Pokemon Go has taken over the world this week, and while I want to write something about it, I also want to let the dust settle before I do. But there was another bit of Nintendo news this week, and to me this is the more exciting story. The news is that this November, Nintendo will be releasing a miniature version of the NES which will be able to play 30 games. The list is as follows:
- Balloon Fight
- Bubble Bobble
- Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
- Donkey Kong
- Donkey Kong Jr.
- Double Dragon II
- Dr. Mario
- Final Fantasy
- Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins
- Ice Climber
- Kid Icarus
- Kirby’s Adventure
- Mario Bros.
- Mega Man 2
- Ninja Gaiden
- Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
- 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
While not a perfect list of top NES games, it’s a pretty good one. Personally, I would remove the not-so-great ports of Pac-man, Galaga, and Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins and replace them with Dragon Warrior/Quest, Bionic Commando, and River City Ransom. I would also have Contra instead of Super C and Tecmo Super Bowl instead of Tecmo Bowl. But regardless, this is a good list of great and recognizable games. And at a $60 price point, buying this machine is much cheaper than buying all of these games on the virtual console.
But while the list of games is surprisingly great, there are some aspects of the system that are a bit disappointing. As I expected when it was announced, there is no way for the system to go online. That means that you cannot add games to it through the virtual console or another storefront. That is no big deal, but I was disappointed to hear that there will never be a way to add games to this device. This is a static device, which means that if they ever want to put out more NES games in a similar fashion, they would have to release an entirely new system. For the price of $60 this isn’t a huge deal, but if they ever get to that point it will be a hassle having multiple of these things
Also, finding a way to play these games is super easy. Whether through computer emulation, a Raspberry Pi, the Virtual Console, GBA and other ports, or actually buying an NES for not a lot of money, there are easy ways to access all of these games. Not all of those are friendly to the average consumer, but a lot of them are. So as somebody who can play these games easily but also has no nostalgia for most of them, why am I so excited about this device?
I guess what it comes down to is that I love the mindset of Nintendo here. I love how much they realize that their games and systems were important to people and are important to the industry. This device is a great snapshot of history, and Nintendo gets that. It makes me excited for the NX because it shows that Nintendo is not completely oblivious to why people love them. While I don’t like companies trying to make a quick buck on nostalgia, I don’t assign those feelings to this device. Will that be the driving factor in why people buy this thing? Probably, but this is so much more than that. It is Nintendo being committed to preserving its history, all the way down to a replica NES controller.
We are getting to the point where major companies are starting to preserve their history, and I love that. Microsoft figured out a way to do backwards compatability on the Xbox One. Sony has filled the PlayStation Network with PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games over the years and has a major investment in a streaming service. Capcom reached out to Digital Eclipse to help put out every NES Mega Man game last year. Hamster has been dedicated to putting out classic arcade games in their Arcade Archives series. And lest I forget Rare Replay, the pinnacle of classic game collections that might as well be a museum piece in honor of a storied developer. All of this contributes to an industry that is starting to care about its past.
But the pioneer of this movement has always been and will always be Nintendo. Nobody has the same storied history that they do, so they need to be leading the charge. And while it sounds silly, an NES that I can hold in the palm of my hands might be the next
step forward. With the new “Classics” logo, I would be shocked if we didn’t see a Mini SNES in the next few years and maybe a larger classic games initiative on the NX. And I sincerely hope that these thirty games are only the start. I want us to reach a point where every single NES game is readily available. I’m not sure we ever will, but it’s a goal to shoot for. And honestly, I just want to hold an NES in my palm