It’s easy to see the appeal of these plug-and-play systems that appear around the holidays. Finding working consoles and cartridges is a chore, as is finding a way to properly store them. Nintendo’s NES Classic seems, at first glance, like the sort of system that you’d grab on a lark. You’d hook them up to a TV every once in a while or give it as a gift to someone who had the NES years ago or was too young to witness it in its heyday. But, it’s more than that. This is a system that will work well when you’re in your home or visiting with friends.
The NES Classic is teeny. This is a statement I repeated multiple times to not only people upon actually seeing and holding it, but also to the system itself. (Because clearly, the NES Classic had to know it is teeny.) However, its size is misleading. You might look at something so small and feel as though it might be handled delicately or gingerly. While you certainly won’t want to go around dropping it from great heights, it isn’t something that will easily fall apart. The controllers clamp in securely, with buttons that must be pressed to release them from the system, it’s well constructed, and the buttons don’t feel loose or flimsy.
Frankly, it’s a system where there’s not much that can go wrong with it. You have the NES Classic unit, which feels as sturdy to me as my Nintendo 3DS does. You have the controller, which is a dead ringer for the original NES controller. The only moving parts are the power and reset buttons, which are securely affixed. I worry more about my RetroN 5, my current means of playing actual NES cartridges, than I would about the NES Classic. Especially when it comes to pulling the cartridges out of it!
It certainly feels better made than the other plug-and-play systems I’ve owned. The NES Classic’s plastic is solid. It genuinely feels like a smaller version of an actual NES, while the controller is pretty much identical to the one offered with the NES. It’s worlds better than the AtGames Genesis I have, though I do appreciate its ability to play cartridges. It’s worlds better than the Intellivision Flashback system I own. While I did appreciate the cartridge overlays, it doesn’t feel like something I could play every day for a week or month or take around with me.
Which is why the NES Classic feels to me like a more portable plug-and-play. It’s great in homes, sure. I’ve been plugging it into my TV’s HDMI slot, sitting on the floor in front of my TV, and using it almost every day since I’ve gotten it. The only issue I’ve had is it not working with my HDMI splitter the same way my Nintendo Wii U, PlayStation TV, and PlayStation 3 do. I have to actually plug its cable into my TV for it to work. But, it seems more like something you take with you when visiting friends or family.
I’ve been using the NES Classic box for getting it from place to place. It did a good enough job keeping it secure in transit to my home, and this is one of those rare items where you can perfectly get everything to fit back in the box the way it did originally. When I get where I’m going, we clear a space off on either the TV stand or floor in front of it, plug in the applicable cords, and sit in front of the TV to enjoy some classic games. It’s been out with me three times now and survived every voyage easily.
Even the game list encourages scenarios where you’d take the NES Classic out of the house for gaming sessions with other people. Of the 30 games in the collection, 16 offer multiplayer options. Of those, eight are sequential games. It’s something you want to share with other people.
You’re going to have to sit right in front of the NES Classic to play it, yes. You may even need to get a longer HDMI cable to have it reach from the TV to a place of honor where it can rest. But, it feels like something that isn’t going to be permanently interred in one station. This feels like a plug-and-play system that will be constantly plugged and unplugged to take it with you so everyone can enjoy the games on it. And, thanks to it being such a solid, well made little box, it’ll take those trips in stride.
The NES Classic will come to North America and Europe on November 11, 2016.