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Nintendo's NES Classic Series for Game Boy Advance

Jeremy Parish

Charmed by the old-school style of Nintendo's new NES Classic series for Game Boy Advance but unsure whether or not the set (and the sexy NES-style GBA SP that goes with it) are worth your hard-earned money when you could just drop by the pawn shop and get the originals for a fraction of the cost? Dying to get your hands on a perfect port of Ice Climber but unsure if you should risk your money on that lousy Zelda? Not even sure what all this NES Classic nonsense is about?

Nintendo has dipped into its archives and dredged up eight golden oldies, which have been reproduced almost perfectly for the GBA hardware. There are some differences, of course -- the most obvious being the graphics. Due to the differences in the systems' screen resolution and proportions, each of these classic games has been slightly reprogrammed to fit full NES-sized graphics onto the GBA's 2-inch screen. Whatever magic Nintendo worked did the trick, though; aside from a few small hiccups, the games look great (if slightly compressed)... considering they're 8-bit NES games originally designed with a 52-color palette, of course.

A more subtle difference is the addition of a system menu, accessible by pressing L+R. Depending on the title, these menus allow everything from linking to another GBA for 2-player action to recording high scores and even saving custom data.

Despite these small additions, don't expect any real bonuses. None of the games include added gameplay modes, unlockable secrets or bonus galleries. They're fairly bare-bones products being sold on the strength of nostalgia -- and despite the expense, they do a pretty good job of recapturing the spirit of the NES, all the way down to the color of the cartridges. (The carts are lighter grey than standard GBA products to match the tone of standard NES Game Paks.)

As a side note, the Japanese versions of these games touted wireless connectivity through the GBA wireless adapter. None of documentation for the NES Classic games makes mention of this feature, but it's impossible to say if it was removed for the U.S. or if its existence was simply glossed over until the adapter is released here.

We've taken the time to re-evaluate the entire series in the wake of its American release. While the scores (like the games themselves) remain largely unchanged from the Japanese Famicom Mini series, we've updated our original reviews to reflect our time with the new editions. In short, Nintendo puts a high premium on nostalgia... but if you're willing to pay the price, most of these games deliver.

Super Mario Bros. It may not be Mario's greatest adventure to date, but it's still pretty great. The Legend of Zelda One of the most amazing NES games ever created works its magic on GBA. Donkey Kong Nintendo gives short shrift to the game that put the company on the map in the first place. Excitebike A little old-school motocross mania does a body good. Ice Climber More "retro" than "classic," but not too terrible if you have someone to share it with Pac-Man No surprises here... and unfortunately not much value, either. Xevious: The Avenger The world's first top-down scrolling shooter blasts its way into the present. Bomberman Hudson's multiplayer hero returns to his solo roots.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in 1UP.





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