The best retro games console you can buy right now
The easiest ways to play retro classics are with these best retro games consoles.
Retro is big. It has been hot stuff for, well, about as long as we can remember now. And retro gaming is the facet that really gets our nostalgia flowing.
A retro console is the easiest way to dig into those golden memories. Sometimes, they're not as gleaming as you remember. However, the best retro game consoles revive games from the era that has aged the best: 16-bit, the time of the SNES and Mega Drive/Genesis.
- Best retro games of all time, ranked
The mainstream hype for these consoles kicked off in 2016 with the NES Classic Edition, and continues to this day. While the hardcore crowd may want to buy hardcore consoles like the Evercade, Analogue Pocket or an Anbernic emulation handheld, today we're interested in the easy, breezy recreations of gaming hardware from the past.
They include controllers and baked-in games, so all you need to do is plug them into your TV — and some of these even have built-in screens, making that part optional.
Here, then, are the best mini consoles on the market. Upvote for the best retro revival of the lot.
Best retro games consoles
1. SNES Classic Mini
For the SNES Classic Mini, Nintendo essentially took the NES Classic Mini hardware and loaded it with a bunch of its 16-bit era games. But it was impossible to get too cynical about such a move when there were 21 brilliant games to fall in love with all over again.
From Super Metroid to Yoshi’s Island to A Link to the Past, these are some of the finest games of all time. The clincher is that Nintendo also included the unreleased Star Fox 2. How many other mini consoles can boast a brand new classic game?
2. NES Classic Mini
The launch and subsequent success of the NES Classic Mini in 2016 kickstarted the whole mini console craze - not least because it was initially so hard to get hold of. But the big news here was Nintendo itself hopping aboard the mini console train.
The NES Classic Mini comes preloaded with 30 games, including the peerless Super Mario Bros. 3, Excitebike, and the very first The Legend of Zelda game. Nintendo being Nintendo, they’re all tied together with a wonderfully tidy UI.
3. Sega Mega Drive Mini
The Sega Mega Drive Mini is one of the most highly regarded of the retro console revivals, on par with the fantastic SNES Classic Mini.
42 games is exactly double that of its big rival, which probably isn’t a coincidence. The roster itself includes Ecco the Dolphin, Streets of Rage 2, Sonic 2, World of Illusion, a brand new port of Darius, and an ultra-rare version of Tetris. Take that, Ninty.
4. Atari Flashback 8 Gold DeluxeView now at Amazon
The Atari 2600 was one of the most influential games consoles in history, popularising the whole interchangeable game cartridge system as far back as 1977. The Atari Flashback 8 Gold Deluxe is a comprehensive way to celebrate this console grandee.
It features a staggering 120 built-in games, covering the iconic likes of Pitfall, Space Invaders, Frogger and Adventure. You get two wireless joysticks bundled in (and a pair of paddles with the Deluxe edition), which is a particularly classy touch. 720p HDMI output is also included, as is the handy ability to ‘rewind’ gameplay a few seconds.
5. Neo Geo MiniView now at Amazon
SNK’s Neo Geo Mini is certainly the most unique mini console on this list. It’s shaped like a tiny arcade machine, complete with a miniature joystick and a built-in 3.5-inch LCD screen.
That shape is a reference to the original Neo Geo’s heritage as a hardcore home arcade experience, capable of the kind of 2D graphics that blew its early-’90s console rivals away. A generous selection of 40 games include such classics as King of Fighters, Metal Slug, Fatal Fury and Samurai Showdown, while you can also hook it up to your TV with optional gamepads.
6. PC Engine Core Grafx miniBuy now from Amazon
In the '80s Konami was the king of classic games - so it's exciting that it's brought back some 57 of its games with the PC Engine Core Grafx mini. A mini console that is a miniature version of the classic 80s console. The games you get include: Splatterhouse, Space Harrier and R-Type - all of which bring back fantastic memories. This one is exclusive to Amazon and comes with a controller with an automatic shooting function. You can also have up to 5 player multiplayer on it, if you and your mates have one.
7. Sony PlayStation Classic
So far we’ve been dealing with mini consoles that capture the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. The Sony PlayStation Classic makes the massive technological leap into the 32-bit era with its rich 3D worlds.
To be honest, the PlayStation Classic is a teensy bit disappointing. It’s not that its roster of 20 games doesn’t include its share of gems - Final Fantasy VII, Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid and Ridge Racer Type 4 see to that - but it’s far from a comprehensive list, and the emulation isn’t particularly amazing. There’s still plenty of that PlayStation magic here, though.
8. The A500 MiniBuy now from Amazon
This beautiful replica of the Amiga 500 is a retro gamer's dream come true. The console looks exactly like an old Amiga 500 (the only thing changed is the logo) and you get an old-school mouse and gamepad in the package. There are 20+ games installed, but there isn't any guides on how to play them, so you are going to have to use your muscle memory! If you fancy more games, then there is a USB slot on the back so you can load some up on a USB stick and play them through the UI. Brilliant stuff.
9. Sega Astro City MiniView now at Amazon
This micro arcade machine from Sega revives some of the true classics of the arcade. It's based on 1993's Astro City cabinet, and has a solid 37 installed games including the 3D Virtua Fighter, Golden Axe, Flicky, Gain Ground and Altered Beast. The screen is only 3.9in across, but the unit has an HDMI for connection to a TV. You can also get hold of a controller, so you're not tied to its built-in arcade buttons.
10. C64 Mini
The Commodore 64 - or C64 to its friends - was a superstar of the 1980s home computer era. A key driver for that popularity was its roster of cheap and colourful (for the time) games. This homespun appeal has been captured in mini console form.
You get 64 games in this package (do you see what they did there?), including all-time classics like California Games, Uridium and Paradroid. Also bundled in is a single waggly joystick. Note that the keyboard is just for show, although you can plug in a USB keyboard and run old school BASIC commands.
11. Game & Watch: Super Mario BrosBuy now from Amazon
This fantastic, dinky handheld houses Super Mario Bros and Super Mario Bros 2 and also acts as a clock when not in use. It is really easy to play and our four year old is having a lot of fun with it - that's how easy the thing it to work. This one goes in and out of sale, so get it when you can! Its looks are based on one of the first gaming devices that Nintendo released