Oct 22, 2019

Best of the Mini Consoles

What’s old is new again! And, smaller. Much, much smaller. Advertising executives get paid millions to find new, innovative, and headline-grabbing ways to cash in on nostalgia. And, in the case of the fast-growing and fast-selling mini console trend, those executives have earned their salaries. Nintendo certainly cashed in on their NES and SNES Classic Editions. The units were flying off of the shelves and quickly appeared on the secondary market at a considerable mark-up. As with anything, success breeds copy-cats. So, it wasn’t long before the other giants of the gaming industry offered up their mini consoles of their own. Today, we’re going to take a look at all of the mini consoles on the market today, explain some of the more popular games on offer from each, and how much they’ll cost you.

  • It’s easy to forget that we once lived in a pre-mini console world. After all, mini consoles are so popular and so ubiquitous with retro gaming that our gaming lives would just feel empty without them.

    Though not the best, Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition was the first mini console to steal our collective hearts. The NES Classic was announced in 2016 as a way for a new generation of gamers to experience the groundbreaking console.

    The NES Classic isn’t just a conversation piece. It is loaded with 30 iconic games, including Dr. Mario, Mega Man 2, Ninja Gaiden, Punch-Out!!, and Super Mario Bros. 3.

    In addition to the pre-loaded games, the system comes packaged with an AC adapter, HDMI cable, and one NES controller for the modest price of $59.99.

  • The release of the NES Classic in 2016 was followed almost immediately with desperate cries for the release of a SNES version. It was understandable, considering the popularity of the SNES and the caliber of its library.

    One year later, Nintendo delivered. The SNES Classic Edition hit store shelves in the fall of 2017 and enjoyed much of the fanfare of its predecessor.

    Though this mini console is loaded with fewer games — 21 in total — it remains the only way you can play Star Fox 2. In addition to Star Fox 2, the SNES Classic has an all-star lineup of games. This includes Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy III, Secret of Mana, Super Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

    The SNES Classic costs $79.99. It comes packaged with an HDMI cable, an AC adapter, and two wired SNES controllers.

  • The console war of the early 90s was the stuff of legends. Sega cut into Nintendo’s dominance on the market with the Sega Genesis. Despite being slightly underpowered, the Genesis held its own in competition with the SNES. A remarkable feat considering Nintendo’s popularity.

    Mush like it was almost 30 years, Sega wasn’t going to let their former rivals dominate the mini console market. So, Sega took the full dive by releasing the Sega Genesis Mini in September 2019. And boy, did Sega pull out all the stops with this one.

    The Genesis Mini is loaded with a staggering 40 games. Two of which — Tetris and Darius — never being released on the original console. Some games worth highlighting include Castlevania: Bloodlines, Earthworm Jim, Gunstar Heroes, Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage 2, and Toe Jam and Earl.

    Not to be outdone by the SNES Classic Edition, the Genesis Mini comes packaged with two wired controllers, a USB power adapter, a power cable, and an HDMI cable for $79.99.

  • Neo Geo may not be a household name like Nintendo, Sony, or Sega. However, that’s not to say that they haven’t played an essential part in the development of the video game industry. Especially arcade games.

    Neo Geo began their storied, if not unconventional run, as a cartridge-based arcade cabinet. As such, the Neo Geo Mini is, well… a mini arcade cabinet!

    The Neo Geo Mini features a built-in 3.5-inch display to eliminate the need for a television. If you do want to connect it to your TV though, you can do so using the device’s HDMI connection terminal in the back of the unit.

    The console comes pre-loaded with 40 games. This includes arcade classics like Fatal Fury, Metal Slug, Samurai Shodown, and The King of Fighters.

    You could get the console by itself for $95, but that does not come with any gamepads. I’d opt for a bundled version, which comes packaged with two gamepads along with the console, for $135.

  • You didn’t think Sony would sit out of this battle?

    While the PlayStation Classic may have been late to the game, it did indeed arrive in time for Christmas 2018. The adorable little PlayStation is a miniature version of the original PlayStation.

    The PlayStation Classic comes pre-loaded with 20 games. It includes such classics as Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Tekken 3, and Twisted Metal. In addition to the games, the mini console comes with two wired controllers and an HDMI cable.

    Sounds good, doesn’t it? Not exactly. The PlayStation Classic ran into more than a few speedbumps at launch. For starters, it came with a hefty $100 price tag, which stung even more when it didn’t come with a power supply. Add that to the lackluster game selection, bare-bones menus, and the poor emulation, gamers were left with a bad taste in their mouth initially.

    Since its release, price cuts have made the PlayStation Classic much more appealing to consumers. Currently, the price is $50.99.

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