professional headshot of Joey Gauthier Joey Gauthier 07/24/2019

Small, fun, & nostalgic. Gotta collect 'em all!

Prior to November 10, 2016, we lived in a world without mini/classic edition consoles. If someone who wasn’t a retro games collector wanted to relive their childhood by playing an old NES title, emulators were the only option if they didn’t have the old hardware. For many, the hassle of downloading ROMs, downloading and installing an emulator, setting up the emulator, and figuring out or buying a controller/gamepad then getting it hooked up to their computer was too much of a hassle for the sake of playing old NES games. None of the video game companies were profiting from the nostalgia/retro craze the US seemed to be going through.

Throughout the years, Nintendo sold retro games through the “virtual console” sections in their various console stores. If you had a Wii, Wii U, or 3DS/2DS variant then you could purchase retro titles for a low price and play them on your respective console. Other video game companies had released a handful of game collections, both digitally and physically, for various consoles containing everyone’s favorite games from yesteryear. I own the SNK collection for Switch, Genesis collection for PSP, Namco Museum for GBA, and many more of these titles. Still, almost all solutions for playing retro games without retro hardware required you to own a gaming console of some sort or have a complicated emulator setup running on your computer.

Some small, previously unknown companies saw the opportunity to capitalize on the world’s newly found sense of nostalgia by releasing inexpensive, plug-and-play devices containing retro games. Some of these devices are OK at best, but most are Chinese manufactured junk with poor video and audio output, terribly designed controllers with unacceptable lag, and a sub-par collection of games. You could find these things at your nearest Walmart, Target, and even on Amazon. I’m sure they sold plenty of units and can be found in many households across the globe. I would also be willing to wager that most people who bought these devices were disappointed and have since shoved these devices into storage or simply allowed them to collect dust and become forgotten.

Nintendo must have recognized the need for something better. On November 10, 2016, Nintendo released the NES Classic Edition which is a first party plug-and-play device that came with well-built controllers, a solid selection of games, and a lot of hype. The mini console seemed to sell far better than even Nintendo had forecasted as they couldn’t keep these things on shelves anywhere. Since then, the world has seen several other mini consoles released, and many others announced. Some of these devices were a success, others were failures, but all of them are collectible nostalgia machines that have changed how so many people are playing retro games.

NES Classic Edition

NES Classic Edition in retail packaging

As previously mentioned, the NES Classic Edition was the first first-party mini console offering from a major player launching on November 10, 2016. This mini-console looks almost identical to the original North American front-loader NES that is so iconic except it is much smaller, the door to the game slot doesn’t open, and the two controller ports resemble the Wii controller ports rather than the original NES ports. On the back of the NES Classic Edition, you will find a micro-USB port for power (that can also be used for hacking the console) and an HDMI port for video output. The NES Classic Edition also came with two wired controllers that are faithful replicas of the original NES counterparts and a micro-USB cable and power brick.

After you plug in and power on the mini-console, you are greeted with an intuitive menu that lets you select from the 30 available games. There is also an options menu that allows you to change the aspect ratio, language, demo mode, and even view manuals.

Nintendo couldn’t keep these little things on the shelves, but they stated that they never intended to produce a lot of these. Scalpers on various website including eBay were asking for upwards of $1,000 for the NES Classic Edition at different points in time. People were going to great lengths to get their hands on these little things at the retail price of $59.99.

Part of the success of the NES Classic Edition can be attributed to the lineup of games. Nintendo selected some of the most beloved games from the era and the public noticed! The official North American & PAL lineup included:

  • 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
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Mario Bros.
  • Mega Man 2
  • Metroid
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Pac-Man
  • Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • StarTropics
  • Super Contra
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

If you got your hands on an NES Classic Edition and were not happy with the fact that the cords on the wired controllers are so short, there are third party accessories out there for you! The main wireless controller solution of note for most fans is the 8bitdo wireless receiver couple with any one of the 8bitdo wireless controllers (I bought a SN30 and a SF30). These controllers are well built, nostalgic, and work very well. Another great perk is that the same wireless receivers and controllers can be used for the SNES Classic Edition as well if you happen to have both. There are other wireless controllers, carrying cases, and more out there for the NES Classic Edition worth checking out as well, but I am not going to list them all and the 8bitdo controllers are superb.

