Nintendo’s Linux-based NES Classic is Set to Storm the Video Gaming World Once Again

Nintendo has finally elected to re-release their unbelievably popular NES Classic system, but gamers are going to have to act fast if they want one. Only select retailers are going to be carrying them, though it does look like Nintendo decided to work with Best Buy and ThinkGeek to sell the classic at its original price.

This mini game console serves as a replica of the original, and it comes with 30 different pre-installed games. The original Legend of Zelda as well as Super Mario Bros. are both built right in.

Many players have wanted Nintendo to make more units available for sale, because they became scarce fairly quickly. The Japanese-based hardware developer ceased production at the height of the console’s popularity, which made it extremely difficult to find one for some time.

Despite the fact that the console does look like an original 1980s-era NES, it has little in common with one internally. An Allwinner R16 microchip that’s served by four different ARM Cortex-A7 provides most of the NES Classic’s power, though an ARM Mali 400 MP2 GPU takes care of images on the screen.

The console itself runs a tiny Linux distro that resembles those used by other embedded devices, which makes it something like a PC running an emulator. Nintendo European Research & Development, jokingly called NERD, actually developed a special NES emulation module that includes limited support for the mappers used in some NES cartridges. This makes it possible to play some titles that are occasionally difficult to emulate. The emulator also supports a form of save stating that works very close to the mechanism used by PC-based emulators.

Mapper support has given gamers the ability to play Super Mario Bros. 3 somewhat flawlessly on the console. In fact, some media outlets actually feel that Nintendo’s original hope was that machines like the NES Classic might help stem the tide of in-home emulation that’s become popular as PC hardware continues to grow in strength.

Apparently, Nintendo’s previous decision to remove the console from the market led to some sellers scalping the few available units while some unofficial developers began to produce bootleg versions. Gamers who always wanted an official real unit might finally get their chance with the current re-release.

John Rendace
John is a GNU/Linux expert with a hobbyist's background in C/C++, Web development, storage and file system technologies. In his free time, he maintains custom and vintage PC hardware. He's been compiling his own software from source since the DOS days and still prefers using the command line all these years later.