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10 Best Retro Game Consoles (2024): Evercade, Polymega, Analogue Pocket, and Controllers

10 Best Retro Game Consoles (2024): Evercade, Polymega, Analogue Pocket, and Controllers

It’s a shame that two of the best retro gaming consoles in recent years, the NES Classic Mini and the SNES Classic Mini, have been discontinued. Both feature great designs with a miniaturized look that’s true to the originals, silky performance, and strong game lineups of Nintendo’s greatest hits. You can still buy them online (usually from third-party resellers), but prices are seriously inflated. The SNES Classic Mini, for example, was $80 at launch, but a reseller has it for more than $300 on Amazon right now. You might have better luck buying one used.

Nintendo fans keen on some classic gaming action might be better served by snagging a Switch and buying a Nintendo Switch Online membership ($20 for a year) to access more than 100 NES and SNES titles (here’s the full list). Add the Expansion Pack ($50 for a year) and you can get these N64 games too. If you’re craving some old-school pocket-sized Nintendo fun, check out the revived Game & Watch ($50) line. They are limited to a couple of games each, but when those games are Super Mario or Zelda titles, that can be enough for hours of fun.

The Analogue Mega SG ($200) (8/10, WIRED Recommends) is expensive, and it doesn’t come with any games or controllers (they cost $25 apiece). But it can play old Sega Genesis cartridges, so it’s a solid choice if you have a box of them in the basement. Thanks to an FPGA chip, this console runs the original games just as you remember them.

There are plenty of classic arcade games available on PlayStation 4 or 5. If you opt for a PS Plus Premium subscription ($18 for a month or $160 for a year), you get the Classics Catalog, packed with old PlayStation games.

The Xbox Series X|S boasts the best backward compatibility, as Microsoft’s newest consoles can play Xbox One, Xbox 360, and original Xbox titles. You can also find classic titles included in our favorite gaming subscription, the excellent Xbox Game Pass Ultimate ($17 per month).

If you have Valve’s Steam Deck, check out the comprehensive EmuDeck to emulate a wide variety of old systems in style.

PC gamers also have an enormous choice of emulators. I like RetroArch because it emulates multiple systems, but if you have a favorite old console and want to get close to that original experience, you can likely find a tailor-made emulator to scratch that itch.

Do you miss all those Flash-based browser games you used to play in the office when you were meant to be working? Read our guide, How to Play All of Those Old Flash Games You Remember.

The Panic Playdate ($199) (7/10, WIRED Recommends) isn’t strictly a retro console, but it is fun, creative, and quirky, and it has a distinct retro feel. It even has a crank for an all-new way to interact with games!

The Analogue Duo ($250) (6/10, WIRED Review) makes TurboGrafx-16 and PC Engine games look incredible on any HDMI screen. It boasts HuCARD and CD-ROM functionality, so existing games work regardless of media, region, or other requirements. Sadly, it’s pricey, controllers cost extra, and there’s no openFPGA support.

16 Best Gaming Headsets (2024): Wired, Wireless, for Switch, PC, Xbox, PS5, and PS4

16 Best Gaming Headsets (2024): Wired, Wireless, for Switch, PC, Xbox, PS5, and PS4

Audio quality: It seems like it would go without saying, but we’re saying it anyway: You can’t always tell from a spec sheet how a headset will sound. A well-made stereo headset can sound better than a poorly made 7.1 Dolby Atmos surround sound set. Check reviews to get a sense of how a headset performs in real life.

Surround sound options: Modern headsets have gotten very good at recreating or simulating surround sound in headsets with systems like Dolby Atmos for Headphones or DTS:X. These systems are particularly impactful in games where you want to be able to hear exactly where an enemy is firing at you from. Be sure you can turn the surround sound on or off.

Comfort: This is another subjective category, but if you’re going to wear a headset for hours while you’re gaming, it’s important that it doesn’t hurt. A heavy headset pressing against your temples can give you a headache after a while. Look for headsets that have adjustable, ergonomic designs, plenty of cushioning, and are generally lightweight.

An adjustable boom microphone: If you plan to use your headset for online gaming, a good microphone is important. Many headsets come with boom mics that can be positioned in front of your mouth. Some are removable, while others can simply be rotated or bent away from your mouth when they’re not in use. Make sure you get the kind that’s right for your needs.

Visible mic muting and indicator LEDs: It’s important to know when you’re broadcasting audio so you don’t accidentally share your private conversations with your teammates. Some mics mute automatically when you flip them upward, while others use a dedicated mute button. We particularly like headsets that include red LEDs that indicate when you’re muted, which can be helpful.

Mic monitoring so you can hear your voice: If you want to keep tabs on how you sound to your teammates, and not sound like you’re yelling while playing, mic monitoring is a feature that lets you hear your own audio through your headphones. Optimally, you can adjust its volume. When you listen to a podcast or radio talk show, chances are those folks are using some form of mic monitoring so they can hear themselves, as well as others.

Equalizer (EQ) and customization tools: Games, movies, and TV shows are mixed differently, and when you’re listening, you might want to emphasize different aspects of the audio signal. Custom EQ presets let you set different balances for watching a movie versus playing a game, or even have different balances on a per-game basis.

13 Best Crossplay Games for Consoles and PC (2023): Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, Mobile

13 Best Crossplay Games for Consoles and PC (2023): Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, Mobile

Genshin Impact, somewhat uniquely, supports cross-saving as well. So if you decide to play on your phone for a little while, you can keep all your progress when you go back to your console. It’s a nice addition that makes this title one of those rare games where you can play anywhere with anyone and feel like you’re jumping into the same game.

