The videogame sector is an industry that constantly looks to the future, to what is to come; However, there is a segment of the market that demands what was part of the players' daily lives 20 or 30 years ago. Nintendo was the first company to respond to that stimulus back in 2016 with Nintendo Classic Mini: NES, also known as NES Mini. The figures have proved them right (10 million units sold worldwide) and, now, there are few veteran companies that have not joined this fever by miniature consoles.
The first thing to keep in mind is what they are, what they are looking for and what they offer exactly. These are small-sized versions of classic systems, the first to reach western homes in a more massive way: NES, SNES, PlayStation, Mega Drive, Neo Geo … Names that sound in the minds of those who are now parents but who , in their day, they held those little plastic knobs as their suckers do now.
Nostalgia is an element that sells, that companies know well; Therefore, all these small consoles are miniature recreations that respect, with great accuracy, the physical construction of the chassis of the originals to which they refer. Details such as buttons (Power, Reset…), the color, the relief or the silkscreens make them look like collection models designed to be displayed in a showcase. Inside there is a very modest hardware with which to run a limited and non-expandable selection of videogames from their respective catalogs, while the price, seen as seen, is between 60 and 100 euros. Let's know the main options available in Spain.
Nintendo Classic Mini: NES and SNES
In the middle of summer 2016, when Nintendo had not even revealed its current hybrid console, Nintendo Switch, announced that for that Christmas campaign it was in its plans the return of its 8-bit miniature console, NES Mini, with a built-in controller and a catalog of thirty classic video games like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda or Metroid, The originals. A recreation for about 60 euros that also introduced rewind functions, suspension points for immediate games or other details such as visual filters that recreate the appearance of tube TVs. Recall the old days at home through an HDMI port to play in high definition, at 60 Hz, and only a USB port for power; It can be connected directly to the TV. Easy, light, fast. As before. A demand exceeding the supply forced the "sold out" sign to be sold in stores around the world, including Spain.
SNES Mini was inevitable. The successor, Nintendo's home console in the 16-bit era, did the same in September 2017 with a catalog of twenty-one games (one of them unpublished, Star Fox 2, which never went on the market, plus others who did not see the light in Europe at the time) as Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario Kart Y Super metroid, two controls incorporated instead of one, and a price around 80 euros.
According to Manuel Curdi, brand manager in Nintendo Ibérica, in statements to EL PAÍS, “the first thing you can think of is that they are products created as fan service for the nostalgic people who played with those platforms decades ago. But between the two they have sold in Spain almost 350,000 copies; so, in reality, the target audience is much broader. ” Not only the public from before, also that of now: to make some discover the unknown while, at the same time, others recall what they grew up with.
"The truth is that the games that come with them continue to work very well because they are fun regardless of the age or user experience with video games," he adds Curdi, with faces recognizable by public yesterday and today. "In addition, its protagonists are very lively characters today such as Mario, Link, Donkey Kong or Kirby," he concludes.
As it became known after the meeting with the Nintendo shareholder group held on October 31, 2018 (Q2 / FY2019), up to that date, more than 10 million units of combined NES Mini and SNES Mini had been sold worldwide , figures that the company based in Kyoto qualifies as a success; In fact, the first one was discontinued but returned to the production factories due to its high international demand.
PlayStation Classic, the return of “la play”
We take a leap back in time, but this time away from Nintendo. Sony, another of the giants of the sector, could not put aside an evidence: its audience wanted a mini version of the first PlayStation, one of the greatest historical successes of the video game sector in Spain. In December 2018, PlayStation Classic, a miniature version of the original (45% smaller) with a total of two controls – the version are joysticks – and a catalog of twenty classic titles like Final Fantasy VII, Tekken 3, Gran Turismo Y Metal gear solid.
These are small-sized versions of classic systems, the first to reach western homes in a more massive way
As in the offer of its competitor, connectivity is via HDMI plus a micro USB power cable. For the rest, a very reliable recreation of the original model in buttons and physical construction plus different emulation options on the screen. Its price, in this case, was initially around 100 euros, although over time it officially fell from price to 59.99 euros, thus equating direct competition.
Mega Drive Mini, the most successful SEGA console
In countries like Spain, you had SNES or you had Mega Drive. The 16-bit console of the also Japanese SEGA was the company's greatest success in terms of consoles, with titles that are part of the history books of the medium as Sonic the Hedgehog, Gunstar Heroes, Altered Beast or Alex Kidd. All of them are present in Mega Drive Mini, whose presentation leaves no doubt: a miniature version (55% smaller) that respects all aspects of the original. In this case, the newcomer to the stores offers forty-two mythical videogames from his original library pre-installed without the possibility of expansion with two controls, HDMI cable (to play in HD at 60 Hz) and USB power. It is the largest number of games included of all the options available so far.
According to specialized media analysis, the amount of detail is, in this case, especially high, with even a sound theme by the renowned composer Yuzo Koshiro to set the main selection menu; or others like being able to toggle the covers of the menu depending on the region. Its price, in this case, is 79.95 euros.
Carolina Moreno, spokesman for the Mega Drive Mini distributor, Koch Media, assures this newspaper that the console "obviously appeals to the nostalgic," those who had a Mega Drive at the time; "They will be able to remember the moments they spent playing with the console and also appeals to players who want to be interested and know what video games were like 25 years ago," he adds. The vision is repeated: reach as many players as possible.
None of them are exempt from criticism. The resignation to bring certain games in Spanish when some did originally, a debatable selection of some of the titles included or the total amount of them – for certain players less than what they should – are the fringes of imperfect but undoubtedly respectful products, aesthetic care and also in the gaming experience at the controls. Whether they deserve or not the penalty for the price they have are subjective aspects that depend on the use that will be given, but their commercial success shows that, at least for now, miniature consoles are here to stay.
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