Nintendo’s going for a full-frontal nostalgia offensive this Christmas with the release of its pint-sized Nintendo Entertainment System. Dubbed the Nintendo Classic Mini NES, this teeny plastic console has been completely retooled for the modern age, which allowing you to play its 30 pre-loaded games over HDMI.
From the classic Super Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda games to more obscure titles such as StarTropics and Kid Icarus are good selection for you. However, don’t expect Nintendo to be adding any more games to the Classic Mini in the future. Much to my great disappointment, that cartridge flap on the front is firmly sealed, so what you see on the back of the box is all you’re going to get.
What you need to get going is included in the box. You get one controller, one HDMI lead and a micro-USB cable. It’s a shame Nintendo hasn’t included a USB power adapter as well, but given their ubiquity in the modern home, you probably won’t have much trouble tracking one down. You’ll also have to buy another controller if you want to add a second player into the mix.
It’s a neat little setup, and the Classic Mini box itself is unashamedly adorable. You might wonder if there’s actually anything in there when you first pick it up, though, because it weighs practically nothing. Still, its four rubber feet do a great job of keeping it firmly fixed to the table, so you shouldn’t have any problems with it shifting around in the middle of your game.
The only rather annoying thing about the Classic Mini is the piddly length of the controller leads. Measuring just 70cm long, this isn’t something you’re going to be able to tuck neatly away in your AV cabinet. Instead, you’re going to need to pull it forward onto your living room floor if you want to sit back and play from your sofa, and even then you might have to resort to sitting on the floor.
Provided you find a comfortable playing position, though, the Classic Mini is quite the retro treat. You can opt to play all the games in their original 4:3 format, add a CRT filter to the screen or play in an even boxier 1:1 “Pixel Perfect” mode, and you can view each game’s original manual by scanning a QR code on your phone or tablet.
Hit the Reset button and you can create a restore point, too, allowing you to hop back to the main menu without losing your progress. You have to save each restore point manually, but with four restore point saves available for each game, you shouldn’t run out of room.
So what games do you get for your £50? Cast your eyes down to the table below for a full list of titles, but it’s safe to say you’re in very good company. The biggest highlights are the first three Super Mario Bros. games, the original Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: Link’s Adventure (which, in my opinion, is superior to the first Zelda game), Mega Man II, Metroid, Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Donkey Kong, Final Fantasy (which was never available in the UK on the NES) and Mega Man II to name just a few.
|Super Mario Bros.||Mega Man II||Metroid||Final Fantasy||Ghosts ‘n Goblins||Super C|
|Super Mario Bros. 2||Gradius||Ninja Gaiden||Punch-Out!!||Ice Climber||StarTropics|
|Super Mario Bros. 3||Kirby’s Adventure||Castlevania||Dr. Mario||Excitebike||Double Dragon II: The Revenge|
|The Legend of Zelda||Donkey Kong||Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest||Mario Bros.||Galaga||Bubble Bobble|
|Zelda II: Link’s Adventure||Donkey Kong Jr||Pac-Man||Balloon Fight||Kid Icarus||Tecmo Bowl|
More than half of them support two player co-op, giving you a decent split of multi-player games and meaty solo adventures. The inclusion of Tecmo Bowl is perhaps the only real dud on this list – I can think of at least two other Mega Man games that I’d have liked to have seen here instead – but on the whole it’s a great line-up that will have many gamers in their late 20s and early 30s misty-eyed with childhood joy.
That said, given that most of the games mentioned above have all been re-released on Nintendo’s various Virtual Console download services over the years, either on Wii, Wii U or 3DS, there’s probably a high chance you already own them on some sort of modern console. So is it really worth paying £50 to play them again?
Probably not if you bought them on the Wii U, but if, like me, a lot of your retro purchases are stuck on your Wii, then the answer is unequivocally yes. I’ve had several Virtual Console games simply not work when I’ve plugged my Wii into an HD TV due to a lack of resolution support, so as irritating as it is to have to buy them again, it’s probably a good way to get them back on the big screen. And besides, I’ve never seen a NES game look this good on an HD TV.
There are things the Nintendo Classic Mini could do better. I’d like a plug adapter, automatic restore point saves and longer controller leads. If you’re looking for a bit of nostalgic comfort this Christmas, however, you could certainly do a lot worse than stuffing a Classic Mini NES into your stocking. Some might view it as a shameless retro cash-in, but for those who simply want to bring their childhood games into the modern age, it’s a great buy.