NINTENDO’S FIRST HOME VIDEOGAME CONSOLE RETURNS... AND BRINGS WITH IT ALL THE GOLD, GLITZ AND GRIT OF THE ‘80S. [ JON PORTER ] Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System
THE ORIGINAL NINTENDO Entertainment System (aka the NES) was released way back in 1983, but the Japanese videogame giant has recently decided to bring it back, along with 30 of its best games, in the form of the $99 Nintendo Classic Mini. Given its 33-year age, you might expect the Classic Mini to suffer from some nostalgia-related issues — and it does — but what’s perhaps more surprising is how well many of the games hold up.
If you’re familiar with the design of the original NES, then you’ll have a pretty good idea of how the Classic Mini looks, but naturally a couple of changes have been made since the mid ‘80s. This new console doesn’t have a cartridge slot for example (all the games run off internal flash storage), and the device uses HDMI rather than the original’s ancient aerial connection. The biggest change, however, is its size and weight. The console itself is only 13 x 10 x 4cm and basically fits in the palm of your hand. It’s also surprisingly light, but thanks to some non-slip rubber feet, you’ll find it sits snugly wherever you put it.
Thankfully, while the console has been slimmed down, the controller remains full-size, and is functionally exactly the same as the NES original. You get just one controller in the box, with the option of buying another separately, although you can use a Wii Classic controller if you have one spare. The controller is equipped with an extremely short cable, and this is the single biggest issue with the whole console. At just over 75cm, it’s one third of the length of the original console’s controllers, meaning you’re either going to have to sit uncomfortably close to your television or place the console in the middle of the living room.
Once you boot up the Classic Mini, you’re greeted with a list of 30 NES games to choose from, including the likes of Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, Metroid and Super Mario Bros. It’s a pretty extensive list that omits relatively few of the NES’s classics, although we would have loved to have seen the ability to bring more games to the console in the future. Unfortunately, this little white and grey gem is offline-only, and doesn’t accept an SD card. What you get when you open the box is what you’ll have forever.
The front-end of the system, which you use to select games to play, is really nicely designed and features display options that let you finetune the experience. Apart from the smooth default ‘4:3’ mode, there is a somewhat harsh ‘Pixel Perfect’ mode and a retro ‘CRT Filter’ which adds scanlines to the display.
The console has a modern save-state function with four save slots per game; however, you can still use the original game’s save points as long as you don’t mix and match the different schemes. The only issue we have with this save system is that the ‘Reset’ button, which is used to activate the feature, is located on the console itself rather than the controller. Above all else, the Nintendo Classic Mini is an authentic retro gaming experience. There’s no internet connectivity here, no online leaderboards, no downloadable extras and no patches. It’s a warts-and-all experience, and it means that, if you want to relive the glories of 1980s gaming, then this is a great way to do it.
WHILE THE CONSOLE HAS BEEN SLIMMED DOWN, THE CONTROLLER REMAINS FULL-SIZE, AND IS FUNCTIONALLY EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE NES ORIGINAL.