A Mini Shelflife? My Thoughts on the Small, Retro Console Trend

I think one of the biggest draws for the new wave of miniature consoles that are hitting the market is the nostalgia factor coupled with access to a library of high-quality games. It’s really hard to beat the value proposition that these new products offer.

For a little less than $100, you can get a collection of the best games for a retro system, controllers to play it with, and the convenience of modern technology.

The only problem with all of this is that you often find that some of these games have not aged as well as you expected them to do.

From maddening difficulty to overly simplistic gameplay, some of these miniature consoles really just trade on the nostalgia factor and nothing else.

But it seems like more and more manufacturers are making their own version of a miniature console with Konami and Sega among the most recent companies to do so.

The whole thing is a great idea in theory but it doesn’t really seem to have a lot of staying power once you’ve bought the system and opened it.

After all, how long can an old console hold your attention when you have multimillion-dollar, high budget games in the offing waiting for you to play right now.

I don’t want to call miniature consoles a cash grab, because that’s not really an accurate description of what’s going on, but it doesn’t seem like the products really have any longevity in terms of something you will return to time and time again.

The recent PlayStation miniature console which failed to succeed in the market is one example of how nostalgia might be more powerful than reality. Even though the system came with the best games that the PlayStation had to offer, it was nonetheless a complete failure in the marketplace.

The real question becomes where does this trend stop. After all, we can’t have a bevy of miniature consoles alongside all of the new modern systems that we own. In this regard, the miniature consoles would seem to be best positioned as collector’s items and I think most reviews should take that perspective.

The main reason for this is because for gamers that are currently playing this generation’s systems, the retro consoles are only going to act as a diversion whereas for other gamers that may not be familiar with older titles the consoles really or just an introduction to those library‘s and not really a comprehensive overview of everything they have to offer. In other words, miniature consoles have a limited shelf life outside of collectibility and nostalgia.

Personally, I am really excited about the upcoming Konami miniature console but I really can’t tell someone who has never played any of their Turbografx-16/PCEngine games before to go out and pick one up. It just wouldn’t be very honest of me to say that these games are as good now as they were then. That said, there are so many options for retro gamers these days they go way beyond the miniature consoles that it would seem to be almost a waste of money to buy a miniature console if you were serious about that kind of gaming.

What about you? Have you purchased a miniature console? What is your opinion of it? How long did you play it? Do you think these are more like a collector’s item? Or something that will become a mainstay of your video game set up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Also, check out this top 10 best of the Turbografx-16 I did for Studio 35 Online.