If you’ve been trying to get your hands on the Nintendo NES Classic, you’re probably in the same boat that most people are. They’re almost impossible to find, unless you’re willing to pay the outrageous price scalpers are adding on top selling them on the eBay and other online market places.
Many of us have just been waiting. Eventually the initial market rush will die down and Nintendo’s manufacturing will catch up with the demand. Well as it turns out, that’s never going to happen. Nintendo cancelled the production of the unit! That sucks! Well, The 8-Bit Guy has come up with some Nintendo NES Classic alternatives as well as some clones!
Watch the NES Classic Alternatives Video
The Original Nintendo NES
It might sound crazy, but the original Nintendo NES from 1983 is absolutely an alternative to the NES Classic! Seriously! You can pickup an NES from from eBay or Craigslist for about $100 (as of this writing) and it will still play all of the old games, and even some modern ones that have been placed on cartridges designed for it!
The downside to the original NES is that you’ll have to deal with all of the things you’d expect to deal with when owning and operating any video game console from 34 years ago! It’s likely if used a lot some components will fail. The original NES was plagued with cartridge port connector problems. The contacts would get dirty or plain old just wear out. If you’re familiar with these systems or had one as a kid, you’ll undoubtedly remember blowing out the cobwebs and dust on the cartridge connector trying to get your favorite games to work.
The next problem is that the original NES only had RCA connections for composite video and audio. There are TVs made today that don’t even have those ports on them anymore. Which means you’ll need to make sure your TV has these older ports (and not just HDMI) or you’ll have to buy an adapter to hook it up.
The last problem? It depends on how you look at it. Some people may even consider this a plus. You’ll have to collect and maintain cartridges, rather that just selecting the game you want to play from a menu.
NES Clones and Nintendo NES Classic Alternatives
So let’s look at some of the NES Classic alternatives (and even some clones) out there on the market that you can get today! You might be asking how Nintendo lets companies get away with this and the answer is simple. Patents last a maximum of 20 years, which for the NES expired over 15 years ago. Anyone can use off the shelf components to build a clone of the NES! As for software, the original Nintendo NES didn’t have any software on the console itself; rather everything was stored on the cartridge. This helped Nintendo stop unauthorized games, since it was illegal for game makers to distribute any of Nintendo’s code with their game, necessary to make the NES and game functional.
The 8-Bit Entertainment System
A company called Gamerz Tek has released a product called The 8-Bit Entertainment System.
This system us quite small compared to the original NES. The console is roughly 1/5th the size! Part of this space savings is due to the placement of the cartridge slot into the top of the console. There’s no void in the case. This can be irritating however, if you place your game console into a cabinet or entertainment center. The cartridge sticks straight up from the top and will take up a lot of extra space.
The 8-Bit Entertainment System comes with two controllers that have the same exact layout as the original NES controllers, but are rounded over on the corners for some reason. Other than the odd shape (for a clone) they work fine, are completely functional, and maintain the original NES color scheme.
The back of the unit features only three ports. Composite video, mono audio, and power input.
Get The 8-Bit Entertainment System here.
The Super Retro Trio
The next NES clone on the list is more than just a clone of the NES! It’s a super clone! It’s called The Super Retro Trio by Retro-Bit.
This unit is slightly more expensive than the previous system, coming in at about three times the price. That’s mostly expected though because the system has literally three consoles hiding inside it! The Super Retro Trio can play cartridges from these systems:
- original Nintendo NES
- Super Nintendo SNES
- Nintendo Famicom/Sega Genesis
The Super Retro Trio has a selector switch on the front that allows you to select which system to activate. You can literally plug in three separate cartridges (one from each system) and just use the switch to change between them. In addition the included controllers, the system includes ports compatible with all three systems original controllers allowing you to use the included, aftermarket, or even the original controllers if you happen to still have a pair! The included controllers connect to the Super Nintendo ports.
The back of the unit features s-video, composite video, stereo audio, and power input.
You can buy the Super Retro Trio here.
Final Thought on NES Clones
The are literally dozens more NES clones out there on the market that you can find. Just search for NES clone on google and you’ll be surprised how many you find. If you find one you like, or have a suggestion, be sure to leave it in the comments below!
Here are a few more you might check out: