NES Classic Edition Review
I feel like before I begin my review of the NES Classic, or “Mini”. I have to address two things. The first is the 800 LB gorilla, or Donkey Kong in the room. And that’s the availability of this product. To put it bluntly, it’s a mess. Now I can only speculate that either Nintendo didn’t know this was going to be this desired, or they are short supplying retailers on purpose to create this frenzy, resulting in a false sense of the consumer NEEDING this rather than wanting it. I mean it’s the most talked about holiday product other than the Hatchimal toy and I’ve yet to see even a commercial for the Mini. So all of this commotion is going to ensure this will be in every household much like the original Wii was, eventually. And to me that’s a shame. Not that everyone will own it, but that people will have to wait or scour the internet for strange, overpriced deals. The second thing is more of a personal point I want to stress so you the reader is fully aware I know what I’m getting into. And by that I mean I’m fully aware of emulator programs, and emulation machines that can plug into your TV like the Raspberry Pi or Retrofreak. So now that I got that out-of-the-way let’s talk about this little guy.
So months ago I heard about the Classic and I immediately wanted it. I had access to all of the games on it already, and beaten all of them (well the ones with an ending), but something about the design and knowing that it would have some Nintendo charm still made me seek it out since it’s release. The box packaging is sleekly designed with a retro look, the phrase “retro blast from the past” is even on the back of the box, Nintendo knows who this was intended for. Upon taking it out the size of this thing can’t be ignored. It’s half the size of a game case. It’s adorable frankly. And doesn’t feel cheap, with everything represented from the original NES aside from a door that doesn’t open and no A/V or R/F outputs. HDMI only. On the bottom is four rubber grips in each corner to prevent sliding if the controller is yanked. So the look and feel is perfect. As soon as you plug it in your asked which language to select and immediately you see a slick menu with large tiles of box art and smaller ones beneath that to show every game. Pushing up goes to a sub menu which has three settings for visuals. CRT scan lines, for an older look, 4:3, and Pixel Perfect. Which to me looks exactly as the 4:3 setting. There is no stretch or wide-screen. While you’re looking for a game you have some sweet original chip tunes playing in the background, which is a nice touch and something that similar machines like the Atari and Sega Flashback fail to do. There’s some of that Nintendo charm I knew would be there.
So the important thing of course is the games and how they look and run. Overall I think the 30 games packed in are great choices, aside from a few stinkers and odd choices. The standouts include all three Super Marios, both Zelda’s, Mega Man 2, Metroid, Kid Icarus, Final Fantasy, and Castlevania. Co-op games can be found as well, like Double Dragon and Bubble Bobble. The stinkers would be Balloon Fight and Ice Climber. The odd choices? PAC-MAN and Galaga. I write odd because I don’t really associate those with Nintendo, they are more arcade and Atari. I’d much rather of seen Kung-Fu or Bionic Commando for example. But still the 30 here are all fun and look great in HD, and all feel as smooth as ever. I’d even go as far to say that Metroid and Kid Icarus are better than ever with State Save support. Hitting reset takes you back to the main menu and gives you the option to save where you are when you hit reset. Simply pull down and the picture of that game goes into one of four files. No more writing down passwords. But also no way to improve memory, there’s no sd card slot. And all that at a 60$ Price point, sounds perfect right??
Well here’s the one negative. And yes for me there’s only one. I can forgive the lack of an SD card slot. I can forgive the few weird game choices, I mean that can vary by person. But the thing that no one can argue is the length of the controller cord. Oh, my, Lord! It’s a joke! I’m not exaggerating either. When I untangled it the first time I felt like It was some weird prank. It doesn’t make any sense. Also there’s no way of going back to the main menu through the controller, you have to get up and hit reset. But apparently Nintendo didn’t think of that being an issue because they knew you’d be right next to this thing due to the controller cord being the size of a dachshund! So right off the bat you HAVE to buy extension cables, which are about ten bucks. So the system is no longer 60 bucks it’s 70. You can also use original Wii Pro controllers, and they have a home button. But their cords are short too! It’s bizarre.
Overall I really would have given this thing a 100% and a must buy. I like the design of the console, the menu system is great. And having 30, mostly solid games to focus on beating rather than 1,300 or more you can have on an emulator gives you something to focus on. To say ” Here’s the Mini, and I conquered it!” But with the tiny, joke of a controller cord I have to bring the score all the way down to an 85%. I’ve provided some pics of the laughable cord. Take care and happy Mini hunting! And do not overpay, be patient.