While modern video game consoles are more powerful than ever before with realistic scenes and immersive experiences, nothing will ever take away the shine of retro consoles. Whether one is a collector of retro consoles, an adult gamer looking to relive their youth, or a young gamer curious about the console wars of yesteryear, it makes sense to get one. Game Rant has compiled a list of the best retro game consoles that can seamlessly play classic titles while boasting modern features like HDMI ports and vast game libraries.
How to Pick the Best Retro Game Console
There are three main considerations when picking a retro game console: the game library, connectivity, and build quality. Researching these will help buyers pick the perfect retro game console for their needs.
Game Library: The game library of a console plays a major role in helping buyers determine whether it’s worth the purchase or not. Many people buy retro consoles because of nostalgia for playing game titles that they loved as a child. A competent retro console should be able to play many vintage titles that gamers can fondly remember. Consider the PlayStation Classic, which was launched in 2018 as part of Sony’s efforts to compete with Nintendo’s Super NES Classic. However, it was heavily criticized for its meager game library, among other things.
Connectivity: Unlike the consoles from the ’80s and ’90s that had analog connections, today’s consoles come with modern connectivity like HDMI, USB, and Wi-Fi. An HDMI port makes it easier to hook a game console to a modern television. Just plug it in and play! When shopping for a retro console for gaming, ensure that it can be hooked up to a TV via HDMI.
Build Quality: It should almost go without saying that build quality is an important consideration when buying a retro game console. Generally speaking, gamers can trust well-known and respected brands like Nintendo and Sega. For lesser-known brands, it is recommended that potential buyers closely read user reviews. There are a lot of retro game consoles with cheap controllers and poorly-optimized operating systems. If a retro console on a site like Amazon has few user reviews, that is a potential red flag.
Game Rant’s Picks for the Best Retro Game Consoles in 2024
Best Overall Retro Game Console
Looking for a handheld console that can play classic retro titles with ease? The Evercade EXP builds on the success of the first Evercade, offering a lot more features than its predecessor. An all-new TATE mode allows gamers to play arcade games the original way they were meant to be played: portrait mode. The console also comes with built-in Capcom titles, a USB-C port, a mini HDMI port, Wi-Fi, and a battery that’s good for around 4 to 5 hours.
- Screen Dimensions
- 4GB Built-in
- 3,000 mAh battery which lasts between 4 and 5 hours
- Multiplayer Support
- USB-C, Mini HDMI, and WiFi
- Blaze Entertainment
- 192.7 mm ( 7.76″) x 78.5 mm ( 3.1″) x 20.7mm ( 0.8″)
- 18 preloaded Capcom games
- Built-in Wi-Fi for updates
- HDMI port for easy connection with the TV
- No multiplayer support
- Sound quality isn’t great
The first Evercade was released in 2020 with a 4.3-inch LCD screen, a handheld design, and 256 MB of RAM. It was capable of running games originally developed for consoles like the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive and SNES. The newer iteration, the Evercade EXP, builds on the offerings of the initial Evercade. The 18 built-in Capcom games allow gamers to relive the fun of playing famous games like Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, Mega Man, and Final Fight. Additionally, the EXP comes with support for the entire Evercade library, meaning that buyers get access to 380+ games.
The EXP comes with a 4.3-inch IPS screen that delivers vivid colors, which is ideal for an excellent retro gaming experience. To protect the screen from potential damage, the EXP sports a tempered glass bezel. The Evercade EXP also features the all-new TATE mode, a functionality that allows gamers to play arcade games vertically. Simply press the TATE button to transform the handheld gaming console into portrait mode and use the dedicated buttons to play classic arcade titles like 1942 and Truxton.
The retro console also comes with USB-C and mini-HDMI ports along with built-in Wi-Fi support for easy updates. The console’s battery life is between 4 and 5 hours, so gamers can enjoy extended sessions without needing to recharge. Despite not including Bluetooth and multiplayer functionality for two-player titles like Street Fighter, this feature-rich device is Game Rant’s pick for the best overall retro game console.
Miyoo Mini Plus+
Best Retro Handheld Gaming Console
The Miyoo Mini Plus+ is the latest handheld gaming console after the now impossible-to-get Miyoo Mini Plus 2. It comes in four colors: Gray, White, Transparent Black, and Transparent Purple. The efficient but powerful processor allows gamers to enjoy their favorite 8- and 16-bit games all day.
