12 Modern Retro Gaming Consoles Worth Buying

Retro Consoles Feature

Modern-day console games are an incredible experience with graphics that can feel lifelike and stories that are more like a movie. However, there is something to be said for reliving the classic console games of old when games felt more like games and in-app purchases were unthinkable. But retro gaming is thriving right now, and because of that, official manufacturers like Nintendo and SEGA are getting in on the action along with some incredible third-party partners. Let’s take a look at the best retro gaming consoles you can buy.

1. Sega Genesis Mini

Price: $172

Genesis can do what NintenDON’T! For anyone who remembers the Super Nintendo versus Genesis battle, “NintenDON’T” was one of the iconic catchphrases of the video game wars. The Sega Genesis Mini stands as a strong reminder of why this system was wildly popular and one of the best remembered retro gaming consoles of all time. With 40 games ready out of the box, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Ecco the Dolphin and Golden Axe, there is something for everyone.

Retro Console Genesismini
Image source: Amazon

The biggest downside is the controller cable length that forces you to sit closer to the TV than you may want. Aside from that, this is the Sega Genesis you know and love.

2. Evercade

Price: $99.99

If it’s a (legal) retro gaming console you want, Evercade is everything you could hope for and more. You won’t have games from Nintendo, but with collections from Namco, Atari, Data East and more, there is something for every retro fan. The hardware is exceptionally comfortable in the hand, and with a 4.3-inch screen, there’s plenty of room to enjoy your childhood favorites. You can also connect the unit to a TV through an HDMI cable.

Retro Console Evercade
Image Source: Amazon

The Atari collection spans over four separate cartridges, including two that are Lynx collections. It’s so exciting for fans of the handheld console that lived too long in Gameboy’s shadow.

3. NEOGEO Mini

Price: $59.94

This mini arcade style Neo Geo Mini is one of the most unique retro gaming consoles to have seen release and is perfect for fans of the original console. Sporting a good-enough 3.5-inch LCD display, the arcade layout makes for truly fun gameplay.

Best Retro Gaming Consoles Genesis Neogeo Mini
Image source: Amazon

Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, you can take the Mini anywhere. You can also hook it up to a TV with the HDMI input. At just $60, it can be an impulse buy that can keep you entertained for hours.

4. Legends Flashback

Price: $79.99

When you want more than 100 classic retro games on one console, look for the AtGames Legends Flashback. Between Aladdin, Lion King, Super Star Wars, Joe & Mac, Top Gear, Mega Man and Dig Dug, there is something for everyone – no matter their retro gaming background. With 720p output for connecting to a television and two ergonomic six-button controllers for two-player action, this is something the whole family can enjoy.

Best Retro Gaming Consoles Genesis Legends Flashback
Image source: Amazon

You can save and resume games, and there is a rewind feature as well to make sure your character can live forever. With so many strong names and a low price, this is a fantastic addition to any retro gaming collection.

5. PlayStation Classic

Price: $84.99

One of the most popular consoles of all time, the PlayStation Classic helps you relive Sony’s first days of console glory. While it only offers a small number of games with just 20 preloaded titles, you still get favorites like Ridge Racer 4, Tekken 3, Final Fantasy VII, Grand Theft Auto and Twisted Metal. The design is 45 percent smaller than the original console, and the HDMI input ensures you can connect to your TV.

Retro Console Psclassic
Image source: Amazon

The controllers are another big win, as they act and feel just as the originals did. The virtual memory card makes sure you can save any of the preloaded games whenever you need to stop and take a pause.

6. Nintendo Game & Watch

Price: $40

Few retro gaming handhelds really take you back to the past as much as the Nintendo Game & Watch. Game & Watch was hugely popular before the GameBoy stormed the world and as good as it gets.

Best Retro Gaming Consoles Game Watch
Image source: Amazon

What it lacks in game support, it more than makes up, with deep nostalgia and a form factor that can’t be beaten. If that is not enough, this handheld also includes Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels and the original Game & Watch: Ball game.

7. Capcom Home Arcade

Price: $224 (not yet released in USA)

If you spent any time in an arcade in the 80s and 90s, then you’ll definitely want to check out the Capcom Home Arcade. Essentially a plug and play console, the Capcom Home Arcade brings classic games from Capcom’s CPS1 and CPS2 lineup to your living room. However, this isn’t one of those cheap Atari plug-and-plays that you pick up at a discount retailer. The Capcom Home Arcade is a well-made piece of hardware featuring authentic SANWA buttons and joysticks for an authentic arcade feel.

Modern Retro Console Capcom Box
Image source: Capcom

The only downside is that there isn’t any way to add additional games. There are only 16 games built in, and while they cover a wide variety of genres, the high price tag of the Capcom Home Arcade may cause some to think twice about a purchase. At the same time, Capcom has yet to make the Home Arcade available in the US, so if you’re stateside, you may be looking at hefty import fees.

8. Polymega

Price: Starts at $450

The Polymega is something pretty special, and its eye-watering price tag certainly reflects that. The Polymega from PlayMaji is a “modular console” made for physical game collectors. The base system allows you to play CD-based games, including titles from PlayStation One, Sega CD, TurboGrafx-CD, Sega Saturn, and more – straight out of the box. Additionally, the Polymega utilizes modular add-ons that increase its functionality.

Modern Retro Console Polymega
Image source: Polymega

For about $80 each, you can expand the console’s ability to play games from cartridge-based systems like the NES, Sega Genesis, SNES and more. Furthermore, the Polymega is in active development, which means additional modules will be available in the future.

