It’s a shame that two of the best retro gaming consoles in recent years, the NES Classic Mini and the SNES Classic Mini, have been discontinued. Both feature great designs with a miniaturized look that’s true to the originals, silky performance, and strong game lineups of Nintendo’s greatest hits. You can still buy them online (usually from third-party resellers), but prices are seriously inflated. The SNES Classic Mini, for example, was $80 at launch, but a reseller has it for $300 on Amazon right now. You might have better luck buying one used.
Nintendo fans keen on some classic gaming action might be better served by snagging a Switch and buying a Nintendo Switch Online membership ($20 for a year) to access more than 100 NES and SNES titles (here’s the full list). Add the Expansion Pack ($50 for a year) and you can get these N64 games too. If you’re craving some old-school pocket-sized Nintendo fun, check out the revived Game & Watch ($50) line. They are limited to a couple of games each, but when those games are Super Mario or Zelda titles, that can be enough for hours of fun.
The Analogue Mega SG ($200) (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is expensive, and it doesn’t come with any games or controllers (they cost $25 apiece). But it can play old Sega Genesis cartridges, so it’s a solid choice if you have a box of them in the basement. Thanks to an FPGA chip, this console runs the original games just as you remember them.
There are plenty of classic arcade games available on PlayStation 4 or 5. If you opt for a PS Plus Premium subscription ($18 for a month or $120 for a year), you get the Classics Catalog, packed with old PlayStation games.
The Xbox Series X|S boasts the best backward compatibility, as Microsoft’s newest consoles can play Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox titles. You can also find classic titles included in our favorite gaming subscription, the excellent Xbox Game Pass Ultimate ($15 per month).
If you have Valve’s Steam Deck, check out the comprehensive EmuDeck to emulate a wide variety of old systems in style.
PC gamers also have an enormous choice of emulators. I like RetroArch because it emulates multiple systems, but if you have a favorite old console and want to get close to that original experience, you can likely find a tailor-made emulator to scratch that itch.