Nintendo’s NES Classic Is A Great Console With One Huge Flaw

Nintendo’s NES Classic Is A Great Console With One Huge Flaw

The first thing you should know about the NES Classic, aka the Mini-NES, is that it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. The second thing you should know is that it’s kind of a pain in the arse.

Let’s start with the bad part: Nintendo’s newest system, a $US60 ($79) box that can play 30 different NES games, comes with a replica NES controller that perfectly recreates the one we all had in the ’80s.

Because this NES controller has no “home” or “menu” button, Nintendo has decided that the console’s “reset” button will serve the same function. Pressing reset on the box is the only way to switch games, access save states, and change settings.

In other words, you’ll want to keep the box next to you, which is probably why Nintendo decided to couple the NES Classic controller with an inexcusably short cable. It’s three feet long, if you’re being generous, which means that most people will either have to A) get a new controller, B) get an extension cord, or C) dangle an HDMI cable across their living rooms, risking danger to their significant others, pets, and Roombas.

It’s a frustrating flaw in what is otherwise a great system, and it’s one that could’ve been solved pretty easily if Nintendo had just added a tiny home button to the controller.

Image Image: Gizmodo

But, yes. The NES Classic is a sleek device. It’s tiny, light, and adorable. It’s got 30 different games — some of which are good, some of which are not-so-good — and it does a fantastic job emulating them all.

You can play each game in one of three graphical settings: Pixel Perfect (which looks excellent on modern TVs), 4:3 (which stretches out the pixels to make them look like the NES’s aspect ratio), and CRT (ugly, but nostalgic). You can also set up four save states for each game, which is useful, because most NES games are punishing and unforgiving. As a general rule, games look far better on the NES Classic than they do on the Wii U’s Virtual Console.

Image Image: Gizmodo

If you don’t have fond memories of beating up Garland or destroying Crash Man, there might not be much for you here. There are some games that hold up particularly well today, like the Super Marios and Kirby’s Adventure, but the NES Classic is mostly designed for those of us who feel nostalgic. If you grew up playing NES games, chances are very high that you’ll love it. If you’ve never picked up a Nintendo controller, you might find these games antiquated.

The ’80s were a different place. (Inevitably next fall Nintendo will release an SNES Classic, and that will be another story — Super Nintendo games have all aged far better than their 8-bit predecessors.)

Assuming you can actually get your hands on one of these things, you’re in for one hell of a nostalgic trip. Just be prepared to solve the controller problem.


  • I have my Mini NES hooked up to my PC monitor sitting on my desk and it’s perfect there. Easy to get in a couple of platforming levels in between tasks and the cord length isn’t an issue.

    • Yeah but you’re using it on a desktop! For everyone who wants to use it on their tele it’s a huge issue.

  • A) get a new controller, B) get an extension cord, or C) dangle an HDMI cable across their living rooms, risking danger to their significant others, pets, and Roombas.
    In the case of A, you would be talking about getting a wireless controller, I assume. Because if not both A and B have the same danger factor as C, do they not? Stringing controller cables across the room is just as bad as stringing a HDMI cable, and something we’ve only stopped doing with our consoles relatively recently.

    • It wasn’t that recent. At all. The PS3 had wireless controllers and it came out in 2006.

      10 years ago.

      There are seasoned gamers now who have NO memory of what you’re describing.

        • And there were wireless controllers based on IR way before that (late 80’s), but they were absolutely and utterly terrible, so nobody talks about those. XD

    • I havent stopped and when i get the choice, i always pick corded – i dont think im unique in this

  • Getting up to press the reset button to change games is much quicker than the original where you had to:
    – get up
    – find the box for the game you wanted to play
    – find the box for the game you’re currently playing
    – power off the console
    – open the cover
    – pop out the game
    – place the game back in its box
    – take the new game out of its box
    – blow into the cart
    – place the new game in the NES and press it in (twice or more if it springs back)
    – close the cover
    – power on the console
    – go back to your seat
    – play.

    • Note the screen blinking
      Get back off the couch
      Turn system off
      Pull cartridge out
      Re blow on the connectors
      Put cartridge back in
      Push down twice because it didn’t lock the first time
      Re power the console
      Wait this time for the new game splash screen to come up
      Then go back to the couch to play

      • Oh god, stop, my muscles are getting tired from just reading it…

        Regardless, are we all sure that there’s no function akin to holding down A + B + Start + Select to reset the machine?

    • We seemed to have the same point at the same time… I am so confused at this excuse as to why they have a short cable – I just don’t think it was designed for lounge room use which a console usually is. It’s like they have brought it out for more people to just have it on their display shelf rather than playing it?!

