Oh, the good old 8-bit days of gaming. Who can we forget the chiming dings of Super Mario mystery bricks, the sprawling breadth of The Legend of Zelda, the stunning cinematic grandeur of Ninja Gaiden?
Times were simpler, TV sets were heavier, mullets were longer but boy, those 1980s Nintendo games were absolutely fun. I've spent countless hours as a kid laboring through some of these admittedly devilishly difficult games just because, like Mount Everest, they were there. There were no cloud-based achievements, no online profiles, no downloadable content - it's just you versus the machine (and maybe a few neighborhood friends).
Feeling a little bit nostalgic yet? Although 8-bit revivalists have been re-experiencing these games through emulators or via Nintendo's Virtual Console, nothing compares to the sheer tactile joy of handling the real hardware as we knew it. The blocky, hard plastic feel of the rectangular controller, the mushy buttons, the blowing of the cartridge (ok, maybe not that), the satisfying click of the "On" button and most importantly, the look of that gray, monolithic gaming appliance as it is proudly displayed in the living room - for a 1980s kid, it's the centerpiece for instant cool.
Today, Nintendo is giving all of you gamers a chance to relive it all. The company is releasing the NES Classic Edition, a $60-miniature version of the Nintendo Entertainment System game console that we all know and love. It looks just like the 1980s console except it's smaller, like 5-inch-wide smaller.
Among its updated specs, it connects to modern flatscreen TVs exclusively via the ubiquitous HDMI connector and it is powered either via micro USB or through the included power adapter.
And to the delight of CRT fans, it has various HDTV display modes to choose from. There's 4:3 mode (default mode), pixel-perfect mode (displays each pixel as a square) and will be the obvious retro favorite, the CRT filter mode that aims to simulate the scan lines, the blurriness, the dodgy picture of an old TV. In short, the CRT filter mode will make the games look like how they looked back in the 1980s.
The included controller is also an exact replica of the original. It looks, feels, and plays the same - a perfect clone. Unfortunately, it merely comes with a 30-inch cord and this might pose a problem for big-screen TV equipped living rooms. Playing Ice Climber in its full pixelated glory while sitting three feet away from a 70-inch screen is not exactly the immersive experience I'm looking for.
If you still have your old NES game cartridges lying around, be forewarned, the NES Classic Edition will not play those since it doesn't have a cartridge slot. Instead, it comes preloaded with 30 of the most beloved Nintendo games from that era - games like Metroid, Legend of Zelda, Super Mario, etc.
Here is the list of the included games:
- Balloon Fight
- Bubble Bobble
- Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
- Donkey Kong
- Donkey Kong Jr.
- Double Dragon II: The Revenge
- Dr. Mario
- Final Fantasy
- Ghosts'n Goblins
- Ice Climber
- Kid Icarus
- Kirby's Adventure
- Mario Bros.
- Mega Man 2
- Ninja Gaiden
- Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
- Super C
- Super Mario Bros.
- Super Mario Bros. 2
- Super Mario Bros. 3
- Tecmo Bowl
- The Legend of Zelda
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
For $60, this is still an impressive lineup.
So now, maybe you're itching and you can't wait to get one, right? Well, hold on to your coins, Luigi, since it looks like it's already sold out online.
As of this writing, it is already sold out on Amazon and third-party sellers are selling units for as high as $599!
If you want to get one today your best bet will be in brick and mortar stores like Best Buy, Target, Walmart or Gamestop. Hurry up, though, since supplies are limited.
Judging by the warm reception of this retro console, Nintendo will surely ramp up production of the NES Classic just in time to stuff millions of stockings throughout this Christmas season. I'll bet this will be the must-have gift of the year. Ka-Ching!
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