If Nintendo has its way, Christmas 2016 will look a lot like Christmas 1986—with Nintendo Entertainment System under every tree.
On Friday, Nintendo releases its first plug-and-play retro console, stepping into a sector it has ignored until now. The recursively-named Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition is a tiny $60 box that plugs into your TV with an HDMI cable and delivers ’80s delights like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and 28 other classic 8-bit titles. It’s a simple product with a simple mission: add a little nostalgia to your holidays. This is an impulse buy—and the best part is, it plays a mean game of Mario.
Actually, the best part may be how damn cool the thing looks. It’s so faithful, if shrunken, a replica that anyone who was around for the original NES will get warm fuzzies just looking at it. The controller is a full-size replica of the original, and feels perfect.
The superficial resemblance to the classic console tends to confuse some people into thinking that the Classic is an NES, so let’s be clear: No, it doesn’t play the game cartridges you have squirreled away in the closet. No, you can’t add games. No, your old controllers won’t work. No, you can’t plug it into your tube television. This is HDMI-only, the controllers are proprietary, and the 30 games onboard the device are the only ones it will ever play.