If you are anything like me, old school video gaming was a big part of your childhood. Nintendo has been tapping into the retro market in recent years with their Virtual Console game download service, but until now, the video game giants had not jumped on the “Retro Console” bandwagon. That has changed with the recent release of the NES Classic Edition. The system has been in high demand since its November release, with stores still unable to keep a decent stock, and prices skyrocketing on Internet based third party retail sites.
The NES Classic Edition has 30 built in games, and comes with one controller, an HDMI cord for connecting to your television, and a USB power cord with adapter. The system can only play the 30 games that are included; there is no way to use old NES cartridges or to add any games to the system (at least not legally; there are reports of people hacking the system to add new games, though I do not condone this in any shape or form).
The 30 games included on the system are as follows:
Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
Donkey Kong Jr.
Double Dragon II: The Revenge
Ghosts N Goblins
Mega Man 2
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 3
The Legend of Zelda
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Surely, amongst the list of games you see here, you will find a good many classic favorites, but you are sure to see a few omissions as well. Your mileage may vary depending upon your individualized tastes, but overall, I think fans are going to find plenty of games they could enjoy here.
The system also includes save states and features like alternative viewing modes for the games.
So, how does it fare? Here is a look at some of the system’s best and worst features.
-Simple to use and to set up. Simply take it out of the box, plug it in, and you are good to go! There are no lengthy setup or update procedures; once the system is plugged in, you are ready to play. The easy to use interface further simplifies the procedure; you will be playing the game of your choice in no time flat at all, and a save point system is great for those old, longer games that lacked one originally.
-Nice variety of games. You have the action/adventure platformers you grew up with, arcade classics, RPGs, sports titles, and several others. Even though the number of games is limited, it is still a solid variety for fans of all genres of gaming.
-Games look and sound like you remember. These are the original games in their 8-bit glory, with a controller that is identical to that of the original system. The options for multiple viewing modes, including one with a CRT filter to recreate the feel of playing on an old school “tube” TV are a nice touch, but you can view the games in a traditional 4:3 display or a “pixel perfect” mode as well.
-Small and compact. The “system” itself fits in the palm of your hand, making it easy to transport. You can purchase a separate carrying case for the system; the small dimensions make it simple to take it somewhere else and hook it up.
-You must push the “reset” button on the console itself to return to the menu. There is no way to do this on the actual controller. This is a bone-headed move that could easily have been prevented with the inclusion of a “home” button on the controller (note that you can use Wii Classic Controllers for the system, and their home buttons do work, however).
-Can only connect to TV via HDMI. If you own an older TV that lacks HDMI you are out of luck, unless you purchase an adapter.
-Controller cord too short. It is only about a third the length of an original NES Controller, so you have to sit uncomfortably close to the TV with the defaults. Wireless controllers and extension cords are available which can remedy this somewhat. The fact that Nintendo did not go with wireless controllers by default is something of a surprise. Additionally, these use Wii Classic Controller hook-ups and not those of the original NES, so you cannot use your old controllers without an adapter.
-Only includes ONE controller. This means you are going to have to buy a separate one if you want to enjoy the two player games included here.
-No way to (legally) add more games. You have the 30 on the system and that is it. Surely there could have been a way to remedy this and add more games, perhaps through the purchase of expansion packs. There are some key omissions and questionable inclusions, but I will not get into the specifics here.
-Impossible to find right now, and only available online for inflated prices. The MSRP is $59.99, but you can expect to pay upwards of $120 for one of these on the Internet. It is not worth more than the MSRP, so I would recommended waiting and seeing if the system becomes more readily available in stores (though given that it has been out for nearly four months with no change in availability, I would not hold my breath).
-Even at MSRP, not a great value compared to other similar devices. There are other devices on the market that play games from other systems, and they offer more bang for one’s buck, as well as, in many cases, the option for using original cartridges for the games not included.
There are many reasons to own an NES Classic Edition, but Nintendo really did drop the ball in a few places here. You get a solid variety of games, but no way to add more of them. The flaws though, coupled with the lack of availability and inflated scalper prices, will prevent people from getting them for a fair price for quite some time to come, most likely.
If the system (and the controllers) will become more readily available in stores for the MSRP, I recommend it with reservations. But as is, if you own a Wii U, I just recommend using their Virtual Console service. You can pick and choose the games you want and pay a small price for each of them, which is great for getting just the ones you want.
Final verdict: Recommended, but only at MSRP.
Images in this review are from Nintendo's official website.