Now You're Playing With Teeny-Tiny Power: Nintendo Announces Retro NES Console

Now You're Playing With Teeny-Tiny Power: Nintendo Announces Retro NES Console

Taking back the mall kiosks from vile plunderers.

Here's one for the "I can't believe this took so long" files: Nintendo announced this morning a new all-in-one retro emulation console containing 30 different 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System classics, shipping on Nov. 11 for $59.99.

The NES, of course, has long been a favorite target of shifty manufacturers who clone or emulate the hardware and dump a whole lot of game ROM files on them, then sell them at dollar stores or mall kiosks. A decade ago, these devices were all systems-on-chip clones; these days, they tend to be emulation-based, similar to the popular Raspberry Pi. No doubt Nintendo is going the same route — not only taking back their space on the shelves from bootleggers, but also muscling into territory that previously has been dominated by SEGA's official Genesis clones and, to a lesser degree, Atari 2600 and ColecoVision reproductions.

And "reproduction" is definitely the keyword here, since Nintendo's mini-system will in fact be a tiny version of the Nintendo Entertainment System, with Wii Classic Controller jacks (one of which will be included in the box, and which will also be available separately) replacing the classic controller ports. The NES Classic Edition system will output video by HDMI — meaning that, unlike the real NES, it'll be friendly to high-definition televisions — and is too small to take cartridges. Instead, players will have to make do with the 30 games that come included in the system; fortunately, Nintendo has done a great job of curating the lineup. The NES Classic Edition won't contain any desperately sought rarities like Little Samson or Kitchen Panic, but the built-in library consists almost entirely of crowd-pleasers, including some excellent third-party titles. Nintendo has, for once, skipped over its ubiquitous first-party garbage games like Urban Champion in favor of things people want to play.

  • Balloon Fight
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Castlevania
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Final Fantasy
  • Galaga
  • Ghosts ’N Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Mario Bros.
  • Mega Man 2
  • Metroid
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Pac-Man
  • Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • StarTropics
  • Super C
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
Coming soon to a TV near you (mad Quick Man laser gauntlet skillz not included).

I've already been asked if this seems like a sign that Nintendo will abandon Virtual Console when the NX platform arrives, but that seems unlikely. The NES Classic Edition represents an entirely different kind of product: Virtual Console requires the purchase of a modern console and a la cart purchases through the eShop. This device, on the other hand, stands alone as a single purchase (Nintendo's press release gives no indication that it will be expandable, though I have zero doubt that hackers will figure out how to load the entire NES library onto the device within hours of its release). It's cheap, it's easy, and it will sit on toy store shelves as an enticing gift purchase not just for collectors or serious retro fans, but for dads and moms who want to share their childhood interests with their own kids. As with Nintendo's recent mobile forays, a la Pokémon Go, the company is finally starting to realize that exploring complementary game products to its own first-party systems is a license to print money rather than an existential threat.

I'll certainly be taking the system for a spin when it launches this fall. For me, there's no way it can replace the complex modded NES setup I've constructed for myself, especially if the game emulation is as flawed as Wii U's NES Virtual Console, but it can sit beneath my living room TV for visiting nephews and cousins to play when they get tired of Minecraft and Disney Infinity. Which is of course the entire point. And anyway, lag-free Punch-Out!! is nothing to sneeze at. Finally, you'll be able to get past Great Tiger! That's pretty much worth $60 on its own.

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