- Playing Time
- Up To 7 Hours
- SigmaStar SSD202D Up to 1.2 Ghz
- 128MB LPDDR3
- 64GB via Included Micro SD Card
- Wireless Connectivity
- 3.5 Inch 640×480
- 4.25 x 3.09 x 0.88 inches
- Excellent gaming performance
- Buttons are responsive
- Preloaded games included
- Can be too small for gamers with larger hands
- The native OS is not the best out there
Although the Miyoo Mini Plus+ is a small console, it can play up to 12,000 titles across multiple video game generations. This includes games for the Atari models and even PS1 titles. It comes in diverse color options, including White, Purple, Transparent Gray, and Black Transparent. The Mini+ comes with a 3.5-inch IP screen with narrow borders that’s designed to deliver great visuals. A significant increase from the 2.8-inch screen that the previous version had, this is a bigger console that’s more comfortable to hold.
Thankfully, this console comes with a ton of games already preloaded, with gamers welcome to add more titles if necessary. To help them expand the game library, a 64 GB Micro SD card is included. Regarding hardware specs, the Mini Plus+ doesn’t exactly offer anything different from the Miyoo Mini. Buyers still get a 1.2GHz dual-core processor along with 128 MB of RAM. However, the Mini Plus offers built-in Wi-Fi, which comes in handy for downloading games.
Best Retro Console for Old Games
The Atari 2600+ comes with backward compatibility for vintage game titles from the original 2600 and 7800 consoles. Behind this, gamers get an HDMI output which makes it easier to connect to the TV. There’s also a widescreen mode which makes gameplay feel more immersive. Upon purchase, buyers also get a 10-in-1 cartridge that contains 10 rich Atari titles, including Missile Command and Yars Revenge.
- 256MB eMMC fixed internal storage
- HDMI, USB
- 3.23 lbs
- 13.74 x 4.61 x 10.24 inches
- Plays both Atari 2600 and 7800 game cartridges
- HDMI support
- Widescreen mode
- Quite pricey
- Some users have complained about the joystick being stiff
Any classic gamer surely knows and adores the Atari 2600, which was released in the 1970s. Today, the Atari 2600+ appears as a recreation of the original 2600, with a ton of modern features to boot. The new version comes with an HDMI output, making it easier to connect the console to the TV. It also has a widescreen mode and a larger cartridge socket that allows users to slot in cartridges with ease. The Atari 2600+ is Game Rant’s best retro game console for playing old titles and for the right reasons. Upon buying the console, players get a 10-in-1 cartridge containing some of Atari’s most popular titles, including Missile Command, Video Pinball, and Yars Revenge.
Aside from allowing gamers to revisit the thrill of classic Atari titles, this console is backward compatible with hundreds of Atari 2600 and 7800 games. As such, it’s possible to play games that were famous on the above consoles using the 2600+. Another reason for considering the Atari 2600+ is that the console’s design still carries the oldies vibe despite being fitted with new tech. The vintage console’s legendary wood-grain finish can be found on the newer 2600+ model, which should satisfy fans’ nostalgia fix.
Super NES Classic Edition Console
Best Nintendo Retro Game Console
$155 $190 Save $35
The Super NES Classic is a fun way to relive the nostalgia of Nintendo’s 16-bit glory days. This console comes preloaded with plenty of classic titles like Donkey Kong Country, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Mario Kart. It also comes with an HDMI cable, a USB cable for charging, and two controllers that are highly responsive. One of the console’s most interesting offerings is the Rewind feature, which allows gamers to return a game to the point it was some seconds ago.
- Multiplayer Support
- 1.76 lbs
- 21 preloaded classics like Super Mario Kart and Donkey Kong Country
- HDMI makes it compatible with modern TVs
- Rewind feature allows players to go back to an earlier point in the game
- Five-foot controllers feel short
- Screen-tearing issues when playing certain games
The Super NES Classic has the look and feel of the classic Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which launched in the early 1990s. Although it closely resembles the SNES, the Super NES Classic is relatively smaller. Ideal for gamers looking to play vintage titles, the console comes with must-play preloaded games like Super Mario Kart, Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy III, and Super Metroid. Buyers also get an interesting Rewind feature that allows them to return to a point they were some seconds ago within a game. There is also a feature that lets gamers use their gameplay recording as a screensaver.
The Super NES Classic comes with two five-foot wired controllers that feel limited compared to the SNES’s controllers, which can reach eight feet. The console also comes with an HDMI cable that is used to connect the console to a TV and a Micro USB cable that serves as the port unit. Essentially, the Super NES Classic is the perfect console for anyone looking to enjoy the nostalgia of Nintendo’s 16-bit glory days.