Like most other modern devices out there these days, the NES Classic Edition also has a hacking scene that lets you modify the functionality of the console. You can do anything from adding more NES games to making it play games from other consoles through additional emulators and more. I won’t get into too much detail here, but if you are interested in hacking you NES Classic Edition then check out I just added every North America NES game to mine and organized the menu system to put in folders alphabetically.

SNES Classic Edition

SNES Classic Edition in retail packaging

The SNES Classic Edition built off of the success of the NES Classic Edition and released in September 29, 2017. The main differences are that console came loaded with 21 SNES games, cost $80 at launch, only came with one SNES style controller, and looked like a miniature SNES. Other than that, it is very similar to its older sibling as far as size, functionality, menu, etc are concerned.

Again, Nintendo did a great job of loading this mini console with great games. The SNES Classic Edition North America/PAL lineup is as follows:

  • Contra III: The Alien Wars
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • EarthBound
  • F-Zero
  • Final Fantasy VI
  • Kirby Super Star
  • Kirby’s Dream Course
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Mega Man X
  • Secret of Mana
  • Star Fox
  • Star Fox 2
  • Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
  • Super Castlevania IV
  • Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario RPG
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Metroid
  • Super Punch-Out!!
  • Yoshi’s Island

As far as 3rd party accessories are concerned, the SNES Classic Edition can use the same wireless controllers and adapters as the NES Classic Edition since Nintendo put the same Wii-style controller port on both. I just bought 2 of 8bitdo’s adapters and controllers and move them between my 2 classic editions.

As you would probably expect, there is also a very similar hacking/modding scene for the SNES classic as well. You can view tutorials on the available mods at My SNES classic is running Hackchi and has about another 150 of my favorite titles added to it.

PlayStation Classic

PlayStation Classic in retail packaging

Sony didn’t want to be left out of the retro game nostalgia craze that was happening. On December 3, 2018, they released the PlayStation Classic. Not only did Sony use the word “Classic”, but the console also is about the same size as Nintendo’s previous two offerings with a similar feature set. Unfortunately, Sony didn’t do things nearly as well as Nintendo. The launch price was $100 which seemed a little steep to most people. That’s not where the problems ended though.

The PlayStation Classic came with two controllers and that sounds great, but they did not base them on the design of the DualShock controllers with the analog sticks. Sony, for some reason, packaged the PlayStation classic with controllers based on the first iteration of the PlayStation controller which lacks the analog sticks. This might not sound like too big of a deal until you play any kind of first-person shooter or 3D platformer and realize that those analog sticks are a necessity. Couple that with the fact that the console also doesn’t come with an AC adapter and you are already disappointing some of your fan base.

Sony also kind of phoned in the console’s software. Instead of maybe writing their own emulator to run the games, Sony basically just used the ReARMed branch of the open-source emulator PCSX which is good enough, but it left some fans feeling like this was a cash grab. When the PlayStation Classic was investigated by hardcore fans, they discovered that 9 of the 20 included games were running the PAL versions which run at 50Hz instead of 60Hz. This made for slower feeling gameplay as the response time and frame-rate are lower than used in North American consoles. The selection of games Sony loaded onto the PlayStation Classic also frustrated a lot of fans as it was missing some huge titles from the PlayStation era and had some less than well-known titles on it instead.

For $100 you could get a cash grab mini console that is missing a lot of your favorite games, comes with two sub-par controllers with short cables, relies on you to provide your own AC adapter, is loaded with software that is already free to the public, and has the PAL version of almost half of the titles resulting in less than stellar gameplay. Needless to say, the PlayStation Classic didn’t sell like hot-cakes. Within the first four weeks of sales, many retailers were already dropping the price to $60. A few months later the price bottomed out at $30 and you can still find these consoles at many retailers for this price.

The game lineup, although controversial, still had at least a few games that made fans happy:

  • Battle Arena Toshinden (PAL)
  • Cool Boarders 2 (PAL)
  • Destruction Derby (PAL)
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • Grand Theft Auto (PAL)
  • Intelligent Qube
  • Jumping Flash! (PAL)
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Mr. Driller
  • Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee (PAL)
  • R4: Ridge Racer Type 4
  • Rayman
  • Resident Evil: Director’s Cut (PAL)
  • Revelations: Persona
  • Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
  • Syphon Filter
  • Tekken 3 dagger (PAL)
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six (PAL)
  • Twisted Metal
  • Wild Arms

There are some 3rd party accessories available for the PlayStation Classic. While 8bitdo didn’t make a controller that looks just like an old PlayStation controller, they have several controllers with the required buttons that will work and they made some wireless receivers that work with the PlayStation Classic. I purchased the JoyRetro wireless controller and receiver which works well enough for my needs.

