Our main focus on this humble site will always be old PC Games, but we do have an interest in other forms of retro-gaming. I’m in the sort of odd position of being a fan of the NES and SNES, despite never owning either as a child (it was a PC-only household). Instead I just played on friends’ Nintendos whenever I could. Then around the tail end of the 90s, I discovered the wonderful world of emulation (you may remember Nesticle), and played through classics like castlevania and megaman 2 aided by vast amounts of save-scumming. A few years back I picked up a Wii, partly because of the appeal of the Virtual console, although that remains sadly under-used.
So I’ve been pondering the merits of the recently announced Nes Mini. It looks like a smaller version of the classic NES, has the old-fashioned square controllers, and comes with 30 games installed. It’s a very convenient means of revisiting some classic games, just plug into a TV and off you go. It’s also a legitimate nintendo product that avoids the legally dubious world of emulation and Roms (if you care about that). On the other hand, though, there’s no way to add more games to it. I was hoping for some sort of online store but, nope, those 30 titles is all it will ever play.
There is some instant nostalgic appeal to the thing but, thinking longer term I’m not sure I’d want to spend £50 on a device that locks me into a fixed selection of games for one system. I’d rather have either the true 80s authenticity of an actual NES, or the flexibility of some sort of emulation-based device.
For an example of the latter, I’ve experimented with setting up Retropie on a raspberry pi. This package consists of a bunch of emulators joined by a common interface, letting you play games for a whole host of different consoles and old computers. It’s not a good option for totally non-techy types who just want a plug-and-play device, as there is a fair bit of pratting around with configuration files and command prompts. However if you don’t mind all the tinkering involved, it provides a huge wealth of retro gaming options all packed into a box about the size of two packs of cards.
Alternatively, you could consider the the JXB 8700B, an android tablet with physical controls, plus hdmi output The range of emulators available on Android is pretty good, you’ve got your obvious choices like the NES but I’ve found the Atari ST and Lynx on there too. Of course any droid can run them, but, most are stuck with terrible touchscreen controls.
Then there is the Retron 5, which takes original cartridges for NES, SNES, their japanese megadrive, Gameboy and GBA. Good for those of you who want to play old carts for all those systems but don’t have room for three consoles under the TV.
That’s just a few ideas. There are other emulation platforms out there, and also a range of NES clones that can take cartridges. Honestly though, I may just continue to play old console games the same way I have done for about 16 years now; emulators on a windows PC. I’m a creature of habit.