With every new gaming console release, we see more realistic games that are almost indistinguishable from real life. However, no matter how advanced our gaming experiences get, there will always be a special place in most gamer's hearts for our roots.
This includes old clunky PC games, 8-bit difficult to control games that practically look like cavemen created them at this point or anything else that is considered retro. So whether you're an old-school gamer looking for a bit of nostalgia or a new gamer with a taste for retro games, there is a retro gaming console out there for you.
The Best Retro Gaming Consoles
Upon its release, the NES Classic quickly skyrocketed to one of the best retro gaming consoles, if only for a nostalgic reason. Released from Nintendo itself, the console comes with 30 games preloaded; all you have to do is plug it in and play! Included in those 30 games were Nintendo classic hits such as The Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros, and Castlevania. With this console, you'll get an authentic old-school Nintendo feel as it's basically an exact replica of the original games.
Unfortunately, there are two significant drawbacks to the NES classic. Although it's great having 30 original NES games preloaded, that's it. Sure, the 30 games are likely challenging to beat and will take you months to run through them all, but once you've done so, you'll have no capability to add to your library. Hopefully, by that point, you'll be able to either cycle back through again or play some newer games and return to retro gaming later on.
The other major downside to the NES classic it's that only a finite amount were made, and if you didn't get your hands on one when it was released, it could be tough to get one now. There are certainly ways to find them, but you'll certainly be paying a premium price for one.
Following the success of its original and retro gaming console predecessor, the SNES classic is also an excellent retro gaming console. This time coming with twenty-one preloaded games, you'll find the same plug-and-play experience as the NES classic. Twenty-one SNES games will give you plenty of hours of gameplay to relive your childhood.
Again, you'll find the same issues with the SNES classic as with the NES retro console. There is no ability to add to your collection of SNES games. A limited number in circulation makes it difficult and expensive to get your hands on one for yourself.
Sega Genesis Mini
Before Sony vs. Microsoft, it was Nintendo vs. Sega in the gaming wars back in the day. Some of us were lucky enough to have both systems, but many had to choose just one. If Sega was your system of choice, the Sega Genesis Mini (aka Mega Drive) is the retro gaming console for you.
Similar to the SNES classic plug and play plus controllers package, the Sega Mini is easy to fire up and get the authentic feel of the original. With a robust 42 games available, it comes with many of Sega's biggest hits, including Sonic the Hedgehog games, Ecco the Dolphin, Ghouls' n Ghosts, Golden Axe, Tetris, Street Fighter 2, and many more.
Sony PlayStation Classic
Likely the line for what most gamers would consider retro, but PS1 was a game-changer for many of us as it brought video games to the next level upon its release. The Sony PlayStation Classic, though, doesn't have the same effect as today's retro gaming. Seeming rushed to release to cash in on the popularity of the NES and SNES classics, the PlayStation Classic comes up a bit short.
With only 20 games preloaded, it has one of the lowest game counts as far as official retro consoles go. Of course, you can plug and play into your TV, but you'll have to find your own AC plug for it. The saving grace is that the included titles are some of the best you could ask for. Grand Theft Auto, Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil Director's Cut, Tekken 3, and Twisted Metal, to name a few.
The gameplay itself has something left to be desired with below-average emulation and performance. Many of the earlier 3D games don't look great on today's TVs, and there hasn't seemed to have been an attempt to make them more modern. It has built-in memory for saves, but the PS Classic could use some improvement other than that. However, the games themselves are just as fun as you remember and can still bring weeks or months of retro gaming nostalgia even with its downfalls.
Neo Geo Mini
Many won't remember the less popular Neo Geo console, but most will remember their hit arcade games. It might be for this reason that the makers of the Neo Geo mini decided to put more of their classic arcade-style games into their retro device rather than the console games.
You'll need to find a bit more hardware on your own to play, but nothing you can't handle. The Neo Geo Mini comes packed with 40 of its best arcade games in tow with the ability to save at any point in the game, making them a bit less challenging this time through(and you won't have to pump it full of quarters!) Featuring titles such as Metal Slug, King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, and Samurai Showdown, you'll have a solid collection of games unique to the Neo Geo console only.
RetroGames C64 Mini
Not to be confused with a 64-bit gaming console like the Nintendo 64, no, the Commodore 64 got its name for the 64 KB (yes, KiloBytes) of RAM it was packing. Seeing that its release was in the early '80s, that was actually a selling point. In any case, The C64 Mini is another mini version of its original with a few modern bells and whistles.
Again, you'll need to hunt down some extra hardware, but nothing unique or challenging to find. There are a few USB ports added as well, so you'll have an easy time using modern connecting devices to add to your experience.
The C64 Mini comes with 64 games included, so you'll have quite the selection to choose from. Unfortunately, many are just as difficult to play as the originals. Unlike most of the other mini-game consoles, you will have the ability to add ROMs to your library, but you'll need some tech know-how to be able to do it.
Analogue Super Nt
Not all retro game consoles come from the official creators themselves. Take the Analogue Super Nt, for example. Analogue has put together their own custom retro console that lets you load more games on it and has so many more options that allow you to display retro games on a modern TV better.
Analogue's 16-bit Super Nt consoles use their custom FPGA chip that perfectly emulates the Super Nintendo's original hardware, making games just as great if not better than the original versions. The only real drawback is that these are not mass-produced, so they too are harder to come by and can be a bit pricey.
Next up is the Anbernic RG350P. With this console, you'll have the ability to load ROMs for all sorts of consoles, which means you'll have an exponential amount of nostalgia to run through. Being able to play games from the original Game Boy, NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Sony PlayStation, and even retro computers like the Commodore 64, your options are practically limitless.
This does come at a price, though. That price is not going to hurt your wallet, but your brain. The console is reasonably priced, but you'll need some tech-savvy or at least good research capabilities to learn how to add new emulators, updates, and ROMs to your collection.
Evercade and Evercade VS
The Evercare might be the best all-around retro console out there. It's not limited to a single gaming console like the “Minis,” and it doesn't need the tech-savvy as the emulator\ROM-based counterparts. Instead, the creators of the Evercade have worked on licensing official games from the original publishers. This allows them to produce game cartridges that have multiple games on them.
Currently, there are over 280 games available (and growing) from systems such as NES, SNES, the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive), and the Mattel Intellivision. You won't break the bank on the $100 price tag to get the console and three cartridges and $20 a cartridge after that. Because the Evercade doesn't use software emulators, every game is a smooth experience.
The console plays great on the go and, like the others, has an HDMI connection that allows you to play on your TV. There are no multiplayer capabilities on the Evercade, but the Evercade VS console has four-player multiplayer and support for the same cartridges.