Which mini retro game console is right for you: NES Classic, Super NES Classic, or PlayStation Classic?

Nintendo/SonyFrom left to right: The NES Classic Edition, Super NES Classic Edition, and PlayStation Classic.

Which adorable little console will you take home this holiday? That’s the question that Nintendo and Sony are asking shoppers this year with their triple threat of nostalgia-laced retro console offerings.

Perhaps you’ve already got your hands on the two tiny Nintendo consoles, and are simply looking to complete the retro collection with Sony’s upcoming PlayStation Classic? Or maybe you’ve yet to purchase any of these delightfully petite little guys!

Whatever the situation, we’ve got the full rundown on all three right here:


First things first: Some universal qualities about all of these retro consoles that you should expect across the board.

Square EnixOne of the most iconic games on the PlayStation 1, ‘Final Fantasy VII,’ is a highlight of the PlayStation Classic’s game lineup.
  1. Every console on this list is small – as in “so small it literally fits in your hand.”
  2. Every console on this list comes with games built-in – you don’t buy cartridges or discs and put them inside, as you would with the original versions of each.
  3. More to the point: None of the consoles below will even read cartridges and discs.
  4. None of the consoles below work with original hardware, like gamepads or AC adapters or anything else. They all use updated lookalikes of original hardware that aren’t compatible with stuff from 20 – 30 years ago.
  5. Each console has a static, unchanging list of games packed in. You can’t add more.
  6. None of these consoles cost over $US100.

All that said, let’s get down to business!


1. NES Classic Edition — a miniaturized version of the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

Nintendo

Over 30 years ago, Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System. In 2018, it re-released a miniature, digital version of the classic console: the NES Classic Edition (seen above).

The adorable little box is reminiscent of the original NES from 1985, but it’s far smaller – as seen above, it fits in the palm of your hand.

The NES Classic Edition originally launched in late 2016, quickly selling out and becoming a hot commodity. Nintendo discontinued the console a few months later, much to the chagrin of fans everywhere. Then, earlier this year, Nintendo re-released the mini console – it’s now kept in ongoing production, and is relatively easy to find in stores.


At just $US60, the NES Classic Edition is in impulse-buy territory.

Nintendo

Price: $US60

What’s in the box:

-The console itself -One wired NES-style gamepad -One HDMI cable -One AC power adaptor

Features:

-30 classic NES games -Save states (the ability to pause and save any game at any time) -Customisable borders and different screen resolution options (NES games weren’t meant for large, high-definition TVs)

Looking for even more? Here’s a full rundown on the NES Classic Edition!


Here are all the games on the NES Classic Edition:

Nintendo

1. “Balloon Fight” 2. “Bubble Bobble” 3. “Castlevania” 4. “Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest” 5. “Donkey Kong” 6. “Donkey Kong Jr.” 7. “Double Dragon II: The Revenge” 8. “Dr. Mario” 9. “Excitebike” 10. “Final Fantasy” 11. “Galaga” 12. “Ghosts ‘n Goblins” 13. “Gradius” 14. “Ice Climber” 15. “Kid Icarus” 16. “Kirby’s Adventure” 17. “Mario Bros.” 18. “Mega Man 2” 19. “Metroid” 20. “Ninja Gaiden” 21. “Pac-Man” 22. “Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream” 23. “StarTropics” 24. “Super C” 25. “Super Mario Bros.” 26. “Super Mario Bros. 2” 27. “Super Mario Bros. 3” 28. “Tecmo Bowl” 29. “The Legend of Zelda” 30. “Zelda II: The Adventure of Link”


And here’s the console in action:


2. The Super NES Classic Edition — a miniaturized version of the original Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES).

Nintendo

The NES is the first console I ever played, and I’ve got a lot of love for the library of classics on the NES Classic Edition. But the Super Nintendo is the console that helped me fall in love with gaming.

It’s got the best Super Mario game ever made (“Super Mario World”), the best Zelda game ever made (“The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past”), and gorgeous, iconic graphics. It’s the console that introduced millions of people to “Final Fantasy,” “Street Fighter,” and “Star Fox.”

And the Super NES Classic Edition, with 21 games, has the vast majority of those classics built right in.


At $US80, the Super NES Classic Edition is a slightly pricier retro console — but it’s still far less expensive than a brand new Nintendo Switch!

