Don’t get us wrong—we really like the NES Classic. Playing our favorite old games on a controller that actually feels like nostalgia in your hands brings a unique brand of unbridled joy to people, and probably explains why the NES Classic was sold out everywhere this past holiday. But the Classic isn’t without its shortcomings. That’s where Analogue’s Mini NT comes in.
At a glance, the Mini NT retro console serves an almost identical purpose to the NES Classic—play my old favorite games exactly the way I used to play them. The NES Classic did that the way a $65 machine would. It limited you to 30 pre-chosen games (did we really need Balloon Fight in there?), its controller wire was so comically short you needed an immediate upgrade, and it was so small and light and plastic that it felt like a toy you might have fished out of a claw machine at the arcade.
The Mini NT goes to extreme lengths to solve all that and more. Primarily, it tackles the 30-game limitation of the NES Classic by offering two physical cartridge slots. Yup, the Mini NT isn’t using flash memory, it’s using the actual cartridges you have collecting dust in your parents’ basement (or search eBay for "NES in 1" if mom tossed your childhood treasures). There’s a slot for NES and another for Famicom games, even including a Famicom expansion slot for the most hardcore retro gamers out there. That’s about a 1000 games for each system that are available on the Mini NT.
It even keeps the same controller ports (four of them!) so the original controllers and accessories, like the iconic zapper we all used to kill ducks, are all still in play. It seems, in terms of connections, the only one to see an update is the A/V port where the Mini NT now gives you modern options like HDMI and VGA instead of the old coaxial hook-in that required your TV to be tuned to channel three.
Of course, once you’ve blown out the dust from your old cartridges (or used rubbing alcohol if you actually want them to work), firing up the Mini NT will present you with display options for your 8-bit Games. All that's left is to grab one of the wireless NES controls included in the box and you'll be saving the princess in short order.
The bluetooth, battery-powered controller works for up to 20 hours of gameplay on a charge, hooks into the Mini NT via an included adapter, and can also connect to your phone or tablet to give you a physical controller for your mobile games. Programmed hotkey shortcuts baked into that controller give you quick, modern ways to get to the system menu, power on, power off and reset without ever touching the console itself. Most importantly, it feels perfect in your hand.
All of this functionality is machined into a metal frame that’s actually reminiscent of the N64 console in terms of design. Black and white flavors are now available—with a rare 24k Gold limited edition on its way for $4,999—and the build quality of the Mini NT is much more military-grade than it is toy-in-a-cereal-box.
This is the kind of console we would’ve expected to see at Andy Warhol’s Factory in terms of its looks and its capabilities. Unfortunately, we’d also expect to see it there because of its exorbitant price tag. At $450 it’s actually $50 more than a top of the line 2TB Xbox One S, making Analogue’s Mini NT an item for serious collectors who don’t just want to have the best way to play the games in their collection; they want a modern piece of gaming’s history to add to it.