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All the reasons why the NES Classic Edition is a gamer’s dream machine

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Back in 1985, Japanese developer Nintendo reinvigorated and revolutionized playing video games at home with its 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. Bringing far more power and publisher support than any previous console, the NES not only found its way into tens of millions of homes around the world, but it also played host to a long list of games still loved by fans to this day. To help revive some of that nostalgia-fueled old-school gaming fun, Nintendo offers the NES Classic Edition, and here’s everything you need to know about what is sure to become one of the hottest gifts this holiday season.

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Honey You’ve Shrunk the System

While the NES Classic Edition may resemble the original NES, there’s a number of differences. First, the system itself is tiny compared to its ancestor, now easily fitting in the palm of your hand. Also, while the games themselves may be retro, the cables you’ll be using won’t be. The NES Classic Edition hooks up to any modern HDTV via HDMI, outputting a clean and crisp image far better than the original was ever capable of. Meanwhile, a standard micro USB cable provides power for the unit, which can be plugged into a wall outlet using the included power adapter — or even your TV’s USB plug, depending on what television you own.

Take Control

Once you’ve got the system hooked up, you’re going to need something to help immerse you in all of the adventures you’re about to have. Every NES Classic Edition comes with one original-style NES controller, a modern-era replica of those now famous pads we used to use to stomp on Goombas or defeat the evil Mother Brain. The controller looks and feels just like those released thirty-one years ago, with one major exception. The plug on the end of the cable is the same standard plug used for the Wii Remote, meaning you can also use the controller for your favorite Virtual Console titles on Wii or Wii U. Have a friend that wants to join in? Pick up a second controller separately, and get ready for twice the fun.

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Now You’re Playing with Power

Of course, the hardware means nothing without a great selection of games. Instead of needing to purchase separate cartridges to expand your library, the NES Classic Edition comes loaded with thirty of the best and most beloved titles from the vast library of NES releases. Plenty of must-have Nintendo games are here — from Super Mario Bros. 3 to Metroid, The Legend of Zelda to Punch-Out!! — and they’re joined by well-known third party offerings such as Mega Man 2, Castlevania, Final Fantasy and Ninja Gaiden.

Having a (Digital) Safety Net

For anyone who played games on the NES back in its heyday, getting to the end credits could be a harrowing experience. Some titles allowed you to save your progress to a battery back-up, others forced you to write down often-complicated passwords and still others expected you to make it all the way through on one sitting. Now, with the NES Classic Edition, picking up where you left off couldn’t be easier. By pressing the Reset button on the console, you’ll be whisked back to its main dashboard, where every single game has four dedicated save slots. So, not only can you finally go back and beat those challenges that still haunt you to this day (without sitting in front of the TV for hours and hours on end), but your family and friends can keep track of their own progress as well.

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Looking Sharp

Finally, Nintendo has built an extra feature into that NES Classic Edition that’ll be especially appreciated by the more dedicated gamers out there. At any time, you can switch between one of three visual rendering choices: Pixel Perfect mode, where each pixel in the game is perfectly square; 4:3 mode, where the pixels are more rectangular, as they originally seemed on older televisions; and CRT filter mode, which reproduces scanlines over the games to give them that older-television feel. While most of you will probably be content with Pixel Perfect or 4:3 mode, this is still a welcome extra bonus that shows the care put into the NES Classic Edition.