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The New Retro Console Revolution
-The Definitive Guide to Brand New Video Game Consoles That Will Run Classic Games on Your Modern TV

Written By: Elliott S. Thomas

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In recent years retro video games have made a comeback in a very big way. Gamers young and old have embraced the retro gaming lifestyle for a variety of reasons. Some people just want a return to the simplicity and instant gratification of the games from their youth. Others are put off by the high prices and constant hassles that come with modern video game consoles. Whatever the reasons, gamers are flocking to classic gaming and causing a major boom in the retro gaming community. This remarkable phenomenon has given rise to an entirely new video game console market. The gaming industry is now creating modern versions of classic gaming hardware. The retro console revolution is here, and this is one revolution that will be televised.

Nintendo Mini Classics Line:

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Product: NES Classic Edition
30 Built-In 8-bit NES Games
2 Full Size Original Controllers
HDMI, Save States

Nintendo wasn't the first company to jump into the retro gaming market, but they certainly made the biggest splash. When Nintendo released their first retro console, dubbed the NES Classic Edition, they set the gaming world on fire. The console instantly sold out the second it landed on store shelves. The scalper market exploded with greedy sellers asking as much as $500 for a product that originally sold for $60. People literally camped out in front of stores all night just to get their hands on one. At the moment the console has been temporarily retired, although Nintendo promises that it will return to the market in Summer 2018. The tiny replica of the original NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) featured 30 built-in classic NES games.

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Product: Super Nintendo Classic Edition
21 Built-In 16-bit NES Games
2 Full Size Original Controllers
HDMI, Save States, Game Rewind

One year later Nintendo revealed the second console in their mini classics line. The newly released Super Nintendo Classic Edition has already become one of the hottest video game products on the market. In fact, in the month of its debut, it outsold all of the modern next-gen consoles. It was a stunning upset for the mega corporations that rival Nintendo, the little company from Kyoto Japan. It also proved that retro gaming is more popular than ever. Fortunately for Nintendo fans, the company has done a much better job in distributing their latest mini console. It has not been plagued with the cruel shortages we saw with the NES Mini. However, the console is still hard to find, and its production run ends at the conclusion of the Holiday Season. So if you want to get your hands on this amazing little device, don't wait, you better start looking now. This mini replica of the SNES console comes with 21 built-in games.

The Atari Flashback 8 Consoles:

AT Games is one of the main companies who helped pioneer the retro console revolution. Over the years this company has produced several plug & play game systems featuring many different brands. This includes mini versions of the ColecoVision, Sega Genesis, Intellivision and the Atari 2600. Of course, their flagship product is the ever popular Atari Flashback. This year the company is doing something special to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the original Atari 2600. They are releasing two different hardware versions of their latest 2600 console, dubbed the Atari Flashback 8. The new machine will be available in four different packaging variations, each with a varied set of hardware features, accessories, and games. You can see a full breakdown of each version below.

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Product: Atari Flashback 8
105 Built-In Classic Atari 2600 Games
2 Classic Wired Controllers
A/V Out
Supports Classic Controllers, Paddles, Track Ball

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Product: Atari Flashback 8 Gold / Activision Edition
120 Built-In Atari 2600 Games (Gold Edition)
130 Built-In Atari 2600 Games (Activision Edition)
2 Wireless Controllers
HDMI Video
Supports Classic Controllers, Paddles, Track Ball
Game Rewind, Pause, Save Features

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Atari Flashback 8 - Standard Edition

This is the version you are most likely to see on store shelves. It's commonly sold at big box retailers like Walmart, but during the Holiday Season, you will also find it at places like Bed, Bath & Beyond and even your local drug store. This is the bare bones unit. It comes with 105 built-in games, standard wired controllers, and A/V video out. It's also sold for a budget friendly price. While the suggested retail price for this unit is $59, it is often sold for far less during Holiday Sales and on Black Friday.

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Atari Flashback 8 - Gold Edition

Now here is a unit for the more demanding Atari 2600 fan. The Gold Edition has some upgrades not found on the standard console. This includes an increased game roster featuring 120 games. That's 15 more games than the low-end model. It also supports HDMI video, which finally brings the Atari 2600 into the HD era. The system comes with two classic styled wireless 2.4ghz controllers. These controllers have extra buttons that allow gamers to pause and reset their games, as well as select game modes. Finally, the most interesting new addition to the hardware is the ability to pause, rewind and save your game.