Modern Retro Console Polymega2
Image source: Polymega

As the Polymega is aimed at physical game collectors, it doesn’t play any ROMs. However, it does allow users to “rip” their games to the Polymega’s internal storage.

9. Retro-Bit Super Retro-Cade

Price: $59.99

Ninety officially-licensed games from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras in a super small form factor that and incredibly affordable at around $60? The Super Retro-Cade by Retro-Bit can scratch that itch. Connect the Retro-Cade to your TV via HDMI to be playing classics from the likes of Capcom and Data East in no time.

Modern Retro Console Retrobit
Image source: RetroBit

The game selection is packed with old favorites like Double Dragon, Mega Man, Burger Time and Final Fight, so no matter what genre you’re in the mood for, you know that you’ll find something to play. In addition, you can also provide your own arcade game ROMs via the SD card slot. Unfortunately, the bundled controllers are not wireless, but Retro-Bit has a number of officially licensed Sega Genesis and Saturn controllers that make up for it.

10. Valve Steam Deck

Price: Starts at $399

A powerful gaming PC crammed into the form factor of a Nintendo Switch is certainly appealing, which explains why it’s so hard to get your hands on one. If you do manage to land one, you’ll be able to play most available Steam titles. In addition, you can run emulators of classic consoles through apps like RetroArch. Because the Steam Deck is so powerful, you can even emulate much newer consoles like the PlayStation 2 and the Wii U.

Steam Deck Conclusion
Image source: Steam

Of course there are some drawbacks, namely the price and the relative scarcity of the machine. If you’re only planning on playing retro games, the Steam Deck is overpowered and overpriced. However, if you’re looking for something super versatile, the Steam Deck has you covered.

11. Nintendo Switch

Price: Starts at $199

The Nintendo Switch has cemented its status as a true game changer in video game history. It’s easy to see why, considering its inventive design and strong game library. With a Nintendo Switch Online membership, the Switch’s game library is even better after 100 classic NES and SNES titles were added.

Modern Retro Console Switch
Image source: Nintendo Switch Online

Nintendo Switch Online requires a monthly subscription fee. However, Switch users can sign up for a seven-day trial of the service. As the name suggests, Nintendo Switch Online does require an active Internet connection. Keep that in mind if you primarily use your Switch away from Wi-Fi.

12. Analogue Consoles

Price: Varies by console, starts at $189

Like the Polymega, the Analogue consoles are designed for physical game collectors. These consoles utilize a FPGA, a type of chip that can be programmed to recreate the architecture of classic video game consoles. This translates to a super accurate experience.

Modern Retro Console Analogue
Image source: Analogue

Unlike Polymega, Analogue makes a number of standalone consoles, primarily focusing on the 8- and 16-bit era of gaming. The Mega SG covers Sega’s Genesis and Master System consoles. The Super NT has the SNES and Super Famicom covered. The Pocket is engineered for the Gameboy, Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance and can run Atari Lynx and Sega Game Gear games with additional adapters. Finally, the upcoming Analogue Duo allows gamers to relive the TurboGrafx-16 and TurboGrafx CD. These consoles are sleek and have an excellent build quality – but be prepared to pay for them.

Best of the Rest

You may be asking where the NES Classic and SNES Classic are. That’s a really great question, as they are truly some of the best retro consoles ever made. With 20-some games that include forever classics like Mario Kart, Donkey Kong and Super Street Fighter II, they are something you can hand down to your children.

Retro Console Nesclassic
Image source: Amazon

Unfortunately, their prices have quadrupled, as they are no longer being manufactured or sold at retail. They remain incredibly fun and well worth whatever price you pay, but they’re also harder to recommend at quadruple their original prices. Unless you are desperate to own one, there are other, less expensive retro consoles that offer the same level of fun. The same goes for consoles like the TurboGrafx-16 Mini, which is also no longer available through retail, leading to heavy price spikes.

Honorable Mention: Xbox One/Xbox Series S/X

Since Microsoft’s Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X are essentially computers, they have the ability to run RetroArch. For the uninitiated, RetroArch is a piece of software that allows you to run a wide variety of video game emulators, all from a single app.

Xbox Retroarch Series
Image source: Pexels

Because there is a considerable amount of configuration required, it didn’t make this list. That being said, if you’re willing to spend a couple hours doing some tinkering, you’ll be playing your favorite retro games without buying any additional hardware.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I build my own retro video game console?

Yes! There are a number of different ways to achieve this. One of the most popular methods is uses a single-board computer like a Raspberry Pi to run RetroPie or Recalbox. Alternatively, you can use your existing PC to play your favorite games from the old days with Batocera. You can even use your mobile phone to emulate various retro game consoles. Be aware that you will need to source your own ROMs if you decide to go down this route.

How do I obtain video game ROMs?

Digital copies of games are known as ROMs or, Read-Only-Memory. There are really only two ways to get your hands on them. The first is by “dumping” the physical games you already own. This is a fairly labor intensive process that, in some cases, requires special hardware. The other way is to simply download them, which, as you may guess, is much easier. The problem with downloading ROM files is that it is considered illegal activity in many parts of the world.

What about home computer enthusiasts?

This list has primarily catered to video game console owners, specifically those outside of Europe. However a large number of people have fond memories of playing games on home computers such as the Amiga and the Commodore. Fortunately, home computers like the Commodore 64 and the Amiga A500 have also gotten the “mini” treatment!

Image credit: Xenia Radchenko via Unsplash

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