The Complete Guide To 5 Favorite Classic Game Consoles

a classic game console with controller

If you're a game connoisseur at heart, then you're already familiar with classic game consoles. Chances are you've played with them or owned them, maybe even when they first came out.

Classic game consoles have been around for a while, with the most notable ones first released in the 1970s. For a lot of gamers, these consoles take them back to their childhood, when they sat in front of the television with their favorite snacks, drinks, even some friends, playing a few rounds of Mario Brothers, Pac Man, or Duck Hunt.

If only we could travel back to those years and relive what are now the good old days. The good news is you sort of can. Maybe not travel back, but you can recreate those gaming moments of your youth because many classic game consoles have been re-released, along with their classic games, of course.

Even better, these consoles come pre-loaded with a decent selection of games. There's a big chance all your favorites are among their selections.

Comparison Table

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How Game Consoles Have Evolved

Atari Flashback Console and controllers

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Games and gaming consoles continue to evolve as technology does. Consoles today make you feel like you've stepped into another world, and with some of their virtual reality capabilities, that's not far from the truth. Games now look and feel like you're watching a movie with their high definition and seamless graphics. It's amazing how far technology has taken gaming consoles.

You know you have a classic game console by the quality of its graphics. The most notable thing is these consoles are highly pixelated with vivid colors. This isn't a bad thing when it comes to games. Many game fanatics will appreciate this aspect and those who grew up with these consoles will love the nostalgia they bring.

Another notable thing about these consoles is the sound. Music and sound effects are very digital, not the symphonic melodies or rock beats that are produced in a studio. Nevertheless, they're catchy and again remind gaming gurus of times gone by. But even if you're new to the gaming world and want to dive into the classics, you'll appreciate these qualities. Compared with the near flawless attributes of the newer consoles that modern-day gamers are used to, the old will be something new.

Why Classic Game Consoles Will Never Disappear

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If graphics and sound aren't obvious attributes of classic game consoles, then their size should be. Just like many electronic devices and technology equipment, such as the computer and television, they didn't start off small. Many of these devices were as large as a standard DVD player, or a tabletop record player.

Some were even larger, especially the classic arcade machines. Despite their larger size compared to today's gaming consoles, they easily fit under one's television stand or cabinet. As far as the arcade machines, well, most opted to use those in restaurants and arcades that housed them, unless they had a room in their house dedicated to gaming, which is awesome.

Even though times have changed and there are no longer games coming out designed for these classic game consoles, they will never fade away. With every new generation of gamers, they'll always be a good amount who are curious to play the classics and some who'll eventually become fans of them.

There are also tried-and-true gamers who grew up playing with these consoles. They'll always revisit classic games like one watches old movies or listens to the oldies. There's always a place for classic game consoles and that's why their companies are re-releasing them in more user-friendly versions.

About Our Review of the Top Five Classic Game Consoles

a young girl using a classic game console

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We're gamers at heart and many of us grew up playing classic games or watching our siblings play them with friends. So as we reminisce on classic game consoles, it's only appropriate that we share five that have stand the test of time, not only in usability but in the quality and the type of games they operate.

In our review, we looked at both the console and the games associated with it. With the console, we considered its unique features that differentiated them from the rest, relative cost, and the pros and cons of the newer versions available today.

We didn't forget the real classics—the original consoles that are no longer in production. Since we know some people want the real deal, the console that was available during its height of popularity, we mentioned where you can find the pre-owned versions.

Lastly, we share our top choice among our list of classic game consoles we recommend you look into as you scout for one. It's sure to provide you with the most uninterrupted hours and variety of nostalgic entertainment.

Product FAQ

classic Sega game console

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What Is a Classic Game Console?

A classic game console is an electronic device that operates video games. These consoles were the first generation of gaming consoles that came out between the 1970s and 1990s. They often are larger and boxier than modern day consoles, going from the size of a standard tabletop turntable to a dresser. Their graphics and sounds are simple, being pixelated and digital.


Why Should Gamers Try Classic Game Consoles?

Every gamer, especially avid gamers, should try classic game consoles for a variety of reasons. First is to learn the basic operation of these devices. Classic game consoles not only come with the games and console itself, but add-ons, such as joysticks, controllers, keyboards, and arsenals, like the rifle in the game Duck Hunt. These devices can familiarize users with a variety of gameplay they can experience with these consoles.

