Retro gaming is all the rage these days! The large sales figures of those new mini retro consoles from Nintendo just proves it. Even Sony is preparing the release of a PlayStation Mini console, jumping on the trend started with the Nintendo NES Classic Mini.
This is actually a fun trend, and most people feel like those miniature console do offer value for money. For example, the NES Classic Mini offers a total of 30 playable games for around $60. This brings the cost at roughly $2 per game. Not a bad price really…
However there are always those who want to get more out of their hardware. In fact it hasn’t taken long before people figured out a way to hack the NES Classic Mini. By using a program called Hakchi, people have been able to add more games to their NES Mini. The question is: should you do it? What are the pros and cons?
Note that we don’t endorse pirating games, nor do we take responsibility if you decide to hack your console. It is ultimately a decision which comes down to you. With that being said, let’s take a look at whether hacking your Nintendo NES Classic Mini is even worth it. We will start with the positive points, the ‘why-you-should hack’.
Why you should hack your Nintendo NES Classic Mini:
1) More space for more games
Even though the NES Classic Mini only has 30 games included into it, the device actually has more than 200MB of spare storage space. This might not seem like a lot, but it is actually enough to install quite a few extra games. Don’t forget that games back in the 1980’s weren’t those 50GB+ installs we see today. In facrt most NES games won’t be bigger than 300KB. This means you will have enough room to store a few hundred of them. Just make sure you keep enough storage space for your game thumbnails. Also, be mindfull that you might not be able to create game saves for each one of your hundreds of games. That is because those game saves will end up taking some space.
2) Not the best game selection
The selection of 30 games included in the NES Classic Mini is good. However some might argue that it is missing a few classics. For example, the EU version of the NES Mini has Mega Man 2, but not the first Mega Man game. Likewise with Double Dragon 2 being included whilst its predecessor is being left out. A lot people would also agree that Castlevania 3 should have been included with Castelvania 1 & 2. Then we can’t help but to wonder wonder if games like Balloon Fight where the best choice. The bottom line is this: adding more games to your console would be the best way to get that true classics collection you’ve always wanted.
3) A fairly safe process
The process of using Hakchi to hack the device and add new games isn’t complicated at all. In fact you will be able to back up your device’s original software (also called a Kernel) in case something goes wrong. This will allow you to revert your device to its defaults should you need it. Looking online, there simply aren’t many, if any reports of people bricking their device. It is still a risk, but a very minor one at best.
4) You have made you own ROMS
Retro games can be found online in the form of ROMS, but using those is technically illegal. However if you do own the games in the cartridge format and you have managed to make your own ROMS, then why not use those in your new Mini retro console? It only makes sense, it is almost as those ROMS where made to be added to your Mini console.
5) The save-feature will work on other games
One of the great aspect of the NES Classic Mini is that you can create save states for your games. The great news is that the function also works with any other ROMS / games you will add. This is great news, as it means you retain the full functionality that the console has to offer. However, as previously mentioned, just remember that you might not be able to create game saves for each game if you have a few hundred of them.
As you can see, the reasons for hacking your NES Mini are pretty simple, it all comes down to the one thing: having more games to play. However you might want to consider that sometimes, less is more. With that in mind, here are the reasons you will want to avoid hacking your NES Mini.
Why you shouldn’t hack your Nintendo NES Classic Mini:
1) A cluttered interface
As you can see when looking at the menus, the interface only has so much room to display so many games. In other words, the NES Classic Mini’s interface simply wasn’t designed to present more than 30 games on the screen. It all starts looking pretty messy once you add hundreds of games, and it will require that you create folders in order for the UI not to look too cluttered.
2) Bricking your mini console
We mentioned before that there haven’t been reports of people breaking their consoles when attempting to hack them, but the lack of online reports doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened. Like with hacking anything, there are always risks that you will make your devices unusable. You should also know that your seller won’t reimburse your device after you hacked it, as this goes outside of the manufacturer’s terms and conditions.
3) Downloading ROMS is illegal
This is a big point of contention here. Unless you created your own ROMS, then downloading them from some Rom site is technically illegal. In fact Nintendo has recently been closing ROM sites like emuparadise.me a well-known place where people used to get their ROMS from. Basically, this is more to do with the implications behind pirating, both morally and financially speaking.
4) The ‘Netflix Syndrome’: too many games
Along with a cluttered interface comes choice, and sometimes too much of it. You are probably familiar with the ‘Netflix Syndrome’, I.E. spending longer times choosing what to watch than actually watching anything. Well it’s the same here: too many games makes it difficult to choose and you end up browsing endlessly. Sometimes, less is indeed more, and it certainly makes the act of choosing which game to play a whole lot easier.
5) Not the best device for large-scale emulation
If you are really looking to play all the games, there are better ways to do that. Most will argue that you are better using your computer, an android TV device, or even creating your own gaming device by using a Raspberry PI and software like retro arch. That way you will have more storage space, and you can also emulate other consoles than simply the NES. You can keep your NES Classic Mini for some fun and NES-oriented sessions with a few friends instead.
Conclusion: should you hack your NES Mini or not?
To hack or not to hack, that is the question… With everything that we just mentioned, we hope that it will help you to make your mind up. It really comes down to this: Are you the sort of person that tinkers with your equipment? Or are you more the vanilla sort of person, preferring to use things as they were meant to?
If you like to play around with things, then you will find that hacking your NES Mini is actually a really easy thing to do. This means a ton more games to play with, which most people can’t really argue against.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing this sort of thing then don’t worry, your NES Mini still has enough good games, and it is still a great device for $60. Furthermore, you will get a more consistent experience,by using the console and its interface in a way they where designed for.
Whatever you choose to do, you will get your money’s worth, and it’s not bad to be able to send a few dollars to the company that provided our childhood with so many good memories. It is $60 well spent, and from there you just have to choose whether you want to extract even more from your device.