For many, the hacking scene surrounding the PlayStation Classic is the only reason to purchase one. Much like the previous two “Classic” consoles mentioned, many of the hacking methods for the PlayStation classic allow you to load more games and even more emulators to play games from other platforms. While there are no shortage of hacks available, I will say that the best hacks require a small amount of soldering to remove the voltage limitations from the USB ports so you can run games from a USB drive. I’ve done my share of soldering over the years, but I can say that the 2 points you have to bridge are small enough that I was a bit nervous doing this mod. Thankfully, the soldering worked for me and I am now running AutoBleem from a USB stick with 100+ extra games loaded. For more info on PlayStation Classic mods and tutorials, checkout

C64 Mini

C64 Mini in retail packaging

If you’re a fellow Generation X-er like me, then you probably remember the Commodore 64. Maybe you know that a miniature version was released somewhat recently, but I don’t feel like it was advertised well so maybe not. Regardless, as of April 2018, you could pick up a C64 Mini for $70. It comes with 64 classic games, a joystick, 2 USB ports for software updates and even loading additional games, a micro USB port for powering the console, and the C64 itself was made to look like the old Commodore 64 keyboard. Note that the mini-keyboard doesn’t actually function as a keyboard but rather houses the internals of the console, ports, and power button.

The C64 Mini outputs 720p through the HDMI port at a 4:3 aspect ratio making it a simple plug-and-play solution for playing some classic Commodore 64 games. It evens saves high scores, allows for software updates, and uses a pop-up on-screen keyboard for the games requiring one. Fortunately, you can plug a standard USB keyboard into the console to be used in place of the on-screen keyboard if you wish.

The C64 Mini comes with the following 64 games:

  • Alleykat
  • Anarchy
  • Armalyte - Competition Edition
  • Avenger
  • Battle Valley
  • Boulder Dash
  • Bounder
  • California Games
  • Chip’s Challenge
  • Confusion
  • Cosmic Causeway
  • Creatures
  • Cyberdyne Warrior
  • Cybernoid: The Fighting Machine
  • Cybernoid II: The Revenge
  • Deflektor
  • Everyon’s a Wally
  • Firelord
  • Gribbly’s Day Out
  • Hawkeye
  • Heartland
  • Herobotix
  • Highway Encounter
  • Hunter’s Moon
  • Hysteria
  • Impossible Mission
  • Impossible Mission II
  • IO
  • Jumpman
  • Mega Apocalypse
  • Mission A.D.
  • Monty Mole
  • Monty on the Run
  • Nebulus
  • Netherworld
  • Nobby the Aardvark
  • Nodes of Yesod
  • Paradroid
  • Pitstop II
  • Ranarama
  • Robin of the Wood
  • Rubicon
  • Skate Crazy
  • Skool Daze
  • Snare
  • Speedball
  • Speedball 2 - Brutal Deluxe
  • Spindizzy
  • Star Paws
  • Steel
  • Street Sports Baseball
  • Summer Games II
  • Super Cycle
  • Temple of Apshai Triology
  • The Arc of Yesod
  • Thing Bounces Back
  • Thing on a Spring
  • Trailblazer
  • Uchi Mata
  • Uridium
  • Who Dares Wins II
  • Winter Games
  • World Games
  • Zynaps

Additionally, the C64 Mini comes loaded with the BASIC programming language interpreter allowing you to write you’re own programs in BASIC if you so desire. As of version 1.1.0 of the firmware (updatable using the USB ports), you can even plug in a USB flash drive with additional C64 games and play them on the C64 Mini; no hacking required!

