The NES Classic: Is It Worth Buying?

In lieu of any major releases for their current home console, Nintendo has decided to effectively re-release its first home console as the NES Classic, a tiny-but-fully-functional replica of the original system that comes pre-loaded with 30 games. (You can find the full list of games here.)

Since I don’t have an NES Classic myself (yet, although it’s going to be hard to get one at launch), I have to defer to actual reviewers like the folks at GameXplain for hardware and presentation info. Thankfully, it sounds like Nintendo got everything surrounding the games just right (aside from the absurdly-short controller wires).

What I can speak to, however, are some of the games themselves—namely, did they include the right ones? Going through the list, I’d say the answer is a resounding yes! It’s got the first four Mario Bros. titles, the first two Zelda titles, minor classics like Excitebike and Punch-Out, third-party classics like Pac-Man, Mega Man, and Tecmo Bowl…heck, it’s even got Bubble Bobble, a game I played to death when I was younger but didn’t think was popular enough to be included. While I would have liked to see a few more sports games included (Ice Hockey, NES Play Action Football, etc.), no set of just 30 games (out of a library of 600+) was going to satisfy everyone, and Nintendo did a good job of choosing a set to maximize its potential user base.

That said, I probably won’t be rushing out to pick this up, as my original NES still works and I already own most of my favorite games. However, a few types on consumers will still find this system compelling:

  • If you don’t have a working NES or don’t own a fair portion of these games, you should consider buying this.
  • If you do have an NES, but are sick and tired of messing around with the cartridges for ten minutes every time you want to switch games (or need the HDMI hookups for streaming), you should consider buying this.
  • If you already have some of these games on the Virtual Console but are unsatisfied with how they look/play on newer consoles, you should consider buying this.
  • If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas gift for a younger gamer who needs to be introduced to the classics, you should definitely consider buying this.

Nintendo claims that there’ll be plenty of NES Classics to go around, so don’t get burned by buying a marked-up Classic for $500 on eBay. Check your local retailers (or Amazon) for availability.

All in all, bringing out the NES Classic was a brilliant move on Nintendo’s part, and in tandem with Pokémon Sun and Moon, this device will make a lot of people happy (including Nintendo’s finance folks) this holiday season.