First revealed in 2018, when the world was only slightly less out of control, the TinyNES was a miniaturized clone of the original Nintendo entertainment system that, like the original, could play authentic NES carts, while taking up much less space in your entertainment center. Three years later you can finally pre-order one.
It turns out that there are actually three ways to create a console clone for playing retro games. You can go the route of emulation, where you throw enough processing power into a device for the software emulation to have enough power to play digital ROM files without slowdown, dropped frames, or audio sync issues, but it’s never perfect. There’s the FPGA route, which companies like Analogue use for devices like the Pocket and Analogue Nt, where a custom chip is programmed to behave exactly like the original console hardware, ensuring that the carts of original games work exactly as they did decades ago.
And then there’s the route TinyNES took, which is to cut a console down to its bare minimum while still using the exact same chips that powered Nintendo’s original hardware, ensuring full compatibility.
The miniaturization of the TinyNES leaves the console barely larger than a real NES game cart, but it still includes a cartridge slot on the top and two classic NES controller ports on the front that are compatible with gamepads. original or modern replacements. Pretty much the only downside to the TinyNES – and a good reason to maybe try looking for a used analog Nt or Nt mini – is that it doesn’t do any scaling and doesn’t include HDMI port for easy connections to a modern television. All you’ll find on the back is a mono audio RCA jack and an NTSC composite RCA jack – which is as authentic retro as it gets.
Inside the TinyNES you will find the same processor and image processing unit as the original NES hardware used (RP2A03 and RP2C02 chips) but with the rest of the internal components updated and no region lock, which means cartridges and games from all over the world can be played on it. It is currently available for pre-order through the Crowd Supply crowdfunding site (it just exceeded its fundraising goal of $ 20 ($ 28,000 ($ 27,508)) for $ 200 ($ 275), although you can save $ 20 ($ 28) if you opt for a version with Cloned chips. Orders are slated to ship as early as May of this year, but as the pandemic continues to drag on and supply chains remain problematically choked, you may want to take this ETA with a grain of salt and prepare yourself to further delays if you decide to return this one.