While we were all busy looking out for mere glimpses of Nintendo's new console -- codenamed "NX" -- the company managed to catch us by surprise with the announcement of a retro throwback "console" hitting stores this fall.
Without a single leak or vague hint to stay tuned, Nintendo announced the NES Classic Edition, a miniature Nintendo Entertainment System that comes loaded with 30 classic games. Much like those bootleg systems you see at flea markets or even sketchy mall kiosks, this Nintendo system is a simple plug and play device, emulating games straight to your TV.
Since its announcement, there's been a lot speculation, controversy, and excitement regarding this bite-sized retro gaming machine. So, I figured I'd give a quick analysis on my take of this the NES Classic Edition and highlight a few of its 30 compatible games. Without further ado, grab a seat and your 30 Anniversary Mario Amiibo because we're about to get retro. Buckle up.
What is the NES Classic Edition?
The NES Classic Edition is a plug-and-play device that mimics the looks of an original Nintendo Entertainment System in a miniature form and will be hitting store shelves on November 11, 2016. It will connect to your TV via HDMI, allowing you to access it library of 30 games on any modern TV. The $60 package will include the machine, the 30 pre-installed games, and one NES Classic Controller (along with all necessary cords). The official website for the NES Classic Edition can be found here, detailing all the specifics of what's included along with the full list of games.
The one downside of the Classic Edition is that there's no way to access more games outside of the 30. The first idea that came to mind was that it could have a simple home menu interface that would allow you to connect to the Nintendo store to purchase more NES virtual console games. The more I think about it, this idea complicates what the Classic Edition is. It's a simple plug and play device at an affordable price, no strings attached.
In order to access more games, more effort would have needed to go into the machine and new tech would have to be added such as a slot for an SD card to save the games to or an internal hard drive specific for additional games, increasing the overall price. I've also considered a port to insert "Classic Edition" cartridges that Nintendo could have released later for additional game collections but it still muddles the simplicity they're going for. Nintendo made a simple move to appeal to our sense of nostalgia, both for hardcore current players and casual, older players looking to try their hand at the games of their childhood. While it's disappointing that it's not upgradable, as the first of its kind from Nintendo (more on that later), I'd say the NES Classic Edition is still a pretty cool little device.
Nostalgia is one hell of a drug...
Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia: a word that is becoming all too common these days. More and more, people want their sense of nostalgia appealed to, sometimes even taking things we never really liked and making them relevant in today's conversation because, of course, "we love nostalgia". In the world of video games, nostalgia has become popular cornerstone for Indie developers, and, as we're seen more and more, some larger developers as well. We've begun returning to the well of classic games to produce wonders such as Shovel Knight or the upcoming kickstarter game, Yooka-Laylee, to make good on the idea of nostalgia and to reinvigorate old genres (except for you Mighty No.9, you really beaned it up). Even more recently, Nintendo has made a big jump onto this trend with the Pokémon franchise and now the NES Classic Edition.
The NES harkens back to a day where we're sitting cross-legged 3ft in from of the television, playing our favorite video games, unknowing that they were would the start of something bigger. I inherited my aunt's NES back in 98, jump starting my love for video games and my acquisition of a Gameboy Color and N64. Whether or not you're still a gamer today, the NES probably hold a spot, no matter how small, in your heart. The NES Classic Edition appeals to our sense of nostalgia and is the primary reason most of us will be picking up this bite-sized system. The retro packaging on its own is a sign that Nintendo understands how important their legacy is in the gaming world. I'm glad they surprised us all with the announcement of Classic Edition. It was a simple play by Nintendo that, sure, the idea isn't all impressive of releasing something that bootleggers have been selling for years but it's a nice nod to all of us as gamers. Man, nostalgia is one hell of a drug.
Wow! That comes out to $2 a game!
With it's announcement, some slight controversy made the rounds regarding the $60 price point of the NES Classic Edition, both good and bad. "Wow! Nintendo is releasing games found on virtual console for $5+? This package is just $2 a game!" (Me mimicking people online). Some have argued that the mini system is a steal, an oddity for Nintendo to price something so generously. While I agree it's a very nice price point for what you're getting, I wanted to talk about the idea of value in games.
