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Best Retro Game Consoles in 2024

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Evercade EXP

While modern video game consoles are more powerful than ever before, with realistic scenes and immersive experiences, nothing will ever take away the shine of retro consoles. Whether one is a collector of retro consoles, an adult gamer looking to relive their youth, or a young gamer curious about the console wars of yesteryear, it makes sense to get one. Game Rant has compiled a list of the best retro game consoles that can seamlessly play classic titles while boasting modern features like HDMI ports and vast game libraries. And don’t worry, for those who want to stick to a tighter budget, there are a ton of retro handheld consoles that can be picked up for under $75.



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How to Pick the Best Retro Game Console

There are three main considerations when picking a retro game console: the game library, connectivity, and build quality. Researching these will help buyers pick the perfect retro game console for their needs.


Game Library: The game library of a console plays a major role in helping buyers determine whether it’s worth the purchase or not. Many people buy retro consoles because of nostalgia for playing game titles that they loved as a child. A competent retro console should be able to play many vintage titles that gamers can fondly remember. Consider the PlayStation Classic, which was launched in 2018 as part of Sony’s efforts to compete with Nintendo’s Super NES Classic. However, it was heavily criticized for its meager game library, among other things.

Connectivity: Unlike the consoles from the ’80s and ’90s that had analog connections, today’s consoles come with modern connectivity like HDMI, USB, and Wi-Fi. An HDMI port makes it easier to hook a game console to a modern television. Just plug it in and play! When shopping for a retro console for gaming, ensure that it can be hooked up to a TV via HDMI.


Build Quality: It should almost go without saying that build quality is an important consideration when buying a retro game console. Generally speaking, gamers can trust well-known and respected brands like Nintendo and Sega. For lesser-known brands, it is recommended that potential buyers closely read user reviews. There are a lot of retro game consoles with cheap controllers and poorly-optimized operating systems. If a retro console on a site like Amazon has few user reviews, that is a potential red flag.

Game Rant’s Picks for the Best Retro Game Consoles in 2024

The first Evercade was released in 2020; it was capable of running games originally developed for consoles like the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive and SNES. The newer iteration, the Evercade EXP, builds on the offerings of the initial Evercade. The 18 built-in Capcom games allow gamers to relive the fun of playing famous games like Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, Mega Man, and Final Fight. Additionally, the EXP supports the entire Evercade library, meaning buyers get access to 380+ games.


The EXP has a 4.3-inch IPS screen that delivers vivid colors, ideal for an excellent retro gaming experience. The EXP sports a tempered glass bezel to protect the screen from potential damage. The Evercade EXP also features the all-new TATE mode, a functionality that allows gamers to play arcade games vertically. Simply press the TATE button to transform the handheld gaming console into portrait mode and use the dedicated buttons to play classic arcade titles like 1942 and Truxton.

The retro console also comes with USB-C, mini-HDMI ports, and built-in Wi-Fi support for easy updates. The console’s battery life is between 4 and 5 hours, so gamers can enjoy extended sessions without needing to recharge. Despite not including Bluetooth and multiplayer functionality for two-player titles like Street Fighter, this feature-rich device is Game Rant’s pick for the best overall retro game console.


This powerful little portable gaming console is about the size of a deck of cards and can emulate a ton of retro games. Unlike the handheld console it is meant to emulate, the screen is incredibly bright, but this is a welcome improvement. With how affordable and small the Miyoo Mini+ is, it is a great place for gamers to start their journey into the world of retro gaming.

Regardless of what games are played with this handheld, the D-pad and the buttons will provide an excellent experience. The four action buttons are raised out of the shell, so it is easy to press them, and the high gloss finish gives the Miyoo Mini Plus+ a premium touch.

Gamers who are not an expert in downloading and running emulated games, don’t worry. The Miyoo Mini Plus+ comes preloaded with thousands of games. This is not the most powerful portable console, but it can handle games up to the PS1 era. It excels in Game Boy games, though, and the overall design of the console makes it feel much more natural.

