Why it matters: NES enthusiasts have a couple of viable options to get their fix in 2022 including a brand new console built using the same CPU and PPU from the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Best yet, it's available to pre-order and should be shipping in a few months.
Nintendo’s own NES Classic Edition is a foolproof plug-and-play system that includes a collection of fan-favorite games and authentic-feeling gamepads.
Emulation is easy enough with a modern PC, but legality concerns could keep some at bay while others will no doubt miss not being able to utilize physical game carts.
If playing from a cartridge is a must, original hardware is still readily available from third-party marketplaces. Prices are on the rise, however, so don’t be surprised when you can’t find pawn shop pricing on vintage hardware.
Third-party options also exist, like the Analogue Nt, but you’re going to pay an arm and a leg for one on eBay or the like.
TinyNES, short for Tiny Nostalgia Evocation Square, is yet another alternative. Think of it as an original NES that’s been put on a diet. It doesn’t afford nifty features like upscaling or HDMI output, not does it connect to the Internet, come with pre-loaded games or feature internal memory to save game states. All it does it play original NES games, just like… well, the original NES.
It is built using mostly modern components, save for two key parts: the MOS 6502-based Ricoh RP2A03 CPU (central processing unit) and the Ricoh RP2C02 PPU (picture processing unit), which were both featured in Nintendo’s original console.
Tall Dog Electronics, makes of the TinyNES, are also offering a slightly cheaper version of the console that uses clone chips in place of the genuine Ricoh chips. These clones, the UMC UA6527 CPU and the UMC UA6528 PPU, feature minor documented differences that most people likely won’t even notice.
Elsewhere, you’ll find a top-loading cartridge slot, a power switch, a reset button, two controller slots, a power jack, a mono analog audio out RCA jack and an NTSC-compatible analog video out RCA jack. The enclosure is made of glass-reinforced epoxy laminate and is held together with standard hex screws. It’s roughly the same size as an NES cart and weighs just 0.78 pounds.
Tall Dog Electronics recently reached its funding goal on Crowd Supply and systems are still available. A TinyNES with genuine chips, one power adapter, one power cable, a set of RCA cables and one randomly selected cartridge game will set you back $199. Those who are alright with clone chips can save $20 on their purchase, bringing the total cost down to $179.
Notably, the TinyNES doesn’t ship with any controllers, so you’ll need to source your own or use ones already on hand. It is compatible with original wired NES controllers as well as a host of third-party options like the 8BitDo N30 wireless controller, which goes for $25.
Orders placed now are expected to ship by May 27, 2022.
Image credit: Viktorya Sergeeva