Rocket League  (Free)

Screenshot of Rocket League game featuring a sports car flying and hitting a large ball on a field

Courtesy of Psyonix

Psyonix’s Rocket League has proved that its concept of “What if soccer, but with cars?” is an enduring one. And thanks to using Epic’s Online Services platform, players on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, or PC can all play together. Interestingly, PC players that play the game via Epic Game Store or Steam can participate in the cross-platform action, despite Steam being a rival game store to Epic. Who says we can’t all get along?

Fall Guys  (Free)

Fall Guys characters

Courtesy of Devolver Digital

When Fall Guys came on the scene, it was overshadowed by Among Us, but it has still maintained a healthy player base. This game is a battle royale—though the most adorable one you’ve ever seen—where 60 players compete in game-show-style obstacle courses and arenas to be the last person (er, jelly bean) standing. Best of all, it’s recently gone free-to-play, so you don’t have to spend a dime to try it out.

Overcooked! All You Can Eat  ($40)

Overcooked video game screenshot with chefs in a kitchen making meals

Courtesy of Digital LTD

If you enjoy the chaos of working in a professional kitchen … well, then you’ve probably never done it in real life. Fortunately, Overcooked! All You Can Eat is a lot more fun than a real job. This game requires players to cooperate to prepare, cook, and plate food for customers in a rapid-fire environment. This version has added crossplay across a wide variety of platforms, so you can recruit chefs from just about anywhere.

No Man’s Sky  ($60)

Screenshot of No Man's Sky featuring spaceships and planets

Courtesy of Hello Games

For a game that began life starring an isolated spacefarer exploring a vast and unfathomably lonely universe, any kind of crossplay is already a significant change. But as Hello Games has continued iterating on No Man’s Sky, it has added online multiplayer features where you can bump into other travelers. You can interact with players across Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4 and 5. It’s not a huge amount of platforms compared to most other titles on this list, but given how unique this game’s development is, it’s a worthy addition. No Man’s Sky even overhauled its entire capital ship system and added new types of multiplayer missions you can take on with friends or strangers.

Baldur’s Gate 3  (Eventually)

Screenshot from the game 'Baldur's Gate 3' featuring an ornate character posing and holding one finger up

Courtesy of Larian Studios

Larian Studios’ Baldur’s Gate 3 has been one of the biggest smash hits of 2023, hailed for its rich storytelling that allows players to feel their consequences have real weight. Just like the tabletop D&D it’s based on, friends can play together in the same campaign. Up to four players can form a party and run through the story in tandem online.

‘Starfield’ Review: Get Lost in Space

‘Starfield’ Review: Get Lost in Space

Nearly two dozen hours into Starfield, the latest action role-playing game from Bethesda Game Studios, I stumbled upon a side story that was far more thrilling and formally inventive than anything else in the main plot up to that point.

In it, the player is forced to work undercover within a vicious gang, becoming something like a government mole who has to gain the trust of their new colleagues while avoiding becoming the kind of bloodthirsty criminal they’re trying to take down. There are heists, gunfights, daring escapes, and spots of moral intrigue along the way. It’s one of the most compelling bits of the sprawling sci-fi RPG and, because of the game’s design, it seems like it would be very easy to miss.

To get it started, the player must happen to speak to a character they’ve likely sprinted past many times before. They have to have ignored the demands of a main plotline that begs for attention and the innumerable side stories that pop up when walking the streets of Starfield’s sci-fi cities. It’s a diamond hidden deep in the rough that illustrates a major problem with the game’s design: There’s simply so much packed into it that it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s worthwhile.

All artists, from filmmakers and novelists to musicians and gamemakers, have to make countless small editing decisions in their work. Which parts of a character’s life need to be depicted to tell their story? How should multiple instrumental and vocal tracks be mixed to create the best version of a song? Which features and storylines should be included or cut in order to maintain a video game’s pace and overall coherence?

Screenshot of the 'Starfield' game featuring a character standing in a valley with a large planet in the sky in the distance

Courtesy of Bethesda

Starfield presents itself as if very few of these kinds of tough choices have been made. In some sense, this isn’t exactly a fault—many players will be more than happy to lose themselves aimlessly in the game for years to come—but it does make it difficult to recommend it to those less likely to be so committed. For many years, in games from its Fallout and The Elder Scrolls series, Starfield creator Bethesda Game Studios has warranted attention for the sheer size of the worlds it makes and the breadth of activities contained within. The promise of the studio’s work comes from the allure of enormous environments where the player, guiding a character whose morals and physical abilities they develop over time, can interact with the unexpected events that emerge from exploring massive buildings and rural landscapes dotted with roving enemies.

The 10 Best Games on Xbox Game Pass (June 2023)

The 10 Best Games on Xbox Game Pass (June 2023)

Even when budgets are tight, Xbox Game Pass is one of the few services I keep around. For $15 a month, you get to choose from over 100 titles in a regularly refreshed library of options to play on console as well as PC. For active gamers, it’s a worthwhile subscription that costs less than the price of three AAA games.

The Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription comes with Xbox Live Gold, access to EA Play, and cloud gaming. Just on console and not interested in online multiplayers games? Microsoft offers a cheaper tier that costs $10 a month. Ditched your console? There’s a PC-only plan that’s also $10. (PlayStation and Switch gamers should check out our guide to the top subscription services for those platforms.)

I sifted through the Game Pass catalog and curated a few outstanding titles to help you decide which ones to download first. (It’s a bit overwhelming!) From new indies to classic blockbusters, our genre-spanning picks for the best Game Pass games likely has something that’s perfect for your style of play.

Searching for even more great game recommendations? WIRED’s lists of the best Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S titles also include fantastic picks.