Nintendo

Price: $US80

What’s in the box:

-The console itself -Two wired SNES-style gamepads -One HDMI cable -One AC power adaptor

Features:

-21 classic SNES games -Save states (the ability to pause and save any game at any time) -Customisable borders and different screen resolution options (SNES games weren’t meant for large, high-definition TVs)

Looking for even more? Here’s a full rundown on the Super NES Classic Edition!


Here are all the games on the Super NES Classic Edition:

Nintendo

1. “Contra III: The Alien Wars” 2. “Donkey Kong Country” 3. “EarthBound” 4. “Final Fantasy III” 5. “F-Zero” 6. “Kirby Super Star” 7. “Kirby’s Dream Course” 8. “The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past” 9. “Mega Man X” 10. “Secret of Mana” 11. “Star Fox” 12. “Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting” 13. “Super Castlevania IV” 14. “Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts” 15. “Super Mario Kart” 16. “Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars” 17. “Super Mario World” 18. “Super Metroid” 19. “Super Punch-Out!!” 20. “Yoshi’s Island”


But wait — there’s one more game:

Nintendo

You know what game was never released on the Super Nintendo? “Star Fox 2”!

The sequel to the beloved “Star Fox” never saw light of day on the Super Nintendo – it was shelved at the time, despite being nearly complete, in favour of focusing on game releases for Nintendo’s successor console (the Nintendo 64).

But Nintendo included the game on the Super NES Classic Edition, which is pretty amazing: Nintendo released a nearly 30-year-old game – a Super Nintendo game – in 2017.

You have to play through the first level of “Star Fox” to unlock “Star Fox 2,” but it’s otherwise built into the Super NES Classic Edition as the twenty-first game on the list.


And here’s the console in action:


3. PlayStation Classic — a miniaturized version of the original PlayStation console (PS1/PSX).

Playstation/FlickrThe PlayStation Classic.

Not to let Nintendo suck up all the nostalgia-related profits, Sony is offering its own classic console: The PlayStation Classic.

Like Nintendo, Sony’s effort is a miniaturized version of a game console that’s a distant memory at this point. Unlike Nintendo, Sony’s PlayStation 1 features games that helped shepherd 3D gaming into the mainstream – “Metal Gear Solid” and “Resident Evil” are marquee titles, just to name a couple.


At $US100, the PlayStation Classic is the most expensive of all the retro consoles and it has the fewest games.

Sony

Price: $US100

Release date: December 3

What’s in the box:

-The console itself -Two wired PS1-style gamepads -One HDMI cable -One micro USB cable

Features:

-20 classic PlayStation 1 games -Save states (the ability to pause and save any game at any time)

Of note: The PlayStation Classic does not include an AC adaptor, but you could always use the USB-based adapters you already own.

Looking for even more? Here’s a full rundown on the PlayStation Classic!


Here are all the games on the PlayStation Classic:

Capcom

1. “Final Fantasy VII” 2. “Jumping Flash” 3. “Ridge Racer Type 4” 4. “Tekken 3” 5. “Wild Arms” 6. “Cool Boarders 2” 7. “Intelligent Qube” 8. “Grand Theft Auto” 9. “Battle Arena Toshinden” 10. “Resident Evil: Director’s Cut” 11. “Syphon Filter” 12. “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six” 13. “Jumping Flash” 14. “Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee” 15. “Twisted Metal” 16. “Destruction Derby” 17. “Mr. Driller” 18. “Rayman” 19. “Revelations: Persona” 20. “Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo”


And here’s the console in action:


So, which should you get? That really depends on you!

Nintendo/Sony

Considering that none of these classic, mini consoles cost more than $US100, it’s understandable if you just wanna buy them all outright. If you bought all three for $US240, you’d still be spending less than the price of a new Nintendo Switch ($US300).

But the reality is that, like most game consoles, the game line-up matters most. To that end, I would argue that the Super NES Classic Edition has the largest library of great games. It’s hard to find a bad game on the list; that it comes with two gamepads certainly doesn’t hurt.

If you grew up with the PlayStation 1, in a home bereft of Nintendo’s foundational game consoles, the PlayStation Classic may be the most appealing. Remember when that first zombie turned around to look up at you in “Resident Evil”? Terrifying!

That said: For my money, the Super NES Classic Edition is the best option on this list – a perfect medium of price, great games, and family fun (“Super Mario Kart”!).

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