Check out Game Rant’s hands-on review of the Super NES Classic for more insights into this nostalgia-inducing console.
Neo Geo Mini
Best Retro Game Console for Arcade Lovers
The Neo Geo Mini is an excellent retro console fit for playing arcade games. It comes with 40 games that players should remember from the original Neo Geo console. The titles include Metal Slug, Fatal Fury Special, Samurai Shodown Special, King of the Monsters, and more. The Neo Geo Mini comes with an HDMI port for connecting to the TV, a headphone jack, and support for two gamepads.
- Screen Dimensions
- 3.5 inches
- Multiplayer Support
- USB, HDMI, Headphone jack, controller jack
- SNK Corporation
- Lightweight design makes it easy to carry around
- 40 classic arcade titles
- Built-in controls
- Doesn’t have a battery pack so the console must be plugged in to work
- Wired controllers have to be bought separately
- Skips on Windjammers, a classic arcade title
The Neo Geo Mini is a retro game console with an arcade-like design that’s comfortable to hold. A remake of the classic Neo Geo console, the Neo Geo Mini, comes with 40 classic titles that will make players fondly remember the original Neo Geo. The preloaded games include Metal Slug, Fatal Fury Special, Samurai Shodown Special, and King of the Monsters. As mentioned, the Neo Geo Mini is a handheld arcade-like console that has a 3.5-inch LCD screen. The screen may be small compared to the enormous screens that arcade lovers are accustomed to, but the Neo Geo Mini’s screen does the job quite well. Plus, it’s pretty cute and perfect as a showpiece in a gaming room.
Despite being quite small, the console sports a joystick controller and a handful of buttons, reminiscent of the classic arcade system. There’s also an earphone jack for players who want to listen to the action alone. Although the Neo Geo Mini can be connected to the TV using the HDMI port, users may not be pleased with the fact that the console doesn’t come with an HDMI cable. That translates into an additional purchase. Another downside to this console is that it doesn’t come with a battery unit, meaning that it has to be plugged in to turn on. Given its small size, it’s an odd design choice to not include the option for batteries. Gamepads for this console are sold separately too.
SEGA Genesis Mini 2
Best Retro SEGA Gaming Console
The SEGA Genesis Mini 2 is a great way to enjoy some of SEGA’s classic hits, with buyers getting a vast library of 60 titles. Some of the included games are Golden Axe II, Clayfighter, and After Burner II. The new Genesis Mini console is also compatible with SEGA CD titles. Gamers also get the 6-button D-pad controller as an accessory.
- HDMI, USB
- 3.3 lbs
- Width 4.7 inches, Width 4.7 inches,Length 1.1 inches
- 60 classic games preloaded
- Comes with the 6-Button Control Pad
- Supports SEGA CD titles
- HDMI support
- Only one controller included
- Quite pricey
The second version of the Sega Genesis Mini looks to build on the offerings of its predecessor by offering better hardware, a vast collection of games, and a smaller console design. The console ships with 60 classic titles, including Golden Axe II, Clayfighter, After Burner II, and Atomic Runner. As a bonus, fans will be happy to know that SEGA CD games can be played on the Genesis Mini 2, with added features like full-motion video and smooth animations.
One of the Genesis Mini 2’s notable features is the six-button controller, which allows gamers to play all titles without hassle. Recall that the first Genesis Mini came with three-button controllers, which didn’t give gamers the best experience with titles that required a six-button controller. The only workaround for this was to buy the six-button controller separately. Fortunately, the Genesis Mini 2 has fixed this issue.
With 60 titles – 20 more than the 40 that the original Genesis Mini included – along with compatibility with SEGA CD titles, and a compact design, the SEGA Genesis Mini 2 is an absolute joy to play. It’s easily the best retro gaming console for Sega fans.
Q: What are retro game consoles?
Retro consoles are devices built to play classic game titles from the 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit eras. While some consoles like the Analogue Pocket are handheld, the Sega Genesis Mini 2 has to be hooked up to a TV.
Q: Is the PS3 a retro console?
Consoles are typically given the retro tag when they’re at least 15 years old, with no new game releases in a long period. Released in 2006, 17 years ago, the PlayStation 3 should be considered a retro console.
Q: What are the most popular game consoles of all time?
The PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Switch, and Game Boy/Game Boy Color make up the top four game consoles in terms of units sold.