Yes, I got on the hype train. But do these flashback retro consoles live up to the demand? Should you go stalking the stores to find one — or both — for yourself?
Nostalgia. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. But sometimes I look outside or what’s on TV, and it’s no surprise people go crawling back to the 80s and 90s — recent enough to have a lot of modern tech, but old enough where you realize just how much life has changed in a generation.
Now, when I was young, I had a Nintendo, which I mostly used to play Duck Hunt. However, when I think of my early pre-Final Fantasy VII gaming, it’s my old Atari and Commodore 64 that leave the bigger impression on me. I never got that far in most of my games, but I’d rather try in Lode Runner than Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda. I never had an SNES, but I did play some Super Mario World on a relative’s machine. Other SNES games like Final Fantasy VI (released as Final Fantasy III on the SNES) or Donkey Kong Country I wouldn’t experience until the days of the PS1 or GBA.
I wasn’t too inclined to get the NES Classic, but I was a little more interested in the SNES Classic’s lineup. But I ended up buying both at a discount. (Thanks, Google Express and random Walmart coupon at my local store!) So, what do I think of these two devices?
First of all, I didn’t realize how mini these things were. I probably never looked at pictures too closely, but I guess I was picturing something around the size of a 3DS XL in width. It’s actually about the size of an Echo Dot or Google Home Mini. Cute and very portable. I just unplug an HDMI cable and plug it into a Classic and then hook up the adapter.
Nintendo did make a huge step forward with the SNES in including two controllers and also making the cords longer. I still had to buy a 10 foot extension cord, which is a necessity unless you’re going with third party wireless controllers. You can also buy 6 foot cords, but since NES’ are so short, go with the 10 foot for slightly more. These are the ones I bought, but they’re out of stock as of this writing. This set was the next cheapest ones I found. (Beware of super cheap versions you can find on eBay and other places.)
As for games, of course, there are some titles that feel as if they’re missing. At least some, like Chrono Trigger, still have modern versions. A lot of these games though are the type that you’ll play once or twice and drop, so yeah, instead of dividing the MSRP by 20 or 30, you may really only be interested in half of these games.
Personally, I still think the Switch should have had a traditional virtual console, but I guess Nintendo feels like they can make more money this way. (Even though it’s scalpers that are really the ones making a profit on these things.) It’s disappointing that users can’t add any more games through official channels.
And that’s where these dedicated consoles shine. If you do research, there are ways to emulate other games, but there’s definitely a gray area (if not outright illegal), but if I own Final Fantasy IV on PS1 (which was originally an SNES game, but the PS1 version was the Hard Type instead of the US Easy Type), why can’t I put that on my system? It’s much easier for me to hook up one of these Classics instead of my backwards compatible PS2. I used this connector, this flash drive, and followed the instructions here, and suddenly my old PS1 collection is relevant again!
I didn’t really use the save states and rewind features. I tried to get as far as I could in most games, but I can see this being especially useful in RPGs to save anywhere.
However, I really disliked having to go up and hit reset to go back to the game selection window. Don’t give me the “it’s more authentic” excuse. It’s annoying, plain and simple. Nintendo should have either programmed a button combination or placed an unobtrusive extra button on the controllers.
So, is it worth it? Well, I do love all the developments and mods out there, but I know a lot of people would just say, “Buy a Raspberry Pi if you want to go retro!” Yeah, it’s probably cheaper, but this is a fairly straightforward alternative. I’m not aiming to run graphics-heavy or CPU-heavy games, so I like it as a simple, casual way of retro gaming.
If you can only get one, get the SNES Classic Edition and buy the NES games you want somewhere so you can add them.
N64 Classic? If it has both Pokemon Stadium games, it will be a day one buy for me. I’ve tried to get my parents to play many games over the years, and the log cutting game in Pokemon Stadium 2 is one my mom still talks about. I still have my 64, but it’s packed away. The first Stadium game runs, but the second crashes.
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