Plug and play retro consoles have come a long way. We still have the simple consoles with the composite video cables you can buy pretty much anywhere, but the NES Classic introduced a whole new class or boutique, collector-quality retro consoles that output through an HDMI cable. The fact the original mini, the NES Classic, was so hard to find for so long, and eventually inspired a second, much more plentiful run, shows there is enormous demand for these.
The adorable mini Super NES and NES aren’t hard to come by anymore, and the PlayStation Classic can still be picked up at some retailers. The very cool C64 Mini is the first competent retro all-in-one computer console, and it just came out and can be scooped up, too, so you can finally see . Here’s a quick guide to getting your hands on your favorite retro all-in-one console.
This is the newest mini retro console to hit the shelves, and it’s a deep cut. The C64 was a revolutionary home computing device, bringing low-cost, multi-function PCs to homes the world over. Most people look back on it and remember it not for being an introduction to BASIC programming, or organizing your recipes, but for its many games. The C64 Mini comes with 64 game built in, and while the old monitor was nice for its time, these games look a lot cooler through an HDMI connection. What’s perhaps its coolest feature is its ability to use modern, USB keyboards. You can take the keyboard from your PC right now, plug it in, and play games or program BASIC the way it was meant to be done. Or you can use the controller included in the box, it’s entirely up to you.
Super NES Classic
Perhaps the most coveted of the retro mini consoles, at least for a while there, the Super NES Classic took everything the NES Classic did: HDMI out, USB power, tiny replica console, and brought it to the 16-bit era. Unlike its predecessor, it comes with two controllers, and it even has the previously unreleased Star Fox 2 built-in. It’s tiny, it’s adorable, it’s loaded with some of gaming’s finest works, and it’s finally easy to get. Walmart has tons of them. You could build a fort!
This is the mini retro console that started it all. Obviously it’s not the first all in one, plug and play retro console. But it’s the first official, NES-supporting, HDMI-cable, Nintendo-official console of its kind, and it rules. There’s no denying it. Even Nintendo agreed, re-releasing the NES Classic after the enormous demand of its initial run. You don’t need to smash F5 and hope it comes into stock anymore, it looks like things have finally mellowed out. Your local Walmart probably has a couple in-store right now. Imagine that?
NEOGEO Mini International
The NEO GEO was the arcade console you could bring into your home by way of the home console. Unlike other consoles of its era, however, there was no effective difference between the NEO GEO you had in your ultra-swanky 1990s living room and the one down at the local arcade. It was a pricey console, listing for $799 even back then, but it was the ultimate home arcade experience for a long time. The NEO GEO Mini version comes out next week and has 40 classic built in, but it remains true to its source by being the most expensive console among its peers. It has HDMI out, but it comes in a mini little arcade cabinet, if you want to stay true to its roots, but in mini form.
We don’t even know what’s on the PlayStation Classic yet and the thing still sold out fast. Walmart and Amazon are completely out of the mini PS1, but GameStop and Best Buy are holding on with plenty of stock. Only 5 games have been announced so far, and there’s no telling when the other 15 will be revealed now that PSX has been cancelled for this year. But if you really want to play Jumping Flash, or Final Fantasy 7, and do it in style, reserve a PlayStation Classic now for a December 5 release date.
Sega Genesis Classic Console
Lots of people have fond memories of Sega’s 16-bit console, and the Sega Genesis Classic is a mini version of the machine that beat Nintendo to the 16-bit era. While this console has 81 games built in, it doesn’t output in HDMI, so if you plug it into a modern HD television, it… doesn’t look great. If lack of HDMI is a deal breaker, skip this mini console, but if you really want to play classic Sega games on a classic-looking mini Genesis, who are we to judge. Walmart has it on sale right now, too, so knock yourself out.
Seth Macy is IGN’s tech and commerce editor and lover of retro consoles and gaming. You can find him on Twitter @sethmacy.