If you're one of the lucky few who's managed to get their hands on Nintendo's new NES Classic Edition, and you didn't go broke paying scalper prices for you, you're probably in the market for some new accessories.
As with any "real" console, a whole raft of accessories and peripherals are rushing to market even as you read this. I've been snagging everything I can get my hands on and putting it all under the microscope to ensure you can enjoy the best possible experience with the 30 classic games on the mini-console. As these items are all third-party devices, they're rolling out at a somewhat uneven pace without a common release date. We'll pick them up and test them out as they arrive and will update this roundup accordingly.
NES Classic Edition Carrying Case
RDS Industries, $19.99 | Buy it here
Given the presence of Nintendo's intriguing "CLASSICS" logo on the front of this case, I have to assume it's an officially licensed product. Certainly its quality level suggests that: Unlike most of the other accessories and add-ons featured here, this thing boasts genuine quality. A compact, rugged semi-rigid clamshell box, you could drop this thing off a roof top and very likely have its contents end up none the worse for the wear. (Please note that I don't recommend you put this theory to the test.)
I've never heard of RDS Industries, but they've put together a perfect little storage case for the NES Classic Edition here. The foam liner snugly holds the console, two controllers (with side slots large enough to house your controller cables — not really a big deal, given how short the cables are), and your AC adapter. It's versatile enough that you could skip the AC adapter and put, say, the wireless dongle for the Nyko MiniBoss controllers in its place instead.
If you want to bring along additional supplies, such as an HDMI cable or whatever, the upper half of the clamshell contains a mesh pouch that seals with a Velcro fastener. You can stuff a reasonable amount of extra material in there (such as an extension cable for your controllers). I don't recommend overdoing it, since the rigid exterior doesn't offer much flexibility and won't protect your system from damage that happens inside the case... but aside from the hazards of potential user error, this simple but effective case does precisely what you'd need it to do. It's also good for hiding away your console when not in use to prevent eBay-frenzied thieves from stealing and reselling your precious system. These are dangerous times we live in!
Nyko MiniBoss Wireless Controller [updated]
Nyko, $19.99 | Buy it here
When I reviewed this controller a few weeks ago, I had to give it a vote of no confidence: The thing simply didn't work. However, Nyko has sent out a revamped wi-fi dongle that does as it should, and it's this updated connector that ships in the retail package. As such, I can now give this a hearty recommendation. It's not quite as good as the packed-in controller, but it comes close... and you don't have to deal with messy wires to use it.
In terms of construction, Nyko's MiniBoss feels pretty decent. Third-party controllers can feel cheap or flimsy, and that's not the case here. The plastics, especially on the buttons and D-pad, don't feel quite as nice as the materials Nintendo uses, but neither does this feel like some hollow piece of trash. A molded trim lines the edges of the console, making it comfortable to grip, and the buttons have pretty good action. The D-pad may be a little stiffer than I'd prefer, but it's responsive, and after testing the MiniBoss with several twitch-action games I didn't come away feeling that it suffers from input lag.
The MiniBoss consists of a controller and a wireless dongle that plugs into the system — or into a Wii remote, if you want to use it with another Nintendo console. The dongle draws power from the NES CE console, while the controller itself contains a rechargeable battery recharged via USB micro connector — conveniently, the same connector the NES CE itself uses. The controller set-up is a simple plug-and-play process: Power on the system, then activate the controller, and it automatically pairs with the dongle, ready for use. Aside from the need for periodic recharges, it does what you need without fuss... and without tangles.
Playing With Power
Prima Games/Garitt Rocha & Nick von Esmarch, $19.99 (paperback) $44.99 (hardcover) | Buy it here
Man, this book is — pardon my French — weird as hell. A massive NES strategy guide published in 2016? What is this world even coming to?
But yes: Playing With Power contains hundreds of pages of strategy tips for more than half the games included on the NES Classic Edition. The bulk of strategies focus on first-party titles. Do you really need Donkey Kong Jr. strategies? Probably not, but the book contains several pages on the game regardless.
This one's tough for me to judge, because it's not really essential. You can find all of these strategies out there in the wild: Maps at VG Maps, exhaustive strategies at GameFAQs, and handy strategies here at USgamer in our very own NES Classic Edition guides. As a resource, it's fairly moot if you have access to the internet; sure, there's something to be said for having all those maps splayed out across the pages sitting in front of you, but second-screen media has even made that somewhat inconvenient. After all, there's no search feature in a book.
Playing With Power also includes a lot of weird errors. I self-publish books as a hobby, so I am well aware of how easy it is to let typos slip through even after several rounds of copy edits, but this book contains one colossal goof along with its trivial misspellings: It's missing The Legend of Zelda's overworld map, despite including a callout for it. (It also skips almost entirely over Zelda's Second Quest, a grueling challenge that seems a perfect fit for comprehensive guide.) I'm also bothered on a personal level by the chaotic interior design and poor image quality — screenshots tend to be blurry messes, especially in zoomed detail shots.
