Playing With Power: A NES Classic Edition Review

Updated on August 10, 2018
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Mr. Oneil is a professional journalist who graduated from Norfolk State University with a BA in journalism.

NES Classic Edition
NES Classic Edition | Source

Back in My Day We Called It "Nintendo," Not "NES"

There was a lot of hype surrounding the release of the NES Classic when it was first announced by Nintendo in 2016. In addition to the hype, there were also several problems surrounding the system's release. To put it simply, I couldn’t get the NES Classic during its initial release. Unfortunately, I didn't get one until late last month.

Since the Nintendo Wii's release, Nintendo has enabled consumers to purchase older games and play them on modern systems via Virtual Console (VC). However, when Nintendo decided to release a compilation of 30 games on a miniature replica of their first major console, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the idea captured the interest of old school and contemporary gamers alike and the release was highly anticipated.

The box it comes in
The box it comes in | Source

The NES Classic makes original Nintendo games accessible and affordable for those who want to play old games, but don’t have the money to purchase everything on VC. The NES Classic is basically a plug-n-play system that connects to televisions with HDMI ports. The NES Classic was designed to be compatible with modern televisions, so people who don’t have televisions with HDMI ports will have to get compatible televisions in order to use the console. It also comes packaged with a DC-in cable, instruction booklet, and a controller, which I’ll discuss in greater detail later.

Setting Up Your Console

Once the system boots up it prompts players to select language options. After picking your language of choice the menu screen will appear. In addition to the language settings you will have to select your preferences for the console's settings and display. The display icon allows you to change your viewing preferences. You can have games play as they would with a CRT filter, or you can have them play pixel perfect. The system has a variety of preference category options to consider and adjust, and there are also accompanying legal notices to read. All the options are self-explanatory. Keep in mind that the console manual must be scanned by a smartphone to be viewed.

Menu screen
Menu screen | Source

The Game Selection

This console comes pre-programmed with 30 of Nintendo’s finest games, from Super Mario Bros. to The Legend of Zelda. I could spend time reviewing each game, but I’ll keep it basic and say that each one plays just as it did on the original NES. The only different facet of the games is that there are black boarders on the sides of the screen. They can be somewhat distracting as you play, but otherwise the games are perfect emulations.

Most of the games originally lacked a save feature. If you wanted to complete a game, you had to play it from the beginning to the end in one sitting. This could be quite taxing since many of the games can be difficult to beat and they take hours to play. The NES Classic fixes this problem by adding suspend points to the gameplay. If you hit reset on the console while playing a game, you will be taken back to the menu screen. Then the games can be saved via the suspend points. Each game has four suspend points and players can pick up in the exact place where reset was hit. This is extraordinarily helpful. Is there a difficult jump in Super Mario Bros. that’s giving you a hard time? Well now you can save the game at that point and try the jump over and over without worrying about losing lives and having to go back to the beginning of a level if the jump fails.

The NES Classic Controller

The controller is a mixed bag. On one hand, it’s a perfect replica of the original NES controller and every button is responsive. I guess I’m getting old since it does look a bit smaller than how I remembered it. The controller itself feels very fluid and responsive during gameplay. On the other hand, the length of the chord for the controller is extremely short. You cannot be too far from the system when you play. I often find myself lifting the system up by accident due to the length of the chord. Whenever I play I usually have the system close by to account for the controller length. I do have an original SNES controller, which works perfectly with the NES Classic and it has a longer wire, but the additions on that controller can cause you to make mistakes while using it, which is why the NES Classic controller feels more natural with its limited selection. There are controller extensions and third party wireless controllers that help with this issue, but it doesn’t change the fact that Nintendo should have known better before designing such an inconvenient controller. A Wii Classic controller will also work with the NES Classic Edition and its home key functions as the reset option. Likewise, the NES Classic controller can connect to a Wii remote and Wii remotes will work with certain games.

Controller length compared to the original NES controller
Controller length compared to the original NES controller | Source

The Infamous Product Launch and Overall Impressions

Overall, the NES Classic is a near-perfect edition for those who love classic Nintendo games. This is a must-have for all Nintendo fans if they can get one.

Here’s the thing, the NES Classic had an absolutely terrible launch. It was a product that was in high demand, but Nintendo had very few consoles available. In fact, most stores were lucky to have eight in stock upon release. They quickly sold out everywhere, both in stores and online. Most of the buyers were scalpers. Once stores sold out, scalpers sold the systems on sites like eBay for inflated prices which dashed the hopes of those who actually wanted to purchase the console. Nintendo said they only planned on making a small number of systems, however the high demand eventually forced Nintendo to make additional systems.

A year after the NES Classic's release, Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Classic Edition. It would seem that Nintendo learned from their NES Classic's release errors since more consoles were immediately available. Because their second mini-console release was so successful there have been rumors circulating about the potential release of mini versions of Nintendo's other gaming systems. So which one will be next, the Gameboy, Nintendo 64, or perhaps the GameCube?

NES Classic trailer

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    © 2018 Staff Oneil


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