Best retro video game consoles

Electronic Toys

Some models will come with multiple controllers, allowing for multiplayer games. The controllers may come wired to give that retro feel. However, there are re-released consoles that use wireless controllers.

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Which retro video game console is best?


As video games continue to develop rapidly, games of yesterday grow in nostalgic popularity.  In earlier years, the competition between gaming platforms caused some of the best games to be created as a result and are still recreated to this day. There’s even the luxury of purchasing retro games that have preloaded games on the system. If you’re looking for classic games that you can attach to your television, the Neo Geo Mini Pro Player Pack is the top choice.  

What to know before you buy a retro video game console

Retro Console Types

There are many retro consoles to choose from, whether PlayStation, Nintendo, Sega, Atari, Neo Geo or multi-system consoles. Although it’s one of the youngest retro consoles, the PlayStation had classic games when it made its release in 1994. Sony recently released the Playstation Classic, replicating the original PS1 console, except the Classic comes preloaded with signature games such as “Grand Theft Auto,” “Resident Evil” and “Tekken.” 

While Nintendo has released modern versions of their signature NES and SNES systems, their classic GameBoy and GameBoy Advance are still popular to this day. The re-released Nintendo systems include original games such as “Legend of Zelda,” “Final Fantasy III” and “Super Mario Bros.” Sega is known for introducing “Sonic the Hedgehog” with the Genesis console, and the modern version of the Genesis comes preloaded with games including the first and second “Sonic the Hedgehog.”

Being one of the oldest retro consoles, Atari created some of the most classic video games, including “PacMan,” “Frogger” and “Asteroids.” The company released a throwback console that includes multiple retro games such as “Space Invaders.” Known for mainly arcade games, Neo Geo created games such as “Metal Slug,” “The Last Blade,” and “Samurai Shodown.” The company offers a Neo Geo Mini console, a miniature version of the full-sized arcade console. If you want more of a versatile retro console, there are multi-system consoles with preloaded games that originate from other consoles. The multi-system consoles should have licenses from multiple game developers. 

Preloaded games

Check to see what games are preloaded on a retro console you’re considering purchasing. Although it will have many classic games, it may not have a specific game you were hoping to purchase. These re-released consoles tend to have between 20 to 50 preloaded games, giving you plenty of options from which to choose. 

TV compatibility

Although many of the re-released retro consoles will have modern ports and cables such as an HDMI cord, older retro consoles may not come with the correct cable that can attach to your television. If you prefer to purchase an original retro console, ensure that you’ll be able to have an accessory such as a converter cable to set up the console to your TV properly. 

What to look for in a quality retro video game console


Retro consoles should come with controllers, as it could be hard finding controls for the system if they don’t. Some models will come with multiple controllers, allowing for multiplayer games. The controllers may come wired to give that retro feel. However, there are re-released consoles that use wireless controllers. 


If you’re looking for a console you can play on the go, then handheld systems may be your best bet. The small screen and built-in controls offer convenience and more space with which to work. Just make sure that the console has backlighting, as many retro handheld consoles in previous years did not have backlighting, making it difficult to play in dark settings. 


If you want something to play with friends and family, you may want to check if the console is multiplayer. Even though some of these consoles may come with more than one controller, some of the preloaded games may not be multiplayer. Retro consoles tend not to have online capability, so don’t expect to play multiplayer online with others. 

How much you can expect to spend on a retro video game console

There are handheld and third-party multi-system consoles that can cost as little as $25-$50. However, these games may not be officially licensed. Re-released retro consoles can be found in the $50-$150 price range, offering various preloaded games, while consoles that cost $150-$300 tend to offer more games and special features. 

Retro video game console FAQ

Is gameplay the same on a re-released console as it is on an original retro game console?

A. There may be slight differences between the two versions, but the gameplay will mainly be identical to the original. The only catch is that you may not have the certain luxuries that players had with the original console when it came out, as there could have been exclusive character releases, cheat codes, etc. 

What constitutes a retro video game console?

A. Some deem the 70s and 80s as the era of retro games. However, the 90s had some of the best retro consoles come out including the SNES, Playstation 1 and Sega Dreamcast. As time progresses, there’s been a debate that even the 2000s had retro consoles with the Playstation 2 and Nintendo Gamecube.

What’s the best retro video game console to buy?

Top retro video game console

Game Monkey Neo Geo Mini Pro Player Pack

Game Monkey Neo Geo Mini Pro Player Pack

What you need to know: This versatile console comes with two controllers so you can play with others. 

What you’ll love: Games can be played on the built-in screen or through the TV using an HDMI cable. There are 40 classic arcade games available, providing a large selection. 

What you should consider: When used on TV, the quality doesn’t look great. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top retro video game console for the money

Nintendo Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.

Nintendo Game & Watch: Super Mario Bros.

What you need to know: “Super Mario Bros” is one of the biggest retro games in history, and this handheld console lets you play it on the go. 

What you’ll love: Along with the first and second “Super Mario Bros” on the console, lost levels and other extras are added to the games. It comes with a reasonable price tag. 

What you should consider: There have been complaints about the screen being too small. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Sony PlayStation Classic

Sony PlayStation Classic

What you need to know: With 20 games to choose from, the virtual game card will ensure that you progress in games will be saved. 

What you’ll love: Playstation classic games such as “Resident Evil Director’s Cut” and “Rayman” are included. This re-released model is 45% smaller than the original, saving you more space. 

What you should consider: The AC adaptor is not included, only the cable. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Ade Hennis writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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