Atari 2600+

Atari 2600+

Best Retro Console for Old Games

The Atari 2600+ comes with backward compatibility for vintage game titles from the original 2600 and 7800 consoles. Behind this, gamers get an HDMI output which makes it easier to connect to the TV. There’s also a widescreen mode which makes gameplay feel more immersive. Upon purchase, buyers also get a 10-in-1 cartridge that contains 10 rich Atari titles, including Missile Command and Yars Revenge.

Storage
256MB eMMC fixed internal storage

Portable
No

Connectivity
HDMI, USB

Brand
Atari

Weight
3.23 lbs

Dimensions
13.74 x 4.61 x 10.24 inches

Pros

  • Plays both Atari 2600 and 7800 game cartridges
  • HDMI support
  • Widescreen mode
Cons

  • Quite pricey
  • Some users have complained about the joystick being stiff

For any Atari fans who got rid of their old 2600 or want a more convenient way to play their old Atari games, the Atari 2600+ is an absolute godsend. Unlike many other retro re-releases that have come out over the last couple of years, the Atari 2600+ supports playing games from original cartridges and new ones.


The new version comes with an HDMI output, making connecting the console to a modern TV easier. It has a built-in widescreen mode, so gamers don’t have to deal with upscaling themselves. Upon buying the console, players get a 10-in-1 cartridge containing some of Atari’s most popular titles, including Missile Command, Video Pinball, and Yars Revenge.

Aside from allowing gamers to revisit the thrill of classic Atari titles, this console is backward compatible with hundreds of Atari 2600 and 7800 games. As such, playing games famous on the above consoles is possible using the 2600+. Another reason for considering the Atari 2600+ is that the console’s design still carries the oldies vibe despite being fitted with new tech. The vintage console’s legendary wood-grain finish can be found on the newer 2600+ model, which should satisfy fans’ nostalgia fix.


Super NES Classic Edition

Super NES Classic Edition Console

Best Nintendo Retro Game Console

$142 $190 Save $48

The Super NES Classic is a fun way to relive the nostalgia of Nintendo’s 16-bit glory days. This console comes preloaded with plenty of classic titles like Donkey Kong Country, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Super Mario Kart. It also comes with an HDMI cable, a USB cable for charging, and two controllers that are highly responsive. One of the console’s most interesting offerings is the Rewind feature, which allows gamers to return a game to the point it was some seconds ago.

Portable
Yes

Multiplayer Support
Yes

Connectivity
HDMI

Brand
Nintendo

Weight
1.76 lbs

Pros

  • 21 preloaded classics like Super Mario Kart and Donkey Kong Country
  • HDMI makes it compatible with modern TVs
  • Rewind feature allows players to go back to an earlier point in the game
Cons

  • Five-foot controllers feel short
  • Screen-tearing issues when playing certain games

The Super NES Classic has the look and feel of the classic Super Nintendo Entertainment System, launched in the early 1990s. Although it closely resembles the SNES, the Super NES Classic is relatively smaller. Ideal for gamers looking to play vintage Nintendo titles, the console comes with must-play preloaded games like Super Mario Kart, Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy III, and Super Metroid.

In Game Rant’s full review of the SNES Classic, we found that all the games on this console are well represented in all of their 16-bit glory. The presentation, from visuals to audio, instantly kicks any gamer’s nostalgia dreams into overdrive.

Not only do the games look amazing, but they also play exactly like they do on the original hardware. There are no laggy inputs like there are on some emulations, and the controllers are an absolute joy to use. Plus, Nintendo learned from the original mistake of the SNES and extended the controller cables to where they can easily reach across a living room. No more having to sit right in front of the TV to enjoy these fantastic SNES titles.


Neo Geo Mini

Neo Geo Mini

Best Retro Game Console for Arcade Lovers

The Neo Geo Mini is an excellent retro console fit for playing arcade games. It comes with 40 games that players should remember from the original Neo Geo console. The titles include Metal Slug, Fatal Fury Special, Samurai Shodown Special, King of the Monsters, and more. The Neo Geo Mini comes with an HDMI port for connecting to the TV, a headphone jack, and support for two gamepads. 
 

Display
LCD

Screen Dimensions
3.5 inches

Portable
Yes

Multiplayer Support
Yes

Connectivity
USB, HDMI, Headphone jack, controller jack

Brand
SNK Corporation

Pros

  • Lightweight design makes it easy to carry around
  • 40 classic arcade titles
  • Built-in controls
Cons

  • Doesn’t have a battery pack so the console must be plugged in to work
  • Wired controllers have to be bought separately
  • Skips on Windjammers, a classic arcade title

The Neo Geo Mini is a retro game console with an arcade-like design that’s comfortable to hold. A remake of the classic Neo Geo console, the Neo Geo Mini, comes with 40 classic titles that will make players fondly remember the original Neo Geo.

With a 3.5-inch screen, the Neo Geo Mini will not give the same feeling as the original Neo Geo, but gamers don’t need to make much room for it, either. Also, the Neo Geo Mini display is stunning, faithfully rendering all the classic arcade titles. Plus, it’s pretty cute and perfect as a showpiece in a gaming room.

Despite being relatively small, the console sports a joystick controller and a handful of buttons, reminiscent of the classic arcade system. There’s also an earphone jack for players who want to listen to the action alone. Although the Neo Geo Mini can be connected to the TV using the HDMI port, users may not like that the console doesn’t come with an HDMI cable. Another downside to this console is that it doesn’t come with a battery, meaning that it has to be plugged in to turn on. Given its small size, it’s odd not to include the option for batteries.


Capcom Super Pocket

Capcom Super Pocket

Best Handheld Retro Console For Arcade Lovers

From the makers of Evercade comes Hyper Mega Tech and the brand-new Capcom Super Pocket. A portable gaming device that can be taken anywhere and is pre-loaded with 12 excellent classic Capcom arcade games. Including Street Fighter II’: Hyper Fighting, Final Fight, 1943, Strider, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, along with support for Evercade’s Cartridges

Dimensions
78mm x 125mm x 25mm

Number of Games Included
12

Display
IPS

Output resolution
320 x 280

Ports
Headphone jack, USB-C

Pros

  • Fantastic budget price
  • Expansive library of arcade games
  • Great build quality
  • USB-C recharging
Cons

  • D-pad takes some getting used to

The Capcom Super Pocket is an incredibly affordable, fully-fledged portable console with an expansive library of arcade game cartridges that are also pretty affordable. The Capcom Super Pocket is a perfect option for gamers who want a handheld console that has a massive library of classics but doesn’t want to fuss around trying to figure out emulators. Just plug in a cartridge and be ready to game, like the good old days.

This hunk of plastic is neither sleek nor sexy, and it is not the fanciest console, even for its price tag. However, unlike some other options, it feels like the Super Pocket embraces this look. The Capcom and Taito versions come in bright and bold colorways that awaken a nostalgic feeling immediately. The usual array of face and shoulder buttons make playing these retro titles an absolute joy, although it’s worth mentioning that the thin D-Pad does take some getting used to.


The Capcom version comes with 12 arcade classics from Capcom, Street Fighter II, and Final Fight, but, as mentioned earlier, gamers can also pick up cartridges for the Super Pocket to play a massive library of classic arcade titles. And best yet, Evercade is even working with some Indie developers to release newer games on their cartridges for a modern game with a retro feel.

SEGA Genesis Mini 2

SEGA Genesis Mini 2

Best Retro SEGA Gaming Console

The SEGA Genesis Mini 2 is a great way to enjoy some of SEGA’s classic hits, with buyers getting a vast library of 60 titles. Some of the included games are Golden Axe II, Clayfighter, and After Burner II. The new Genesis Mini console is also compatible with SEGA CD titles. Gamers also get the 6-button D-pad controller as an accessory. 
 

