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Nintendo NES Classic Edition review: Mini NES Classic is your childhood in a brilliant little box

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Nintendo NES Classic Edition

(Part #: CLVSNESA) Released: Nov 11, 2016
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The Good Authentic-looking, throwback design; comfortable controller; the best value for a bunch of Nintendo's classic 8-bit games; connects with HDMI, and powered by Micro-USB. Plays two-player games. Can save progress in all games.

The Bad The one included controller isn't wireless, and the cord is really short. You can't download or buy new games.

The Bottom Line Nintendo's little self-contained mini console plays 30 of the best NES games ever made, making it a fun nostalgia trip for Nintendo fans and a no-brainer stocking stuffer.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Ecosystem 8.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Performance 8.0
  • Value 9.0

Editors' note: The 2016 NES Classic Edition reviewed here was discontinued in April 2017, but Nintendo says that it will return in 2018. In the meantime, check out the SNES Classic

"Dad, I want to save my allowance to get this."

My son played on the throwback controller easily: to him, it's like a Wii remote. And he already knows how to play Super Mario Bros. 3: he remembers it from Super Mario Maker, where he's created endless levels.

Nintendo's prepared him well.

If you love retro games, you're probably an obsessive over the culture. A collector, maybe. So the NES Classic Edition, a miniature replica of the system released in the US in 1985, that's also a plug-and-play box with 30 classic NES games installed, probably sounds like a geek dream come true.

It's available now, but it's already very difficult to find; it could well be the hard-to-get gift for the 2016 holiday season.

But it's not just Nintendo's move into a landscape well-traveled by lots of other all-in-one retro game boxes over the years. Finally, these classic games have been freed from their Nintendo console prison. Into, well, a small, very affordable box.

Nintendo's classic archive of games, many of which are flat-out legendary, have always existed behind a protective wall of proprietary hardware. Buy a Nintendo 3DS, or a Wii, or a Wii U, and download Virtual Console mini games. What you buy for one system doesn't necessarily carry over to another. This is how I've bought Super Mario Bros. 3 about three times.


It's smaller than an NES cartridge. Also, a Nintendo 2DS for comparison.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The stand-alone NES Classic Edition bundles 30 NES games in one self-contained package for $60, £50 or AU$100. As my son noticed right off the bat, it's 30 games for the price of one Wii U game, just about.

Is that a good deal? Well, yes, considering that Nintendo normally sells most of these games for $5 a pop via its Virtual Console service.


A lot of games there.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The included 30 games are all pretty good, too, and they all play perfectly, even down to the authentic sprite-flicker and slowdown. Super Mario Bros. 1-3 are here, and Zelda 1 and 2. Metroid, Kirby's Adventure, Castlevania, Super C. The whole list, in case you're curious:

  • 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

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