Nintendo’s NES Classic Mini quickly sold out once it hit shelves. A replica of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) but with a smaller footprint, it’s essentially a quad-core Linux PC. Boasting about 30 built-in games and a replica controller, the NES Mini is no doubt a neat concept. However, despite its ingenuity, there are likely better devices that meet the same purpose. Check out the top NES Classic Mini alternatives!
The Raspberry Pi is a versatile piece of hardware. From coffee makers to smart home hubs, the Pi can be adapted to almost any project. One of the easiest and most gratifying it use as a retro gaming console. It’s as easy as installing an appropriate distro like RetroPie (read how to get started here) and loading ROMs.
A Raspberry Pi mainboard runs about $35 USD, but I highly recommend stepping up to a kit. Raspberry Pi kits are about $60. This is a simple way to play not only NES ROMs, but games from almost any retro system. Yet while the Pi has a small footprint and low starting price, you’ll need to procure your own ROMs and there’s no support. You’re on your own for troubleshooting.
Ultimately, the availability of forums for support and the cheap cost make this a viable NES Classic Mini alternative.
Nvidia makes some sweet hardware, and the SHIELD TV is no exception. The beefy SHIELD TV sports 4k HDR support. An Android set top box, it’s brings access to the Google Play store to your TV. Android emulators (available via the Play store) handle ROM emulation.
An Nvidia SHIELD TV is an excellent overall console, but it does not run cheap. The Tegra-powered beast of a console though does feature PC game streaming, so you can use it to play select computer games on your television. If you’re only seeking an NES Classic Mini replacement, this might not be the solution for you. But for those looking for an impressively speced game console/streaming player that can even double as a Plex server as well as client, look no further.
The Mad Catz M.O.J.O. spectacularly stumbled upon initial release. While at first the M.O.J.O. as a bit of a dud, a later patch transformed the Mad Catz M.O.J.O. into an excellent device. It’s much more affordable when compared to the SHIELD TV, though not as powerful. With a controller, access to the Google Play store, and therefore emulators, the M.O.J.O. provides a thriving landscape for gaming, both retro and new.
Like the SHIELD TV, the M.O.J.O. serves as a streaming client so you can use it to stream from Netflix, Hulu, Plex, and more via the Android apps. Bonus points for being easily rootable.
Dust off that shoebox of cartridges. If you were forward-thinking enough to save physical copies of your old games, you’re in luck. Consoles like Hyperkin’s RetroN 5 can play games from not only the NES, but the SNES, Sega Genesis, and GameBoy/Color/Advance. And with a device like the Retro Freak, you can even rip your own ROMs from physical game copies. Unfortunately though, the Retro Freak doesn’t support NES games.
Missed out on the NES Classic Mini? There are loads of other choices, and some of these may even best the NES Mini. Ultimately, the decision comes down to what you value: a wide game library vs. an out-of-the-box solution. By opting for a ROM/emulator set up, you therefore have access to a bevy of games from not just the NES but a smörgåsbord of other consoles. Yet this requires the slog of obtaining the ROMs, sideloading them, and often tweaking.
The NES Mini offers a plug-and-play set up. Yet the game selection is limited and not expandable. Mostly, the NES Mini delivers on the nostalgia factor. [Read More: NES Mini Alternatives via MakeUseOf]
What are you using so satiate your retro gaming fix?