The 10 Best Retro Gaming Consoles
This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in October of 2017. If you long for the days when your greatest concern was whether or not you would ever beat your big brother's top scores, then one of these retro gaming consoles will serve as a veritable time machine, whisking you back to those carefree years. Many of them can play old cartridge games, which is great if you've kept your collection, while others offer a library of built-in titles. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 24, 2020:
Users who already have a collection of cartridges, or those who are looking to start one, will want the Hyperkin RetroN 3 HD or the Hyperkin SupaBoy. While the Hyperkin SupaBoy offers the novelty of portability, those with a more diverse library will probably prefer the Hyperkin RetroN 3 HD due to its multi-system compatibility. We've also added more first-party console reissues for those who are less inclined to hunt for physical media, namely the Sega Genesis Mini and the Sony Playstation Classic. While the aforementioned consoles can be modded to play additional games, the PocketGo S30 comes out of the box ready to play ROM files for several different systems.
March 03, 2019:
With all of today's fancy, 7-nanometer transistors and high-bandwidth RAM, the plastic cartridges of yesteryear are surely obsolete... right? Well, actually, not at all, because for one thing, software emulation isn't perfect, and for another, it requires a surprising amount of processing power to simulate the proprietary hardware that classic games were specifically programmed to use. So it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that some of the best ways to play old titles are made by the systems' original manufacturers. In fact, you'll notice we included some of the very same consoles that made these games famous. While they're not the first choices to pop into people's minds, the fact is that today, since you're probably not just operating on your allowance and/or paper route money, and because many authentic cartridges aren't too costly, it's even easier now to collect the real, physical games that you once salivated over while waiting for your birthday or Christmas to roll around. And, frankly, the SNES and N64 (both of which you'll find linked here) contained literally some of the best games ever released (full disclosure: I may be biased), and the only way to fully experience the highest-rated release ever (The Ocarina of Time, according to MetaCritic) in all of its glory, is on an actual Nintendo 64. And the Switch holds a wholly unique position, in that it's the only current console that features retro games, and continues to receive new titles and old-school updates. On the other hand, third-party devices can offer big advantages. Retro-Bit makes a handful of wildly versatile units, which can accommodate cartridges from the NES, SNES, and even the Sega Genesis, a system that many developers have significant trouble emulating. Some of these models also accept software ROMs on external storage like SD cards and USB drives, however, it's important to make sure that any ROMs you have are for games you own the rights to (that is to say, you've already purchased before, or have been licensed or released for modding). Because it's never a good idea to break copyright law. And for the history students, and those who grew up with the first generation of digital entertainment, the Commodore 64 Mini and Neo Geo Mini are undeniably exhilarating call-backs to the first vestiges of console games. It has never been easier to be nostalgic, and we hope this list helps you to revisit the first golden age of gaming.