Nintendo Classic Mini Console

Do We Really Need Retro Mini Console Remakes?

If you look at my console game collection, you will probably note that most of the games I own are from before the year 2005. Giving off the impression that I couldn’t part with my childhood games. And it’s not an unreasonable guess. All of my various consoles and games were acquired well into my adult years, but collecting older video games was not something I ever expected I’d be doing as an adult, let alone collecting retro mini consoles.

All of this started about six years ago. I was doing a supply run with a coworker at the local Sam’s. While we were there, I noticed something odd for sale. It was the AT Games version of the Genesis Microconsole. This caught my eye because a lot of my early introductions to video games were via the Sega Genesis, and I still have vivid memories of playing Sonic, Ecco the Dolphin, and Toejam & Earl. However, due to Sega having long been out of the hardware market, I assumed that pretty much everyone had forgotten about the existence of these games.

Mega Drive Classic Game Console Box
Mega Drive Classic Game Console Box

Is an N64 Mini on the Horizon?

That year at Christmas, that coworker wandered in with a big, wrapped package for me. I opened it up, and behold! I was the proud owner of an AT Games Genesis. And thus, a fascination with cataloging the history of console gaming began.

Not long after that, we saw a boom in the development of these retro micro consoles. The NES Mini was released in 2016 and was sold out immediately. Since then, plenty of brands have joined the micro console trend, but a lot of gamers are waiting for the announcement of a rerelease of their favorite console. Is an N64 Mini, Sega Saturn, or Sega Master System on the horizon?

Consoles aren’t entirely alone in this treatment. Arcade1Up is a company that actually has been building arcade cabinets that offer various licensed compilations. So if one has piles of money lying around, one could, in theory, build their own private arcade in order to relive the experience of hanging around a shopping mall in the 90s.

But it begs the question: what’s the fascination with all of these things? In this era of Switch Online, Xbox Game Pass, Playstation Network, and Steam, do we necessarily need all of these micro consoles?

Arcade1Up Classic Arcade Collection
Arcade1Up Classic Arcade Collection

The Answer is More Complicated than a Simple “Yes or No.”

When the NES and SNES Minis were coming out, I raised an eyebrow. The Wii and Wii U at the time were well known for having the Virtual Console. The Virtual Console offered a list of titles originally released on past home and handheld consoles. Unfortunately, the Switch doesn’t offer a Virtual console, which is why a rejuvenated retro console could be on the horizon.

Not everyone had a Wii, Wii U, or a 3DS. And shelling out the money for a new console to play retro games isn’t worth it either. Some people aren’t interested in playing the newer releases and want to play those classics without breaking the bank. That’s where the NES and SNES mini could potentially come in.

With this, you can play some absolute classics. Whether you’re someone my age looking to recapture some of that childhood magic or someone wondering what all the fuss is about. NES and SNES mini would be an excellent idea. Nintendo has retired the Virtual Console in the Switch era, making some of these games hard to find. Some games are trickling onto Switch online, but the pace has been slower than fans would like. There are also a lot of retro games that don’t appear to be coming anytime soon.

The Virtual Console on the Wii (Source)

“If the Neo Geo system were to relaunch, I’d definitely be curious.”

A mini console offers the potential to easily experience what they missed out on in one nice, neat little package. For example, I never saw the Turbografx-16 growing up. No one I knew owned one, I never saw it or any of its games for sale anywhere. I didn’t even know it existed until my twenties. And yet, I know people who adore that console. So when Konami announced they were releasing a Turbografx-16 Mini, I admit I was, and still am, tempted to pick one up.

Perhaps the example that gets me the most excited is the Arcade1Up Cabinets. There were a lot of great arcade games back in the 80s and 90s, and I have fond memories of hanging out at Aladdin’s Castle in Spotsylvania Mall. Most of these games never got home versions. While it would not be cost or space-effective for me to buy 50 of these retro arcade cabinets, it was every kid’s dream in the ’90s to have their own personal arcade. While the Arcade1Up Cabinets don’t tend to follow the “cheap way to get old games” mindset, I love the idea of them.

“I love the design choices that went into some of those consoles from my childhood.”

Turbografx-16 Mini Console by Konami
Turbografx-16 Mini Console by Konami

There is definitely a segment of the gaming population who think the revamped mini consoles look neat on a shelf. They may or may not have access to the games already, but they enjoy the look of them. They want to have them on display as a monument to gaming history. Sure, they can also plug them in and play them once in a while to compare how different versions and attempts at emulation run, but they mainly want the mini consoles to look good. I can’t entirely fault them for that, either. The design choices that went into some of those consoles from my childhood are nostalgic, and I wouldn’t mind being able to display them, too.

Personally, I would definitely prefer to see more of these games released on digital platforms. Give me an Arcade Game Collection, NeoGeo Collection, or a TurboGrafx Collection on a modernized platform. That said, I can see a reason why these retro mini consoles exist. As long as they continue to be quality products, I could certainly justify them as Christmas gifts to people who love retro video games. As someone who is fascinated by the history of video games and how consoles have risen and fallen, I am eager to see people experience these little chunks of the past.