Thoughts on the NES Classic

I first wrote thoughts down about the NES Classic when it was announced last summer. Like most gamers my age, I was hyped for a chance to play not only some games that I owned a loved as a child, but some of the titles that I missed. With the updated system, we get a small sample size of the existing games catalog, but in that regard the packed-in titles are worth every penny. At the $60 price point that was announced, that is. In typical Nintendo fashion, demand outweighed supply so when the console released in November 2016, they sold out rather quickly. I know I looked everywhere I could think that sells games around the release date and had no luck. One of my friends camped out and got one, but he was the only person I knew that did. Nintendo’s next press release said that they would have more consoles out to retailers soon. Units were still available online, but prices soared and it seemed the best bet was to wait until they got a handle on the demand and produced enough units to meet that demand.

Just last week, Nintendo made another announcement, and this time it was to say that the new shipments were on their way but that the console was officially discontinued. They didn’t say why, but the rumor is that an SNES Classic is on the way. Time will tell if that’s correct, though I’d be interested in that console as well, mainly because I never owned an SNES but there are plenty of games I’ve played that I’d like to play again. I’d wish for a Genesis type version as well, but I have already collected those games on other platforms due to Sega being smart about licensing their products. Anyway, with the demise of the NES Classic I knew it was time to make a decision: Tempt the fates and attempt to get one for MSRP, or pony up the extra dough and buy one online, now.

I think you can guess what I did.

It cost me nearly $200 to pick up the console, an additional controller, two cable extensions, and a carrying case. My Prime membership netted free shipping. Was it overpriced at that point? Yes. Do I have regrets? Nope.

It’s so cute sitting on my PS4! I’m going to have to invest in an HDMI splitter or switch to use it more efficiently though, as my TV only has 2 ports that are both currently being used. Outside of that hassle, I fired it up and took a trip back to the 80’s, in which ironically I also played my original NES in this very room! I played several games and had a blast, but there are titles that are going to take some time to play through that I really can’t wait to get into. I also look forward to introducing my girlfriend’s son (he’s 9) to games I played when I was his age, because he’s a little gamer in training and needs to learn to appreciate the classics!

Overall I was impressed with the console’s construction. The controller looks and feels just like the original. I was disappointed with the look and feel of the secondary controller that I picked up, not realizing it was some 3rd party knockoff, but I will live with it, or maybe I’ll go pickup one of the official controllers later on, I know I’ve seen those in stores. The carrying case was official and will do the trick. I’m satisfied with the purchase, and I think you would be too, but try to get it on the cheap if you can!

Fire Emblem Heroes

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My relationship with Nintendo is strange. I was an absolute fan during the NES era but shortly thereafter, I was a Sega kid followed by being a Sony player. I did own a DS lite and the original Wii, and I really want one of those NES Classics (but have yet to find one), but it just seems that outside of a few titles Nintendo’s systems have failed to impress. Even the new Switch console that is coming out soon doesn’t really do it for me, but it does have the added bonus of being portable and a console. Still, I probably won’t purchase one of them.

A while back, Nintendo announced that they would be entering the mobile market and though that sounded cool, the original announcement was a couple of titles that would come out on iOS, which didn’t do me any good. For years I have been saying that I would play the shit out of some Nintendo games, were they on Steam or another device I already own. I really don’t want to have to own each and every console, though I do see the point in having both one console and a gaming PC. It appears that this has been rectified now though, as a couple of weeks ago there were options on the Google Play Store to “pre-register” for the new Nintendo games coming out soon. The first to release is you guessed it, Fire Emblem Heroes. Super Mario Run is to follow next month I believe.

Just a couple of days ago, there was a small bit of conversation about how some people couldn’t find a mobile game that stuck for them. They had downloaded many and though some seemed interesting enough, after a few hours to a few days they were tired of the game and uninstalled it. I can’t say that doesn’t sound like me, as for years I was never finding anything to play on my phone that was really worth my time. Up until a few months back when I started playing Clash Royale did I really find a mobile game somewhat addictive. Though some of the timed mechanics are still annoying, it tends to work because you only play the game for a few minutes here and a few minutes there.

This game is now the second game that I would say is really playable and really fun. Where Clash Royale succeeds at providing a solid PvP dueling experience, Fire Emblem Heroes provides a solid RPG formula that I find very appealing. At first glance, I didn’t really know what to expect. I haven’t ever played a Fire Emblem game, but I have heard very good things about them. I’ve always been a fan of grid-based, turn-based strategy games, and this one is right up my alley. If you’ve ever played games like Final Fantasy Tactics, Shining Force, or even games like X-Com you’ll enjoy the combat system. It reminds me most of Shining Force as it’s 2-D and there aren’t advantages to having the high ground, etc. It also has animated cut scenes for the actual swings you and your enemies take on each other, which is a direct influence for sure.

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When you aren’t battling through the story missions (which start with a prequel that will teach you some of the game’s nuances), there are some other screens you will stare at in an attempt to improve your party in various ways. Loosely stated, the story centers around you, a “legendary hero” who comes to this particular land and is able to use this special artifact that allows you to summon heroes from other realms to do your bidding. Though the main characters have their motivations and the story chugs along, it’s really not all that important in the grand scheme of things. Summoning is as easy as spending orbs that you’ll earn from completing quests and doing various activities.

