It’s already been seven years since Nintendo delivered the NES Classic Edition to the masses, causing an unexpected major market demand while creating a new niche in the process. They followed this up with the similarly successful Super NES Classic Edition a year later. Then poof. The company that created the stir in the first place disappeared from it entirely. Several other companies, witnessing the fervor, got involved, releasing retro mini plug & plays of their own, perhaps the most successful of these coming from Sega’s Genesis Mini. Unfortunately, as time marches on, it’s starting to look like the flames of desire here are winding down to embers and a lot of the systems that would have done great in the arena will likely go without the retro mini/ HDMI classic edition treatment.
Here are some of the consoles we would have loved to see get the high def mini, form factor, plug & play treatment:
When Nintendo quickly followed up the NES Classic Edition with the SNES, many of us hoped we were witnessing the birth of a new trend. Perhaps they’d go back into the archives and create retro mini consolized Game Boy units, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Virtual Boy. The possibilities were endless.
The most exciting of these of course would be an N64 Mini. When Sony went ahead and released a Playstation Classic in 2018, it seemed the 5th generation of home consoles were ready for a new war of living room supremacy. Unfortunately neither Nintendo nor Sega took the bait, leaving Sony’s entry into the classic edition segment the most recent console to receive such treatment.
As for Nintendo, it makes sense why they didn’t go all in with an N64 Mini – and the reason is their own Nintendo Switch Online service, which hopes to attract gamers of all disciplines to their Switch platform through the availability of abundant retro titles (many from the N64). It’s a shame too because an N64 Mini would have been spectacular.
While CD-i refers to a media format more than a single piece of hardware, Phillips replied to Tweets from users begging for a CD-i Mini with a response that sounded like such an announcement might actually follow. Sadly, at present, it never has.
The CD-i library is surprisingly robust – with 214 total games released from 170 different developers. Perhaps most famous among these coming in the form of the officially licensed Nintendo titles: Hotel Mario, Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, and Zelda’s Adventure.
From afar 3DO is remarkably similar to CD-i; it refers to a media format that could be licensed so that actual console hardware could be manufactured and distributed by a wide variety of brands.
While CD-i encompassed a wide variety of multimedia applications (encyclopedias on CD, edutainment titles, etc.), 3DO was more game-centric. Over 200 titles were officially released by the end of its run, including some very faithful ports of arcade titles like Super Street Fighter II Turbo.
Did you know that back in 1993 Commodore tried its hand at a 32-bit console to do battle with the likes of Sony, Nintendo and Sega? The CD-32 was based upon their Amiga computer line but failed to make much of a dent in the market.
Now here’s where things get interesting from a Mini perspective. Retro Games Ltd. has already done all the heavy lifting in creating an HDMI mini version in their Amiga A500 Mini. All they would need to do to drive we console gamer types crazy with desire is develop a second shell shaped like the CD-32 and give the A500 controller a black paint job. Here’s hoping they’ll consider it.
Back in 2019 a company called Unit-e announced a PC Classic console, one that would come chock full of games from the DOS era of home computing. Despite a very strong public reaction, the PC Classic has yet to manifest and even updates from the company have gone cold.
Of all the possible mini classic editions, the PC would certainly be the easiest to achieve as there would be no licensing to procure from a hardware or branding standpoint. The only licensing involved would be that of the games themselves and with tens of thousands to choose from even from a single era, finding a few dozen titles interested in participating is all but a given.
Here’s hoping Unit-e sees this one through to fruition.
We’ll end this list with what is perhaps the system most likely to see the light of day. When Sega threw its hat in the classic edition ring with the Genesis Mini back in 2019, the talk of where they could go from there was immediate. After all, why not go on with a Sega CD Mini, a Saturn Mini, a Dreamcast Mini? To the surprise and delight of many, Sega listened and, in 2022, followed up with the Genesis Mini 2, a unit packed with different Genesis and some Sega CD titles (and a 6-button controller rather than the 3-button of the original Genesis Mini).
All of this to say, Sega clearly gets the demand here and, of all the brands mentioned on this list, has everything needed (including the massive back catalog of titles) to continue producing these things. And, unlike Nintendo, doesn’t have any current hardware on the market to be concerned with competing against.