Don’t get us wrong – we love the current crop of modern consoles. These machines can offer an unparalleled audio and visual experience that continue to push the limits of what we think that games are capable of. Still, that doesn’t mean that we don’t still occasionally yearn for a simpler time. A time before installs or firmware updates or patches, when you could just plug in a cartridge, flip on the power and get stuck straight into a game.
Should you be of a certain age with the foresight of a collector, or be lucky enough to have gaming parents, you may still have a dusty old console or two stashed in your attic. Or, you may have been browsing auction sites or car boot sales in order to pick up a second-hand original.
Still, if your attic is empty or you don’t want to take your chances with a machine that could well be older than you, fear not! There are still plenty of ways to enjoy a retro gaming experience with a brand new console…
1. The Atari Flashback 4
Originally launched back in 1977 with a price of $199 in the US. A vast amount of money. Taking inflation into account, that would equate to nearly $800 today. Even so, the Atari 2600 was phenomenally successful and considered the granddaddy of gaming consoles, responsible for bringing videogames into the mainstream. As the Atari 2600 sold around 30 million units across the globe, it isn’t too difficult to get hold of a pre-owned Atari 2600 today. Still., they can’t always be picked up for pennies and you’d still have to consider getting hold of all the game cartridges and finding a place to keep them all.
So, step forward the Atari Flashback 4 – not only does this fella feature a streamlined design that can be plugged into the AV socket of any modern TV, it also has 75 in-built games. Classics you’ll find on the Flashback 4 include Asteroids, Battlezone, Breakout, Missile Command, Space Invaders, Yar’s Revenge and many more.
2. The Retron 5
You might consider that the Retron 5 has a misleading name. Why? Because this clever bit of kit is actually compatible with NINE different consoles. With more slots than a Las Vegas casino, the Retron 5 can play game cartridges from the original NES, SNES, the Sega Genesis, Sega Megadrive, Super Famicom, Game Boy, Game Boy Colour and Game Boy Advance. It isn’t region-locked, either, meaning you can play both PAL and NTSC carts. Plus, it has enough sockets to accommodate all the appropriate controllers.
The Retron 5 might be focused on retro gaming but it contains many modern feature too, such as its own wireless controllers (which are compatible with all formats), HDMI output (which can upconvert games to a maximum of 720p) and even a dedicated interface screen to guide you around all the console features.
Surely there must be a catch? Well, only one – you’ll have to wait until April 2014 in order to get your hands on one…
3. Sega Mega Drive Arcade Classic
The first generation of the Sega Mega Drive (originally released in Japan in 1998) was hefty enough to cause a serious blunt trauma if used inappropriately. The Sega Mega Drive Arcade Classic is barely bigger than a game cartridge itself (25cmx28cmx6.5cm to be precise). Coming complete with two wireless controllers the console will plug straight into your TV through the AV socket.
Better still, the Arcade Classic has 20 in-built games (which includes some real beauties like Altered Beast, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Alex Kidd and more) and a cartridge with 40 bonus games.
4. Sega Mega Drive Arcade Portable Console (Ultimate Sonic Edition)
Want to enjoy some nostalgic time with Sonic and pals but have to do so on the move? Seems like you’re in luck. The Sega Mega Drive Arcade Portable is a handheld gaming machine that comes with 20 in-built Mega Drive titles.
This being the Ultimate Sonic Edition means this handheld contains Sonic the Hedgehog 1 & 2, Sonic and Knuckles and Sonic Spinball, along with the likes of Golden Axe, Shinobi 3, Alien Storm and more.
If you tire of that lot, the handheld features an SD card slot, enabling you to download more Mega Drive games to add to your collection. Plus, with the addition of an AV cable, you’ll be able plug it straight into your TV too.
5. Neo Geo X Gold Limited Edition
Back in the 1990s, few things could cause quite as much of a stir in a young gamer’s life as discovering a friend had a Neo Geo console. More commonly seen in arcades as coin-op machines, finding one in a home was probably the next best thing to getting an invite from Tom Hanks’ apartment from Big. Even today, with revived Neo Geo X, the console still has the ability to impress.
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that it is a ‘just’ a console. Oh no. What you see here is actually a docking station for a handheld machine that will charge the unit and allow you to connect it to the screen. Then you will be able to use the arcade stick controller for an even more authentic experience.
The Neo Geo X Gold Edition comes with 20 built-in games, including fondly-remembered titles such as Fatal Fury, King of Monsters, Metal Slug, Samurai Showdown 2 and many more. You can also to this a 15-game collection pack (which come on an SD card), with several other game packs available.