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Heroes that you summon will have starred ratings, with 3 stars being a bronze hero, 4 being silver and 5 stars being gold. Obviously the better the hero’s rating, the better they will perform in combat and the more abilities they will start out with. Most abilities trigger automatically or add passive traits, but they are definitely useful in combat. Eventually as you move through the missions you’ll open up other “maps” that essentially functions as different game modes. Special maps are special events where you can do one time battles on different difficulty settings and provide extra rewards. Arena Duels are PvP matches which was a good call on the developer’s part, as you’ll be able to lengthen the replay value of the game. I have opened the other maps just yet, but I’m guessing the training tower is to hone skills, and the ??? map with probably end up being some sort of end-game activity. Soon enough though, you’ll have a lot of heroes and plenty to do.

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There is a cash shop as well, as each map takes stamina to fight on. You have a limited amount of stamina, and it though it recharges fairly quickly I’m sure some people wouldn’t want to wait. Arena Duels also take a different time-limited currency, but I have found items you can use to restore it. It’s also true that Orbs don’t drop very fast, so I’m sure paying some money for those wouldn’t be too bad of a deal if you’re really investing in the game. I know I’ve spent a little bit of money on Clash Royale so it’s safe to say I might spend a little on this title too. Overall I think it’s a great first entry into what I hope is a nice catalog of mobile Nintendo games. Give me a proper Mario, Zelda, Metroid or Smash Bros port and I’ll be happy.

Why the NES Classic is Perfect For Gamers Like Me

nes-classic-edition-in-handThis past week, there was an announcement made by Nintendo (no, this isn’t about Pokemon GO. You can’t even avoid that news) that they were bringing the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) back to retail. This isn’t the same NES that you had back in the 80’s though, no this NES Classic edition is a miniaturized version of the original. Small enough to hold in the palm of your hand, it’s a third or less the size of the 80’s version, but has been updated to output via a packed-in HDMI cable meaning that it is finally compatible with modern TVs and monitors. It features the classic controller design that we all knew and loved, and comes packed with 30 games out of the box. The best part is the price point: It’s only $60.

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There has been plenty of coverage of this announcement, and it has been met with both hype and disdain. People are excited to be able to hook up an NES to their modern TVs. They’re excited to be able to play the classic titles that are included. Some think it’s a great idea. Others are mad that you can’t use the cartridge slot — meaning you can’t use existing cartridges to play games that aren’t included on the system memory. They’re also upset that there isn’t an ethernet port or wi-fi capabilities to potentially download extra titles from the Nintendo digital store. Other complaints range from “I already have the OG system, why do I want this?” to “This is just another money grab.” Either way, Nintendo has brought their name to the forefront of the gaming community twice in two weeks, but for completely different reasons. Stocks are up. I’m sure the company feels good despite their shit sales on consoles and 1st party IPs as of late.

All of the commentary aside, I think this console was designed with people like me in mind. It’s been nearly 30 years since the NES released in the United States. Most of us that were born in the 70’s and 80’s played the shit out of this console, for many it was their first gaming experience. I know people who have original systems that still work, who still have original cartridges, and those that have taken it upon themselves to collect these games after the fact – retro gamers/collectors. But for people like me, who did own the system and owned most of the games included in this bundle, who have subsequently had their system take a shit or ended up getting rid of it and the cartridges, this is the perfect solution.

A few years back, I picked up the Sega Genesis collection that released on then-current-gen consoles in an effort to recap a large portion of my collection of Sega Genesis games. If this would have released in a similar fashion where I could get these 30 games on a disc for PS4 or via Steam, I would still pay the $60 asking price just to have this excellent collection of titles. Getting the mini-console and the OG controller to boot is just icing on the cake! For posterity, let’s look at the list of included games:

  • Balloon Fight™
  • BUBBLE BOBBLE
  • Castlevania™
  • Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest™
  • Donkey Kong™
  • Donkey Kong Jr. ™
  • DOUBLE DRAGON II: THE REVENGE
  • Dr. Mario™
  • Excitebike™
  • FINAL FANTASY®
  • Galaga™
  • GHOSTS’N GOBLINS®
  • GRADIUS™
  • Ice Climber™
  • Kid Icarus™
  • Kirby’s Adventure™
  • Mario Bros. ™
  • MEGA MAN® 2
  • Metroid™
  • NINJA GAIDEN
  • PAC-MAN™
  • Punch-Out!! ™ Featuring Mr. Dream
  • StarTropics™
  • SUPER C™
  • Super Mario Bros.™
  • Super Mario Bros. ™ 2
  • Super Mario Bros. ™ 3
  • TECMO BOWL
  • The Legend of Zelda™
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link™

I don’t care who you are, that’s a great list of games there. Mostly first party, but some third party back when Nintendo still had some exclusive licensing deals. Many of the greatest IPs got their start on the NES, and many of my favorites from that era are included. This is when Nintendo was still good, and when I still felt they were the best video game company in the world. My opinion of them has changed greatly over the years, but I can’t deny the nostalgia factor presented here. Not only did I own a large portion of these games, but there are some popular titles that I missed out on playing as well as a few that I didn’t give a proper chance to (I’m looking at you, Super Mario Bros 2, Zelda II, and Punch Out). I look forward to getting my hands on this collection for the retro nostalgia feels, but also to have some new experiences with old gems.

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It’s likely I’ll have to pick up a second controller too, just so I have the ability to play some 2-player when I have friends around. For only $10 it’s a really reasonable add on as well. For those of us who miss having these games in their life, it’s a fantastic buy. From the little bit of research I’ve done, it doesn’t seem that pre-orders are available just yet, but it is releasing just a few days before my birthday in November (the 11th) just in time for the holiday season. I know I’m going to pull the trigger on a pre-order as soon as they become available, because I don’t want to miss out on the first wave.

What do you all think? Are you excited for this new (old) offering?