Nintendo Announced the NES Mini and Here’s the Important Details
Update 09/30/2016 at 12:45 pm: Nintendo has released more information on the NES Classic Edition in conjunction with the announcement of Japan’s Famicom Classic Edition. The Classic Edition models will contain multiple visual modes: CRT Filter, 4:3, and Pixel Perfect. CRT Filter adds scanlines, 4:3 presents the game in its original aspect ratio, and Pixel Perfect upscales everything in a perfect square (which seems to suggest 720p output). In addition you can have up to 4 suspend points that act just like save states in emulators. You will also get a QR code on the screen with each game that will allow you to access the original manual. Bob Mackey at US Gamer also just did a write-up that claims the controller cords are short, like 3 feet or so short. You also have to reset the console to pick a new game, although those of us with flash carts should be used to that. This probably won’t change your opinion, but it does get closer to finally finding answers to these early questions from the summer.
Update 07/14/2016 at 12:45 pm: A reader (TeenNick) has mentioned that Nintendo Life has reported the device will not support additional games, either in cart form or other alternative forms. This better explains the list being so strong and varied. Not sure if this is still going to be of value to me, but for most fans of the NES as a child this is a quick and dirty solution for your favorite classics.
First of all, Nintendo, 5 am? Really? Clearly Reggie and the gang are up much earlier than I am – and for the record I work in healthcare so I have a bit earlier of a schedule than the typical games media writer. Either way, the great news came down with this announcement from Nintendo of America (NOA) that this November we will be getting the NES mini. I have an NES and I have a lot of games for it, not to mention the 100+ titles I also have on the Virtual Console, and lets not forget that a dozen or so clone consoles are just a used game store away, so why care? Well, on the surface of this announcement, you don’t. It’s not until you get the details, which I do have below, that suddenly this is an intriguing endeavor.
Thanks to Gamespot’s Eddie Makuch, who appeared to be equally inquisitive with Nintendo as opposed to most other sites who merely said “mini NES with games, isn’t that cool?” we have some important details. It will cost $60 in the US, releases November 11, and includes 30 games (the list is below). From what it sounds like the cart slot will support any NES game you put in there, but I have yet to see that actually stated, however you would hope. That will also be significant in the next paragraph. Nintendo confirmed that the console has HDMI out and uses a USB power adapter for AC, which is free and included in the US but not in Europe (and probably not in Japan as we traditionally see). The controller is a classic NES style and one is included in the box, but more can be purchased for $10 apiece. These use the classic controller port like we see on the Wiimote. Also Nintendo confirmed that “suspend points” will be available. This means a lot of things, so lets break down what this information seems to indicate and why you may want to purchase this, even if you own an NES.
The HDMI is the big one. For years now collectors want to play NES games on an HDTV and have them look good. The Wii does an excellent job bringing virtual console titles to 480p and the Wii U to 1080p, but the big problem there is that obviously the library is limited. Many of my beloved NES titles like Batman, Robocop, DuckTales, and more will never be released on virtual console thanks to licensing agreements and there really hasn’t been many new games on the virtual console for years now outside of Wii U re-releases and the occasional big dog like Earthbound Beginnings. If this console allows you to use any cart, like it appears to suggest it does, then you now have an HDMI capable NES for $60 that may even output to 720p or 1080p (although I’m betting it’ll be 480p). Those of us seeking this ability were willing to spend $130 for a Retron 5, $150 for HDMI mods we have to self install, $185 for the 720p AVS, and the elite that were willing to pay $500 for a reverse engineered 1080p Analogue NT. Heck, we did an entire 2-part show on it. Now again, this will not be all the bells and whistles of those consoles, but for $60 with a bunch of games, it should now be easy to play NES games on your HDTV and hopefully make sharper YouTube videos for the basic consumer (myself included). Save states seem to suggest they may be using the NES emulator for the Virtual Console to do it, which I feel has always provided faithful recreations of these games so I’m on board with that as a low price solution. The classic controller style Wiimote plug means that although you will not be able to use your old controllers, you’ll have plenty of options with all of the existing classic controllers and now these new Nintendo produced one. Everything will also work with everything since the controller port of the NES mini is basically a Wiimote and therefore Wiimotes can use the new controllers simply by plug-and-play. This design also suggests that we will probably see an SNES version of this same hardware in the upcoming years. One can hope. Now onto the games, here’s the list:
Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
Donkey Kong Jr.
Double Dragon II: The Revenge
Ghosts N Goblins
Mega Man 2
Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 3
The Legend of Zelda
Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
This is a super solid lineup for $60 alone as a Wii U title, not to mention the value proposition as built into the console. There are some odd choices here – like Super C instead of Contra and Double Dragon II instead of Double Dragon (although in this case the sequel is the better game) – but given that we’re talking waning publishers I’m not gonna ponder the reasons. Capcom definitely knew to throw the strongest out in front with Mega Man 2 and Ghosts’N Goblins not to mention the Namco gem Pac-Man alongside just about anything you need in the essential Nintendo developed NES titles. I’ll also give credit to random beloved games like Tecmo Bowl, Ninja Gaiden, and Bubble Bobble that make this a well rounded and worthwhile collection, especially since some of these games will run you $30-$50 alone. Curious that Castlevania and Simon’s Quest are in the collection but not Castlevania III. This can be a red flag for those in the know because emulators and clone consoles struggle with the MMC5 chip that was needed for that game. Then again it’s Konami so see reasons above and virtual console has had no problems running Castlevania III, so I feel confident that my cart will run on this. Again, I’m still dying to see written confirmation that it will work with all carts (and hopefully flash carts). Even if it doesn’t support every single NES game but rather a majority, I still think this is worth picking up for the feature set alone, provided you are an NES player or collector. I never thought I’d say this, but now I have to either cut a November release title from the budget to make room for this competitively priced device or actually ask friends and family for an NES for Christmas in 2016.