Despite these troubles, I could still give the book a recommendation if it included some fresh supplemental material. At first glance, Playing With Power appears to do precisely that, including an interview with Shigeru Miyamoto. As it turns out, though, all the non-guide material has been culled from Nintendo Power magazine; that Miyamoto interview was published alongside Super Mario Bros. 3 back in 1990 or so and has been reprinted endlessly online. Aside from a couple of forewords, including one by long-time Nintendo executive Don James, Playing With Power doesn't bring any new insights to the table. There's an undeniable charm in picking up a book crammed with garish NES game maps and tip sidebars in the year of our lord 2016 to be sure, but I'm not sure nostalgia alone warrants the $20 cover price. But then again, nostalgia is sort of the point of the NES CE, so maybe it does.
EMiO The Edge Joystick
EMiO, $24.99 | Buy it here
Well, here's a heartbreaker. EMiO created an NES Classic Edition-specific controller that looks like an almost perfect reproduction of the old NES Advantage. The only thing more nostalgic than playing NES games on a tiny NES would be to do it while (1) sugared out of your mind on breakfast cereal and (2) using an NES Advantage to cheat at shooters with its Turbo buttons or to try in vain make its rapid-pause "slow motion" feature work to your advantage. On the surface, this controller would seem to offer precisely that experience; in practice, however, it suffers from precisely the same problem as the MiniBoss controller: It just doesn't work with the NES CE.
In fact, The Edge suffers from the exact same problem as the MiniBoss, which leads me to believe that a handful of third parties saw that the NES CE works with Wii remote add-on controllers and assumed the new console would use that interface standard with no need for technical updates. Clearly that wasn't the case; licensed remote dongles work fine, but these unlicensed devices don't. It's kind of weird that The Edge isn't licensed, since it looks exactly like Nintendo's Advantage controller, but there you have it.
The Edge does work with Virtual Console games for Wii and Wii U, so there is some value to the controller. But it's being sold as an accessory for the NES CE, for which it doesn't work. EMiO took a gamble on this product, and it's players who will suffer for it. Hopefully, like Nyko, they'll release an updated model, but for now, this is a dud. Stick with Nintendo's official controllers... stumpy little cords and all. [Note: I was not actually able to go hands-on with this accessory, but I trust the dozens and dozens of unanimous, independent complaints that have appeared online to give a warning about it.]
Nyko Extend Link Extension Cable
Nyko, $9.99 | Buy it here
Of all the "why did they do that?" design choices Nintendo made with the NES CE, the decision to build 30" cables into the official controllers sits right at the top of the list. Short cables may have made sense in a world where this device was intended to be plugged into a tiny CRT television, but it outputs only via HDMI... which means it only works on high-definition televisions... which generally start at 27" and go up to, what is it these days, 80"? You definitely don't want to sit two and a half feet away from an 80" TV unless you really enjoy experiencing classic games as abstract collections of gigantic colored squares. Unless you're playing on a small desktop monitor or intend to string an HDMI cable across the room so your console sits next to you, you need a controller extension cable.
Thankfully, Nyko has stepped up to the challenge with its Extend Link Extension Cable. With a MSRP of $9.99, it's not cheap — it's the same price as the standalone version of the official NES CE controller, in fact. A few other manufacturers have their own solutions in the works for slightly less, but either way, you're almost guaranteed to want some sort of extension. And Nyko's does the trick. It adds an extra six feet of cord to your controller, more than tripling its length. It seems durable and well-constructed. It lacks the safety breakaway feature seen in lengthy cables like those on the Xbox 360, but it doesn't really need it — the NES CE itself is tiny, lightweight, and solid state, so if you do accidentally pull your mini-console off your entertainment center the worst that's going to happen to it is a bit of cosmetic damage.
The one oddity about this extension cable is that you can't plug in two of them to your NES CE directly out of the packaging. The console plug end of the cable sports a transparent clip that juts out from the housing; when you plug it into controller port one, it partially obscures the second controller port. Thankfully, this doesn't have to be permanent: By removing two screws from the plug, you can remove the clip (the cable comes with two slightly shorter replacement screws needed to hold the plug itself together), which allows two of them to be seated side-by-side. My assumption is that Nyko had to treat this as a Wii controller accessory (which it technically is — the extension cable works with Wii remotes and a variety of dongles as well!), and that means Nintendo required them to include a clip for the mandatory controller strap. It's an oddity, but a trivial inconvenience at worst; 30 seconds of work later, you have a much-needed improvement to the NES CE. If you plan to use your baby NES in a family room scenario, you absolutely need to add one of these to your shopping list.