Nintendo is going to win the holidays with NES Classic Edition
Hundreds of hours of nostalgia packed into a tiny box that is smaller and lighter than your mobile phone.
Nintendo seems to have stumbled onto the perfect holiday gift with its NES Classic Edition. The diminutive plastic box packs 30 classic games into a pint-sized recreation of the original NES. It's USB-powered and spits out video via HDMI, but the games look and play just like they used to.
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All for $60.
The Micro USB cable that powers it comes with an outlet-friendly power brick, but you can just as easily plug into the USB port on your computer and draw power from there. While you do need some kind of HDMI-equipped display, the lightweight hardware and lack of reliance on long cords means NES Classic Edition is very easy to bring over to a friend's house.
While the hardware exists as a nostalgia play, it does come with a few modern upgrades in addition to 1080p video output via HDMI. From the dashboard, users can scroll through the 30 games in an easily navigated left-to-right menu.
The dashboard is also where users can switch between the three different display modes. "Pixel Perfect" is the best, visually; it squares off the edges of each pixel, resulting in a sharper picture. It's meant to make you feel like you're playing these games as you remember them, and it works.
Click here to view the NES Classic Edition from every angle
The 4:3 setting is similar to pixel perfect, but it doesn't do anything to sharpen up the image. Games look a little bit "softer" in 4:3, hewing to a closer approximation to how they looked on tube TVs of the '80s and '90s.
The CRT setting looks the "worst," adding artificial scan lines of the sort that were just a feature of old tube TVs. Games look blurry and slightly distorted. If Pixel Perfect makes them look just like you remember, CRT makes them look like they did in actuality.
The NES Classic also lets players create as many as four "save states" for each game. Nintendo games of old didn't really do saved games, for the most part. With save states, you can take what amounts to a snapshot of wherever you were in a game, then return to that point with the press of a button.
If there's anything to complain about, it's the length of the controller's cord — about two feet. That's not ideal for most living room setups, though it does up the portability factor.
The box is also not expandable in any way. The 30 included games contain a bunch of legitimate classics — including the first three Super Mario games, the first two Zelda games and more — but that library won't ever grow. There aren't any expansion ports and the console can't go online.
Still, this is a monster package for $60. Nintendo's refusal to allow pre-orders is puzzling given the demand around this thing, but as long as the company can supply enough product, NES Classic Edition has everything it takes to be one of the hottest holiday gifts of 2016.