What will all the excitement surrounding the upcoming Nintendo Switch and Pokemon Sun and Moon smashing sales records globally, the release of another Nintendo console may have gone unnoticed. The NES Classic, or Mini NES, sold out the moment it hit the shops, but I was fortunate enough to lay my hands on one of the tiny grey miracle boxes. Now, I’m slightly too young to have fond childhood memories of the console, but even without the power of nostalgia on my side, I can tell you that it’s brilliant fun.
Firstly, the machine itself. The NES Classic is nice and compact – about the size of your hand, or an original NES cartridge – and looks just like a miniature version of the classic console. There are some issues with design: the most pressing of which being the length of its cables. Both the individual controllers and the console’s AC adaptor are both connected by very short wires (about the third of the length of original’s cables). As such, if you want to sit further away from the screen, you’re going to need to get hold of a replacement (Wii Classic Controllers will do just fine) or a USB adaptor to extend the reach of the packaged controllers.
You may not want to sit too far away, though, because of a bizarre design flaw: the only way to change games is to press the reset button on the console itself. Whilst using a Wii Classic Controller skirts the issue due to its home button serving the same function, it’s perplexing that the packaged controllers don’t possess that capability too. I’m in two minds as to whether maintain the iconic look of the NES controller was worth not including this feature.
It’s not my intention to send up this chunk of childhood fun resurrected, but these little snags are made obvious when using the system. It’s a real shame, but the the rest of console’s offerings are incredibly good fun and, for £50, it’s hard to be too bothered by the little issues.
The machine boasts 30 games, a veritable cavalcade of the console’s classic outings: the likes of The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus, Ice Climber, Final Fantasy, Castlevania, and all three original Super Mario Bros included. In addition, the console boasts an easy to use save function, something few of these titles offered originally.
Some have complained about the console’s lack of additional downloadable games – these 30 are all you’re getting – but given both the price of the console and the quality of these games, it’s not likely to be an issue in the eyes of most consumers. And sure, you can emulate these games with a basic understanding of ROMs, but a folder full of NES games on your laptop seems a poor match to this classic console experience.
Sure, you can emulate these games with a basic understanding of ROMs, but a folder full of NES games on your laptop seems a poor match to this classic console experience.
Also of note is the machine’s ability to offer you the games in three distinct graphical settings. The best option is Pixel Perfect, which renders the games clearly and cleanly; whilst, those playing with nostalgia in their hearts, can play with the grainy visuals and scan lines of a CRT display. The games look far better with the shinier visuals, however, and they easily outmatch their counterparts on the Virtual Console.
It’s looking like the NES Classic will be in great demand this Christmas, so they will continue to remain difficult to lay your hands on. It’s very much worth the effort if you can find one, though. A few niggles with the machine aside, the console really delivers on Nintendo’s ethos of solid, addictive gameplay and a whole lot of fun. Here’s to hoping that the gaming giant enjoy similar success when the Nintendo Switch hits the shelves in 2017.