Whether you’re looking to dust off your old game cartridges or are just looking for an authentic old school gaming experience with minimal hassle, there are more options than ever these days for fans of classic video games. Nintendo famously revived its classic consoles, while other makes are building machines to let you relive your childhood. Here are our favorite 7 retro consoles.
Nintendo’s pint-sized Super NES Classic is still hard to come by, but there’s no better out-of-the-box retro gaming fix you can buy. It comes preloaded with a solid collection of 21 games including Super Mario Kart, Street Fighter II, and the previously unreleased Star Fox 2—and, just as importantly, all of those games will look great on your HDTV.
As good as Nintendo’s own SNES Classic is, it does limit you to the included 21 games. If you’re looking to breathe some life into your cartridge collection, the Analogue Super Nt will play them just as well as an original SNES and also make them look great on modern HDTVs. As you might expect, that does come at a bit of a premium price, but it is at least considerably more affordable than Analogue’s previous high-end take on the standard NES, and, as CNET notes in its , clunky menus aside, there’s not much more you can ask for in an updated SNES.
If you’ve given up on trying to find the SNES or NES Classic, or are looking for another all-in-one system to complement it, Retro-Bit’s Super Retro-Cade is another solid option for casual gamers. It packs a hefty 90 games—a mix of console and arcade titles—all of which are officially licensed from Capcom, Data East, Irem and Technos.
As with Nintendo’s consoles, those games all get upscaled for HDTVs, although didn’t find the Retro-Bit to do quite as good a job at the conversion (you’ll still get far better results than you will plugging in an old NES, however).
The Raspberry Pi has been another boon for retro gaming fans in recent years. While there’s an endless number of options for building your own arcade or console systems, a kit like this one from Vilros is one of the easiest ways to get a retro-friendly system up and running. It includes everything you need from the software to a gamepad—minus the actual games, of course.
There are a number of for legally acquiring games (or ROMs) that can be played on emulators—some free and some paid—and there are devices like the that will let you make backups of your own game cartridges that you can then play with an emulator.
Miniature arcade cabinets can be a bit of a hit-and-miss affair, with many offering only poor imitations of the original game instead of an authentic arcade experience. Tiny Arcade’s offerings may be on the smaller side of things (they can even be used as a keychain), but they’ve won plenty of fans for staying true to their full-size counterparts both inside and out. The current lineup includes Space Invaders, Galaxian, Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man and, at under $20 apiece, it’s not too unreasonable to collect them all.
The venerable Atari 2600 has been revived more than most classic game consoles, and it’s still a great option to play if your gaming nostalgia takes you back before the heyday of Sega and Nintendo. While it won’t let you dust off your old cartridges, the Atari Flashback comes with more than enough games to keep you busy for a while—an impressive 105 classic games—and the Gold Deluxe edition includes both a pair of wireless joysticks and two paddle controllers.
Anyone looking for the next best thing to an authentic arcade cabinet in a more compact form won’t do much better than one of Replicade’s systems. After first tackling Centipede, the crowd-funded company turned its attention to Tempest and replicated the original arcade cabinet down to the finest detail at 1/6th scale. That includes a solid wood and metal construction replete with original artwork, as well as a pair of interchangeable spinner knobs: one that’s true-to-size and a larger one that makes the game more playable in its compact form.