Of course, all of these new hardware features, and the additional games come at an increased price. The suggested retail for this console is $79, although we have seen this product sell for as low as $69 through various online retailers. Bargain hunters will definitely want to keep their eye on Holiday Sales.

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Atari Flashback 8 - Gold Deluxe Edition

The Atari Flashback 8 Gold Deluxe Edition features the exact games and basic console hardware as the standard gold version. However, this unit also comes with a set of classic Atari 2600 paddle controllers. In our opinion, these controllers are a vital accessory for any of the Atari Flashback consoles. There are games on all of these consoles that just should not be played without them. Having paddle controllers included in the package is a nice bonus. Gamers will pay a bit more for this bundle. The suggested retail for this product is $99. Paddle controllers can also be purchased separately on the official AT Game website (Link).

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Atari Flashback 8 - Activision Edition

The Activision Edition is a product truly aimed at serious Atari 2600 collectors. This model will definitely be the least common, and the most difficult to find. Gamers in search of this version will almost definitely have to purchase it online. The hardware of this system has all of the same features as the Atari Flashback 8 Gold Edition. This includes wireless controllers, pause/rewind/save functions, and HDMI video. However, the biggest draw of this system is the robust library of 130 games, which includes many classic Activision titles. It's worth noting that all three versions of the Flashback 8 feature great Activision games, but this system has the biggest library of titles from the legendary developer. Activision was easily the most popular and well known 3rd party developer on the Atari 2600. The system also comes in a stylish Activision themed box. This unit will certainly be popular with collectors, and in our opinion, this is the one to own. The Activision Edition has a suggested retail price of $79, although we have found it on Walmart.com for $69.

The Battle for 8-Bit Supremacy:

The Nintendo Entertainment System was easily one of the most popular and beloved consoles of all time. The console has spawned hundreds, if not thousands, of poorly made knock-offs. These clones were often referred to as "Famiclones" after the name of the original Japanese hardware, the Nintendo Famicom. For many years fans of the 8-Bit Nintendo gaming have clamored for a quality modern NES console. One that accurately replicated the graphics and sounds found in classic NES games. Now four different contenders have stepped up to the plate to answer the call.

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Product: Retron 1 HD
1 Controller
A/V Out and HDMI
4:3 and 16:9 video modes

The Hyperkin Retron 1 HD is our first contender. Hyperkin is an ambitious company with a long history of making NES clones. Their latest entry into the market is easily their best. The stylish looking console has some different features, including both A/V and HDMI video, NTSC and PAL game support, and the ability to switch between the classic 4:3 aspect ratio and the 16:9 ratio of modern TVs. You get all of this for the budget friendly price of $39. The system also comes with a very solid controller. Unfortunately it only comes with one controller, which is disappointing as there are many great two player NES games. The system itself can also be somewhat temperamental, so you'll want to thoroughly clean your old carts before you play.

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Product: RES Plus
2 Controllers
A/V Out and HDMI
NTSC and PAL support

The Retro-Bit RES Plus is the upstart contender in this battle. The newest 8-Bit system to enter the market is also one of the most impressive. The unit is a solid, well built little device sold for the low price of just $39. It also comes with two great controllers. The button placement on the controllers turned out to be a very pleasant and welcome surprise. Rolling your thumb between the two angled buttons is a dream, and it just feels so natural and right. Once you play a demanding game like Punch-Out, Contra or Castlevania with this button layout you will never want to go back to the old controllers. Purists will be happy to hear that the graphics on this system are crisp and bright. Audio is also a treat, with music and sound effects being faithfully replicated on most games as if they were being played on the original hardware. The unit supports both A/V and HDMI video. Overall the RES+ is an outstanding little machine sold at a great price.

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Product: RetroUSB AVS
NES & Famicom Support
HDMI, 4:3 Video and 16:9 Video Support
GUI Menu, Built-In Cheats

The RetroUSB AVSconsole is the high end entry into this new market. It's truly a system for hardcore NES connoisseurs. This amazing device was built by a real NES fanatic, and his love for the system and his attention to detail shows in the outstanding quality of the final product. The AVS is capable of displaying pixel perfect graphics on almost every game. Sound replication is also top notch, unrivaled by any other 8-Bit system on the market. Even important things like input lag were given careful consideration by the designer.

The console itself is designed around FPGA technology (field programmable gate array). Without getting into too much technical detail, the advantage of this type of hardware is greater compatibility and more accurate graphics and sound. You also have the option for upgradable firmware. Previous NES clones were frequently built around SoC "system on a chip" hardware. The problems with SoC systems is they try to do everything with a single chip, and this created a lot of graphical and audio issues. FPGA technology is the wave of the future when it comes to modern retro gaming consoles.