Second is to expose yourself to a variety of games and their features. A plus with classic gaming consoles, especially the ones that are currently re-released, is they come with a long list of classic built-in games, some of the consoles having close to a hundred.

classic video game console setup

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This not only gives you hours of entertainment for a valued price, but you get the chance to hone your gaming skills and learn new things that can be applied to modern games. You can become a well-rounded player with lots of experience in the gaming world.

The third is appreciation. One can't truly say they don't like or like something if they haven't exposed themselves to it. Though when compared to modern consoles, the classics have simpler graphics, sound, and operation, they still provide entertainment in their own way. You'd surprised that though their games look simple, they can be challenging, something many gamers look for. You'll miss a lot if you overlook the value these classic game consoles hold.


What Are the Best Classic Game Consoles?

Many classic game console manufacturers still produce consoles and games. If you're a gamer, you'll likely familiar with brands like Nintendo, Sony, Atari, and Sega. These are the best ones currently out there not only because they're household names, but because they're pioneers in the world of gaming.

Their consoles are reliable in terms of functionality and quality. Considering that you can find many of their pre-owned originals around is proof that they have lasting quality.


How Much Do They Cost and Where Can You Find Them?

classic PlayStation gaming setup

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Prices vary significantly when it comes to classic game consoles. The cheaper ones will usually be the re-releases from manufacturers and range from $50 to over one hundred. The ones we reviewed had a range from $40 to $150.

If you're looking for pre-own versions, it's difficult to know since it all depends on where you buy them and who you buy them from. If you're lucky, you can find one at a thrift store for under $50, but an individual could easily sell their original classic console for over a thousand dollars.

These classic game consoles can be purchased through department and big box stores like Kohl's and Walmart. These versions are re-released in smaller, usually handheld, sizes. Online marketplaces, such as Amazon, also sell these consoles.

Another way you can get your hands on these classic game consoles, especially the pre-owned originals is through individual sellers on sites like eBay or even thrift stores in your area, such as Goodwill. Thrift stores will come down to luck and chances are these places will be where you can get them at the lowest price.


What Are Games to Play on a Classic Game Console?

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This article wouldn't be complete if we didn't share at least three classic games to play on your game console. You probably heard of these already and may not be surprised, but they serve as a great introduction to the world of classic gaming.

Super Mario Brothers

This game came out in the 1980s and was one of the first associated with the Super Nintendo Classic. If you like exploring new worlds and storylines, you'll love this game. It focuses on two brothers, Mario, and Luigi (who you can control one at a time or play both (alternately) in multi-player mode), who are on a quest to save Princess Toadstool from an enemy named Bowser.

Final Fantasy

This game came out in the 1980s as well and set the stage for innovation in the gaming world. This is another game that is all about exploring worlds and focuses on a group of allies who are on a quest to take down a great evil. The graphics are ahead of their time. This game also focuses on characters' battles with themselves and others, which connects the player to them.

Pac Man

?This game also came out in the 1980s and will suit gamers who are looking for a basic game to entertain themselves. This is a maze game came that features a simple character whose mission is to travel through a path to eat as many dots and fruits while avoiding wandering enemy ghosts. The graphics are what you'd expect from a classic game, vivid with an arcade feel.

What We Reviewed

  • Atari Flashback 8 Gold Console
  • C64 Mini Console
  • Sony PlayStation Classic
  • Super Nintendo Classic
  • Sega Genesis Classic

Atari Flashback 8 Gold Console

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A top feature of this console is that it comes with over a hundred games (120 games to be exact). These games are built in, saving you storage space. In addition to the games, this console comes complete with two joystick controllers, two paddles, an AC power adapter, and an HDMI cable for multi-player gaming.

You'll appreciate the packaging as well, being classic black with retro faux wood lining and large red and orange operation buttons. Not only is it fun to play, but also to display on your gaming shelf.

Popular Games Associated with It

Some popular pre-loaded games associated with this console are Asteroids, Frogger, Hangman, Indy 500, Kaboom!, Space Invaders, and 3D Tic Tac Toe.


  • A lot of games for a great price
  • Games are pre-loaded in console
  • Small and lightweight


  • Has some bugs
  • Pac Man isn't included
  • No instructions on how to change games

Where To Buy

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C64 Mini Console

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What you'll love with this console is your ability to add games to it. Already 64 games are built into the console, guaranteeing hours of entertainment. The console is 50% smaller than the original, ensuring you'll have space to store and display it. It doesn't have a working keyboard, however, operation of the keys are not required to play the games and you can connect the console to your computer keyboard through the USB cord if you wish to use one.

What's included besides the games, are the console, a joystick, an HDMI cable, and a USB cable.

