Nintendo Classic Mini NES: A boon or bust for retro?

Nintendo’s sitting pretty on a big old pile of Pokémon GO money, so what does it do? Release a classic NES console with 30 games and HDMI output. Wait… what?
This I did not see coming, and I think it’s fair to say that not too many other folks did either. Nintendo’s announced the November availability of the Classic Mini NES, which is almost exactly what you’d think it is. It’s a NES, and a tiny one at that, although as is the style for these kinds of retro machines, you don’t actually get a cartridge port to drop your dusty old NES* games into. Instead, it’s a NES-on-a-chip running 30 fully licensed titles, as follows:

Nintendo Classic Mini NES Titles
Balloon Fight
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Jr.
Dr. Mario
Ice Climber
Kid Icarus
Kirby’s Adventure
Mario Bros.
Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 3
Tecmo Bowl
The Legend of Zelda
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Random thoughts, in no particular order:

  • That’s a really decent set of games, and one that crosses publisher lines. Nintendo can do what they like with their own IP, but scoring multiple Capcom, Square and Konami titles marks out this particular mini console against the many already existing Sega-Megadrive/Genesis mini systems out there.
  • Poor Mike Tyson. He can’t even be famous after the fact. (Yes, I know, licensing rights and he was dropped from later versions of NES Punch-Out! But still, that’s the version most remember
  • In many ways, this is nothing new; it’s just that it’s legit. Knockoff Famiclones have been a thing for a very long time now; I’ve even reviewed a few in my time, and they sit, being excellent retro dust collectors to this day.
  • Any thought that is in response to the Pokémon GO nostalgia wave is pretty misguided, I’d say. Something like this takes time and planning logistics, even if all Nintendo can do right now is release a few tiny pics.
  • Nintendo’s learned a lesson from the New 3DS; this thing comes with a microUSB cable, but no power adaptor apparently. Sneaky.
  • I’ve seen a few comments that this will crash the retro game market in terms of price. Nope. Not even likely, as much as I might wish it were so. The collector-mad types won’t care, few of the games are genuinely “rare” in that way anyway, and anyone who just wanted to play the games has been illicitly emulating them for years. If anything, I could see asking prices — not always achieved prices, but asking ones — bumping up a little in response.
  • I wonder how much of this is based on Nintendo’s own figures on VC sales of these titles? At $99 all in, it’s a bargain in VC terms, but it does devalue those individual titles quite markedly.
  • I do suspect many buyers will do the classic emulation thing of playing a game for 30 seconds, or until it gets hard — it’s called “Nintendo Hard” for the reasons of this precise console before moving on. Their loss.
  • I totally don’t need one of these.
  • But it has Bubble Bobble. Dammit, I’m going to buy one, almost inevitably.

*Shame on you. Keep them clean.

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