Why the NES Classic Edition is Pure Genius

I’ve been playing a lot of NES Classic Edition around the Holidays, and it’s a big hit. I think Nintendo hit it out of the park for multiple reasons, and I’m going to go in depth on each one!

Brand Top of Mind (in Absence of Switch)

Nintendo wouldn’t be kidding anyone if they told us that they didn’t want the Nintendo Switch to be released this holiday season. The November weekend before Thanksgiving is their favorite day to launch their biggest hardware and software, year over year. Yet they couldn’t quite make it in time for the 2016 Holidays, so the Switch will be releasing on their second-favorite slot: March. That left kind of a gaping hole in November, so Nintendo brilliantly filled it with the NES Classic Edition.

What’s going to be on every Christmas list? What is going to get brought out at family gatherings? The NES, or even simply, “the Nintendo.”

The brand might not have the benefit of the buzz through their new console this winter, but everyone’s going to be repeating their name thanks to their throwback console.

Nostalgia is Big Right Now

Who knew that 2016 would be such a perfect year to be a ’90s kid? Everything that was old is new again, and gaming, film, and TV industries have all wizened up and they’re repackaging our memories of old and selling them to us all over again. Nintendo is no different. Their stable of IPs is in the top 5 strongest in the world, among the likes of Disney, Marvel, and Star Wars (or should I say, Disney, Disney, and Disney).

The NES Classic Edition was a very calculated move. Down to the packaging on the box and each and every commercial, the marketing has been a complete throwback. There’s not a young-to-middle-aged adult alive who wouldn’t want to pick up the perfect replica of that controller. Nintendo didn’t wait too long for this and they didn’t do it too soon – the timing is just right.

It’s Not Just 3rd Parties

Nintendo has been working on this console rerelease for quite awhile. Want to know how I know? Because of all the licensing deals that went into it! They could have scraped together 25 or 30 first-party IPs and shipped it out, but instead they held meetings and struck deals with other companies, allowing third-parties to get in on the action. In my experience, Contra has been one of the most recognizable names on the system (albeit in the game Super C), so it’s a good thing that Nintendo branched out and expanded the library through its partners. The Big N doesn’t get to keep 100% of the profits anymore, but I think it was well worth it. I’m just surprised news of the mini-console didn’t leak with other companies being brought into the circle.

It Has Spot-On Emulation

I didn’t realize just how bad the NES emulation was on Wii U until I saw it in contrast to the NES Classic Edition.

Trust me, if you haven’t seen the difference in emulation quality, you will be appalled. Nintendo didn’t do so hot with NES games on Wii U, but we really couldn’t ask for better than the Classic Edition. With the three different display options and the boost in brightness and clarity over Wii U, it just can’t be beaten.

It’s Literally a Stocking-Stuffer

This thing is so small. I know that the first image Nintendo released of this console, it showed the mini-NES sitting in a model’s hand. Still, my mind didn’t quite grasp the size. It wasn’t until I opened up the tiny box and held the even-tinier console replica that I understood just how small it is! It’s absolutely fun-sized. And I think it could actually fit in kids’ stockings this Christmas. This thing has the potential to be the #1 impulse-buy of 2016, if Nintendo could only just produce enough to fill up store’s end-caps.

Also, the price is perfect. You see that the thing is $60, you see that 30 games are included, you do a little quick math in your head and you exclaim “That’s only $2 per game!” That’s literally every consumer’s thought process. Everyone feels like they are getting a steal of a deal. If there were only 25 games included or if the console was $70, the story would be completely different. Nintendo hit the bulls-eye on this one.

I’m really happy about this product. I’m a huge NES fan and I’ve actually been wanting Nintendo to reproduce the system for many years. I never had the idea of it being miniature and coming with packed-in games, but they absolutely made the right choice with that design. There’s no bulky consoles or rows of cartridges taking up shelf-space, just this little joy of a system. I hope all the TBC fans who want one are able to find a console of their own! Nintendo really needs to stop playing so conservative with their supplies and just make more of these things. But Foxconn is probably busy making Switch parts, and I won’t complain about that.

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Scott is an author and a lifelong fan of video games. Conqueror of punishing platformers such as Celeste, Super Meat Boy, N+, The Impossible Game, and Super Mario Bros. 2: The Lost Levels. You can find him constantly changing his main character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, stuck inside a VR headset, or helplessly addicted to Fortnite.