After years spent letting the software-based Virtual Console largely rot on its vine, Nintendo is trying to cash in on its nostalgia-filled back catalog with a new piece of old hardware. The NES Classic Edition, announced today, is a palm-sized, HDMI-equipped re-release of the ’80s console that will launch on November 11, preloaded with 30 games for $59.99.
“We wanted to give fans of all ages the opportunity to revisit Nintendo’s original system and rediscover why they fell in love with Nintendo in the first place,” Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime said in a statement. “The Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition is ideal for anyone who remembers playing the NES, or who wants to pass on those nostalgic memories to the next generation of gamers.”
Nintendo hasn’t said much about the underlying hardware powering the re-release, but it doesn’t sound like the new system will be exactly the same as the original. For one thing, the announcement makes no mention of the ability to plug in old NES game cartridges, even though pictures show a familiar, cartridge slot dust-cover styled on the system’s boxy case. For another, Nintendo says that “each game has multiple suspend points, so you can start where you left off at a later time, no passwords needed,” suggesting that some sort of virtualized, emulated version of the underlying games is being used.
The new system also will not support old NES controllers natively. Instead, it has slots that will fit the existing Wii Classic Controller Pro and will also work with a new NES Classic Controller patterned after the original rectangular design (sorry dog-bone fans). One Classic Controller will be included with the system; extra ones will retail for $9.99.
Nintendo is coming late to a trend that has hit many other classic consoles in recent years. Sega licensed its old hardware and software for a number of “Arcade Classic” system-on-a-chip Genesis re-releases, most of which have a slot for classic cartridges and support original controllers as well as built-in games. The Atari Flashback line similarly recreates the Atari 2600 and 7800, with some hackers going so far as to add a cartridge port for their decades-old games. Even the Colecovision and Intellivision got Flashback re-releases.
Nostalgia-minded Nintendo gamers looking for new hardware, on the other hand, have been stuck settling for gray market Famiclone systems, or emulation-based hardware like the Retron 5, which have their issues when it come to compatibility and authenticity. Then there’s the Analogue Nt, a high-end, high-def, high-priced NES modification sourced from actual Famicom chips, which we recently reviewed.
Here are the 30 games that will be included on the NES Classic Edition:
- Balloon Fight
- Bubble Bobble
- Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
- Donkey Kong
- Donkey Kong Jr.
- Double Dragon II: The Revenge
- Dr. Mario
- Final Fantasy
- Ghosts N’ Goblins
- Ice Climber
- Kid Icarus
- Kirby’s Adventure
- Mario Bros.
- Mega Man 2
- Ninja Gaiden
- Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
- 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