Retro, Reviews

The Mini NES – Bitesize Nostalgia

Every now and again, the kid in me wants to revisit classic games from my childhood which encourages me to dig out the SNES, Gamecube, Megadrive or PS one for a couple of hours and battle with the task of trying to get them to work on a modern day TV. Retro gaming is something which has been popular for a number of years now as many gamers love a trip down memory lane. With the big companies vying to have the best systems and games on offer, there sometimes is a lack of focus on just enjoying a game for what it is. This is where the Mini NES comes into play for me. While AtGames released a mini Sega Megadrive a couple of years ago and have recently updated it to be out again in December, it received mixed reviews and couple of fan favourites were missing among the 80 titles it contains. Now the mini NES is here and its delightfully charming in so many ways.
We pre-ordered ours in July and have eagerly awaited its arrival as this is more than a great nostalgia trip for us. We still have a NES which currently kept safely away in a box but with limited games in our collection it doesn’t get much playtime with the added concern of it burning out. The mini NES has 30 games on it which although some people don’t think is a lot for the £50 price tag, it is actually enough for us. With classics such as Bubble Bobble, Double Dragon, Final Fantasy and Legend of Zelda, there are plenty of hours of fun to be had. In my opinion, Nintendo look to have included some of the more popular titles among the Virtual Console listings on the e-store, basing their selection on the games people still want to play. This isn’t a problem for me. As a kid, I never had my own NES but loved my Gameboy and had to make do with it until we got the SNES, so this gives me the opportunity to play some games that I may have missed. While there are some titles that have been omitted from the list, it would have been nice to have the opportunity for any Virtual Console titles to be transferred across by means of an SD card but that may have driven the price up, making it less cost effective and potentially taking away the simplicity of the console.


The mini NES is… well… mini. The main box comfortably sits in the palm of my hand with the controller being around the same size as the original. Nintendo have kept it simple by only providing a USB and HDMI cable (no plug you’ll note). I currently run mine from the PS4’s USB ports while it’s on rest mode, but if you have any USB plug you will be fine to use that. It is very lightweight due to there not needing to be a whole load of tech inside  which makes it nice and portable if you’re thinking of taking it over to your friends. The only gripe however is with the length of the controller cable which does restrict you slightly. Although not tested at this stage, it is the same connector/port that the Wii classic controller has so this may work and is worth a try if nothing else and the cable may be a little longer. The box has a Power button and Reset button…. that’s it and it’s all it needs! The Reset button takes you back to the main screen and offers you the option of saving your progress which is brilliant, just don’t forget to do that before shutting off your console as it will automatically save it if you just power down! It would have also been nice to have a reset function built into the controller to save you having to have the console even closer than the TV, but this is only a minor niggle from someone who is sometimes too lazy to lean forward to press the button on the box. The main screen is easy to navigate and points out which titles are two player so you it can tempt you to purchase that second controller so you can play with your friends.

Gaming these days boils down to the majority of people playing online rather than sitting down next to each other and having fun in the same space. Nintendo have always been very good at producing titles and consoles that promote the sense of coming together to play. I still love Super Mario Bros, Game & Wario and even Wii Sports that encourage you to play, laugh and challenge friends in the same room rather than relying on a headset or keyboard to be the main means of communication. The DS, 3DS, Wii and Wii U have all had titles that still carry this on! Even the Gameboy had the capability for multiplayer with the adapter cable! And while we still play with our friends online on PC and other consoles which is great, I thoroughly enjoyed an afternoon of taking it in turns to play games on the NES (which then turned into a SNES afternoon as we only currently have one controller for the mini NES). And while the controller cable is short leaving you potentially sitting very close to a large HD TV screen, it is how we used to play when we were younger and there’s just something a little magical and special about that.


At the time of writing, these consoles are in short supply which I find unsurprising. With any type of hardware, pre-ordering is the only way you guarantee getting something within the first few weeks. Unfortunately for Nintendo, it has encouraged some bad press which is a little unfair as consumers should know by now that these popular items will sell out straight away. While Nintendo probably should have produced more in time for release, as with any console there is always a week or two where there is short supply while the demand is recalculated and more units distributed. The sad side of this however is the folks who are selling theirs for ridiculous prices just to take advantage of this situation. There will be more released for the standard retail price in the coming weeks so there is no need to pay a lot more than you should, even if you’re desperate to get one.

I love our Mini NES. I can understand why people really want one and I look forward to people coming over and encouraging them to have a go or taking it over to gatherings to bring people together. While it would be great if the cables on the controllers could be longer or at least an adapter released to provide a little more length, it’s hard to pick fault with this delightful trip down memory lane. If you are one of the people who finds yourself in the Retro area at EGX or attending old school gaming gatherings, you will probably welcome the mini NES to your collection even if it’s to give your original console a break and preserve it a little longer. While I would love to see a mini SNES with the ability to put old game cartridges in, I’m not sure Nintendo would go to all of that effort when they can made a cheap and cheerful version for less fuss. For now at least, I am incredibly satisfied with what Nintendo have delivered and really hope more of you get to experience the joy too!

Here’s a list of the games that the console has to offer in case you were wondering:

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


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