NES Classic review

There are still a few months to wait for the Nintendo Switch (aka the NX), but Nintendo is filling the gap with this tiny grey box packed full of nostalgia, the NES Classic. Here’s our Nintendo Classic Mini review.

(Technically the console is called the NES Classic Mini but most people seem to be calling is simply the NES Classic or the NES Classic Edition.)

NES Classic

NES Classic: UK price and where to buy

The price of the NES Classic is one of the best things about it. At just £49 in the UK, it’s cheaper than any of the handheld DS consoles. The price includes one controller but you’ll probably want to spend the additional £7.99 on another - you’ll see why later. 

We’ll look at the games later but spoiler alert, the NES Classic comes with a total of 30 built-in. If you completely ignore the hardware, that’s just £1.60 per game which is excellent value for money. It’s cheaper than buying these titles, where available, through Nintendo’s virtual console system. 

Although the value is amazing here, there’s a downside. The problem, as it stands, is that it’s extremely difficult to get hold of one – either it’s hugely popular, or Nintendo just hasn’t made enough stock, and has since discontinued the console, so it isn't making any more.

While the RRP was £49/$60, you can now expect to pay much more than that to pick one up. Amazon marketplace resellers are offering it for premium prices starting at £81 as of April 2017, while on eBay consoles are typically going for around £120.

NES Classic

NES Classic: Design and build 

We knew the NES Classic was small, but it was still a shock getting it out of the box. This pint-sized plastic box is so tiny it fits in the palm of your hand so don’t worry if you were thinking you don’t have space for another console in the lounge.

The design is very simplistic and stays true to the original on the most part. You might be sad to hear that there’s no cartridge slot for games, and the lid where this would be doesn’t even lift up. 

On the front you’ll find two small buttons – power and reset – plus slots for the controllers. At the back the console is a tad more modern than the original with its Micro-USB and HDMI ports. 

Although the console being so small means you can put it almost anywhere, it’s so light, just 173g, that it might not sit properly. We found it moved purely influenced by the HDMI cable at times. 

The controllers are very true to the original design with their oblong shape and array of buttons. There’s a huge problem here though and it’s the biggest flaw about this console. 

The wire for the NES Classic controller is only 75cm long so you’ll need to either sit really close to the TV or sit the console on a coffee table which may require longer power and HDMI leads. Whoever thought cables this length was a good idea was sorely wrong. 

NES Classic

NES Classic: Performance and games 

Setting up the NES Classic is super easy - this is one console that won’t ever need to download updates before you can get going.

You just need to plug the HDMI cable into your TV and connect the power. As mentioned earlier, it’s a Micro-USB port and while a cable is supplied in the box, an adapter isn’t. However, most modern TVs will have a USB port which can power the console. 

Once you’re plugged in, you need only hit the power button and select the language before you’re eyes are hit with a tidal wave of nostalgia - even if you’ve never owned a NES you’ll feel it. 

The menu is laid out in an easy to use manner although there are some complications when it comes to saving games which we’ll come to shortly. 

In the middle of the screen you’ve got a horizontal list of all the games which you can order in different ways - alphabetical, release date etc - by hitting the select button. 

At the top is the menu so you can change things like the display format and it’s all very retro with attention to detail. It’s a shame, then, that the option for manual here simply shows a QR code so you can look it up online.

NES Classic

Before you start gaming, choose your display format of which there are three to choose from: 

  • Pixel Perfect - Gives you square pixels so you see the games as designed.
  • 4:3 – Original NES look but with a horizontal stretch.
  • CRT – Adds a filter which looks like an old TV, scan lines and all.

Launching a game is almost instant and we’ve noticed zero lag while playing or using the console in general. The hardest part is choosing what game to play in the first place. 

When there are 30 classic titles from which to decide it can get pretty hard. For some, most or all the titles will be familiar while there will be plenty which others won’t have played or even heard of. 

Obvious options are the Mario games, of which there are four, Balloon Fight, Pac Man, Excitebike, Donkey Kong, Kirby’s Adventure, The Legend of Zelda and many more. Skip to the bottom to see the complete list. Whether the selection of games suits your taste, we cannot say but we think it’s a pretty good list. 

There aren’t loads of two player games and the ones that do often require you to take it in turns rather than play simultaneously. That said, it’s worth the small cost of a second controller for when you do have a friend round - plus it works on the Wii or Wii U for the virtual console by connecting it to a Wii Remote. 

However, before you add it to your order that you can use the existing Classic Controller or Classic Controller Pro with the NES Classic Mini which you may well have lying around. 

NES Classic

The beauty of the NES Classic rests in the humble reset button on the front of the console. Gone are the days when you hard to leave the console on and pray no one interfered so you could complete a game. 

You can hit the reset button any time you like and you’ll get an instant save point - we bow down to the mighty save point. Some games you’ll need it more than others and for some you’ll be using it a lot. 

You’ll need to spend a bit of time learning how to use the system though. When you hit the button, you’ll exit out to the menu and you’ll get a tiny window showing where you are in the game. That doesn’t save the game, though as you’ll need to pop it into one of the four slots below (there are four save slots for each game). 

It’s ok once you get used to it (and make sure you lock ones you really don’t want to lose by pressing down) but it’s pretty long winded which can be annoying when you feel the need to save often. It involves hitting Restart, then Down, then either A (to save) or Down again, then A again - like some kind of complicated hack.

NES Classic games list

•    Balloon Fight
•    BUBBLE BOBBLE
•    Castlevania
•    Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
•    Donkey Kong
•    Donkey Kong Jr.
•    DOUBLE DRAGON II: THE REVENGE
•    Dr. Mario
•    Excitebike
•    FINAL FANTASY
•    Galaga
•    GHOSTS‘N GOBLINS
•    GRADIUS
•    Ice Climber
•    Kid Icarus
•    Kirby’s Adventure
•    Mario Bros.
•    MEGA MAN 2
•    Metroid
•    NINJA GAIDEN
•    PAC-MAN
•    Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
•    StarTropics
•    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

Nintendo NES Classic Mini Edition: Specs

  • Nintendo Classic Mini console (with 30 games preinstalled)
  • one NES Controller
  • HDMI Lead
  • USB power cable
  • Nintendo Classic Mini console (with 30 games preinstalled)
  • one NES Controller
  • HDMI Lead
  • USB power cable

OUR VERDICT

Although the NES Classic has some flaws - namely the ridiculously short controller cable - we can’t help but recommend getting one if you can find it in stock. This is little bundle of joy offers insanely good value for those who want to relive days gone past or play these classic games for the first time with the modern benefit of save points.