5 Retro Gaming Gifts For The Computer Nerd

I’ve compiled a short list of retro gaming gadgety goodness for that special basement dweller in your family. Hey, that’s not an offensive term; I only wish I had a basement to dwell in!

This year we’re spoiled for choice. I suppose we usually are. But this year is special. The hobby electronics market has exploded into a vibrant plethora of makey kits and toys that I could only dream of when I was a child, and all the retro gaming and nostalgia buttons it’s been pressing has woken the sleeping giant Nintendo to throw their new NES Classic Mini into the mix.

Couple this with cool retro revival controllers like the 8bitdo, and more arcade kits than you could shake a pointy stick at and there’s no better time to be reliving the past.

Nintendo NES Classic Mini: An official x-in-one games system from Nintendo

Nintendo NES Classic Mini

Oh boy are Nintendo a fan of loooong URLs. While I hate Pokémon Go, and I think the NES Classic Mini is a little redundant in the face of a Rasperry Pi, there’s no arguing that this adorable little console is a great present for anyone who played the NES in their childhood years. No matter how easy it might be to set up an emulator on a Pi or computer, it’s not easier than just plugging this thing into your TV.

The NES Classic Mini has HDMI out, rather than the naff composite connections you’ll find on most X-in-1 retro game systems, and it includes 30 Nintendo classics. Certainly more games than I owned back in the day ;D

It also has a microUSB power connection, so any regular mobile phone adaptor, and potentially even a USB port on your TV, should power it up. Or a portable battery if you want to get mobile 😀

Learn more: https://www.nintendo.co.uk/Misc-/Nintendo-Classic-Mini-Nintendo-Entertainment-System/Nintendo-Classic-Mini-Nintendo-Entertainment-System-1124287.html

Pimoroni Picade: The Compact D.I.Y. Arcade Machine Kit

Pimoroni Picade, DIY Arcade Kit

Let’s not beat around the bush, a full-sized arcade cabinet is just a little over the top for a modest household. If your basement dweller doesn’t have an actual basement, or has filled it full of CNC machines and boxes of semi-functional old computers, then the compact Picade arcade kit could be the answer.

Picade is a kit comprising powder coated MDF panels, a joystick and buttons, a screen, speakers and driver boards plus all the fixing and fittings needed to piece it together. It’s lacking only a brain, which can be supplied in the form of a Raspberry Pi 3 or any dinky computer with USB ports and HDMI-out.

Learn more: https://shop.pimoroni.com/products/picade

Arduboy Handheld: Make Your Own Games

ArduBoy

ArduBoy is one of the reasons why I love my job at Pimoroni. Getting first dibs on awesome and incredibly popular little toys like this is a huge plus. In short, the ArduBoy is a handheld, Gameboy-styled games console that can be installed with a single game (or pack of simple games). It sounds dull, but the pitch is; you can write your own games. In fact, not only can you write your own games, but they’re written in the Arduino IDE using tools and language that’s widely understood and supported in the makersphere and can be approached, with a small learning curve, by anyone with the right mindset. If you know anyone who burned hours playing the monochrome games on their old Nokia mobile phone, this will give them a nostalgia overdose. You can pick up Arduboy at Pimoroni.com, I figured I’d link us since I stole the shop image to use here 😉

Learn more: https://www.arduboy.com/

8BitDo: Wireless Retro-styled Gamepads

nes30-pro

The 8BitDo controllers are one of my current tech lusts. They’re classically styled with modern guts, giving all the convenience of a bluetooth controller with that irresistible retro vibe. I want one, but just can’t justify the price since I’ve got several Wii classic controllers, original MegaDrive and SNES controllers, PS3 controllers and who knows what else in various places around the flat. Suffice to say, there’s simply no way I need any more controllers, no matter how shiny they are.

A great place to get these is DragonBox.de, a store rife with retro goodness and run by one of the guys behind the phenomenal OpenPandora and Pyra handheld computers.

Learn more: http://www.8bitdo.com/

Emulation has never been better on modern PCs, either, and perhaps my favourite platform for it at the moment is OpenEmu which staunchly runs only on Macs rockin’ El Capitan or newer.

Revo K101 Plus: Gameboy Advance Clone

Revo K101 Plus

Perhaps a little controversial, the Revo K101 Plus is a hardware clone of the Gameboy Advance which supports original GBA games, but will also run ROMs from MicroSD card including NES and Master System games. It’s a great little handheld, especially appealing to those who, like me, have held on to a small cache of GBA games.

Learn more: https://www.dragonbox.de/en/104-revo-k101-gba-klon

True story: I actually won an original Revo K101 in their logo design competition, but my logo was never used 🙁 – go read my review here: http://www.gadgetoid.com/2013/02/04/revo-k101-gba-clone-review/

The Wildcards

Okay, this is actually a 6th, but I just wanted to mention the Apple TV 4. Or what’s probably the only Apple TV presently available. It’s actually not a bad gaming platform, and there are several Sonic titles available for it already plus who knows what else. It took me a looong time to pick one up, but I’m happy that I did.

Finally, for the ultimate retro-gaming fix, keep a close eye on Pyra, the successor to the OpenPandora handheld which I use for a vast majority of my retro gaming- playing everything from Sonic through Simon The Sorcerer, to Half Life, Starcraft, Diablo 2 and Jedi Knight on the go. No I’m not kidding! The Pyra is not cheap and it’s not pretty, but good grief is it amazing and it should be able to do everything the OpenPandora does and more: https://pyra-handheld.com/boards/pages/pyra/