A lot of older gamers have fond memories of days gone by where Nintendo reigned the video game world with their classic NES home console. A time where Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong found their origin and for the first time took people on grand adventures that would set the future course of video games. Anyone who feels nostalgic about those times and wishes to relive those days without having to struggle to get 30 year old electronics to work can do so with the Nintendo Classic Mini NES.
The Nintendo Classic Mini NES – simply Mini NES from now on – is a small and practical console designed to emulate the classic NES experience for audiences today. Intended to be a celebration to the NES, the console comes preinstalled with 30 classic NES games and a HDMI port. Thirty great games in one package and all adapted to run on modern televisions – it sounds like a dream come true. So how does the system perform?
First off, the Mini NES really stays true to its name: the console is very, very small. It fits in the palm of your hand, and in fact is barely bigger than the NES controller that comes with it. This makes to console very portable and easy to bring along, especially since there’s no need to bring individual games. All games are preinstalled on the system and there’s no slot to insert cartridges or discs, limiting the game selection of the Mini NES to the ones that came with it. There’s also no built-in way to connect the Mini NES to the internet, so updates to system’s library are not to be expected in the future. Every game is selectable from an efficient and uncomplicated menu screen, and supports the creation of suspend points. While this may somewhat diminish the authentic feel of the NES, it is extremely user-friendly to be able to suspend a game if you need to take a break from playing for whatever reason – especially for the games that originally featured no save system or used a password system. Games that did allow players to save their game – such as the Zelda games – still have that feature on the Mini NES, in addition to suspend points. Creating a suspend point is done by pressing the system’s reset button. So, rather than resetting the system, it takes you to the Mini NES main menu and provides the option to save a suspend point that can later be reloaded when you want to resume play.
Much like on Virtual Console, these suspend points aren’t deleted when you resume play from them and can be loaded up multiple times. Also, there’s the ability to make multiple different points at a time, and the option to ‘lock’ them so they can’t accidentally be overwritten. A very convenient addition that makes playing on the Mini NES a lot easier.
The thirty games that are featured on the Mini NES are almost too good to be true. Just about every classic first party NES game is playable. Think of Mario Bros. 1-3, both Zelda games, Metroid, Kirby’s Adventure, Donkey Kong, Kid Icarus, Ice Climber and even Star Tropics. And what’s more, not only Nintendo’s own games are featured, but even a limited but excellent selection of third party games have made the cut: Mega Man 2, Ninja Gaiden, Contra, Final Fantasy and Double Dragon II, just to name a few. Just about every game on here is a timeless classic and not much you could think of it really missing (except for Mother – but as that was not a European release it is understandable).
If you are familiar with these games, you know that you are in for a good time, and if you haven’t played them yet, you really ought to. The Mini NES plays them all and saves you some of the hassle of back then with the option to save your games and allowing your system to be connected via HDMI. And if you’re looking for a more authentic experience, you can even play with the filters to match your preference (smooth or scanlines, for instance).
However, the Mini NES certainly isn’t without it’s flaws, and most of these lie with the system’s hardware. First off, the cable lenght of the Nintendo controller that comes with it is too short. The controller itself is exactly like it used to be and plays very well, but the cord is simply too short to allow for comfortable use. Think about 1 meter at best. You have to sit really close to your Mini NES to be able to play. And while the system is very small and can be placed just about anywhere, you’d have to run and HDMI cable through your living room or sit right in front of your tv.
Also, the Mini NES does not come with any kind of AC Adapter and can only be powered with USB power sources, using a micro-USB cable to do so. This means you have to supply your own USB adapter or power the system through another machine’s USB port. While this can be made to work, it isn’t exactly ergonomic design.
But perhaps the biggest flaw of the Mini NES is how your supposed to get it – if you didn’t preorder it, you won’t be able to. The number of units that was produced is so limited that supplies are already sold out just about anywhere and finding a Mini NES for yourself by now has become a miracle. Until Nintendo comes with new shipments, its unlikely that you will even be able to play on your own Mini NES anytime soon, and why? Does Nintendo intentionally wish to keep it limited, or did they really not anticipate how wildly popular this device would be?
Literally almost everyone wants a Mini NES, and it would make a great Christmas gift, but no one is able to buy one because they are all sold out. Only on online marketplaces you can still buy them for greatly increased cost. One wonders how much money Nintendo could make if they simply increased their production of a seemingly easily produced console that everyone could’ve predicted would do really well. Hopefully the console will re-enter production or more shipments are ready in the future so everyone can enjoy this wonderful piece of nostalgia.
If you can get your hands on one, the positives by far outweigh the negatives as you can work around those and enjoy all of the great games that put Nintendo on the map, games that are still enjoyable to this day.
The full list of playable games on the Mini NES:
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 3
The Legend of Zelda
Zelda II: Adventure of Link
Donkey Kong Jr.
Castlevania 2 Simon’s Quest
Mega Man 2
Double Dragon II: The Revenge
Tecmo Super Bowl
Ghosts ‘n Goblins