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What's Next for the NES Classic Edition?

Nintendo's mini-NES seems likely to be a hit... and the first in a long line of inexpensive standalone retro consoles.

List by Jeremy Parish, .

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Assuming Nintendo can make enough of them, the NES Classic Edition mini-console seems almost guaranteed to become a huge holiday hit this year. It's a perfect gift for casual Nintendo fans old and new, offering 30 mostly great classic games on a wonderful, diminutive, reproduction NES that features spot-on emulation and a solid feature set.

As many people have noted, the NES Classic Edition features some packaging marks that suggest it could simply be the first of many retro mini-consoles to come. The obvious next step would be a mini-Super NES... but I think we're just as likely to see further NES iterations. Nintendo has the tech nailed down, and the NES Classic Edition game list includes quite a few notable absences. To that end, we've dreamed up three further iterations of the NES Classic Edition that we'd like to see, and the 30 games we'd hope will show up on these prospective mini-consoles....

NES Classic Edition II

Did you know Nintendo released a second version of the NES hardware? A top-loading system with a Super NES-inspired controller? A second NES Classic Edition that didn't take design cues from the NES top-loader and feature all-new games would be a real letdown...

Adventures of Lolo
HAL's first push-box puzzler for NES isn't the strongest of the series, but it's more approachable for newcomers than its challenging sequels.

Blaster Master
The story of a boy, a frog, a jumping super tank, and the dual-format metroidvania quest that unites them.

Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
The best 8-bit Castlevania was a bizarre omission from the first NES Classic Edition model. Let's not repeat our mistakes.

Contra
Contra for NES has been weirdly absent from Virtual Console, and it's time to put an end to this unfortunate streak.

Crash ’N the Boys: Street Challenge
There are sports games, and then there are multi-format combat sports games starring the cast of River City Ransom. This is the latter.

EarthBound Beginnings
Nintendo miraculously dug up and published the lost prototype for this NES RPG for Virtual Console, but there's no such thing as making such a fascinating piece of history too available.

Faxanadu
An offshoot of the venerable Dragon Slayer franchise, this earth-tone action-RPG feels like the lost sibling of Zelda II.

Gargoyle's Quest II
A rare case of a Game Boy release getting a sequel for NES, this short-but-sweet platform adventure puts players in the role of the deadliest bad guy from Ghosts ’N Goblins, and it rocks.

Ice Hockey
As simple a take on the sport as its title would suggest, but its simplicity lends it an appealing (and addictive!) purity of purpose.

Kabuki Quantum Fighter
One of the weirdest ideas for a video game ever: A special ops soldier fights computer viruses by TRON-ing himself into data... in the form of a classical Japanese kabuki dancer who kills bad guys with his hair. Sure, whatever. It's fun.

Life Force
The amazing side story to Gradius, featuring better graphics, dual-format play, and best of all... cooperative two-player action.

Maniac Mansion
For many NES kids, this classic LucasArts PC port served as a gateway to a world of hilarious point-and-click adventures.

Mega Man 3
Mega Man 2 showed up on the first NES Classic Edition, so it's only fair that the game that gets cited as the other all-time best Mega Man adventure gets a crack at fame, too.

Metal Gear
Hideo Kojima reputedly hated this port of his groundbreaking MSX classic, but since he's no longer with Konami to suppress its existence, we say "let us have it" — flaws and all!

Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos
A sublime sequel offering more refined action, greater breadth of abilities, and a somewhat more reasonable difficulty level — an NES essential.

Power Blade
This Mega Man-esque platformer has largely been forgotten, but it's a snappy and appealing must-have from the system's waning years.

R.C. Pro-Am
Although the isometric perspective of this racer takes some getting used to, its speedy action and destructive combat elements feel like the inspiration for Super Mario Kart.

River City Ransom
This brawler/RPG hybrid feels a little messy in places, but that's probably to be expected — no one had ever married a brawler to an RPG before!

Rockin' Kats
Think "Warner Bros. cartoons" meets "Bionic Commando." That's awesome. I guess we should have put Bionic Commando on this list, too, huh?

Rygar
One of the first NES games to take an arcade creation and run with it in the opposite direction, this rough adventure was a foundation for great things to come — and despite its flaws, it has an exceptional sense of atmosphere.

Section-Z
Another early wild divergence from arcade material, Section-Z turns a simple scrolling shooter into a devious and challenging journey through a space labyrinth.

Shadow of the Ninja
Like Ninja Gaiden, but harder. "How is that possible!?" you ask. Well, somehow, they pulled it off. But it's fun regardless!

Shadowgate
A classic Mac adventure game memorably converted to NES. Is it fair? Hell no. But its ruthlessness is part of its charm.

Snake, Rattle, and Roll
Another one of those isometric games from Rare, this time putting players in control of a snake roaming surreal landscapes. Weird but cool.

StarTropics II: Zoda's Revenge
The refined sequel to Nintendo's Zelda-for-Americans got even goofier, but it was more fun to play.

Track & Field
Konami's memorable multi-event sports game remains fun even now thanks to its simple design and charismatic visuals.

Wario's Woods
The final NES game released in any territory was better on Super NES, but this puzzler isn't bad — and its place in history makes it important.

Wizards and Warriors
Rare's first major original effort for NES was this odd, rubber-limbed medieval adventure that involved treasure collection, permanent power-ups, and free exploration in a linear world.

