Barely a year goes by without some major developments being seen in the world of gaming. Take last year for example, with Pokemon GO’s revolutionary use of augmented reality helping it rack up a mind-blowing 75 million downloads within days of its launch. You can even look at more recent developments too, with Nintendo taking consoles in a new hybrid direction with the Switch.
All in all, the present and future of gaming is looking pretty rosy indeed. However, despite all of the innovation we see, don’t you occasionally get nostalgic for the days when playing games was a little bit more old-school? It is hard to say where such nostalgia comes from, but it probably relates to the happy memories that we link to our experiences of discovering video games for the first time. Who can forget the excitement of discovering Goldeneye on the Nintendo 64 back in 1995? Or even that moment at a friend’s house when they introduced you to the wacky world of Super Monkey Ball on the GameCube in 2001?
For many of us, our urges to experience a little bit of old-school action tend to be satisfied in a couple of simple ways. Emulators such as MAME may not be perfect (depending on the platform they’re emulating) but offer a reasonable level of enjoyment, while it is always exciting when classics are re-released either on iOS and Android or through sites such as Valve Corporation’s video game platform, Steam. A series of games paying tribute to more classic titles can also be found on some online casinos too, with Betway Casino offering slot games based on the earliest Tomb Raider titles alongside more old-school slot designs such as Retro Reels, for a hint of the nostalgic. It’s not unusual for video game creators to pay tribute to retro themes and styles, with titles such as Hi-Viz for iOS and cult hit Spelunky, originally released for PC in 2008 but subsequently available on Xbox and Playstation, for instance.
However, for some people this type of experience is simply not enough – they need to play classic games in a classic setting on a classic system. This is why retro gaming has become a huge proposition in its own right. According to research from Mintel, 17 percent of adults in the US now own an old Nintendo console such as the Nintendo 64, with a similar number also having previous models of the PlayStation or Xbox. While you would immediately think that such numbers simply relate to older generations not wanting to let go of their gaming glory days, other figures suggest this isn’t the case. A third of people within the 18-24 demographic, who would have been too young to have played on some of the systems when they were first launched, also own older consoles. With gamers both young and old seeking the chance to enjoy a more retro gaming, it is unsurprising to see gaming companies releasing new products to meet their demands.
NT Mini vs NES Classic Mini
One of the latest to hit the market is the Analogue NT Mini – a console system created for those with an obsession for the 8-bit retro gaming era of Nintendo. Released at the end of January 2017 to almost universal acclaim, the system has been described by industry experts as a true arch-rival to Nintendo’s own recent retro gaming release, the NES Classic Mini. In fact, there is even the suggestion that it surpasses it in a number of ways.
Looking at the NES Classic Mini first, it retails at just $60 and for that cash you get a smaller version of the classic console which Nintendo debuted back in 1986. Designed to be plugged into your TV, it comes with 30 pre-loaded games including much-loved titles such as Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong, The Legend of Zelda, Bubble Bobble and Pacman. The system also features display modes such as CRT filter which generates old TV scan lines for an authentic experience, a 4:3 screen ratio and a HDMI cable for a 60Hz display.
While that sounds like a reasonable package, many have argued that the Analogue NT Mini has in fact taken matters to a whole new level. Although it is significantly more expensive at $449, there is an argument that you certainly get more bang for your buck for that extra cost. Designed to be 20 per cent smaller than the original NT, the NT Mini is compatible with the NES and Famicom Disk system and all of the relevant accessories. This means that, rather than simply playing 30 games, owners of the device have the option to play up to 2,000 different titles if they’re able to get their hands on them.
The system also offers dual output of 1080p via HDMI alongside analogue video signals, while there are also a range of options to tweak the screen display in order to get the retro gaming experience that you are looking for. It is also built on FPGA hardware which has been engineered to provide the best possible NES experience. Furthermore, even on a basic playability level, it challenges the NES Classic Mini, as the controllers provided with it are wireless rather than corded. It is a minor difference, but definitely something which many gamers are likely to benefit from.
In Rude Health
When the specifications of both machines are taken into account, it is probably fair to argue that the NES Classic Mini may be best suited to the more occasional gamer while the NT Mini is for absolute purists and retro gaming enthusiasts. However, it is important to note that with stock of the NES Classic Mini often being hard to find, many people may simply opt to invest in an NT Mini due to its availability.
Ultimately, regardless of which console wins this specific battle, the interest and enthusiasm generated by the systems shows that retro gaming is in rude health. If you ever find yourself bored with your VR headset or sick of your Switch, you could do a lot worse than taking your gaming back a few years to rediscover much simpler pleasures.