If you are interested in getting a C64 Mini now, you can find them for around $30 on Amazon so there’s never been a better time to get one. In December 2019, a new version of the C64 Mini is going to be released with a full-size, functioning keyboard. More info on that can be found at


SNK Neo Geo Mini

As part of SNK’s 40th anniversary celebration, they released the Neo Geo Mini console for $100. This mini console, unlike the others, comes styled as a classic arcade cabinet with a working 3.5” LCD screen, joystick, and buttons built in to allow for playing as a miniature tabletop arcade cabinet. The Neo Geo Mini as comes with 40 built in games, 2 controller ports, an HDMI output to allow for playing as a standard console on a TV or monitor, a headphone jack, and a USB C port for power.

The international version of the Neo Geo Mini comes with the following lineup of games:

  • 3 Count Bout
  • Art of Fighting
  • Blazing Star
  • Blue’s Journey
  • Crossed Swords
  • Fatal Fury Special
  • Foot Ball Frenzy
  • Garou: Mark of the Wolves
  • Ghost Pilots
  • King of the Monsters
  • King of the Monsters 2
  • Kizuna Encounter: Super Tag Battle
  • Last Resort
  • Magician Lord
  • Metal Slug
  • Metal Slug 2
  • Metal Slug 3
  • Metal Slug 4
  • Metal Slug 5
  • Metal Slug X
  • Mutation Nation
  • Ninja Master’s: Haou Ninpou Chou
  • Puzzled
  • Real Bout: Fatal Fury
  • Robo Army
  • Samurai Shodown II
  • Samurai Shodown IV: Amakusa’s Revenge
  • Samurai Shodown V Special
  • Sengoku 3
  • Shock Troopers
  • Shock Troopers: 2nd Squad
  • Super Sidekicks
  • The King of Fighters ’95
  • The King of Fighters ’97
  • The King of Fighters ’98
  • The King of Fighters 2000
  • The King of Fighters 2002
  • The Last Blade 2
  • Top Player’s Golf
  • World Heroes Perfect

While not the best selection of games, the “King of Fighters” games and “Metal Slug” games are enough for me to be interested in this mini console. If you are interested in buying a Neo Geo Mini international version, you can find them for around $88 now. Just note that the optional controllers are sold separately so if you plan to play it on a TV you need to purchase them as well.

Future Mini Consoles That Have Been Announced

Just because Nintendo may have said it won’t be making more classic consoles, that doesn’t mean there won’t be more to come in the future from other manufacturers. In fact, this year alone has seen a handful of highly anticipated mini/classic console announcements.

Before I continue with the news of the mini consoles on the horizon, I feel that it is worth pointing out the fact that the Japanese versions of some of the mini consoles I have already mentioned are different than what we got in North America and Europe. Instead of the NES and SNES Classic Editions, the Japanese market got the Famicom and Super Famicom Classic Edition consoles that not only look like a mini version of their Japanese counterparts but even came with slightly different game lineups. The Neo Geo Mini came with a slightly different game lineup in Japan too. That said, if you really want to collect them all, tracking down the Japanese versions of these consoles may be something worth considering.

Now, back to thinking about the mini consoles that have been announced and are on the horizon!

Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Mini

Sega Genesis Mini in retail packaging

Sega will finally release their own, first-party Genesis/Mega Drive Mini console on September 19, 2019. The much-anticipated console from Sega will include 2 3-buttons wired controllers, HDMI cable, power cable, and a USB power adapter.

The 42 game lineup for this mini console has generated a lot of hype from fans and is as follows:

  • Ecco the Dolphin
  • Castlevania Bloodlines
  • Space Harrier II
  • Shining Force
  • Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  • Toejam and Earl
  • Comix Zone
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Altered Beast
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
  • World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
  • Thunder Force III
  • Super Fantasy Zone
  • Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
  • Streets of Rage 2
  • Earthworm Jim
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • Contra Hard Corps
  • Landstalker
  • Beyond Oasis
  • Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
  • Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  • Golden Axe
  • Phantasy Star IV
  • Street Fighter 2: Special Champion Edition
  • Mega Man: The Wily Wars
  • Sonic Spinball
  • Vectorman
  • Wonder Boy in Monster World
  • Virtual Fighter 2
  • Alisia Dragoon
  • Columns
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • Strider
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Light Crusader
  • Monster World IV
  • Eternal Champions
  • Road Rash II
  • Tetris
  • Darius

As far as accessories are concerned, it is safe to assume that companies like 8btdo will at least make an adapter so we can use their wireless controllers on the Sega Genesis Mini. Also, the Japanese market is getting a mini Mega CD and a mini 32X addon to complete the “tower of power”. Note that neither of these addons actually adds functionality but are for appearance only.