The console boots up to an easy to use GUI that allows you to select video options and built-in cheats. The hardware features two cartridge slots that support both standard NES carts and Japanese Famicom carts. The unit also has four controller ports, which can be used for multiplayer gameplay, and they work with most of your classic controllers and accessories. (Sorry, no light gun support.) Unfortunately, all of this quality comes at a steep price. The AVS retails for $185. It also does not come with a controller. However, third party NES controllers are cheap, and RetroUSB has made an optional wireless controller that is one of the best on the market. Overall, if you're really serious about your 8-bit era games, and if the price is not an object, this is the system to get.

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Product: Analogue Nt Mini
NES & Famicom
Wireless Bluetooth Controller
4:3 & 16:9 Video, Save States
A/V Video, S-Video, & HDMI

The Nt Mini from Analogue Interactive is the only luxury console on our list. This impressive piece of tech comes at a very high price. With a list price of $450, the Nt Mini is a product aimed solely at people with too much money to spend. The console itself is designed with FPGA technology, similar to the RetroUSB AVS. The custom built motherboard is wrapped in a luxurious aluminum shell. The unit has two cartridge ports, for use with NES and Famicom cartridges, and 4 controller ports, which are compatible with multiplayer games.

The system is capable of playing over 2000 classic NES / Famicom games in full HD. Just like the AVS, accurate representation of graphics and sound were a top priority. One advantage this unit has over the other competitors is the number of video out options. The Nt Mini currently supports A/V, Component Video, S-Video, Composite Video, and HDMI. That's a tremendous host of video options that ensure your system will work with almost any TV or monitor. This is also great news for fans of light gun games, as the Nt Mini will connect and work with TVs that still support the Nintendo Zapper.

Sega Genesis Returns:

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Product: Sega Genesis Flashback
80 Built-In Games
2 Full Wireless Controllers
HDMI Video
Game Rewind & Save States

Sega's classic 16-Bit console returns, and it's not without controversy. The aptly dubbed Sega Genesis Flashback from AT Games is the company's latest plug and play Genesis console. Unlike previous Sega consoles from this company, this new unit mimics the design of the legendary Sega Genesis / Mega Drive; only it's a tiny bit smaller. Unfortunately when AT Games delivered their first batch of review units several months ago, the systems were defective, and this lead to a lot of negative early reviews. The good news is that since that time they have corrected most of the problems with the hardware, and the result is a final product that is much better than the early review units, but still not without some flaws.

The biggest draw of this system will be the classic console styling. It's a handsome little console created in the image of its legendary ancestor. As you might expect, the Genesis Flashback supports HDMI video, which means the games look crisp and clean on your HD television. It also comes with two wireless 2.4ghz 6 button controllers, which are just a bit smaller than the original hardware. The controllers also have new functions, which include a menu button, which gives you access to the console GUI, and a rewind button, which lets players rewind their gameplay. A small warning though, purists will notice that the wireless controllers are a bit laggy, and this may effect your gameplay. Fortunately, the unit is built with two DB9 controller ports, which are compatible with your original six button Genesis controllers. Unfortunately the original three button Genesis controllers will not work with this system.

Of course, the most important part of any console is the games. Strangely enough, the system comes some games that are not original Sega Genesis titles. In fact, of the 80 included games, only 45 are authentic Genesis titles, the rest come from different hardware, and are divided into three categories. The unit has 7 great games from the Sega Master System, including the original Phantasy Star, and 5 games from the Sega Game Gear, including a few Sonic the Hedgehog games. Unfortunately, the remaining 28 titles are your typical, generic, plug and play console fodder. The upside is that this system comes with a cartridge port which supports Sega Genesis cartridges. One final note, while the emulation quality of this system is greatly improved from previous Genesis clones made by this company, it is still far from perfect. Several demanding titles, like Arrow Flash and Sonic the Hedgehog, have occasional slowdown and inconsistent frame rates. The rest of the titles perform admirably. We were also especially impressed by the large selection of classic RPG titles, including the Phantasy Star series and the Shining Force titles.