Wizards and Warriors II: Ironsword
Kuros's second adventure doubled down on the exploratory and RPG elements, and came out all the better for it.

Yoshi's Cookie
Yoshi featured in two puzzle games for NES. This was the fun one.

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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #1 SargeSmash 2 years ago
    I'm lucky enough to own a few of the rare ones, but there's so many I'd still like to have...Edited November 2016 by SargeSmash
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #2 cldmstrsn 2 years ago
    Im really hoping whats next is the mini SNES with at least 60 or so games. That would be magic.
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  • Avatar for The-Mike-Staub #3 The-Mike-Staub 2 years ago
    This is interesting. I'm super excited for the NES Classic, but I wish it had more games, or contained the ability to be updated. It is small in stature, so having a collection of these won't take up too much space. I wonder if the next NES classic, if that happens, would include the first 30.
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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #4 SargeSmash 2 years ago
    @cldmstrsn : As nice as that'd be, I doubt they'd do one with 60 games. I figure with SNES, at the same price point, we'd be looking at around 20. Maybe they do thirty and bump up the price a bit.
    @The-Mike-Staub : Doubtful. It'd be cool, sure, but I don't see 'em doing it.Edited November 2016 by SargeSmash
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  • Avatar for brionfoulke91 #5 brionfoulke91 2 years ago
    A lot of great choices! The NES had an extremely strong library, so the problem with a mini console is that it can never have enough. It's too bad they didn't make the possibility for an add-on. Still, I hope it does well, would be great to see more products like this!
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  • Avatar for Godots17thCup #6 Godots17thCup 2 years ago
    If Nintendo ever puts out a Super NES Mini, I might not leave the house for a solid month.
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  • Avatar for Thad #7 Thad 2 years ago
    @SargeSmash Yeah, I've got Mega Man and DW2; pretty sure I've got the box and manual for the latter. Didn't realize they were rare.

    Meanwhile, I read that there's new Genesis hardware being manufactured in Brazil? Wonder if it's any better than the crappy emulators we keep seeing.
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  • Avatar for orient #8 orient 2 years ago
    Great article, but I don't think we'll see a NES Classic II in the near future. Or, if there is one for next Christmas instead of the Super NES version everybody craves, I expect it to be more of a revision, not a whole new list of games. Once you start moving away from the instantly recognisable "classics" like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, it loses the mass market appeal.
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  • Avatar for garnsr #9 garnsr 2 years ago
    The third page is mostly games that aren't necessarily classics, but are hard to find. Metal Storm deserves to be on the first page, with the greats that aren't on the first NES Classic.
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #10 jeremy.parish 2 years ago
    @kazriko Holy crap, you're right. We blew it.
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  • Avatar for MetManMas #11 MetManMas 2 years ago
    I know those are intentionally hell-freezing-over selections there, but I would definitely go for an NES mini filled primarily with licensed games. Even if it was only Capcom's Disney output.

    Speaking of mini consoles, whenever a Super NES mini comes along my big Frozen Hell Pigasus wish for that is a model filled to the brim with all kinds of RPGs and simulation games. Also I would like to know who I'll have to kill to get a mini PSone loaded with all the Square and tri-ACE games.
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  • Avatar for ob1 #12 ob1 2 years ago
    No thanks. I'll wait for the SNES mini.
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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #13 SargeSmash 2 years ago
    @Thad : Imagine my shock when I found out what my complete TMNT: Tournament Fighters is worth! I almost sold that when we had a yard sale years ago for $10!
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  • Avatar for mganai #14 mganai 2 years ago
    No Fire 'n' Ice on page 3?
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  • Avatar for ericspratling56 #15 ericspratling56 2 years ago
    @MetManMas "Frozen Hell Pigasus"

    Nice.
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  • Avatar for ericspratling56 #16 ericspratling56 2 years ago
    SNES Mini does seem like the more logical step, but a double dip for the NES Mini isn't totally out of the question, especially if the first one continues to be a hit. Realistically I'd expect its contents to be some combo of the first two lists.
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  • Avatar for paulmccaskie59 #17 paulmccaskie59 2 years ago
    In a dream world I'd like one with some of the translated RPGs like Mother, Fire Emblem, Lagrange Point, the usual Final Fantasys and Dragon Warriors, plus some of the adventure games like Portopia Serial Murder Case. I think that lot would keep me busy for a while, well until we got a Square and Enix special SNES anyway....Edited November 2016 by paulmccaskie59
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  • Avatar for docexe #18 docexe 2 years ago
    That NES Classic licensed edition would be a wet dream for me. I actually remember playing most of those games with my brother and some cousins back then. Of course, the chances of it happening, let alone any of those games ever appearing on the Virtual Console are close to null, but a man can dream.
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  • Avatar for jago81 #19 jago81 2 years ago
    I would kill for a mini-virtual console enabled system. A mini version of all the systems up to the 64 and the ability to download games from VC. I know they are worried about pirates but that's the case for any system. It's better than locking me into only 1 choice. What happens if they continue to make these? Will I end up with 10 different mini-systems cluttering up my home?
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  • Avatar for RocketShoes #20 RocketShoes 2 years ago
    I don't know how obscure Jackal was on the NES, but it was one of my favorite co-op games for the system (great music too). If there are anymore iterations of the NES Mini, I would love to see Jackal on one of them.
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