  • I feel like you’re making an excuse for an inexcusable oversight!!!

    Or am I missing something here?

    What on earth is wrong with just getting off your arse and pressing reset?! I would buy one if it had at least a couple of metres length, but ideally 3m. I don’t mind getting up off the couch to press a button…. Are we really marketing to the laziest of lazy these days?! lol

    • Seeing how literally every other current console has this ability, I think it is a valid issue. And what about mobility impaired gamers? They’d want to know this before purchasing. Playing it whilst bedridden? Impossible.

      Not everyone can spring out of the couch and hit a button, as funny as it sounds. I had glandular fever recently and could barely stand, yet I totally leveled up 2 Diablo 3 characters on my PS4. Cos I could do it without moving. I just had to get to the couch. Which was pretty tough.

      • hahah yeah I do agree there should be some sort of middle ground but at least if the cord would actually reach the couch, you can always use a trusty broom like back in the days of yore when one was couchridden and didnt have a remote 😉
        Just gotta be creative and im sure that reset button would give off a nice little click when you engage it with the broom handle LMAO

  • I want to try and put into words my queries about latency and old PAL/NTSC signals.

    10 year old Leigh was actually a little bit intimidated by Bowser and that stupid bridge.

    33 year old Leigh played the same game, and couldn’t tell the difference between signals and button-press delays, or simply thought his skills were starting to slip. To make way for more recent stuff such as driving a vehicle or crafting a sternly-worded comment on a video game site.

    10 year old Leigh didn’t know what it all meant back then. Fuck Bowser.

    30 year old Leigh is trying to figure out if he wants the exact hardware as it was back then (ie the original NES), but through modern technology. Or instead, CRT.

    10 year old Leigh developed muscle memory for that game and many others.

    21 year old Leigh is today contemplating whether or not his questions about the NES Mini can be answered by someone taking a deep dive into the hardware and comparing with other means available.

    He also doesn’t like to mention his age and has been known to fib about it.

    • are you talking about television lag signal that almost all televisions experience?
      where it isn’t the console, it is the television displaying the image?
      which happens to all consoles, it’s just that a quick reaction platformer really exacerbates the television lag issue when you press jump and it happens on screen 2 frames too late?
      or are you talking about how all our old games were slower so now you are experiencing them at the true speed (50hz/Pal vs 60hz/NTSC) that your own timing is off. everything is just too darn quick

  • just 1 flaw really, just 1?

    tiny controller cable
    cant put cartridges in
    no sd card or usb slot for adding more games
    cant add more games.

    • A flaw as in design issue. The NES classic mini was never designed to be a full NES console ore replacment, so thats not a flaw.

      Not saying I dont want those.. i do! But its not what the console is about.

  • “C) dangle an HDMI cable across their living rooms, risking danger to their significant others, pets, and Roombas.”

    Is this a sneak preview of this week’s Roomba Report?

  • Does the home button work when you use a Nintendo Wii classic controller? That might be an option for some if you already have one of them lying around.

  • Nintendo’s NES Classic Is A Great Console With One Huge Flaw

    I thought the flaw would be, “It’s missing +700 nes games”.

  • I shake my head sadly when I think how much more it may have cost to just include some kind of card port so that 6 months down the line Nintendo could have said, “Add ANOTHER 30 games to your library.” Sell cards the size of DS cartridges, slot them in and the console is suddenly 200% more valuable…

    Are we talking an extra $5 to manufacture costs here? I honestly don’t know. Seems like a terrible missed opportunity to me.

  • This is a half decent offering from Nintendo but it’s just a casual gift or xmas gift, nothing that offers a proper solution. If they really wanted to give it the foundations for a retro console they would have provided a cart slot, storage, card slot, downloadable options, longer cable for controller (or wireless).

    Basically this is just a nifty little black box and is frankly something I’d expect from a 3rd party, not Nintendo. I wouldn’t even drop $10 on this, would rather seek out a low cost emulator solution or just buy the real deal.

    • It doesn’t take any advancements bar HDMI into consideration, does it?
      It end l seems like it’s just tickled the nostalgia bone for some without any real thought for what the console could have been.

  • Short cables huh? Well, all my consoles are on my desk, so it barely matters.
    Though I also have a CRT TV within 1 metre of me.
    In front of it is a Super Famicom, and the controller cables on those are tiny, like one metre at most.

    It presents no problem to me, but again I’m at a desk and sitting less than half a metre from the console itself.

    You wonder how Japanese gamers dealt with this.
    Sure Japanese homes were likely smaller, but small enough for a cable less than 1 metre long to be practical in a living room setting?

    I can only assume everyone was expected to sit on the floor fairly close to the TV…

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