Now you're playing with a tiny cord.
As time goes on and emulation of old games on modern displays becomes more important, products like Nintendo’s new NES Classic seem bigger. For years, we’ve seen middling retro knockoffs and poorly emulated ports. With the NES Classic, Nintendo brings superb emulation to HD displays, showcasing 30 fun and mostly essential NES games from the ‘80s and early ‘90s. For the most part, the NES Classic is a showcase for what we should hope happens with all of our old games.
Unfortunately, the shortened cables limit the usability of this novel little device. The controller, one of which is included with the system, has a cord that only measures about two-feet long. To add insult to injury, the included HDMI cable isn’t much longer. This pint-sized NES is woefully tethered to your TV out of the box, and if you want to play it, you need to be almost on top of your TV to do so. In my moderately sized living room, I had to push chairs up to my TV to sit comfortably and play it in a fashion that’s the opposite of the issues with room size people have had for VR experiences. You’re almost better off in a studio apartment with the NES Classic.
You can get around this in a number of ways - a longer HDMI cable, a controller extender, third-party wireless controllers - but those are just bandages on an irritating design choice. That issue is more exasperated by the fact that everything else about the NES Classic is fantastic. The emulation is some of the best I’ve seen from Nintendo. The four save states for each game, while a little quirky to sort through, are a fantastic way to save your progress in password-based games or games with no saving option. The game selection isn’t without its clunkers, but it’s a wide, varied list of everything from essentials like Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, and Mega Man 2 to mildly deeper cuts like Bubble Bobble, StarTropics, and Double Dragon II. After spending hours across the entire library, I’ve come away with a deeper appreciation of Ice Climbers and a tenuous dislike for arcade ports like Pac-Man and Galaga.
If the NES Classic is the first in a line of many “Classics” systems, sign me up. The games are fantastic and the emulation is top notch. Hopefully in the future, this whole “short cord” thing is figured out. For better or worse, the NES Classic is a rad retro system restricted by tiny cables.