Nintendo’s NES Classic Edition may be hard to find, but I managed to get my hands on one of the miniature consoles for a little gaming fun. Although the NES Classic Edition gives you an enjoyable retro gaming experience, the system does have a few bothersome flaws.
Let’s start off by discussing what’s wrong with the console. The most obvious problem is that the controller’s 30-inch cable is ridiculously short— it’s really only sufficient for extremely small rooms. If you plan to use the system in a larger room, you are forced to either pull up a chair within arm’s reach of the TV or use an extra long HDMI cable so you can take the system further away from the display.
I opted for the latter method and pulled out a 15-foot HDMI cable. This introduced other problems, however, as you also need to connect the NES Classic Edition to a power source. The system uses an ordinary USB Type-A cable for power, and it is meant to be powered from a wall outlet using a basic adapter. This cable is a standard sized 36-inch USB cable, but it too becomes a problem if the short controller cable forces you to move the console.
Here you can get an extension cable of some kind or try the system connected to a computer or power bank. Technically, the NES Classic Edition isn’t meant to be powered by these devices, but it works just fine while connected to a PC or power bank and provides enough extra freedom to move away the console away from the wall.
I suspect the controller cable is so short because the Reset button on the NES Classic is used to switch between the games installed on the device. Nintendo probably didn’t want to deviate from the original NES controller’s design, and forcing gamers to get up every few minutes to switch between games would be frustrating, so it likely shortened the cable to keep the Reset button close. It’s too bad the company didn’t think of a better method for switching between games, like holding Down + Start for five seconds, to sidestep both issues with a single tweak.
These problems with the lengths of the console’s cables--both the controller cable and the power cable--probably won’t stop you from enjoying the NES Classic Edition. They are bothersome, though, and we recommend investing in a wireless controller like Nyko’s to avoid these issues entirely.
The NES Classic Edition also doesn’t support 4K. Granted, I didn’t expect the console to render at 4K, but I did expect that it would work with 4K displays to scale 1080p content to fill the screen. This is something my Xbox 360 and Wii U do without issue over HDMI, and my original NES and SNES consoles can do the same over component or coaxial cables. Instead, the NES Classic Edition console limits itself to a small 1080p square in the middle of the screen.
This also shouldn’t be a serious problem, however, as most people are still using 1080p displays.
Retro Gaming The 2016 Way
Although the NES Classic Edition has a few issues, it runs the NES games installed on it flawlessly. I tested Dr. Mario, Galaga, Kirby’s Adventure, Metroid, Super Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, and The Legend Of Zelda, and all of them performed well. At times, the games probably ran a bit smoother than the originalsm actually; where the originals stuttered a little at times and had occasional graphical glitches, their emulated counterparts had no problems.
The audio is similar to the original NES as well, but it's actually arguably better now. Up until last year, I used an older CRT TV for the NES. When that CRT TV died and I moved to the 4K TV, I noticed a difference in the audio due to reduced noise and the improved speakers. I hear even less noise in the NES Classic Edition’s audio. Of course, typically you don’t want to hear noise in audio, but that static is part of the classic NES experience.
The NES Classic Edition controller felt somewhat stiff and sounded kind of clicky in comparison to the original NES controllers I have on hand, but that may be due to roughly 30 years of wear.
Overall, playing games on the NES Classic Edition is a pleasant experience that brings back feelings of nostalgia for the original NES. Some may even prefer it over the original due to its flawless video and audio, but just because something isn’t beautiful doesn't mean it's perfect. At times, the NES Classic Edition feels notably different due to the lack of imperfection in the video and audio and the way the new controller feels. I suspect that many gamers will enjoy the NES Classic Edition, but those who have strong feelings for the original will miss the bugs and hunt down an NES to get the true nostalgic experience.