This summer might be the last hurrah of the long, arduous saga known as the NES Classic. Ever since November 2016, Nintendo has been the subject of many an angry Tweet, Facebook rant, YouTube Video, and investigative article. That’s because the NES Classic, in a swirling miasma of muddled corporate messaging, ludicrous stock shortages, opportunistic scalpers, and Internet drama, was the biggest Nintendo “thing” in-between the Wii U dropping off and the Switch taking off. It was meant to be, by Nintendo’s own word, a little novelty item for the holidays. It became a phenomenon that led to five-dang-million sales of the follow-up, the SNES Classic. And now this summer, the NES Classic is going to be available again in an attempt to finally meet demand, two years later. Now, these devices are also being swept up in the greater conversation of the death of the Virtual Console and what Nintendo’s plans are going forward with its retro library. It’s all a mess, but a fascinating mess. So, let’s talk about what’s next.
The following is a mini-list of sorts, a few headers of what we might like to see going forward, assuming the “Classic” line is something that will, or possibly could, continue. What other little clone devices could Nintendo theoretically manufacture and sell with a HDMI port, and keep in a reasonable price range? Would it even be worth doing after a certain point in history, or would demand drop off once Nintendo’s own past catches up with it? Could we see second or third iterations of the devices that already exist, or some sort of update or attachment that usurps (or attempts to combat) hackers? Who knows! We can’t answer those questions, but we can talk about what we’d like to see.
(Super) Game Boy Classic
At first, I hesitated to suggest a Game Boy Classic as the next logical thing, because the Game Boy is a handheld, and putting screens on these things would probably be prohibitively expensive. I shudder thinking of what the Neo Geo Mini is going to cost. But on the other hand, Nintendo has been working to make Game Boy games play on TV screens since the original Game Boy. The Super Game Boy was an incredible piece of tech, and though we’ve had other commercial iterations since, none have been as inherently fun as the first one. Put 30-ish classic Game Boy games on it, and pack in some fun borders and stuff, maybe even allow custom drawings like the OG. That would be beyond great, and Nintendo’s eagerness to nod back to its history makes it perfect.
Nintendo 64 Classic
This makes the most sense, probably. It’s the next home console following the Super Nintendo, and one that’s still relatively easy to work with in terms of emulation. Nintendo 64 games are still pretty small in terms of storage, and we’ve been playing official ROMs since the Wii. There’s no experimentation here, not to mention a lot less licensing concerns considering how most of the console was first party goodness. Sure, we likely won’t be able to play any Rare classics, or any of the dope wrestling games, and that may be heartbreaking for many N64 diehards. But there was still plenty of interesting stuff from Nintendo itself, along with some other companies like Konami. The library would be rather small, though, compared to the SNES and NES.
My pie in the sky want is definitely a tricked-out, HDMI-ready box that plays Game Boy Advance games. That system had some incredible software, so much of which risks being lost to time unless Nintendo figures out an emulation platform that isn’t the dang Wii U. Arguably, the GBA needs this kind of treatment more than any other legacy Nintendo platform. And like, I’m just going to say it here. Look at Star Fox 2. What unreleased, constantly sought-after GBA game could make a surprise debut on the Classic line, that would make people lose their minds and pre-order with all their might? Yeah, I’m talking about Mother 3. That game being translated by Nintendo already has been floating around for a year or two, and I bet the Wii U dying early is the reason it’s been in limbo. Here’s a great excuse to drop it in something that will make some cash. I know it won’t happen, but I can dream.
Yeah, not gonna happen. There’s no way a Gamecube emulation box would cost a reasonable amount of money. It’s more likely that we see more Gamecube-era remasters show up on the Switch as that thing progresses through its life cycle. But hey, we established with the GBA entry that we’re dreaming big here, and there’s no reason not to just throw something fun out there. Plus, a tiny, little plastic Gamecube would easily be the most adorable item in the whole Classic line. Just saying.