Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition – Long Name, Long Overdue

Nintendo has just announced that, after Jakks Pacific and other companies pumping out plug-and-play units for the last decade and a half, they themselves would be releasing a multi-game unit featuring the best of the NES. Titled the “Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition,” this may finally be the thing that renders those kiosks filled with clones and hacked carts at the mall simply a Link to the Past (see what I did there?).

The all-in-one “console” includes 30 games, HDMI support, "real" NES-style controllers made for newer inputs (those controllers can also be used with Wii and Wii U for Virtual Console games), and according to Nintendo's page it'll be packed with some great titles:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Castlevania
  • Castlevania II: Simon's Quest
  • Donkey Kong
  • Donkey Kong Jr.
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Dr. Mario
  • Excitebike
  • Final Fantasy
  • Galaga
  • Ghosts N' Goblins
  • Gradius
  • Ice Climber
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kirby's Adventure
  • Mario Bros.
  • Mega Man 2
  • Metroid
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Pac-Man
  • Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • StarTropics
  • Super C
  • Super Mario Bros.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Unlike most of the all-in-ones, there really isn’t a weak link in the bunch, which in and of itself is surprising; StarTropics is one that doesn’t get the credit it deserves, Bubble Bobble is delightful, Kid Icarus will kick your ass (though not as hard as Ghosts ‘N Goblins will). So many genres are represented that everybody should find something they like. Even for “non-gamers” who have fond memories of these games from their youth can pick up where they left off with a collection like this. And for $59.99, it’s not a bank-breaker for 30 games. Sure, Castlevania II: Simon's Quest is no Castlevania III, but that's not THAT big a blemish on the roster, now is it?

There are a few questions with this, however; the first being, why did they wait so long to jump on this bandwagon? The easy answer would be that they hoped more people would buy individual games for inflated prices through Virtual Console—all of these games are anywhere between five and ten bucks, so buying ten individually would cost more than this set. It could be that these sales are waning, or they’re running low on those big-name titles we’ve been waiting for from the system (“Oh hooray… Baseball Simulator 1.000... just what I wa-ZZZZZ”). If those have dropped off, this would be an easy way to generate some interest again, especially with the ability to use original-style—though sadly, not THE original—controllers for nostalgia’s sake.

It could even be that these pre-packaged consoles are making enough money to warrant exploring the market, just as Big N did earlier this year with Miitomo and the recent sensation of Pokemon Go. Nintendo has historically been both ahead of the gaming curve and behind the technology throughout their history—the NES was delivered over a decade after the Atari 2600 was a worldwide sensation, the Gamecube’s broadband adapter (and being honest, weak support for it) came well after the Dreamcast took console gaming online in a notable way, and both Sony and Microsoft (who admittedly both have for years had a hand in other hardware markets) have found ways to integrate mobile connections to their consoles while Nintendo is only now exploring the mobile market at all. They may be years behind in various ways, but as they historically have released quality products, they’re not given quite as much flack for it as other companies may.

Even still, why now release a multi-game device like this? Has the NES finally reached that level in their eyes that simply re-releasing titles on existing platforms over and over and over (and over?) again won’t do? Is this an attempt to cash in on an increasingly saturated market known for 50+ games from Atari consoles, forgotten Colecovision and Intellivision consoles, the Spongebob Squarepants joystick-nose devices, and the other random collections and knock-offs of both new (usually half-assed) and classic titles? Is even the most legendary video game development company reaching out in as many different directions as possible to find whatever may work to bring in a buck, and might this even be related to the difficulties they’ve had in pushing the Wii U?

This is all speculation, but even as speculation, this announcement gets me excited. The NES was a ground-breaking system, reviving an entire industry in the US in the mid-1980s. It was the first console for so many people, myself included, who still proudly play games today. As a platform it laid the groundwork for gaming as we know it today, and that’s not overstating the fact. Many of the biggest names included in this collection as their original incarnation are still perfectly playable today, and have since become major franchises in their own right. And more importantly, it was my first real console and probably the reason I love Luigi as much as I do (I’m a little brother, after all).

What do you think about this news? Does it come off as a grand idea, or a cheap money grab? Will you look into buying one for yourself? Even more important, are there any NES games you think should’ve been included, but weren’t? (I wouldn’t have objected to a TMNT title, for instance. The second, not the first… the first was fun, but let’s be honest, it was “awful-fun”.)