The 10 Best Retro Gaming Consoles Your Money Can Buy

The ‘80s are never, ever going to end, are they?

October 2, 2017 9:00 am

Look, I can’t persuade you that you should give new games a chance.

Or that Xbox One, Switch, the nascent VR movement and, heck, even your phone will give you a better gaming experience than whatever fuzzy memories you have of Atari, Nintendo, et al. “Games were simpler, music was better, get off my lawn,” etc.

So if you must relive your childhood, here are the best “new” takes on classic gaming consoles. (But seriously, try playing some new games, gramps. The industry has never been more creative, dynamic and diverse.)

The C64 Mini
A seven-button joystick, shrunken keyboard (50% scale replica) and 64 built-in games, from California Games to Nobby the Aardvark.
Best feature: You can plug another keyboard into the USB ports and use as a home computer (or use the ports for a second joystick). A really slow home computer, but still …
Status: “Coming soon”

Colorful, palm-sized way to enjoy old NES and FC games. Supposedly comes with 300 built-in games, but reviews have pegged it more at 129.
Best feature: You can output your games to a larger screen.
Status: $40, available now

Seven (!) new systems to replicate your Atari and Sega consoles, all loaded with classic games — including several from third-party suppliers (hello, Pitfall and Mortal Kombat). Note: These consoles are not shrunken versions.
Best features: For the Atari, it’s wireless controllers … but also HDMI ports so you can add wired controllers (those included joysticks are based off Atari’s terrible, flimsy original controllers). For the Sega, there’s an integrated cartridge port that’ll play most of your old Sega Genesis and Mega Drive original cartridges.
Status: Available at Family Dollar, Walgreens, Best Buy and Toys “R” Us stores, with HD versions of the consoles arriving Oct. 24.

An old-school wooden console (or a sleeker black/red take) with HDMI, four USB and an Ethernet port. You’ll be paying for looks — could be as much as $300.
Best features: Very few details are available, but the company behind Ataribox (it’s licensed) has promised “new” content, as well as Internet access and streaming abilities.
Status: Available Spring 2018 and that’s pretty much all anyone knows.

NES Classic Edition
Nintendo’s official take on their original 1985 console, with 30 pre-loaded games and a grey NES Classic controller.
Best feature: You can plug those classic controllers into a Wii Remote controller to use with the NES Virtual Console games on the Wii U system … which is a pretty specific feature, to be honest.
Status: The gift that was impossible to find last season is available now, sort of — it should be $60, but good luck finding it for less than $200. Apparently, more consoles will be available next summer.

SNES Classic Edition
Just released, there are 20 classic games (Super Mario Kart, Street Fighter II, etc.) built into this hand-sized take on SNES, which also comes with two wired controllers.
Best feature: It contains the never-before-released Star Fox 2 game.
Status: Yeah, good luck finding one, at least before the holidays or for the regular price. Maybe it’ll come back on Amazon’s new Treasure Trucks.

Zette System
From elevated retro gaming designer Love Hulten, the Zette (inspired by vintage boomboxes) is handcrafted from wood and emulates NES, Atari and Game Boy titles.
Best feature: Besides the design? A built-in DLP LED projector and loudspeaker.
Status: Only 25 are being made and they each cost over $2,000, but hey, it’s art.

X-Arcade Machine
If you preferred the standup games, this arcade shell is equipped with 250 classic titles at launch (from Pac-Man to Street Fighter), with more available through open-source software. (Polycade is a like-minded, decidedly more modern take on the arcade units.)
Best feature: It’s bulletproof, for whatever reason.
Status: Got $3,000? It’s yours.

RetroEngine Sigma
A palm-sized, plug-and-play console where with access to emulations of pretty much any classic game (along with 15 pre-installed titles), from Sega and Atari to more obscure players from NeoGeos and Sinclair.
Best feature: You can control games via your smartphone, as well as any USB controller.
Status: They just shipped the consoles to the original Indiegogo backers, but you can buy a retail version as well. (Reviews are mixed.)

And, speaking of obscure, there are already takes on Intellivision and ColecoVision, as well as plenty of new machines that’ll play your old cartridges.

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