Best retro games consoles 2021: the top nostalgic gaming revivals

Retro game consoles really are right now. It seems like we all want to spend serious money on next-gen consoles, as well as enjoy old games from when we were kids — along with the consoles we played them on. Because, sure, you can find some retro games on modern-day devices, but it doesn’t feel exactly the same.

The good news is that many of your favorite retro consoles are constantly being revamped and re-released. The latest news from October 2020 is that the next retro game console to get modern improvements could be the Sega Dreamcast Mini.

Did your heart beat when you heard ‘Dreamcast’? you’re not alone. Sega has made one of the best retro game consoles to date Sega Genesis Mini, which means our hopes are very high that we may soon be revisiting Jet Set Radio and Crazy Taxi. Although we must warn you that the Sega Dreamcast Mini news is nothing more than a rumor for now.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best retro game consoles you can buy today. Unless you’re a very young millennial or part of Gen-Z, your childhood gaming dreams have probably already been fulfilled with the line-up of retro consoles that we’ve covered in our guide below.

All you have to do is plug an SNES Classic Mini or Sega Genesis Mini into your TV — or whatever your favorite console was — pass the second controller to a friend and you can teleport back to the mid-90s when the world changed its course. Made a lot more sense.

These revivals aren’t ranked – because who can put a ranking on nostalgia? But we’ve covered the pros and cons of each option. Below you’ll find our top picks of the best retro console revivals you can play right now.

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SNES Classic Mini

one of the greatest, re-imagined

How many games?: 21
reasons to buy
+cute design+Star Fox 2!
reason to escape
limited playshort controller wire

After the massive success of the NES Classic Mini, Nintendo returned in the ’90s with the SNES Classic Mini in a more compact form.

The box plugs into your TV via HDMI and comes with 21 pre-loaded games (one of which is the unreleased Star Fox 2!) as well as two mini controllers that allow you to take advantage of multiplayer. Will give

The drawback of Nintendo’s retro consoles is that once you exhaust the fairly limited library you won’t be able to play anything else. The console doesn’t accept original cartridges, nor does it let you download more content.

That said, it will take you a while to allow you to hit your nostalgia through all the titles included in the SNES Classic Mini.

Read our full review: SNES Classic Mini Review

Sega Genesis Mini

value for money choice

How many games?: 80
reasons to buy
+great value+huge selection of games
reason to escape
controllers are lightweightno premium

Everyone remembers the Sega Genesis (or Mega Drive as it was known outside North America) which served as a rival to Nintendo’s SNES. The console was home to classics like Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Earthworm Jim.

It acts like a revival of its old rival, the SNES. All 42 classic games come preinstalled. And when there’s a cute moving cartridge flap, it won’t take over any of your old cars. It should be double its size.

Some of our favorites on this retro console include Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Heady, and the punishing Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. The first two Sonic the Hedgehog games are also on there.

Unlike the original Mega Drive, the console supports wireless controllers, so you don’t have to worry about the mess of controller cables that used to plague console gamers.

Read our full review: Sega Genesis Mini Review

nes classic mini

SNES. game over

How many games?: 30
reasons to buy
+iconic look+classic game
reason to escape
short controller cablecan’t add more games

If you want an even more retro hit, the NES Classic Edition was Nintendo’s first re-released console and came with 30 games. Those games included The Legend of Zelda, Mario Brothers, and Castlevania.

The bad news is that once you exhaust that library you won’t be able to play anything else – the console doesn’t accept original cartridges, nor does it let you download more content.

Now you may struggle to be able to find the NES Classic Edition. At the time of writing, it was difficult to find a retro console brand new from any major retailer in the US or UK.

That said, you might still be able to take it second hand and try the retro experience for yourself.

Read our full review: nes classic mini review

SNK Neo Jio Mini

The ultimate retro gaming ornament?

reasons to buy
+looks awesome+nice screen+great game collection
reason to escape
poor TV-out quality

Most retro game consoles eventually end up as jewels in your home, to be taken down and played twice a year. The SNK Neo Geo Mini is the best for that job. It’s a micro arcade cabinet, and the baked-in controls are perfect for super quick-fire play.

We also can’t help but reminisce about how much these games cost—$200-$300 a pop. Now we get 40 for less than $100.

Caveman includes King of Monsters 2, Metal Slug, and the entire King of Fighters series. Sure, they feel a bit fizzy when playing with miniature joysticks and buttons on the 3.5-inch screen. But most of us don’t buy a retro game console to play through these old titles one at a time.

The SNK Neo Jio Mini isn’t good for that job either. While you can plug in a larger controller and hook up your TV, the image is muddy over HDMI compared to the SNES Classic Mini.

Read our full review: SNK Neo Jio Mini

playstation classic

A big name, but not the best reboot

How many games?: 20
reasons to buy
+two controllers+built-in memory card
reason to escape
limited game selectionmiss major title

The PlayStation Classic console is certainly fun, but it missed a trick. Sony could have followed in Nintendo’s footsteps by releasing a populist retro console that featured the undisputed best games of the era like Crash Bandicoot, Final Fantasy 8 and 9 or Tomb Raider. But that’s not PlayStation Classic.

It doesn’t include the console’s greatest hits and instead features a selection of cult classics like Persona and Jumping Flash from some of the more well-received titles. So using Sony’s retro console is a lot less like a walk down memory lane, an experience we had with the SNES Classic and NES Classic Mini, and a lot more like a sample platter designed to show the PlayStation 20-something- Had to introduce a few years ago. .

Of course, some people may develop a genuine attachment to games like Destruction Derby, Ridge Racer Type 4, and Intelligent Cube — and if you are, the PlayStation Classic is going to be everything you could ever want in a retro console. .

If not, you’ll be disappointed with the game selection, unimpressed by the lackluster interface and forced to watch, often in horror, as late ’90s FMV come to life like Frankenstein’s monster on your 4K or 1080p TV. are brought.

Read our full review: playstation classic review

ZX Spectrum Vega

a thousand games to play

How many games?: 1000
reasons to buy
+over a thousand games+properly retro
reason to escape
difficult to find

The ZX Spectrum was one of the first mainstream home computers when it was released in the UK in 1982. It was to the UK what was the Commodore 64 to the US, a Trojan horse to bring computers into homes, and a tool that would inspire a generation of coders.

Yes, its keyboard was a bit of a rubbery mess, but with a software library that included classics like the original Elite, Football Manager, and Manic Minor, you absolutely can’t fault the little console that could.

The Sinclair ZX Spectrum Vega looks nothing like the original console. Instead of having a full QWERTY keyboard, the console is packaged entirely in a controller with 1,000 games built-in.

The device was available for £99.99 (about $130), but it’s not too hard to find, so you might struggle more to pick it up than the other consoles on this list.

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