Just yesterday, Nintendo announced the NES Classic Edition. A plug and play version of the NES with 30 built in games, it’d be released in November 11th for just $59.99.
But while the revamped NES has already become rather popular online, their wording made me wonder something else.
Is this just the first in a line of ‘mini’ versions of Nintendo systems?
Because the system’s name on the site isn’t just ‘NES Classic Edition’. Indeed, in the UK, it doesn’t even have Classic Edition in the name at all.
Instead, it’s Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System
And do you know what that sounds like?
The start of a console line called Nintendo Classic Mini. A series of systems presumably based on the NES, SNES, Nintendo 64 and Gamecube with 30 of the best games for each console. These would then sell at similarly low prices, feature a classic controller you can use with the Wii/Wii U/NX and be marketed at a more casual audience.
This would make a lot of sense business wide. After all, while the NES was popular in some places, it was Nintendo’s follow ups that caught on elsewhere in the world. For example, UK gamers are slightly more likely to remember the SNES or Nintendo 64, both of which had more appeal than Nintendo’s eight bit system. How many people here remember playing Mario Kart 64 and GoldenEye 007 with friends?
Above: Nostalgia for many N64 fans
Quite a few. Okay, none of Nintendo’s systems ever outsold the PlayStation here. And the SNES did struggle against the Mega Drive.
But games by the likes of Rare certainly gave Nintendo their biggest chance at success until the Wii rolled around. So revamped Nintendo ‘consoles’ featuring the best games of those eras could do really well.
However, this does raise an issue. Namely, that of Rare.
Because in the Nintendo 64 days, about 50% of the major titles came from that studio. From Diddy Kong Racing to GoldenEye007 to Banjo-Kazooie and Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Rare were releasing tons of great games and selling millions of copies a piece. For kids who grew up then, games like Banjo-Kazooie were much of their childhood.
Above: Many of Rare’s best Nintendo 64 games
Unfortunately Microsoft owns Rare now. As a result, Nintendo can’t get Rare to make games for their home consoles any more, and struggles to get their work on Virtual Console.
So how could a Nintendo 64 Classic Edition work?
I mean, you can’t exactly sell a new N64 without Banjo-Kazooie, GoldenEye or Perfect Dark. And even without Rare, many other popular classics of the era were third party titles based on non game IPs.
And then there are the technical issues for both a SNES and Nintendo 64 Mini. The former has a lot of games with odd chip designs and different hardware in use (like the Super FX and SA-1 chips), the latter has stuff like the Expansion Pack.
You can already see Nintendo’s struggles with that in the Virtual Console. Ever wonder why Yoshi’s Island is only available as Super Mario Advance 3? Difficulties with the Wii and Wii U emulating the Super FX chip. It’s also why the SNES Star Fox game isn’t available anywhere.
Above: Though the bonus levels make up for it.
Either way, it’s pretty clear the NES Classic Edition isn’t the only such console Nintendo is planning, and that other systems might get similar revamps too. So it’ll be interesting to see how they get round licensing and tech issues with the SNES and Nintendo 64 variants come 2017 or so.
What do you think about the idea of Nintendo Classic Mini becoming a series? Do you think the SNES, Nintendo 64 and Gamecube will soon follow the NES in this respect?