NES Mini review – the remake that paved the way

The Nintendo Classic Mini console

There is little doubt that retro stuff makes money. And just like I promised back when I talked about the SNES Classic, I am tackling the NES Mini console today – the one that started it all somewhat. Sporting a solid collection of games and a form factor that copies the original design down to the smallest detail, the Nintendo Classic Mini is a compelling package… If you have never played the NES before or do not have access to working versions of the games it has on offer.

For those of us that are pretty hardcore, however, this mini system reveals all of the flaws of being the product that starts a trend, and that means that there are some design issues, as well as some complaints about the collection of games.

No panic, anyway: my NES Mini review is going to cover everything.

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Extension cables needed – and I really mean it

Nes Classic Controller

Just like the original controller, except for the cable…

So, what is the design issue? Well, it does everything to mimic the original NES and it does a very good job of this. One area where it fails miserably, however, is in the ultra-short cords on the controllers. Unless you plan on playing this console a couple of feet away from the television screen, these controllers are almost unusable. It is a glaring issue, but there might be an explanation because, pour one out for your Japanese brethren, their Famicom Mini has it worse.

You see, the Famicom had controllers attached to the console in Nintendo’s design thus the mini-console, similarly, has the same fate.

The controller cords on the original Famicom were miserably short, and the cords on the Famicom Mini are the same. What I think we are seeing here is a simple input swap with the exteriors changing, but central components – like cords – remaining the same, thus the Western NES Mini is cursed with the same lame short as heck cords that you find on the Famicom Mini.

It is really frustrating but at least there is some kind of explanation, though I do wonder how much play testing went into this design – it is that limiting.

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Some hits are AWOL – more history than quality

Nes Classic Edition game list

I never thought I would say: “Too many classics”

The second issue is the collection of games. Do not get me wrong, they are all worth it, but I cannot help but feeling like there should be more than 30. When you look at the new Sega Genesis Mini console with its slew of titles, the NES Mini looks really paltry in comparison.

All of the classics are here, but then there are some games no one really cares about. For example, most gamers that have some kind of nostalgia for the NES are not trying to play the arcade version of Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Donkey Kong Jr., or Balloon Fight. These are interesting relics and historical titles, but they are not what people think of, when you say “NES.”

There is no Ducktales, no Milon’s Secret Castle, Solomon’s Key is on the Famicom Mini, and we get Doctor Mario instead of Tetris. Sure, Tetris has complex licensing, but anyone that knows video game history, knows how critical that title was for Nintendo in terms of the Game Boy and finally putting a nail in Atari’s coffin for publishing video games for the NES, without Nintendo’s approval. If you want meaningful video game history, a title like the NES version of Tetris would make more sense, than the Nintendo classics that have made appearances on other places.

Also, no Dragon Warrior here or Gunsmoke or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Blaster Master. You name it, it is probably not here, and that is unfortunate, because many of these titles are emulated or on sale somewhere else. A true collection of the best should limit itself to the best. There is way too much air in this bag of potato chips called the NES Mini, and it is heartbreaking.

Some flaws, but high sales – it’s Nintendo, baby…

Nes Classic Edition interface

Just like the Snes Classic, the interface is pretty functional. Nothing bad to say about it

Nonetheless, it is a total must-buy item for collectors and fans of Nintendo. That is probably the market Nintendo was originally targeting, because the company is not naive – they know people download ROMs and emulate their wares.

They were probably taken off guard by the huge reception for the product and rectified a lot of the NES Mini’s issues in the SNES remake. There is little doubt that the latter is superior to everything that came out before and after it.

I would personally rank the NES Classic under the C64 Mini and the SNES Mini, but that could change if the stellar reviews the Sega Genesis retro reload is receiving hold up over time. One opportunity that I think was lost (but not forever) is that the NES remake could have been a serious platform for downloading ROMs and classic titles from the NES library to it.

The limitations of the system that are imposed by its design are unfortunate but that does not mean that Nintendo could not release another collection of games for it – something I think they should do, and quick.

Using the SNES and NES Mini as platforms for access to cheap ROMs from yesterday has so much potential for gamers that do not want to play mobile titles and do not want to pay $60 for new stuff.

There just seems to be a glaring lost opportunity here, and it will be interesting to see how Nintendo handles future retro consoles such as the much-anticipated and expected Nintendo 64 Mini.
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Final impressions – not perfect, but a good start

Excitebike on the NES Classic Edition

Excitebike is more exciting than ever. Strangely, I have never got to talk about it so far, but I will fix that soon 😉

Overall, I am personally satisfied with the NES Classic Console, because it set a standard for other makers to follow. And most of them have, to a large extent. With a few other remakes coming, the future might look bright for us retro gamers!

So, what do you think, retro folks? Is the NES Mini worth it – or somewhat of a cash grab? Do you think we can credit the craze it started with the current crop of retro mini consoles we are seeing now? How do you think Nintendo could improve the NES Mini now or in the future? Do you think they will release an update for it with more games?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.

Until next retro review!

About Andrew A.

Andrew is the founder and owner of RetroGamingLoft. He considers himself a natural-born gamer and is on a mission to keep our younger gaming years alive through the medium of Retro Stories. His event recount includes hopes, dreams, broken joysticks, magic, nostalgia and another final boss defeated.

6 thoughts on “NES Mini review – the remake that paved the way

  1. Henderson

    The Nes Mini looks good but it’s funny that I didn’t hear that they made a mini back in the day. I only played the classic and even at that, I didn’t play all the games in it. I think that the mini is somewhat cool but that cord that is really short can be a big problem for me except if I’ll just be playing for a short period. The short cord means I need to get too close to the screen and I’m not sure if want to do that. Overall, good review. Nicely written!

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Henderson and thanks for taking time to comment, I am glad you appreciated my review. 🙂
      The short cords are frustrating, but if you are fancying buying it, you can get an extension cable.
      I did and job done. Obviously, I was not happy to have to spend extra money, but by no means did I want to keep on playing like that.
      Thanks again for being such a loyal reader, till next post!

      Reply
  2. Chloe

    These stuffs never get old after all, same way retro gamers have refused to grow old. So many people have stopped playing retro games because of the inability of these companies to produce a better console from the old ones. Looking at this particular NES console, from your description it seem like everything those other consoles are not. My husband still sometimes wants to sit and play retro games, I’ll inform him about this better console. Thanks for the information.

    Reply
    1. Andrew A. Post author

      Hello Chloe and thanks for your nice comment.
      You are right, as a retro gamer, I keep on playing to stay young. The day I stopped playing, well, I would instantly feel old. 😉

      Concerning the Nintendo Classic Mini, well, it is not flawless, but you can definitely have a good retro time with it. Your husband would surely like it. Just make sure you buy an extension cable… Or two, if you plan to play together. 🙂
      Thanks again for stopping by, stay tuned for more retro posts!

      Reply
  3. Tricia

    Some good titles but definitely lacking in breadth of variety. Thanks for the review. It gave a lot to think about…fun collectible or keep my eyes open on Ebay for the real thing.

    Reply

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