"Classic" Consoles: Showpieces or the Retro-Gamer Endgame?

Recently, Nintendo has released a duo of "Classic" consoles, and they both beg the question: Are they made to sit on your shelf, looking all shiny, or are they something you bring out for a sleepover with your buds?

If there's one thing you can't deny about "Classic" consoles, it's that no matter whether you're a die-hard fan who's been playing on the platform since day one, or a youngster just getting into retro consoles, you'd probably give anything to own one.

Packaged into a compact little box that fits in your hand is the ultimate emulation machine, both by how perfectly it plays the games, and by the never-before-seen exclusives it offers (Star Fox 2!). No matter how much you try, you could probably never get this kind of genuine feel on any other form of emulation, be it on an old throwaway console or your top-tier gaming PC.

But packed with only 20-30 games (or more, in the case of AtGames' consoles, but I won't touch on those in this article), are these consoles really made for play, or are they more of a showpiece?

To start off, it's pretty safe to say that these consoles weren't made for the same type of people who buy a Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Switch bundle to play with their friends on drunken nights, or for kids who want to play the newest Splatoon to fight over clashing opinions about their favorite condiment or sweet snack. These were made for people who either loved these consoles from day one or for those who love the look and feel of retro games.

And this is what is most important to note when talking about these consoles. They aren't supposed to give you edge-of-your-seat action scenes or killer plot twists. They're built to give you that cozy feeling you get when you see the opening of Yoshi's Island, followed by the realization that you'll be subjected to hours of baby Mario's high pitched cries. They're there to make you remember when you beat that pesky Zelda dungeon for the first time, no matter if it was 20 years or 2 months ago. They're the staple of an era that has passed, and an ode to it. 

So at this point you might just think I'm padding the article, and that this is where the juice of it comes in. But it isn't. There is no "Juice". At the end of the day, the consoles can be either. They're what you make of them. You can gather your friends and bask in the glory of the original Earthbound's trippy 16-bit visuals on your widescreen TV, or you can have your duo of time machines watch over you from a high-up shelf. Either way, every time you look at them, you'll remember that they're where it all started, and you'll remember all the great times you had with the games that are on them. No matter if showpieces or time wasters, they serve their purpose. They radiate nostalgia, and that's all they have to do for us to love them.

Published Dec. 22nd 2017

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