Few things are more nostalgic and timeless to a gamer than the memories of late night gaming sessions playing Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda or Double Dragon. The simple blips and blops of an 8-bit system, the heavily pixilated characters, and the challenge of playing the same level over and over again is as familiar to gamers as apple pie.
Many gamers’ first console was the NES, or Nintendo Entertainment System, released in America in 1985. It was Nintendo’s first great forway into home consoles, paving the way for future systems like the Gamecube and Wii, and even made a market for other companies to get in on, leading to the gaming world today dominated by Sony and Microsoft. In a way, the NES was the grandfather of console gaming.
It’s surprising to see Nintendo going back to its roots, but perhaps this was a necessary step for the company. Earlier this year, Nintendo released the NES Classic Edition. The NES Classic Edition is a new model of the old NES system that harkens back to the days of 8-bit systems.
In many ways the NES Classic is the same as the original system. It keeps the original gray box look and the simple square controller to appeal to old school gamers. There are some significant differences though. The NES classic is significantly smaller than the original. It’s small enough to fit in your hand whereas the original was about the size of a high school history textbook. The NES classic can also be hooked up to modern television sets, for obvious reasons.
The biggest difference between the two consoles is the gaming library available to each. Gamers will remember the old days of cartridges, and in the NES era, there was a seemingly endless supply of games to buy for the system. In this way, the old NEs actually has an advantage over the new. The NES Classic comes with a library of 30 games from the NES era. And while the library is comprehensive and contains classics like Castlevania and Kirby’s Adventure, the library does feel more limited. On the other hand, no more blowing on cartridges to get them to work.
The NES Classic isn’t the only console on Nintendo’s new release list. The Nintendo Switch is Nintendo’s newest console, designed to be next gen and to compete against the Playstation and XBox consoles. In a similar vein as the NES Classic, the Switch has a old-school twist to it. The twist is designed to be both a home console and a handheld. The design of the switch also hearkens back to the NES days. One of the sections of the Switch actually resembles the NES controller. Called the “Joy-Con”, the controllers are small rectangles with a control stick on the left and buttons on the right. The Nintendo Switch is due to release sometime next year.
It may not have cutting-edge hardware, but the NES Classic appeals to a lot of people because of its simplicity and because it hearkens back to the simple days of gaming. It sells for a retail price of about $60. But get one quick. When the system launched on Nov. 11, it sold out within minutes.