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Nintendo Classic Mini NES Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Tiny and light
  • Nostalgia heaven
  • Save points
  • Crisp graphics

The Bad

  • Unexpandable
  • Tiny controller cables

Nintendo Classic Mini NES review: Ageing Nintendo fans and younger gamers alike will find plenty to love in this mini NES console, but this modernised slice of gaming nostalgia is not without its flaws. Here’s our full review of the new Classic Mini from Nintendo.

Nintendo Classic Mini review: Design and ports

The Classic Mini is a more or less exact replica of the original NES console, with a few important differences. First, it’s obviously a lot more compact (if the name didn’t give it away) as well as super-light; the Classic weighs next to nothing, to the point that it actually feels like an empty box. Good news if you want to take it to a friend’s house for some multiplayer action.

That old-school two-tone grey design is present and correct, although the cartridge slot is just for show. You can’t actually open up the Classic Mini and insert a game. On the front you get two controller slots and the power and reset buttons; the latter is used to return you to the main menu from any game. Around the back you have an HDMI port, plus a micro USB port for power.

Stingily, Nintendo hasn’t bundled a plug with the NES Classic Mini; just a USB cable. That means you’ll need to supply your own to actually plug it into the mains. Bear that in mind to avoid disappointment when you get back home.

You get a single controller included, and this also mimics the original boxy NES controllers. They’re still comfortable to clutch and game with for hours, but there’s one crucial flaw and that’s the ridiculously short length of the cables. You have little option but to sit right in front of your TV in order to play. Not great news for your retinas, or your spine if you’re pushing 40 and forced to kneel on the ground.

Thankfully you can use a Wii Classic Controller or Classic Controller Pro with the mini NES, which is a better option if you want some extra cable length.

A second controller can be purchased for seven quid, to get some multiplayer action on the go.

Nintendo Classic Mini review: Games and features

Another missed opportunity is the inability to expand the Classic Mini’s games catalogue beyond the 30 pre-installed titles. Thankfully those games represent some of the very best of the NES line-up, with the likes of Mario, Kirby and Zelda all present and correct. They’re not all classics, but there isn’t an ET in sight at least.

Check out our All You Need to Know About the Nintendo Classic Mini feature for a full list of games.

Boot up the mini NES and you can select a game from the line-up, as well as tinker with a few settings. There are three graphics options to choose from, including an old-school CRT effort. The updated 60Hz graphics makes everything nice and crisp, though, so why spoil it for the sake of uber-nostalgia.

Remember those mind-numbing codes that you used to have to enter to continue a game from a set point? The ones that were longer than your average George R R Martin novel? Well, you can forget about those things. Now you can save each game in up to four separate save slots, at any time. That’s sweet relief if you actually want to see the end of some of these games, as the likes of Simon’s Quest and Ghosts n’ Goblins are crazy hard.

Nintendo Classic Mini review: Verdict

The Nintendo Classic Mini has arrived just in time for Christmas, which means that classic NES titles will be blasting out of TVs across the country this festive season. And frankly, that fills me with more joy than a dozen red-nosed, round-bellied Santas.

This Mini NES could have been even better with an expandable catalogue and controllers that didn’t demand up-close floor sitting. But it’s still hours and hours of nostalgic fun for older gamers, or hours and hours of retro enjoyment for younger button mashers.

You can buy the Nintendo Classic Mini here in the UK right now, for fifty pounds.


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