By Mike Perry
With the astonishing success of the mobile gaming phenomenon that is Pokémon Go, it seemed as though Nintendo could do no wrong. With the nostalgia wave still yet to plateau completely, the big N has decided to cash in, announcing what it is framing as a revival of the classic Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the form of the brand new Nintendo Classic Mini console. It’s an awesome idea, in theory. Clone consoles such as the Retron 5 have created a nice niche in the market, and nostalgic gamers of the 80s and early 90s are keen to play an ironic round or two of Super Mario Bros. before tossing their new toy back in the closet and never thinking of it again.
Unfortunately, Nintendo doesn’t really attempt to enter the space that the Retron and other NES on a chip style systems did. What we have here is more akin to an Atari Flashback than an actual NES. The console comes with 30 built-in games (and a surprising number of them are 3rd party titles, such as Final Fantasy), but doesn’t seem to be very expandable beyond that. Additionally, your original NES controllers, gamepads, zapper, and accessories will not be compatible. Instead of actual NES controller ports, the NES Classic Edition comes with, you guessed it, Wii controller ports. Of course, you can purchase a classic-style NES controller, complete in retro-style NES packaging, but it will basically be a re-designed Wii remote without the gyroscope.
The system is HDMI ready, which is a nice touch, and the box art is reminiscent of the original NES Action Set, so it’ll be a neat little novelty at first.
The worst part about the system, however, is the fact that you can’t play your actual, physical NES cartridges on it. In fact, the system is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, something that most people can’t do with a standard-sized NES Game Pak. That’s where Nintendo misses the boat. Instead of a legitimate re-launch of the NES that could potentially blow unlicensed clone systems like the Retron out of the water while giving gamers legit Nintendo products, you’re getting some old-stock Wii parts crammed into a tiny computer with an emulator installed inside a scaled down NES shell with no known way to add games. At the moment, Nintendo has not announced compatibility with the eShop service, so you’ll be stuck with the 30 built-in games.
The system will retail in the United States for $59.99 and launches on November 11, 2016, just in time for Christmas (and scalpers).
The full games list for the NES Classic Mini includes: Balloon Fight, Bubble Bobble, Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Double Dragon II: The Revenge, Donkey Kong & Donkey Kong Jr. (no word on if this will be a ROM of each game separately or Donkey Kong Classics), Dr. Mario, Excitebike, Final Fantasy, Galaga, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, Ice Climber, Kid Icarus, Gradius, Kirby’s Adventure, Mario Bros., Mega Man 2, Metroid, Pac-Man, Ninja Gaiden, Punch-Out (featuring Mr. Dream; no Mike Tyson here!), StarTropics, Super C (but not Contra? Are you kidding?), Super Mario Bros. 1-3, Tecmo Bowl, The Legend of Zelda, and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.
Check out this weekend’s episode of the Adult Podcast for Kids for a full rundown.