The options for those who want to replay old NES classics continues to grow by the day. Some point to the recent success of the NES Mini, a smaller version of the original NES preloaded with 30 games. You can also say that systems like the RetroN 5, which also plays a number of pre-N64 era video games, also have popularized retro gaming for the HDMI age. But while the RetroN 5 looks great, it doesn't compare with other options in terms of quality and hardware.
The Analogue Nt mini would be on the high end of the spectrum. It doesn't just emulate the NES; the Nt mini was built from the ground up as a reinterpretation of the NES for the modern era, using actual NES hardware that makes playing NES carts on modern television sets much easier. And while it doesn't play ROMs, it does give your dusty old carts new life with tons of customizable options that help any avid retro fan configure their NES experience the way they see fit. But why is there such an interest in a console that Nintendo stopped making games for in 1994?
"Unfortunately playing video games on Nintendo's original hardware is riddled with compromises: temperamental 30 year old hardware, video lag and extremely low quality video outputs," Christopher Taber, CEO of Analogue, told Motherboard. "The Nt mini was designed to address all of these problems and provide a reference quality way to explore Nintendo's entire 8 bit console era."
Gamers across the world have different reasons for coming back to the NES after years away. Marc Duddleson, one of the hosts of the retro gaming YouTube channel My Life in Gaming, has done videos in the past on how to get quality picture from old consoles. He had the NES as a kid, but as he grew up, he started to realize what he missed out on.
"From my own experience, I can say that it is not purely nostalgia," he told Motherboard. "The NES was my first console, but I actually didn't own that many games for it originally. In the late 90s, I learned about how much awesome stuff I missed out on, and I started to build a collection because used NES games were dirt cheap."
The prevailing notion seems to be that the best NES setup is based on personal preferences. Duddleson puts it in perspective. "If you want a quick nostalgia fix, the NES Classic Edition was made just for you. If you want to invest in a robust NES machine but want to spend under $200, the AVS (another console that uses carts) is an excellent choice. If you want every video scaling and output option you could ever want, and money's no object, then there's the Nt mini. And all that is to say nothing of Virtual Console, RaspberryPi, RetroN5, and other emulation machines".
My own experiences with the Analogue mini Nt were positive. Games played perfectly, looked way better than I ever imagined and there were a ton of cool audio and visual features to mess around with. But it might not be apt for everyone's budget at $449 ($498 for a black model), so it may be better to pick and choose what works best for you. After all, at the end of the day it's all about playing the games again.
"Retro games are a present tense term for me," Duddleson says. "They're old, but they aren't 'were.' They still exist. Just because a game becomes old does not mean its experiences become less worthwhile."