Super Retro Trio Plus - The New HD Multi Console:

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Product: Super Retro Trio
Supports Original NES, SNES & Genesis Carts
2 Full Wireless Controllers
Flash Cartridge Support

The folks at Retro-Bit have returned with an upgraded version of one of their most popular consoles. The newly revealed Super Retro Trio Plus can run games from the NES, Super NES and the Sega Genesis. This new hardware upgrade also features HDMI video, a welcome and long overdue addition. Rounding out the package are two newly designed wireless 2.4ghz controllers that work with nearly every system and game. For people looking for a simple, all in one solution, this is the console to get. Unlike other multi system consoles, this machine is not using emulators, which themselves have a number of serious problems, such as creating input lag and compatibility issues. This hardware works much closer to original console, which makes for a more faithful gaming experience. Flash card owners will also be glad to hear that this machine does support the EverDrive product line. The Super Retro Trio Plus is coming to store shelves this Holiday Season.

Super Retro-Cade - The Classic Arcade and Console Gaming Console:

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Product: Super Retro-Cade
Over 90 Built-In Arcade & Console Games
2 Wired Controllers
HDMI, Video Options, Save States

The Super Retro-Cade from Retro-Bit lets gamers bring the arcade experience home. This unique new mini console is filled with over 90 arcade and console games from some of the biggest companies in gaming. The impressive list of developers includes companies like Capcom, Data East, Technos and many others. The collection of games includes such classic hits as Strider, Bad Dudes, Mega Man 2, Burger Time, Double Dragon and many, many more. The console boots up an intuitive and easy to navigate menu system where gamers can adjust console options and browse the large game library. The system itself comes with two wired USB controllers which have a lengthy 10-foot cord. Best of all the retail price for this system is only $59, which makes it an incredible bargain for the price.

Analogue Interactive Super Nt - The High End SNES Console:

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Product: Analogue Super Nt
Supports Original Super Famicom and SNES Carts
Wireless Full Size Controller
HDMI Video

We'll be honest, previous consoles from Analogue Interactive have left us a bit cold. While their hardware is certainly impressive, and their technical design skills are top notch, the high price point of their products leaves a lot to be desired. However, the Super Nt might just change our entire opinion of this company. This new product from Analogue is an FPGA Super Nintendo / Super Famicom. It comes with a wireless controller made by the folks from 8Bitdo, who themselves are known for their many quality products. The company promises the system will produce graphics in 1080p with "zero lag." It even comes with a digital copy or the game Super Turrican: Director's Cut built right into the system. The unit will be available in four colors, including classic style SNES colors, solid black, white, and a clear shell. Best of all the console sells for just $189. As far as we are concerned, this is a step in the right direction for this company, and the Super Nt is one of the most exciting new retro gaming consoles for 2018.

C64 Mini- Commodore 64 Reborn:

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Product: C64 Mini
Over 60 Built-In Classic C64 Games
Full Size Original Controller
HDMI Out, 2 USB Ports

One of the greatest computers of all time is set to return in a new mini package. For most people who owned it, the Commodore 64 was a gaming machine first and a computer second. The legendary computer had one of the largest and most diverse gaming catalogs in history. Beloved the world over the C64 has remained popular with home computing enthusiasts for over three decades. Now the system is reborn in a beautiful mini plug and play console. The new C64 Mini comes with a classic style C64 controller and 60 built-in games. Titles include such legendary hits like Impossible Mission, California Games, Speedball 2, Cybernoid and many others. The developer promises accurate C64 operation, as well as authentic graphics and sound on your modern TV. The tiny unit is equipped with two USB ports which can be utilized for two-player gaming. You can also plug in a USB keyboard and use this device as a fully functional computer. The C64 Mini will sell for just $69.

In The Future:

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Product: Retron 77
Supports Original Atari 2600 Carts
Full Size Original Controller
HDMI, 4:3 and 16:9 Video Support
Rewind, Cheats, Save States

Looking into the future, the retro console revolution continues to grow as new products appear on the horizon. One of the most promising is the Retron 77 from Hyperkin. This new console is a modern Atari 2600 with cartridge support. The product has many impressive features including HDMI output, 4x3 and 16x9 modes, and support for all your favorite vintage controllers and accessories. The console is built around the popular, and open source, Stella Emulator. This means the Retron 77 will support a variety of audio and video options as well as in game cheats and save states. We were lucky enough to speak to the creator of this project at a recent gaming convention. He personally convinced the management of his company to let him make this product. You can tell it's his baby. His passion and enthusiasm for the Atari 2600 give us great hope for this device. It's set to debut sometime in 2018. The estimated price for the Retron 77 will be just $40.

About The Author: Elliott S. Thomas is a hardcore retro gaming enthusiast. His retro gaming collection could fill a small house. When you ask him, "Have You played Atari today?", he will almost always say, "Yes."