While devotees everywhere eagerly await firm details on the Nintendo’s next home console, the ever-elusive (and much discussed on here) NX, the company has surprised the gaming establishment by announcing that it has another console in the offing: the NES Mini, due in November.
A shrunken reimagining of the 8-bit console that put Nintendo on the map, it features HDMI output, authentic controllers (albeit using Wii-style connectors) and a surprisingly generous repertoire of 30 built-in games, featuring many of the format’s most desirable titles.
It retails for £50 over here in the UK, which seems to me like excellent value for money, especially when you consider the prices some of the included games command on the second hand market and/or on Nintendo’s various Virtual Console platforms individually. The hardware itself is almost certainly an emulator in a box , but as long as the emulation is solid, I wouldn’t personally have any misgivings about that.
Judging by some of the comments I’ve read, it seems that some would-be buyers are disappointed that it’s not going to be possible to download additional titles to the system. But this unit is clearly intended as a self-contained nostalgia trip; to expect Nintendo to invest time and money creating the software and infrastructure required for a bespoke digital storefront that would likely yield little return is unrealistic. Again, for the asking price, I don’t think this is an issue.
Still not excited? Well, the fact that the console is referred to as the Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System on Nintendo of Europe’s website suggests that it may well be the first in a series of upcoming Nintendo Classic Minis. The idea of a similarly dimutive SNES packed with triple-A 16-bit Nintendo games, or even an pint-sized N64 offered on comparable terms, should have any gamer worth their salt foaming at the wallet.
SEGA have offered licensed throwback Mega Drives and Game Gears for a number of years now, but as I wrote on SEGA Nerds, they’re pretty awful. If Nintendo makes a sucess of this, perhaps we’ll see a new, more competent. Master System reimagining. After all, it was far more popular in Europe than the NES anyway.
The NES has always represented something of a blind spot in terms of my gaming history. I never owned one, and didn’t really have any friends that did growing up, nor have I ever bothered to explore the console’s library via emulation or the like, despite its rich heritage. Thus, I feel that properly acquainting myself with the console that gave us Metroid, Zelda, Mario Bros., Final Fantasy, Kirby, Castlevania and many more, is long overdue.
And this new Classic Mini NES may just be the best (and most cost effective) way to do it.