Buying Retro Game Systems is a Waste of Money. Here's How to Play the Classics for Free.
Did you get excited when Nintendo released the NES Classic Mini Console? A lot of people did. It sold out immediately, and it was nearly impossible to procure anywhere due to demand. People love nostalgia, but there are two very important reasons why you shouldn't buy this, or any other retro console.
First, despite strong demand, Nintendo just announced it is cancelling production of the NES Classic Mini in order to focus on the Nintendo Switch, which means the already high price of this device is about to skyrocket. The second reason why buying one of these would be a waste of money? You can already play most of these games online for free!
For years, many sites have freely offered online and offline emulators that allow you to play games first seen on classic consoles and PCs. At first, it took a bit of computer knowledge to know how to download and play them, but in recent years, it's gotten a lot easier. My big favorite is this Nintendo Emulator online portal, a site that allows you to play a ton of classic NES and SuperNES games.
The best thing about this site is that you can play games, save them as a small file and pick up exactly where you left off when you come back to play again. That means you can play games a lot faster, because you don't have to worry about the annoying practice of writing down and entering codes and starting at save points – old-time gamers will know what I'm talking about. And if you don't like playing these games using key board buttons, Nintendo Emulator and other sites like it allow you to connect and use classic-looking USB controllers, which you can pick up on the cheap at Amazon or other retailers.
Emulator sites like this exist all over the internet, and some also offer classic PC games, as well. Though not as slick as the NES emulator site, classicreload.com has a ton of classic PC games like Sim City and early versions of World of WarCraft. There are hours of retro fun on there, and while this may cost you several hours of your life, it won't cost you piles of money.
You can get a lot more for no money through online emulators, too. The NES Classic – if you can actually find one still available for $59.99, we could not at the time of this article –only comes with 30 games and no way to load any more. That's $2 per game for titles that are more than 30 years old. Several are classics, like Super Mario Brothers and the original Legend of Zelda, but quite a few are ones that never made a mark — for good reason! Remember Ghosts N' Goblins? If you do, it won't be a fond memory.
So don't allow your nostalgia to turn into an impulse buy. There's really no reason to pay for a console that is only offering you something you can get for free elsewhere in many, many places. Sure, there's the retro look of the console, but that wears off quick. I have a retro Atari emulator that's been sitting unused in my closet for two years as proof of that. Trust me, don't do it.