Jim Sterling put up a great Jimquisition video regarding emulation (which you can find here), both in general and regarding the NES Classic Edition, that brings an important question into play: do we really value each of these games at $2? And by extension, is this really how we place value on old games? Sure, saying each game comes out to $2 a pop is a valid argument to justify picking one of these cute systems up but when we get right down to it, is it the truth? I personally value a game like Super Mario Bros. 3 higher than $2. It's a game that I've owned on multiple platforms and is at such a level to even be called a masterpiece that I'm still willing to pay for it again as needed (because I definitely don't intent to plug my Wii back in). On the flip-side, you couldn't pay me to play Excitebike, let alone care about owning it. It holds zero value to me, especially in this collection.
So, why does the idea of value on each game matter? It's all about our ways of justification. It's about asking yourself how many of these games do you actually care about or really going to play? It's the same argument I made to myself when buying the Rare Replay Collection on Xbox One. Sure, it was a mere $1 for each of its 30 games but most of them weren't actually worth playing (as a large amount of Rare games are overrated but the company has become a symbol of nostalgia for god knows what reason). Really, I paid $30 to play about 5 games which I, personally, still found to be a pretty good deal. This might seem like nit-picking because, in all honesty, $60 isn't a whole lot of money for big video game players. As someone who enjoys collecting video game goods, the NES Classic Edition appeals to me as something nice to put on my shelf. I'll dabble in a few of the games but it's not likely that I'll stick around to really play them. This was all just a side tangent I wanted to go on (that I got thinking on after Jim Sterling's video, thanks Jim) to say: let's be truthful to ourselves when it comes to collections like these. Value them appropriately and buy because you really believe it's what you want.
The 10 Games That Make the NES Classic Edition Worth it (To Me)
Super Mario Bros 3: Probably one of the most obvious games on this list. SMB3 is the pinnacle of 2D Platform Mario games and is considered by most to be a masterpiece.
Super Mario Bros 2: This is on my list because it's one of the few Mario games I never actually played due to its strange development and release in North America.
The Legend of Zelda: Another obvious choice. The game that started it all and is the inspiration for Breath of the Wild's open world. When you think NES, you think The Legend of Zelda (or Super Mario Bros).
Dr. Mario: The Mario version of Tetris. I spent countless hours playing Dr. Mario in my childhood and I'll gladly play it just a little bit more.
Metroid: Another game I never played. Metroid is a beloved franchise and I want to see where it began. I've heard it will probably be impossible to beat.
Kirby's Adventure: I love Kirby.
Final Fantasy: Another classic that led to the creation of a long running franchise. A games too long to actually play through but one I'll dabble in for fun.
Mega Man 2: arguably the best of the Mega Man franchise. As a kid, I could never beat it so I want to try my hand at it now that I know how to video game.
Castlevania: The other half of the popular Metroidvania genre.
- Ninja Gaiden: The game I'm probably most excited to play. I've never played Ninja Gaiden but from what I've heard it's one of the true gaming greats.
Could the "Classic Edition" be the start of a new product line?
What's almost more exciting than the actual NES Classic Edition itself is what it could mean for the future. By and large, the main NES library of games, which I'd say these 30 games are apart of, are the most easily accessible. Found on 3DS, Wii U, and Wii, these are the easiest of the old-school games to already get your hands on. What I actually want to see is the "Classic Edition" to become a new Nintendo line of products, specifically I want to see a "SNES Classic Edition" and a "Nintendo 64 Classic Edition".
Both of these systems are annoying to come by these days. Ignoring the fact that you need an old CRT TV to even play them without killing your eyes (plugged my N64 in the other day and almost went blind), they've maintained high values on both system and games making it just enough of a pain to ignore these great systems. I had planned on buying a SNES but after seeing the $100 system and $30 to $80 games I decided maybe not. The SNES and N64 catalogs are also fairly "meh" on virtual console. The main greats such as Super Metroid or Mario 64 are available, of course, but there's still a world of games unavailable in a modern capacity. Hopefully the NES Classic Edition is just a start of what's to come from Nintendo. It's an exciting little device that hits on our love for the classics and I can't wait to get my hands on one this fall.
Source: Nintendo Official Website
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