Palm-sized NES clone plays classic cartridges using the same chips that powered the original...

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,141   +154
Staff member
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

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 6,308   +7,247
The crazy thing about playing on a classic console compared to a emulator is that the emulator is too smooth.

Sometimes with classic games you could anticipate slowdown and that actually could help you navigate a difficult situation.
 
This is really cool l. But you can get an fpga nes ala the analogue nt in the retro usb avs with HDMI and some upscaling goodness for the same $200
 

gamerk2

Posts: 697   +669
The crazy thing about playing on a classic console compared to a emulator is that the emulator is too smooth.

Sometimes with classic games you could anticipate slowdown and that actually could help you navigate a difficult situation.

Most emulators will accurately emulate the various system clocks so you get slowdown in the same places. Some advanced ones allow you to OC these clocks to reduce in-game slowdown (at the risk of comically breaking stuff). Emulators that don't accurately do the clocks tend to have a lot of various problems.

EDIT

It's worth noting that even the NES and SNES classics aren't console accurate; the clocks are slightly off. This is noticeable in Star Fox especially, given how sensitive that title is to CPU performance.
 

Squid Surprise

Posts: 5,335   +4,980
Or you can buy a used NES from ebay... or even better... use the one you never threw out from when you were a kid :)

I still take mine out every so often... I even have R.O.B. - but he never really worked properly...
 

ZedRM

Posts: 1,039   +726
Yeah, I prefer emulators. They are near perfect, have lots of features hardware doesn't have and hey, I already own my PC and game carts.
 

ZedRM

Posts: 1,039   +726
Not that this TinyNES sucks or anything.
Agreed. This is a cool effort. However, there are design choices that are a bit off/iffy. The Power and Reset buttons should on the front or top of the system, not in the back. Additionally, IMHO there should be an HDMI output jack.
 
Great, so I spend $200 on a console that still has a video output from the 80’s that no TV made this decade supports, requiring me to spend another $100-$200 on an upscaler with HDMI output. Yeah I will pass. If I wanted to relive the hassle of figuring out how to connect RCA connections to a 1080p or 4K TV I will just dust off my real NES.
 
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