The NES Classic is an admirable little system capable of great things. After all, you’ve got 30 classic NES games immediately accessible. You can have someone else sit down with you for a spell. It’s difficult to resist. Fortunately, it has little special features and bonuses that make the system work even more to your advantage. The best way I can describe it is improved déjà vu. The general experience is the same. The feel is the same. But the actual implementation takes the refinements we expect from games now and inserts them in a way where it doesn’t hurt the nostalgia. Instead, it lets you savor it without the hang-ups the original NES might have had.
Many of these are ones you’ve heard about directly from Nintendo. The NES Classic’s display options are rather nice. You have Pixel Perfect, which makes it look sharp and crisp with the proportions you remember. 4:3 gives you a wide-screen view that has it fit your HDTV. CRT attempts to recreate the classic CRT TV look. I recommend Pixel Perfect or 4:3, but each version does do a little something to ensure the plug-and-play system is meeting your need. CRT does do it’s best to mimic that display, but it doesn’t get things exactly right. It’s just off enough to make things seem weird. For me, the Pixel Perfect option honestly ended up feeling like the truest interpretation. It’s more how you expect it to look, rather than exactly nailing the feel.
The suspend saves are the same way. Who among us hasn’t lost a game save to a dead cartridge battery? Had someone else overwrite their save? Copied down what they thought was the exact password to a game, only to lose it, have the ink or writing become illegible, or find we made one mistake that rendered the whole thing useless? The NES Classic gives a more modern suspend save system, with four for each game. There’s even an option to lock each one to ensure someone doesn’t save over it. It helps support the notion that the NES Classic is more of a family system, rather than something tied to one owner. We have the ability to preserve our progress. It’s possible to still jot down passwords, like you did in the old days, but this back up lets you appreciate play sessions, without that fear of starting over.
Not that it’s gone completely. You do need to remember to go either with suspend saves or in-game saves for titles like Final Fantasy. Failure to do so could result in losing the in-game save. Which, in its own way, does mimic the original NES experience. I mean, no one should be so cruel as to actually do that to someone. But, if it does happen with the NES Classic, it can act as a reminder that there’s a way around every failsafe and sometimes you have to let things go.
There’s also the satisfaction that comes from using the suspend save function and your memory of NES Classic game cheats to create a permanent point where you’re in the optimal position. For example, one of the first things I did in Super Mario Bros. 3 was create a suspend save after acquiring the two Warp Whistles from 1-3 and 1-Fortress. Another was to play Galaga, get one of enemies to lock me in with a tractor beam and take my ship, shoot it to get that ship back, then suspend save. It meant I’d always have a save where I could jump right in with a double missile attack and opportunity to take a second hit. I love Kirby’s Beam ability, so I used the permanent ability trick to copy it, press start and select at once, and exit the stage. Once I was sure it was his new normal, it received its own suspend save. It’s nice to always have that extra edge.
Then, there are the controllers. The NES Classic Controller isn’t just compatible with the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo Wii U Virtual Console games. As pointed out by a Reddit user named Zunoss, your Nintendo Wii Classic Controllers work with the NES Classic. Granted, a work-around is required if two people are playing. The second person must use the Nintendo Wii Classic Controller, as its plug has an extra piece of plastic that will block the second controller port if it’s used as the player one controller. But, if only one person is playing, the Nintendo Wii Classic Controller ends up being the superior control scheme. The Home button resets the system. The d-pad and left analog stick both can act as a control, which helps quite a bit with games like Castlevania, Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros.
With the NES Classic, you’re getting a system that has all of the games you remember from your younger days. It’s a compact box that gives you a good selection of games you’d want and need. It does things to make you feel more at home, like offer various viewing options. All of the cheats you remember are there. It even makes it easier to have those exploits on hand with those lovely save states. And, if you have some Nintendo Wii Classic Controllers, you can even have an alternate control option that reminds you of your Virtual Console experiences when the NES Classic. The games are the way you remember them, right down to the exploits and quirks. But, there are some minor quality of life updates that let you appreciate the nostalgia without dealing with things like mediocre video quality or a chance of losing your password to continue your progress.
The NES Classic is now available in North America and Europe.