Hey, Dave here. As a long time, LONG TIME gamer, anything with the Nintendo branding gets a free pass from me. With that in mind my review of the officially* the very best introduction to retro gaming on the planet The NES Classic would be very easy to write, “Come on, it’s all the classic NES games in one place, with a sweet repro controller and a cute little case, look how cute it is! 5 stars. Buy it now!”. *Not official.
That’s not the point of this feature/review though! I am the core demographic, I don’t need to won over by the device or the highly addictive retro gaming gateway drug bill it fits so perfectly. I am sold already! Yet will up and coming 16 year old writer and life long gamer, Kane, share my opinion. Over to you Kane…
Nintendo Classic Mini – Kane’s Review
I had been asked to review the Nintendo classic mini, my first impression of it was it’s a very small device and the controller reminded me a little bit of the Playstation, due to its d-pad only layout with no analog sticks. The set-up itself, took me a while as it was very different to the consoles I am used to. It took me around 15 minutes to set it all up and get it going and I was surprised by what I was greeted with. At the menu screen it showed all the games you could play and how many players you could play them with. All the while some music was being played in the background and all the settings are found at the top of the screen. I liked this type of setting because it seemed quite retro and although its a re-issue its still a lot more simple to consoles nowadays.
Using the controller for the first time seemed very weird with having only 2 buttons (B and A), the d-pad and Start and Select which you press to start most games. The shape of the controller was rectangular which is a lot different to what I was used too, but it also intrigued me. The console came with 30 built in games from the licensed NES library, with a built-in saving system.
The first game I chose to play was Punch Out. Punch out was the first game in a series of two, followed by Super Punch Out!! on the SNES, which I haven’t played either, after these two games came out they carried on making Punch Out games such as Louis’s Punch Out!! and even a third spin off, Arm Wrestling which is an arcade game which was only available on North American shores. Punch out!! and Super Punch Out!! were later released on the Wii’s Virtual Arcade. Based on this the game at the time must have been a big hit, showing why Nintendo released many sequels.
My first fight on Punch Out required me to press start five times in a row just to start the match! Easy! To my surprise the game was actually quite smooth and fun other than me getting knocked out on the first round, one thing I did notice though was the lack of movement and adjustability of the opponent’s AI. Which consisted of them throwing the same punch repeatedly and knocking my character out after two goes I beat the first fighter and advanced onto the next opponent (level). The next fight was a lot harder than the first, as this character used different movements and punches unlike the first, so after three defeats I moved onto a different game.
To move onto a different game you had to press the Rest button on the console which brought you back to the home screen. I liked this as it was very smooth and again different to what I was used too.
There are 30 games on the console, and my likes and dislikes where a close split. The games I liked being: Double Dragon 2 the Revenge, Super Mario bros, Castlevania, Gradius, Kid Icarus, Mega Man 2, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr, Excitebike, Ninja Gaiden, Pac man, Mario Bros, Super Mario Bros 2, Super Mario Bros 3, Castlevania 2 Simon’s Quest and Kirby’s Adventure. Ones I didn’t: Super C, Zelda 2 the Adventure of Link, Punch out!!, The Legend of Zelda, Balloon Fight, Bubble Bobble, Metroid, Startropics, Tecmo Bowl, Ghost’n Goblins, Dr Mario, Final Fantasy, Ice Climber and Galaga.
Out of all these games my favourite by far was Double Dragon 2 The Revenge. The game is a side scrolling action game where you beat up enemies to advance to the next stage or level. The game was first released in 1988 as a coin operated arcade game it was later then released onto the NES two years later on 15th January 1990, the game is the first sequel to Double Dragon which was released in 1987.
The game itself was a very enjoyable experience compared to some of the other games because it was different. The way you fought through enemy’s to advanced onwards was fun and so were the games mechanics and the players movement. As you moved on too different stages you character would acquire new weapons and the enemy’s would get harder and would use different skills to try and defeat you.
I rate this game a solid 4/5 and would recommend playing it to some of my mates as although the graphics aren’t the best I think it suits the game as a fighting retro kind of vibe.
Another game I really enjoyed was Super Mario Bros as it is very similar although a lot simpler to the Mario games we have today. Super Mario Bros was published by Nintendo after the 1983 arcade game was successful and Mario is now an iconic game of our generation today. Super Mario is the first in its sequel followed by Super Mario Bros 2 and 3. In the game you play as one of the two Mario brothers, Mario and Luigi in a 2D game jumping over obstacles and different enemies to get to Princess Toadstool who has been captured by Bowser, the main villain in this story.
I really liked this game because it felt like the Mario games we have today. I have played New Super Mario Bros before with my mates on the Wii years ago and still remember the fun to this day! One complaint being the for this version of the game, the movements were a bit delayed so you had to press a before you really wanted to jump. However I really enjoyed playing this game ironically because it brought back the memoires of when I last played the updated version of it. Mario has been such a hit over the years and its easy to see why with his debut! I would rate Super Mario Bros 4/5 because I have now been able to play the original classic and compare it to the ones nowadays. I would recommend this and would play it again.
Out of all of these games there was only two I would say I bordered on hating and that would be Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins and Contra Super C. This is because both of these games are very repetitive and very, very hard. I do like a challenge in games but these two felt almost unfairly balanced. For example I couldn’t even get past the first mission in Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins until I realised all you had to do is spam the attack and slowly walk forward! Which I do not find fun at all!
After using the NES Classic for a week or so, playing all the classic games and trying to experience the nostalgia for myself. My final opinion was it was fun and would be great if you already played the games and had a lot of good memory’s to go along with them. Yet compared to nowadays, the gameplay and graphics it wouldn’t stand a chance. Other than that though I had fun playing the console and the games ran surprisingly well for their age, I would recommend playing them just to get a grip of how far gaming has come and to at least try the old gaming experience.
Its fun for a while but personally I would not play the console again. Although it does have some good games like Mario and Double Dragon, I wouldn’t want to keep playing them again and again. Not when I have a Xbox and a PlayStation VR upstairs. Sorry Dave!
Dave again… I have to admit initially I was a little shocked by your comments, maybe even a touch offended. These were the games of my youth and how dare anyone have a differing opinion to me! Yet after my breathing exercising got me through my retro rage, I have come around to your way of thinking, a little! Only a little!
Kane’s choices of likes and dislikes are intriguing. With Double Dragon 2 topping his list, being praised from its originality proving that the scrolling beat ’em-up has long disappeared from mainstream. As this is a rather poor example of the genre, even on the NES. While I do place it at the lower end of the quality scale of the titles included here, this is largely due to my overexposure of the genre and the far superior alternatives both at home and the arcades of my youth. Couple this with my bewilderment at his distain for Contra Super C, an excellent but admittedly challenging, example of another long lost genre, the run and gun game, I was left pondering…
Without the benefit of a huge dollop of rich creamery rose-tinted flavour nostalgia to season this mix of vintage gems, how can these games stand on their own when basic free to download smartphone games make them look ancient and limited. OK, I still love retro gaming and it will always have a special place in my heart. Yet if I am being 100% honest here if I was given a straight non-nostalgic influenced choice of playing Castlevania on the NES or Maneater on the PS4? Cue the Jaws theme!
This has been a fascinating exercise, and while my core opinions are unchanged it has made me ponder a few, frankly, uncomfortable questions. Can retro gaming exist without nostalgia? Did you have to be part of the early days of home consoles to really commit to the hobby? Or does contemporary gaming simply set the bar too high? Hmmmm? I wonder if Kane would prefer the SNES?