GamesRadar's guide to buying cheap retro consoles
Were in a transition period in gaming, with many gamers moving from Xbox 360s and PS3s to Xbox Ones and PS4s. But many of you still cling to hardware that would be considered last last last gen--that Virtual Boy will still burn your eyes if you break it out, buddy. And whether you wish to tap into nostalgia or experience some older classics for the first time, buying retro systems is hip. Its like buying vinyl records for hipsters, but without the fake glasses and chic mustaches.
The good news is that buying into the older console generations doesnt have to cost an arm and a leg, or require you to dig through Craigslist--which may also call your arm and leg into in certain situations. Using this handy buying list, you can be playing retro games on brand new systems tomorrow (or in like 10 days if youre too cheap for quick shipping). Whether youre in the market for a Sega Genesis, Super Nintendo, or even a Commodore 64, theres an aftermarket console for you. Here is our guide to the best retro consoles (opens in new tab) available to buy now.
AtGames Atari Flashback 4
Im going waaaay back for our first recommendation. The AtGames Atari Flashback series has seen a few popular iterations, and the latest Flashback 4 (opens in new tab) sports lots of games and features--75 titles and 2 wireless controllers total, to be exact. The publishers even throw a bonus Asteroids poster into the box, perfect for decorating your newly retro living room. So really, its a good buy if you just want to hang something next to that One Direction poster.
Intellivision Plug N Play
This one isnt a console, but its the only way to play sweet 1970s classics without breaking the bank for a brick-and-mortar Intellivision. The Intellivision Plug N Play (opens in new tab) lets you play 10 different Intellivision titles by simply plugging in to your TV. Its listed for ages 5 and up too, so its about the only way your kindergartner is going to play games that are at least 30 years older than they are.
Commodore 64: 30 Games in One Joystick
Ill be frank--youre lucky to find one of these still in the box. If you want the Commodore 64: 30 Games in One Joystick (opens in new tab) unopened, youll have to move quickly. Grab one, and youll have access to 30 games just by plugging the joystick into your TV. Oh, and the joystick is super accurate to the real thing, so you can totally zen out with some Championship Wrestling.
SNES/NES FC Twin
In case you couldnt figure it out from the product name--SNES doesnt stand for super nerdy electronic stuff--this lovely machine lets you play both NES and Super Nintendo games. The SNES/NES FC Twin (opens in new tab) rivals the original consoles when it comes to sound and picture, so youre in for a real gaming treat with this one. But sorry, it doesn't come with Super Mario World packed in.
Retro-Bit Super Retro Trio
This one isnt meant to one-up the FC Twin, since it might be a tad to pricey for some. But for a few dollars more, you can grab the Retro-Bit Super Retro Trio (opens in new tab), which plays NES and SNES and Sega Genesis games. It has ports for all of those respective controllers too--six altogether--plus a switch for flipping between regions. I recommend every item on this list, but this babys a steal for what it offers.
Maybe youre only hankering for a Super Nintendo. Maybe youd like to take it out of the house. Allow me to present...the Hyperkin Supaboy (opens in new tab). It locks SNES cartridges in place for gaming on the go, and can jack into a TV for a bigger display. It plays both US and Japanese titles, and sports two controller ports--its literally a portable console, and thats awesome.
AtGames Arcade Master
I'm moving over to Sega now, and AtGames is tagging along. They also have the Arcade Master (opens in new tab) available--its a lovely fightstick that plugs right into your TV. This baby holds 26 licensed Sega games at first, but you can add more through its SD card slot. I wont tell you how to obtain such games, but Im sure you have your *ahem* ways...
AtGames Genesis Arcade Motion Dual
Did you look at this buying guide and think, I wonder if there are any motion controllers in that lot? Good news--you may be in the minority, but I have something for you. The third AtGames product on this list is the Genesis Arcade Motion Dual (opens in new tab), which supports motion-controlled gaming via two remotes and a base that plugs directly into your TV. Classics like Sonic the Hedgehog work here, but you can also kick back with activities like baseball, bowling, and ping pong--40 games total are included. And like the Arcade Master theres an SD slot for your *cough* other games
AtGames Genesis Classic Game Console
Theres no fancy marketing title for this one--the Genesis Classic Game Console (opens in new tab) from our pals at AtGames is exactly what it sounds like. This is a straight-up console with two wireless controllers that plays all the Genesis cartridges you could want. Oh, you dont own any? Good thing this purchase is accompanied by 80 games built into the machine. Im looking out for you here, people.
AtGames Ultimate Portable Game Player
Last time I bring up AtGames, promise (they make a lot of stuff, okay). Lets say you like the idea of the Classic Game Console and its 80 packed-in games, but you want portability too. Bam--heres the AtGames Ultimate Portable Game Player (opens in new tab). Youre welcome. Heads up, theres no cartridge slot, but the tradeoff is a lovely I-cant-say-but-you-know-what-to-do-with-it SD card slot.
EA Sports Controller
This list is full of machines that play lots of games (including some alternative ways of playing). But if all you need are sports titles--namely, Madden 95 and NHL 95--here is a very reasonably priced, plug-and-play device for you. The EA Sports Controller (opens in new tab) is simply the best and easiest way to play two of 1995s premiere sports titles. Its in the game!
Neo-Geo X Gold
Full disclosure: this is one of the most expensive items on my list. But when you look at whats in the box, this is an absolute retro bonanza. The Neo-Geo X Gold (opens in new tab) includes a home console with 20 built-in games, a handheld version of the same hardware, and an arcade stick--the Limited Edition also includes the hard-to-find Ninja Master game card. Seriously guys, this is a good deal--and its ending very, very soon! The manufacturer has actually received a cease and desist notice, so once these things sell out, they might be gone forever.
Hyperkin RetroN 5
Hyperkin has appeared on this list already with the Supaboy, but they also offer the grandaddy of all aftermarket consoles, the RetroN 5 (opens in new tab). What do you want to play--NES, SNES, Famicom, Super Famicom, Genesis, Mega Drive, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, or Game Boy Advance? How about any of them, any time? This baby plays it all, with a custom wireless controller, plus ports for any old-school ones you might have lying around. PS3 claims it only does everything, and so does the RetroN 5.
Lekki Super Nintendo & Nintendo 64
And now weve arrived at our most modern choices. French manufacturer Lekki isnt making your typical aftermarket console--these are actually brand-new Super Nintendos (opens in new tab) and Nintendo 64s (opens in new tab), pretty much just like you would've bought 20 years ago. The price isnt too shabby, and youre not going to get these colors anywhere else. Whats French for I want one?
So you dont need to break the bank to play those old games--all it takes is a bit of Amazon exploration to nab a machine that plays all your childhood favorites. What console are you picking up? What games will you be dusting off soon? Let us know in the comments below!
This buyers guide is for consoles, but we have an action figures guide (opens in new tab) for those in the collectible market too. And if you're tired of Steam sales, we have an alternative (opens in new tab).