Why the Nintendo Classic Mini is the most exciting game console of 2016

A tiny NES with 30 classic games for $60? Can't beat that

Nintendo shocked the gaming world today by unveiling its new console – and no, it's not the NX. It's the NES.

Yes, that NES – the same classic Nintendo Entertainment System from the mid-80s, only now shrunken down to palm-sized shape and with 30 blockbuster games built right into the thing. And the Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System (a.k.a. the NES Classic Edition in the States) is cheap, too, with a holidays-friendly release coming on 11 November.

Call it a nostalgia grab, but it's one that appears to be done incredibly well, with all the tiny details perfected, a blistering selection of classic games, and a price point that can't be beat. It even has those classic, boxy NES controllers – and no, those haven't been miniaturized.

In fact, even with the Xbox One S and possibly PlayStation 4K due out by the end of the year, Nintendo's retro revival might be our most anticipated console on the horizon. Here's why.

Perfectly presented

When it comes to mining nostalgia, especially the games and hardware many of us experienced for the first time as kids, it's essential to honor the source material. Calling it the Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System and then popping it into any other design would have been a huge misstep.

Luckily, it looks like Nintendo nailed the landing here. At a glance, the Nintendo Classic Mini truly is the original NES (seen above), although now you can hold it up in your hand. True, the controller ports a little different and the cartridge slot probably doesn't open - or if it does, it won't take your old games - but the retro look still warms our hearts.

And that's not all: check out the packaging below. By maintaining the classic appearance of the box on store shelves, Nintendo set this console up to bring back those decades-old memories of craving the thing every time we went shopping with mum. But this time around, we have a little something called disposable income. Hooray for adulthood.

Portable and primed

Not only does the smaller frame make for what's surely a cheaper console to produce and purchase, but it also makes the Nintendo Classic Mini ultra-portable. You can pop it in a bag and bring it to a mate's house or a hotel when traveling, or quickly transport it around your flat with minimal hassle. It just uses an HDMI cable to plug into your TV and a USB cable for power (adapter sold separately, unfortunately).

And since the games are all built into the box, you don't need to worry about crating around loads of dusty old cartridges – or blowing into the slot when they don't work. True, it would be nice to run your treasured carts, but that would make for a much more expensive device here. The Nintendo Classic Mini hits the ideal balance of price and functionality.

The device comes with one of the new NES controllers, plus you can use a Classic Controller or Classic Controller Pro from the Wii if you prefer (or for the second player). And additional NES gamepads will be available for just US$10 (about £7.50), amazingly, so your total spend here for a two-player experience won't be far off from a single new Xbox One or PS4 boxed game.

Brilliant selection

We're a bit stunned by the game selection, really. Nintendo has been selling classic NES games on the Virtual Console for a few quid a pop for years, but the Nintendo Classic Mini drops 30 big games into one box – hardware included – for a grand total of US$60 (about £45). It's a steal.

And the list is packed with essentials. You've got Super Mario Bros. 1-3, The Legend of Zelda and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Metroid, Donkey Kong, Punch-Out!!, Castlevania I-II, Final Fantasy, Kirby's Adventure, Mega Man 2, and so many more. It's your childhood in an affordable, easily-transported box. Consume!

True, we can think of a few games we would've liked in there, including Tetris, Contra, and Dragon Warrior, but it's hard to complain when you look at the total package here.

The NES is back

One of the greatest consoles of all time in a modernized package with 30 classic games for US$60? We can't pass up that deal. It doesn't make up for the Wii U's sad demise or the delayed look at the NX, but this is something else – something special too, we think.

The Xbox One S isn't the most exciting console upgrade on the market this year, while the PlayStation 4K could be an impressive and worthwhile buy even for PS4 owners – but likely at a hefty price considering the higher-end hardware within. We're still excited about that.

But the sweet spot of price, quality, and quantity here just seems unbelievable. It's a perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who appreciates games of any sort, not to mention an ideal piece of hardware for introducing kids and other more recent players to this seminal legend of a console.

So long as the emulation quality is on point and everything looks good via HDMI on your flat screen, Nintendo ought to have a winner here – and another atypical success story for the company in 2016 following Pokémon Go. And if we all buy the thing, then maybe we'll get a mini Super Nintendo and Nintendo 64 in the coming years. We can dream, right?