Popular Games Associated with It

Some popular pre-loaded games associated with this console are AlleyKat, Deflektor, Stormlord, Trailblazer, Nebulus, Pitstop II, and Skate Crazy.


  • Can update software via USB drive
  • Has high definition output
  • Can add games


  • Keyboard keys are nonfunctional
  • Keyboard navigation is slow
  • Difficult to figure out how to add games

Where To Buy

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Sony PlayStation Classic

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This is a pioneer in modern gaming with their high definition graphics and sound. Released in the 1990s, the re-release version is 50% smaller, small enough to hold with one hand. It also contains twenty pre-installed games, featuring all the favorites that avid gamers would recommend to those who are just beginners.

In addition to the console and pre-installed games, you also get two controllers for multi-player gaming, a virtual memory card for making saves, and an HDMI cable.

Popular Games Associated with It

Some popular pre-installed games associated with this console: Final Fantasy VII, Ridge Racer Type 4, Tekken 3, Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid, and Resident Evil Director's Cut.


  • Compatible with HDTVs
  • Charges with a standard smartphone charger
  • Has 20 of the most popular games pre-installed


  • The re-released version does not play game discs
  • HDMI worked half the time
  • Doesn't come with a power cord

Where To Buy

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Super Nintendo Classic

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This console was originally released in the 1990s and is a 16-Bit system that delivers vivid pixelated graphics. Retro fans and old-school players will appreciate this. Twenty-one of the most popular games of the time are pre-installed in a handheld-sized console so storage concerns is not an issue.

What you get in addition to the games and consoles are an HDMI cable, USB cable with AC adapter, and two wired controllers.

Popular Games Associated with It

Some popular games associated with this console and also pre-loaded are Super Mario Kart, Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario Brothers, Zelda, Starfox 2, Kirby's Dream Course, Mega Man X, and Final Fantasy III.


  • Lightweight
  • Can pause and save games in progress
  • Games identical to the original


  • No AC adaptor even though stated
  • Does not play old cartridges
  • Additional games cannot be added to the console

Where To Buy

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Sega Genesis Classic

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A big feature of this classic game console is its re-released version is the same size as the original, delivering authenticity. It also has functional console slots where you can use original game cartridges. When you add the wired controllers, you pretty much have the original.

What you get in addition to the games and consoles are two wired controllers for multi-player gaming, an HDMI cable, and an AC power adapter.

Popular Games Associated with It

Some popular pre-loaded games associated with this console are Mortal Kombat, Virtua Fighter 2, Altered Beast, Phantasy Star, Jewel Master, Mahjong Solitaire, and Sonic.


  • Plays cartridges
  • Can save games without a memory card
  • Also works with wireless controllers


  • Not compatible with newer televisions
  • Graphics a little blurry
  • Freezes

Where To Buy

No products found.


a huge replica of a classic Gameboy

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Classic game consoles are not the only devices from the past. Though many of the replicated versions have scaled to fit in your hands, they are not unique in that ability. Popular devices, such as Nintendo Gameboy and PlayStation Portable, allow gamers to take their entertainment on the road. These devices either operate with batteries or an adapter, making them convenient to power up.

The world of gaming and gaming consoles will only increase as technology does. It may look like we've reached the surface in seeing how realistic and interactive gaming can be, but we can only guess how innovation will surprise us.

No matter how great the innovation, there will always be a place for classic game consoles. There will always be gamers who prefer the simplicity of worlds and actions. Even more will prefer the nostalgia these consoles offer, even if they weren't the first players of them when they first came out.

Our Top Choice and Why

Ultimately, it's difficult to say which classic game console is the best. It really comes down to preference when you consider what each console brings with its different games, features, and output that will appeal to individuals of varying interests. However, it helps to hear others' preferences when on the lookout for a classic game console to try.

controller for a classic game console

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With this said, our top choice in classic game consoles is Super Nintendo Classic. We believe its selection of pre-installed games offers enough variety for a large audience. Both males and females will find something that keeps them interested for hours, whether it's exploring new worlds or entering complex battles. Even if you want to play something less serious like racing, you'll find that with this classic game console.

We also like that this console has saving and pausing features, a big deal since games can easily last for days, weeks, even months. It would be disappointing to accomplish so much in your game, only to lose it because you can't save or pause.

Last, is portability. Not only is this console smaller, easy to grasp with one hand, but it's lightweight. You can easily take it with you where ever you go with no problem. Being around a hundred dollars, you definitely get value for every dollar. This is a classic game console that will never get old.

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Last update on 2023-10-04 at 15:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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