Forget about the Nintendo Switch. This new Nintendo Entertainment System is what you want this Holiday season.
The NES Classic Edition controller looks like a picture-perfect replica of the original Nintendo Entertainment System controller released in 1985. Only one controller comes with the NES Classic Edition, but there are ports for two controllers at the front of the unit.
You’ll be able to purchase a second controller separately for $9.99. The ports on the front of the console also accommodate the Classic Controller or Classic Controller Pro that were originally released for the Nintendo Wii.
Nintendo’s controller design for the NES was so strong that it’s been iterated upon for Nintendo systems ever since. You can even seen the DNA of the original NES controller in the new Joy-Con controllers included with the upcoming Nintendo Switch console.
The NES Classic console is a smaller-scale version of the original NES, and the attention to detail on the sculpt is fantastic. The cartridge door at the top of the NES Classic doesn’t swing open, which is a shame, but fewer moving parts means fewer things to break.
The NES Classic feels sturdy. I wouldn’t want to throw it against the ground to see if it could withstand the impact, but I’d have no worries about tossing the Classic into a backpack or messenger bag or suitcase and bringing it along with me. This is a very portable console.
Setup is easy. You just need to plug the NES Classic into your television via the included HDMI cable, and then plug in the power cord.
If you want to play the NES Classic Edition, you may have to sit on top of it
Cord length is the NES Classic Edition’s glaring problem. The controller has a cord that’s only around 30 inches, and in an era where wireless controllers are the norm, 30 inches feels preposterously short.
The NES Classic Edition will more or less be sitting right next to you while you play. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: You’ll need to use the Select button to kick out of a game session and return to the Classic’s home screen.
The NES Classic’s power cable is around 60 inches long, though, and that’s the real concern. If you plug your consoles into a power strip behind the television, like many people do, you’ll have only 7.5 feet of cable to play with in terms of where you’re going to sit.
The HDMI connection is standard, however, and that’s what will give you flexibility in setting up the NES Classic. Because I only had the 60-inch HDMI cable that came packaged with the console, I had to put the Classic on a folding table in order to try stretching it out to my couch.
The game selection for the NES Classic Edition is superb
Thirty Nintendo Entertainment System games come pre-installed with the NES Classic Edition. When there were many hundreds of games released for the NES, even breaking a “best of” list down to 100 games can be a challenge, and it’s a question Nintendo fans are more than happy to fight over.
Having to choose only 30 games for the NES Classic must have been a serious challenge, though Nintendo ostensibly also had data like Virtual Console purchases of NES games to see what the fans wanted. In most cases, I think Nintendo got their choices for the NES Classic right.
A lot of the games, like the original Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Mega Man 2 and the original Final Fantasy are no-brainers. Double Dragon II, Ninja Gaiden, Excitebike and Tecmo Bowl also had to be on the NES Classic if it was meant to represent the best of what the NES had to offer.
The arcade ports for Galaga and Pac-Man still feel like very weird choices, especially when there are so many other games Nintendo could have selected for these slots and real estate on the NES Classic Edition’s hard drive was at such a premium.