Christmas tech: Retro games find new fans with mini consoles
Consoles may come and go, but Mario, it seems, is a constant
When Nintendo announced the NES Classic Mini in 2016, it started somewhat of a trend. While retro games have never really gone away - for some people at least - the replica of Nintendo’s console brought a whole new generation of gamers for the old classics. What better use for your new high definition TV than some seriously old, graphic-challenged games?
The console that kicked it all off, the Nintendo NES Classic is small but perfectly formed, replicating the original console with care. Even the controllers have been designed to look like the old ones. There are some modern touches though, including the HDMI port. Among the built in games are Mario Bros, Kirby’s Adventure, Donkey Kong Jr and Legend of Zelda.
Nintendo originally made a limited number of these, but began production again in 2018. Officially, production has stopped, but you can still find some of the consoles on sale.
Remember when the Commodore 64 was a game changer? A colour screen, synthesiser sounds… it converted a whole generation of kids to computer games. The graphics may not stand up to today’s cinematic releases but they are still fun to play. That’s why the C64 Mini was created. It’s a scale replica of the original, down to the (non-functional) keyboard, but with an added HDMI output, and two USB ports so you can add extra joysticks or a keyboard, to use the C64 Mini as a home computer. There are 64 games built in, including my personal favourite Monty on the Run, and Paradroid, Hawkeye and Nebulus. You can save your games, or wing it and see how far you get. You can also make your fancy high definition TV look like an old-school CRT TV to give the whole experience a bit more authenticity.
Sony Playstation Classic
Sony also took a bash at reviving an old favourite. The Playstation Classic is a miniature version of the original Playstation, complete with classic controllers and 20 games built in. There are some things to note. While the controller looks like the old style Playstation one, the analogue stick doesn’t work, there is no dual-shock function, and they have USB connections. Among the list of games you’ll find the likes of Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3 and Ridge Racer Type 4, but some of the bigger hits are missing. There’s no Tomb Raider, for example. You may also have to turn to Amazon to find it for sale, as neither stockist on the Sony website appear to sell it any more.
Capcom Home Arcade
A games device with a difference, the Capcom Home Arcade isn’t a reboot of an older console but a collection of all Capcom’s games in an arcade style device. It has the arcade style controls - buttons and joystick - and is shaped like a Capcom logo. On the plus side, it’s great fun to play and it has some good games to choose from such as Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Edition and Alien vs Predator. You can also upload your high scores to a worldwide leaderboard. The cons? It’s pretty big. It has to be flat when you are playing it, and this is definitely not a “me too” entry to the retro sector. You’ll also pay significantly more for this games device than the mini consoles.