You can preorder the Sega Genesis Mini for $80 at the moment from the following link: Sega Genesis Mini on Amazon.

TurboGrafx-16 Mini/Core Grafx Mini/PC Engine Mini

TurboGrafx-16 Mini

The TurboGrafx-16 was a console that, as a kid, I always wanted. If I’m being honest, I still really want to add one to my collection soon. I never stumbled across one in a retail setting, didn’t have any friends with one, and the internet didn’t yet exist in 1989 for me to have my parents order one when it came out. While I will still inevitably purchase one someday, I will also get the TurboGrafx-16 Mini when it comes out on March 19, 2020.

NEC originally released the console under different names depending on region and they will release the mini equivalents in different regions as follows: TurboGrafx-16 Mini in North America, PC Engine Mini in Japan, and Core Grafx Mini in Europe (Core Grafx was an updated PC Engine in Japan, but they are using it for Europe this go around). Included in the box of each mini console will be a USB B to C power cables, one replica controller (the console will have 2 controller slots though), and an HDMI cable. The mini-console itself, additional controllers, and a multitap that allows for up to 5 controllers to be connected will all be sold through Amazon. Depending on which console will be available in your region, the game lineup will vary slightly.

For those of us in North America, the TurboGrafx-16 Mini will come with 24 TurboGrafx-16 games and 26 PC Engine games. The 24 TurboGrafx-16 games are as follows:

  • Alien Crush
  • Victory Run
  • Blazing Lazers
  • Neutopia
  • Dungeon Explorer
  • R-Type
  • Moto Roader
  • Power Golf
  • Ys book I&II
  • Ninja Spirit
  • J.J. & Jeff
  • Space Harrier
  • Military Madness
  • Chew-Man-Fu
  • Psychosis
  • Bonk’s Revenge
  • Parasol Stars
  • Cadash
  • New Adventure Island
  • Air Zonk
  • Neutopia II
  • Soldier Blade
  • Lords of Thunder
  • Bomberman ’93

The 26 PC Engine games included are as follows:

  • The Kung Fu
  • Jaseiken Necromancer
  • Fantasy Zone
  • Appare! Gateball
  • Nectaris
  • Dungeon Explorer
  • Neutopia
  • PC Genjin
  • Ys I・II
  • Super Darius
  • Super Star Soldier
  • Daimakaimura
  • Aldynes
  • Neutopia II
  • Gradius
  • Salamander
  • Super Momotaro Dentetsu II
  • Ninja Ryūkenden *Japanese ver. of NINJA GAIDEN
  • Star Parodier
  • Snatcher
  • Gradius II - Gofer no Yabō
  • Chō Aniki
  • Akumajō Dracula X Chi no Rondo
  • Bomberman ’94
  • Bomberman Panic Bomber
  • Ginga Fukei Densetsu Sapphire

If you know much about TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine games, you’ll know there’s a lot here to be excited about. There seems to be some conflicting information going around about whether any titles will be localized versions for their respective region, but I can tell you from experience that a lot of Japanese games are playable even without knowing Japanese. I guess we will either have to wait for more information from Konami or until the release of the consoles next year.

Gotta Collect Them All!

There are a lot of first-party classic/mini consoles out there with more exciting options on the horizon. These consoles offer a high-quality gaming experience on a modern HD TV for those who do not want to hassle with the expense and headache of collecting the retro consoles and getting them hooked up. Whether you’re a casual gamer that wants an easy way to play some of these old games in a hassle-free way or a hardcore collector looking to add some more interesting items to your collection, the classic/mini consoles are a great purchase.

What classic consoles do you think we’ll see in the future? Nintendo has claimed that they will not be making any more, but I know lots of fans are itching for an N64 Classic. Sega is just getting started with their official Genesis Mini so maybe we will see a Saturn Mini or Master System Mini in the future? You can’t really say what the future will hold for these miniature plug ‘n play devices, but you can definitely acknowledge that the current selection is pretty great.

What mini consoles do you have or plan to get? Feel free to leave a comment below or subscribe to be notified of future posts.

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