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15 ways to embrace your classic gaming nostalgia

Relive your best classic video gaming memories with this gallery of updated classic consoles and free games you can play in your web browser.

Jason Parker
1 of 15 Sarah Tew/CNET

Nintendo NES Classic Edition

The Nintendo NES classic, which has been discontinued, looks just like a smaller version of the NES you know and love. It came loaded with 30 of the best classic games of all time. Super Mario 1-3, Zelda 1 and 2, Donkey Kong, Galaga, Tecmo Bowl were just some of the featured titles. Read our review to get our impressions and the full list of games

But just because the NES Classic is nigh-impossible to find, that doesn't mean your can't replay the classic games you grew up with. Many companies, along with Nintendo, are hopping on board the resurgence of retro games. In some cases, even if your favorite classics were for platforms that don't really exist anymore, we have found ways in this gallery to play them using multi-purpose consoles and even thousands of titles you can play in your browser.

2 of 15 Sarah Tew/CNET

Smaller than the original cartridges

The NES Classic doesn't take up nearly the space of the original. In fact, an old NES cartridge has more surface area than this version of the console.

The controllers come as an added bonus to the revamped NES. Using a connector identical to that within Wii remotes, the Classic's controllers can be used to play Virtual Console NES games on the Wii or Wii U.

3 of 15 Sarah Tew/CNET

Super NES Classic Edition

Nintendo isn't stopping with the NES Classic, but instead went on to announce the Super Nintendo Classic in June. This one comes with only 21 games preloaded, but you'll find most of the hits you'd want, like Super Mario 3, Super Mario Kart, Mega Man X and Street Fighter II Turbo. It also comes with the previously unreleased sequel to Starfox: Starfox II. Get all the info in our preview.

The NES Classic is coming to the UK and US September 29, September 30 in AU, and will be in Japan October 5.

I always regretted never owning a Super NES (I instead went with a Sega Genesis at the time), but for 80 bucks, I may just have to buy one.

4 of 15 Sarah Tew/CNET

Familiar SNES controllers, with a twist

The Super NES classic controllers have the same shape and feel of the original, but Nintendo updated the color of the buttons to match its more modern consoles like the Wii. And the SNES Classic comes with two controllers, as opposed to the NES Classic's sole pack-in.

5 of 15 Joy Con

Joy Con Classic controllers

While we're still talking Nintendo, I also wanted to share these custom Switch controllers made to match the theme of the original NES. They're called the Joy Con Classic controllers and they work with the Switch, but are a limited release.

They're really, really pricey at $200, but you have to admit they look cool.

6 of 15 Sean Hollister/CNET

AtGames Sega Genesis

Back in 1990, you may have been like me and decided to buy the Sega Genesis instead of buying the SNES, and you want to back to those classic Genesis games. Or you picked the SNES, and missed out on Sonic and uncensored Mortal Kombat!

AtGames has you covered. 

With Sega's permission, AtGames made an updated version of the Genesis with some tweaks, but all the same great gameplay. It goes for $80 and comes with 85 games preloaded. It will also take most original cartridges, so if you have an old box of Sega games in your garage, you're in luck.

7 of 15 AtGames

AtGames Sega Portable

Or maybe you want to take Genesis on the go? AtGames also made a system you can take with you, and its a lot better than the Game Gear. It has 80 built-in games, including all the Sonic hits as well as Mortal Kombat 1, 2 and 3 and many other classic titles.

8 of 15 GIF created by Gabriel O'flaherty-Chan

Game Boy on an Apple Watch?

While this isn't something you can buy, an iOS developer out of Toronto, Gabriel O'flaherty-Chan, managed to get a Game Boy Color emulator working on his Apple Watch. He calls it Giovanni, after the super-villain from his favorite Game Boy game, Pokemon Yellow. 

As you can see, the controls are less than ideal, with onscreen buttons that force your fingers to cover most of the action, but it's still quite a feat! 

9 of 15 Arduboy


If you know how to code or want to learn, there's also the Arduboy, an open-source 8-bit gaming system that's the size of a credit card. There are a ton of user-created games already, but if you know how to code, you can even create your own.

10 of 15 Claire Reilly/CNET

Retro Freak

If you have game cartridges laying around from various old consoles, you can play them all on the Retro Freak, a console we saw at Computex 2017. It supports NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Sega Megadrive (with a converter), Game Boy (Original, Color and Advance), Turbo Grafx-16, PC Engine and PC Engine Super Grafx games.

It's only available in Asia for 20,000 yen (roughly $180, AU$250 and £125) right now, but hopefully we'll be getting it or something like it soon enough. 

11 of 15 Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET

Sega Forever

Sega Forever ports original Sega games (from every console generation) to iOS and Android phones for free. The ports are ad-supported -- although players can pay $2 for ad-free versions -- and they include online leader boards, cloud saves and Bluetooth controller support.

Sega classics including the Sonic games, Altered Beast, Phantasy Star II, Kid Chameleon, Comix Zone and several others. Just search for classic Sega games in either app store and start downloading.

Just don't expect perfect performance though, as early titles have been plagued with issues for many users.

12 of 15 Internet Archive

Internet Archive - for games!

The Internet Archive exists to preserve a library of digital content that is culturally significant. Of course, that also includes games! 

Thanks to the Archive, can get all the iconic MS-DOS games you grew up playing right in your web browser. With a library of over 4,000 titles there's a lifetime of classic gaming available. 

You also can play classic Mac games in your browser -- even on a Windows PC.

13 of 15 Patrick Holland/CNET

Super Retro Boy

We came across Retro-Bit's Super Retro Boy at CES 2017, and we still can't wait for it to come out. 

The Super Retro Boy isn't a Game Boy clone. Instead, the hardware has captured the soul of the Game Boy while making some improvements, like a 10-hour internal battery and a backlit display. It can play all the original Game Boy games as well as the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance -- you just need the cartridges.

It's slated to come out sometime in August 2017.

14 of 15 AtGames

AtGames Atari console

If you want to get your classic Atari fix, AtGames has the goods. This classic console comes with 100 games preloaded including Pitfall, Missile Command, Space Invaders, Asteroids, and all the other hits. It's about $40 and features the classic joystick controllers you remember.

15 of 15 GIF created by Jason Parker/CNET

A new Atari console

Finally, I don't know about you, but the 21 second video from E3 that teased a new modern Atari console might have been the most exciting thing from the conference. 

It's based on PC hardware, but nobody knows what kind of games we'll get, what shape it will take or what games will come with it. Regardless, it's hard to resist getting psyched about new Atari hardware!

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