Ever since Nintendo announced it would offer a pint-sized mini-NES with 30 classic games pre-loaded, there’s been a significant groundswell of interest from nostalgic gamers. New information and side-by-side playthroughs suggest that the micro-console offers better graphics than even Nintendo’s own Virtual Console on the Wii U.
The video below is courtesy of YouTube channel GameXplain, which compares multiple mini-NES games against their VC counterparts on Nintendo’s latest system. We now know that the mini-NES will offer three modes: Pixel perfect (square pixels), 4:3 ratios (for simulating an old-school television), and a “CRT filter” (simulated scan lines to make a title look like you remember it). The console will also have four save-state slots that you can use to save progress in a game at any point (and you can lock the saves to prevent them from being unintentionally overridden).
The games are gorgeous, with crisp color and smooth animation. If you’ve been unhappy with the quality of the various NES clones and ports we’ve seen to-date, this system delivers something much more akin to the experience of playing these titles on a classic CRT. The only downside is, you can’t plan on being far from the TV at any given point — people who’ve handled the system have confirmed that its cables are extremely short, at roughly 3 feet long. The classic NES, in contrast, had cables that were closer to eight feet. That’s going to put a damper on plenty of home setups — you may need to either buy a compatible controller with a longer cable or an extra-long HDMI cable.
The Classic Mini is expected to arrive this fall and cost $ 59.99. If this console makes a splash — and right now, all indications are that it will — we will probably see similar initiatives from the current major console companies. Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft are all sitting on huge back catalogs of titles, and while Nintendo has the strongest lock on nostalgia for late-thirty-something gamers, Sony’s PlayStation and even the original Xbox were all significant platforms in their own right.
Sega has already announced its own retro MegaDrive (Genesis in North America), with a collection of 80 Sega titles. The Sega hardware is produced by Chinese manufacturer At Games, and has been criticized for lacking features that Nintendo is offering, like the mini-NES’ native HDMI port. Polygon also reports that the sound quality on many classic Sega titles is decidedly sub-par. We’ve seen previous retro consoles from companies like Atari and Intellivision, but the quality and design of these platforms has often been lacking as well. Nintendo has a chance to reinvent the concept by doing things right from Day 1, and we’re hoping the company delivers.
If you do buy a mini-NES, be advised that Nintendo has no plans to add new games to it at a later date. This is a fire-and-forget one-time purchase, not an expandable platform.