Ding goes for $110, which is more than the Super NES Classic on its own. It doesn't even work on every store (anything with a captcha breaks the software). Still, if you're willing to set your ethics aside, running a bot is about as sure-fire a bet as you're going to find. Or, to put it another way: just how badly do you want to play Star Fox 2, exactly?

Don't panic and be patient

If you feel like you need to have a Super NES Classic immediately, launch day might be rough. If you're willing to wait, you might be able to pick one up easily after the hype has died down—and you may not even need to pay extra for it. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime promises that there'll be enough Super NES Classics to go around, and that copies of the machine will ship to stores regularly as the year goes on. All that furor over pre-orders? Not Nintendo's fault, the company claims.

"I would strongly urge you not to over-bid on an SNES Classic on any of the auction sites," Reggie says. "You shouldn't [have to] pay more than $79.99." In fact, after seeing how popular the Super NES Classic is, Nintendo put more units into production, and decided to sell the device in 2018 (before, it was going to be a 2017-only release). It's been a rocky road, but Nintendo seems committed to making sure everyone who wants a Super NES Classic can get one (sadly, would-be Switch owners may not be so lucky).

Even if you miss the initial production run entirely, there's still hope: Nintendo also announced that it's reviving the NES Classic, the mini console that started the whole craze. Expect to see the device back on store shelves in 2018, i.e. as soon as it can get the production lines back up and running. In recent years, Nintendo has struggled to keep its most popular products in stock. By all indications, it looks like the Big N might finally—finally—be learning its lesson.