Last week, I finally managed to grab an NES Mini, around one year after it was officially unleashed by Nintendo. Of course, I had to pay it twice its original price, but that’s another story – one I hope won’t repeat anytime soon. Anyway, I must say this platform is pretty amazing. Apart from how quick it is to just turn on and off, and let you play some quick experiences that won’t ever age, it simply comes with an incredible lineup of video games, which spans from some of the most iconic titles and series to other gems you might not know anything about – but you definitely should. Products like the original Final Fantasy, the original Mario, the original Donkey Kong, the original The Legend of Zelda, Galaga and Pac-Man are among the things that defined – something like thirty years ago – the meaning itself of “video games”, while still being meaningful in terms of gameplay and enjoyment. SNES Mini is probably going to be the same thing, but this time around, maybe, it’ll come with a less didactic purpose while being closer to the titles that we truly played when we were all young.
So the real games we had back in the days and not the point where it all began, it’s a nuance but one that could mean a lot when it comes to actually choose whether buy the item or not, or – better – pre-order it (at least here in Europe, where you can) hoping for a chance to be quick enough to have it upon day one and on its regular RRP.
Thinking about the entire Nintendo Classic Mini initiative, how smart were they? It’s a very smart operation, which is both great in terms of what’s on offer – like the quality of the product, the mini console, and what’s in it, the games – and the chance it has to be really remunerative for Nintendo. Last year, when it launched the Mini NES, Nintendo was in a way less comfortable business situation. Although the mobile phenomenon was already born with Pokemon GO and was going to have a new high with Super Mario Run, Switch was still called “Nintendo NX” and was yet another anticipated debacle for the Kyoto platform holder. Luckily enough, things don’t always go by analysts’ predictions, and Nintendo had a pretty strong launch back in March with its new hybrid home/handheld system. So this means that the Nintendo Classic Mini thing came right in the best moment possible, giving a serious contribution to inject both liquidity and hope in the overall Nintendo brand. Do you know who else would need something like that – hope, more than liquidity, actually -? Xbox.
The other days I was thinking out loud, imaging who else could launch a similar initiative. Thinking of it, I came to the conclusion that one requirement would be recommended to have a company properly launching a commercial operation like this mainly based on nostalgia: old consoles that formed an entire, or a big part of it, generation of video games consumers. Maybe it’s a bit too early for Microsoft, since it doesn’t have the strong backstory as Nintendo in the video games consoles business, but one day that moment will come. Xbox head Phil Spencer recently said this brand is already iconic, so if Microsoft truly believes this it means we’re not too far away from the point where they’ll start to think to similarly nostalgia based product launch. The original Xbox would be a good fit among Xbox fans also because of two reasons: 1. Many Xbox fans didn’t purchase the original Xbox because they were playing PlayStation/PS2 back in the days, so they learned about the brand thanks to the unbelievable success of Xbox 360; 2. You can really count the meaningful original Xbox games on the tips of your fingers, so it wouldn’t be as difficult as it was for Nintendo with NES and SNES Mini to work on a good lineup of titles for a little Xbox. That’s a pro, seriously.
Then comes PlayStation. Of course, Sony is much closer than Microsoft to come to the market with a similar initiative. PSone Mini – although something like that already existed, it was basically a PSX Slim… do you remember? – would make more sense than an Xbox Mini mainly because it was one generation ahead, and precisely is more or less the same year than the original SNES (PlayStation released in 1995, SNES in 1990/1992 based on the territory). I have an idea of mine which tells you how much different the PSone Mini would be in comparison with the NES and SNES Mini, that’s basically based on the core differences between Nintendo and Sony themselves.
Nintendo has thought of the Classic portfolio to be something pretty limited, in time and a number of units shipped, and if you consider it closely… well, something like that keeps happening all the time, with all the products coming from Nintendo. They’re constantly trying to expand their userbase, or better to expand the entire audience of video games consumers, but they also have something that makes this company’s product a niche, an elite in the gaming landscape. Probably it’s just a matter of a number of units they can produce at a time, with limited resources and budgets, but this is the final result – the idea that this stuff can only be obtained by few, lucky and smart people, a la Apple. PlayStation is instead totally different. Sony comes from the living room experience, with TVs, cinema, etc., so they’re used to be a popular brand in the true sense of the word: they constantly exposed and live off that classic exposure that only always being in the physical stores can give you.
This is why I think of PSone Mini as something that would always be in store, as a part of the PlayStation hardware lineup, staying close to PS4 and the consoles to be. As for Xbox Mini, it’d feature Internet connectivity, so I’d expect all kinds of live updates and upgrades in terms of portfolio and lineup – that would also open it to be an entirely new hardware capable of running up to PS2 or PS3 titles, even though making it look differently from PS1 would somehow waste the nostalgia effect which is at the base of the Nintendo philosophy for these classics. Not a great idea, but sure enough both Microsoft and Sony would make them more modern and closer to the already existing lineup of hardware, rather than “simply” stuff you use to involve more and more people into your IP and modern consoles.
How would your PSone Mini and Xbox Mini be, instead? Let us know in the comments.