Gaming Like It's 1989

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It's no secret that I love classic gaming. It seems like every other month, I write about an emulation project or some online version of a 1980s classic. The system that defined my youth was the Nintendo Entertainment System, or the NES. Its chunky rectangle controller and two-button setup may seem simple today, but back then, it was revolutionary. My hands still even form to the awkward controllers automatically like they did back in middle school.

Knowing that people like me exist, and that we're now old enough to buy things, Nintendo recently released its NES Classic Edition. Although they're still absurdly hard to find, I managed to buy one. And for anyone wondering whether the tiny replica is worth the $60 (okay, I paid $80), if the NES defined your youth, I would say yes!

I was worried the controller wouldn't feel like the original. I read a few reviews that said they felt too light or cheaper than the old ones. Well, I have both original controllers for my emulation machine that I wrote about a few months back and the controller that came with the NES Classic Edition, and I can say they both feel about the same. Also, although the gameplay isn't any different on the NES Classic Edition versus my emulation machine, I'm actually quite happy to pay for the "proper" device and give Nintendo money. I know ROMs are easy to find, but the only reason I download them illegitimately is that I can't buy them legally. Now, at least for 30 of the best games, I can!

I'm a hacker at heart, so although I urge you to buy the NES Classic if you're into that sort of gaming, I also want to play a few games that are not included. Thankfully, the NES Classic is super easy to hack. It's possible to hack the device to add ROMs manually, but there's also a great open-source tool called hakchi2 that will do all the heavy lifting for you. From what I can tell, it's a Windows-only program, but if you want a simple way to add a few ROMs, it's the way to go.

The hardest part? Finding an NES Classic Edition in stock. Good luck fellow gamers.

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Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.