Here are the best retro gaming consoles you can buy, split into three groups. There are the mini consoles, hard-to-find smaller versions of original systems packed with classic games. Then there are the modern consoles with strong back catalogs. And finally, there are the systems that can play legacy media on modern TVs.
The good news with mini retro systems is that they almost all universally look good and come packed with classic games. The bad news is that they fly off the shelves, and none of the ones on this list can be easily found at their originally reasonable prices. They're collector's items themselves, and that means you must make effort to find them. They also look great on the shelf, possibly stacked right on top of the larger original systems.
This is the system that got the retro console trend rolling. There were other retro compilation consoles in the past, like the Atari Flashback series, but the NES Classic is the first to come directly from the company that made the original NES (Nintendo, of course).
If you didn't play the games when they first came out or haven't tried them through other ways, the SNES Classic is a must-have for gaming historians. Some of the best games ever made are here, and that's not hyperbole. Good luck finding one at its original price, though. This is an expensive system for collectors.
American millennials generally grew up as Nintendo kids, Sega kids, or Sony kids. There weren't many TurboGrafx-16 kids, even though it was a totally valid 8/16-bit (it's technically complicated) console with a strong game library. The TurboGrafx-16 Mini could be the best retro game console you've never heard of. This little system packs 50 titles from both the TurboGrafx-16 and Japan's PC Engine consoles, including the excellent Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and numerous shoot 'em ups. Just be prepared for some its adventure and RPG games to be unplayable unless you know Japanese.
This is another rare one, so retro game collectors will dig it. Japanese readers will appreciate Snatcher, and Castlevania fans will note that Rondo is Blood is considered by many to be the best pre-Symphony of the Night game in the series.
You can play classic games on most modern systems, but the available games wildly vary. Then there are the more unique options, like Arcade1Up cabinets, which offer preinstalled arcade games on nearly-full-sized arcade cabinets, making them as useful as gaming furniture as they are gaming hardware.
If you have the room for them, Arcade1Up's systems are pretty great for making it clear \"this is a gaming space.\" They cost far less than authentic arcade cabinets, and their slightly smaller size make them a bit easier to find a spot for in your home.
Why buy a retro game system when you can build your own RetroPi is an operating system package for the Raspberry Pi that easily turns the inexpensive microcomputer into a retro game system that can play nearly any title made before 2000. It requires some work to get going, but you'll have the pride of knowing you put it together yourself. Add a Retroflag(Opens in a new window) shell to give your retro box a retro look.
The PlayStation 5 already has a fantastic PlayStation library via the PS Plus Collection, but that isn't really retro. The big, classic gaming appeal comes with a PlayStation Plus Premium membership, which gives you access to the Classics Catalog. We're talking about dozens of PlayStation, PS2, PS3, and even PlayStation Portable games. There's some gold in there.
Xbox fans will appreciate the opportunity to play some original Xbox and Xbox 360 classics, but any gamer can find something they'll like on Xbox Game Pass. PC gamers benefit even more from Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which opens up a library of PC games to the mix, along with cloud gaming on your phone.
This is one of the greatest handheld gaming systems, full-stop. It uses the same FPGA technology found in the Analogue Super Nt and Mega Sg, reproducing Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games perfectly and upscaling them for the gorgeous 1,600-by-1,200 OLED screen. It also is the first system with Analogue's open-source openFPGA platform, inviting anyone to develop for the hardware (and yes, that includes running roms on it). Oh, and a dock is available so you can play on your TV, which is why it's on this list, as well as our list of the best retro gaming handhelds.
The Polymega is a retro game system that can handle nearly any classic game you throw at it, thanks to emulation and robust cartridge and card support, like the Retro Freak. Unlike the Retro Freak, the Polymega includes an optical drive so you can play PlayStation, Sega CD, Sega Saturn, TurboGrafx CD, and Neo Geo CD games on the base unit.For cartridges and cards, you can attach different $60 modules that add media slots, such as Power (NES), Super (SNES and Super Famicom), Mega (Sega Genesis/Mega Drive and 32X), and Turbo (TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine). Each module comes with its own wired controller modeled after its associated systems, while the base unit comes with a wireless dual analog controller.
If you have old-school CD games from the PlayStation and before, this is an ultimate retro gaming device. The modular cartridge accessories also mean you can play (and back up) your favorite cartridge games, too, but it gets fairly expensive. More than anything else, this system is for collectors with patience; you'll be waiting a while to get this unit.
If you prefer to play classic games on your PC (or want to know what games-focused software to install), check out our guide to the best emulators. Want to play retro games on the go Read up on the best retro gaming handhelds.
The Retroid Pocket 2+ lives up to its portable promise, being only slightly longer and wider than the full-sized iPhone 13. Retroid makes five different colorways, each of which is a throwback to classic consoles and is available for the same price. We reviewed the Retro version, which has a gray plastic shell and purple face buttons, a clear nod to the original Game Boy.
Despite its flaws, the Retroid Pocket 2+ is still the handheld gaming champion at $99. Nothing else comes close at that price point other than the more expensive Pocket 3, or a used Nintendo Switch Lite.
A retro gaming console is a modern device that can play old games on new TVs. These are usually mini replicas of old consoles and come with pre-installed games running on emulation. Some retro consoles are new, such as the Evercade series, that feature bespoke games and emulated titles from the 8, 16 and 32 bit eras.
Our list here has a general order to which we consider the best retro gaming console, and these devices can be judged technically on how good the video game emulation is along with build quality and other features. However, with the best retro gaming consoles you are also dealing with nostalgia, so your personal connection to an old system or games may supersede any technical merits.
Yes. In recent years retro games have soared in value, partly because the age of gamers is increasing and nostalgia is a great influence, but also because the status of games and game design has increased. Some old games are seen as works of art, and as such are highly sought after. Retro games have a number of built in values too, including scarcity and the fact they can only be played on old hardware.
Yes, it's legal to download and play an emulator but you can't share or sell the ROMS. Some mini retro game consoles, such as the PlayStation Classic and the Amiga A500 Mini allow users to install their own games via USB storage. The best retro game consoles make emulation easier and offer scale model recreations of the classic consoles.
The best retro consoles celebrate the design and form of classic games consoles as well as enabling us to easily play classic games. This can include remakes old games and retro consoles as well as new games consoles designed to play on games and emulated games.
These top retro gaming systems are ideal for product and video game designers who need inspiration. The design decisions of developers and designers from the '70, '80s, and '90s continue to influence games and console manufacturers today. These are the best preloaded retro gaming consoles around now.
If you're hankering for a simpler time, the best retro game consoles are the tech equivalent of a chef's kiss. Besides bringing us back to the 'good old days' with nostalgic odes to yesteryear, these systems bring together some of the generation's most beloved games in one place. 153554b96e