Last Thursday, a notice popped up on my Facebook that EB Games had gotten a supply of the NES Classic Edition. I managed to snag one but within minutes, they were gone. The next day there was an official announcement that Nintendo had killed production.

And then I felt weird about doing a review on the NES Classic.

The minute that I posted a picture of one in my hands, I was bombarded with messages. Where did I get it? Is it any good? Could I get them one? I felt bad that I had managed to get one of these sought after devices but most of my friends did not and many still wanted them.

Doing a review felt like rubbing it in their faces.

But upon reflection, I thought maybe this review might add a voice that Nintendo might hear. That maybe my praises combined with others might bring this wonderful little machine back.

So here it is, the good and the bad of the NES Classic.


The Good

I grew up a Nintendo kid. In fact, out of the kids in the neighborhood with video game systems, it was almost all Nintendo with only one family siding with Sega and their Master System. Like many, my Nintendo eventually gave up its life and the games were either traded away or lost during moves. But in the past few years, I’ve thought about jumping on the retro gaming bandwagon. The problem was I’d have to get a system, either a working Nintendo or one of the retro emulator systems, and then I would have to try and track down and buy the games that I loved. That was time and money I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend. When the release of the NES Classic before Christmas, it seemed like a perfect fit for folks like me. It gave you a majority of the great Nintendo games you wanted at a really reasonable price.

The list of games included on the North American NES Classic are:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Castlevania
  • Donkey Kong
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Galaga
  • Ghosts ‘n Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Mario Bros
  • Mega Man 2
  • Metroid
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Pac-Man
  • Super C
  • Super Mario Bros
  • Super Mario Bros
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Final Fantasy
  • Kid Icarus
  • Punch-Out!!
  • StarTropics
  • Tecmo Bowl

For me, this was an incredibly close game list. I would have probably got the original Contra instead of Super C and I would have added Castlevania 3 but overall, it’s really solid.

Depending on your point of view, these are exactly the games you remember. Same graphics, same tv format (ie, these are made for your old tube tv, not your new flat screen). Now there are some tweaks. You can set the display options for something called Pixel Perfect that brings a little more life and sharpness to these old games or if you want to go truly old school, there is a CRT filter you can apply.

There is a way to save your games. You hit the reset button and a temporarily save state will appear that you can save in a more solid state.

The controls feel just like you remember, if not a little better. The controllers themselves feel about the right size and are of fairly sturdy construction. They aren’t the solid mini bricks that you could smash against your friend’s head or tv and continue playing from back in the day but they are rather close. The system itself is really small and compact but looks like a mini replica of the original NES.

Sitting down, it’s almost like going back to your childhood, sitting on the floor, jumping Mario into the right tube for a warp zone.

And I may not be kidding about the floor thing.


The Bad

It hurts me to say this but there are a few nitpicks that make this revamp slightly less than perfect. Mainly the cords on EVERYTHING.

Having done a little research before buying, I had heard that the controller cords were short. They weren’t kidding. Ideally, these controllers should have had much longer cords. Same goes for the power and HDMI cables. Here’s why.

A majority of people buying these have a solid sized television, probably 42-52 inches on average. Because of this, the distance from the tv to the couch is greater than it was when the original NES came out. Even then, the cables on the original NES were longer than these. I had to go out and buy a longer HDMI cable and controller extension right on day one.

Speaking of which, I would have paid the extra $10 to $15 for the system to include a second controller as opposed to trying to track down a second one. Yeah, I could use a Wii controller but it’s not the same.


Is it worth it?

For someone like me, OH HELL YEAH! Great price point, easy to set up and a lot of great games. I’d go so far as to say that if they came out with a second one with a completely different set of 40 games, I’d probably snag that too. If the rumor of a Super Nintendo Classic is true, I’ll certainly try to get that.

If you’re a purist or a collector, this may not scratch the itch. But if you want all the fun of retro gaming without having to hunt down a system and cartridges, this is perfect for you.

As for Nintendo, you should bring this back into production. You’ve never been one to leave money on the table so why start now? I doubt this is taking much money away from The Switch (which appears to have a virtual console coming but currently does not). In fact, I would love it if you would release the Famicom version from Japan filled with games we in the west have only heard of. This is a whole other revenue stream that your competitors can only dream of. Take advantage of it.

And if you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!