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Nintendo Classic Mini NES review: Sold out retro goodness

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £50
inc VAT

The Nintendo Classic Mini NES is a great collector's item in a cute retro package, if you can find one


  • 30 classic NES games
  • USB-powered


  • Controller leads are only 70cm long
  • Can't add any more games

News: Nintendo Classic Mini NES sells out

Bad news if you were planning on picking up one of Nintendo’s tiny Classic Mini consoles before Christmas, as this retro throwback has officially sold out on the official Nintendo Store. There are still some units doing the rounds, but at severely inflated prices.

Going for ridiculously large sums of money, some third party sellers on Amazon are charging upwards of £1,000 per console. You’ve gotta be pretty desperate to get one at that price, especially considering it only fetches £50 normally. Nintendo has said that more stock is on the way, though, so here’s hoping that more units will show up in shops before Christmas.

If you’re still interested in tracking one down, have a read of our original review below.

Nintendo Class Mini NES review

With no major Wii U release to plug its holiday schedule this year, Nintendo’s going for a full-frontal nostalgia offensive this Christmas with the release of its pint-sized Nintendo Entertainment System. Dubbed the Nintendo Classic Mini NES, this teeny plastic console has been completely retooled for the modern age, allowing you to play its 30 pre-loaded games over HDMI.

There’s a pretty good selection to be found here, from the classic Super Mario Bros and Legend of Zelda games to more obscure titles such as StarTropics and Kid Icarus. However, don’t expect Nintendo to be adding any more games to the Classic Mini in the future. Much to my great disappointment, that cartridge flap on the front is firmly sealed, so what you see on the back of the box is all you’re going to get.

Almost everything you need to get going is included in the box. You get one controller, one HDMI lead and a micro-USB cable. It’s a shame Nintendo hasn’t included a USB power adapter as well, but given their ubiquity in the modern home, you probably won’t have much trouble tracking one down. You’ll also have to buy another controller if you want to add a second player into the mix.

It’s a neat little setup, and the Classic Mini box itself is unashamedly adorable. You might wonder if there’s actually anything in there when you first pick it up, though, because it weighs practically nothing. Still, its four rubber feet do a great job of keeping it firmly fixed to the table, so you shouldn’t have any problems with it shifting around in the middle of your game.

The only rather annoying thing about the Classic Mini is the piddly length of the controller leads. Measuring just 70cm long, this isn’t something you’re going to be able to tuck neatly away in your AV cabinet. Instead, you’re going to need to pull it forward onto your living room floor if you want to sit back and play from your sofa, and even then you might have to resort to sitting on the floor.

Provided you find a comfortable playing position, though, the Classic Mini is quite the retro treat. You can opt to play all the games in their original 4:3 format, add a CRT filter to the screen or play in an even boxier 1:1 “Pixel Perfect” mode, and you can view each game’s original manual by scanning a QR code on your phone or tablet.

Hit the Reset button and you can create a restore point, too, allowing you to hop back to the main menu without losing your progress. You have to save each restore point manually, but with four restore point saves available for each game, you shouldn’t run out of room.

Nintendo Classic Mini review: Games

So what games do you get for your £50? Cast your eyes down to the table below for a full list of titles, but it’s safe to say you’re in very good company. The biggest highlights are the first three Super Mario Bros. games, the original Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: Link’s Adventure (which, in my opinion, is superior to the first Zelda game), Mega Man II, Metroid, Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest, Donkey Kong, Final Fantasy (which was never available in the UK on the NES) and Mega Man II to name just a few.

Super Mario Bros.Mega Man IIMetroidFinal FantasyGhosts ‘n GoblinsSuper C
Super Mario Bros. 2GradiusNinja GaidenPunch-Out!!Ice ClimberStarTropics
Super Mario Bros. 3Kirby’s AdventureCastlevaniaDr. MarioExcitebikeDouble Dragon II: The Revenge
The Legend of ZeldaDonkey KongCastlevania II: Simon’s QuestMario Bros.GalagaBubble Bobble
Zelda II: Link’s AdventureDonkey Kong JrPac-ManBalloon FightKid IcarusTecmo Bowl

More than half of them support two player co-op, giving you a decent split of multi-player games and meaty solo adventures. The inclusion of Tecmo Bowl is perhaps the only real dud on this list – I can think of at least two other Mega Man games that I’d have liked to have seen here instead – but on the whole it’s a great line-up that will have many gamers in their late 20s and early 30s misty-eyed with childhood joy.

That said, given that most of the games mentioned above have all been re-released on Nintendo’s various Virtual Console download services over the years, either on Wii, Wii U or 3DS, there’s probably a high chance you already own them on some sort of modern console. So is it really worth paying £50 to play them again?

Probably not if you bought them on the Wii U, but if, like me, a lot of your retro purchases are stuck on your Wii, then the answer is unequivocally yes. I’ve had several Virtual Console games simply not work when I’ve plugged my Wii into an HD TV due to a lack of resolution support, so as irritating as it is to have to buy them again, it’s probably a good way to get them back on the big screen. And besides, I’ve never seen a NES game look this good on an HD TV.

Nintendo Classic Mini review: Verdict

There are things the Nintendo Classic Mini could do better. I’d like a plug adapter, automatic restore point saves and longer controller leads. If you’re looking for a bit of nostalgic comfort this Christmas, however, you could certainly do a lot worse than stuffing a Classic Mini NES into your stocking. Some might view it as a shameless retro cash-in, but for those who simply want to bring their childhood games into the modern age, it’s a great buy. 

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