Connectivity
HDMI, USB

Brand
SEGA

Weight
3.3 lbs

Dimensions
Width 4.7 inches, Width 4.7 inches,Length 1.1 inches

Pros

  • 60 classic games preloaded
  • Comes with the 6-Button Control Pad
  • Supports SEGA CD titles
  • HDMI support
Cons

  • Only one controller included
  • Quite pricey

The second version of the Sega Genesis Mini looks to build on the offerings of its predecessor by offering better hardware, a vast collection of games, and a smaller console design. The console ships with 60 classic titles, including Golden Axe II, Clayfighter, After Burner II, and Atomic Runner. As a bonus, fans will be happy to know that SEGA CD games can be played on the Genesis Mini 2, with added features like full-motion video and smooth animations.

One of the Genesis Mini 2’s notable features is the six-button controller, which allows gamers to play all titles without hassle. Recall that the first Genesis Mini came with three-button controllers, which didn’t give gamers the best experience with titles that required a six-button controller. The only workaround for this was to buy the six-button controller separately. Fortunately, the Genesis Mini 2 has fixed this issue.


With 60 titles – 20 more than the 40 that the original Genesis Mini included – along with compatibility with SGA CD titles and a compact design, the SEGA Genesis Mini 2 is an absolute joy to play. It’s easily the best retro gaming console for Sega fans.

Steam Deck Console

Steam Deck

Best Console For Retro Emulators

$419 $499 Save $80

Valve’s long-awaited portable console is here, and it’s taking the handheld gaming market by storm. Valve partnered with AMD to create Steam Deck’s custom APU, optimized for handheld gaming. It is a Zen 2 + RDNA 2 powerhouse, delivering more than enough performance to run the latest AAA games in a very efficient power envelope.

Ports
1x USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support; up to 8K @60Hz or 4K @120Hz, 1x USB 3.2 ,1x Micro SD slot, 1x 3.5 audio jack

Screen
7″ diagonal 1280 x 800px (16:10 aspect ratio) 60Hz

Storage
64 GB – 512 GB

Battery
40Whr battery. 2 – 8 hours of gameplay

Audio
Stereo with embedded DSP for an immersive listening experience and Dual Microphone Array

4K Capabilities
Yes

CPU
AMD APU Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz

Connectivity
Bluetooth 5.0 and Dual-band Wi-Fi radio, 2.4GHz and 5GHz

Dimensions
298mm x 117mm x 49mm

Weight
Approx. 669 grams

Pros

  • Extremely powerful gaming performance
  • Versatile use cases
  • A large community of emulators
  • Can also play modern games
Cons

  • Larger form factor than most other handheld options
  • High price tag

Now, a Steam Deck might seem like an odd choice for retro gamers. Still, with a huge growing community working on Emudeck, fans of retro emulations will not be disappointed by the amount of retro titles that run seamlessly on a Steam Deck. The Steam Deck can handle everything from truly retro consoles like the NES to what is now considered retro, much to the writers’ dismay, like the PS2 and original Xbox.

The Steam Deck is an excellent example of why modern-day consoles shouldn’t be limited to just modern games. The fact that gamers can swap between playing Crazy Taxi and the latest Triple AAA game in a few moments is ridiculous. It is undoubtedly a step in the right direction to make emulating a more mainstream option for gamers.


While the Steam Deck is easily the most expensive option in this guide, for gamers who are on the fence about picking up a retro console or just want a more versatile option, the Steam Deck is well worth the price. Plus, with the emulation community putting more and more support into Emudeck, it will only get better for retro fans as time goes on.

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FAQ

Q: What are retro game consoles?

Retro consoles are devices built to play classic game titles from the 8-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit eras. While some consoles like the Analogue Pocket are handheld, the Sega Genesis Mini 2 has to be hooked up to a TV.

Q: Is the PS3 a retro console?

Consoles are typically given the retro tag when they’re at least 15 years old, with no new game releases in a long period. Released in 2006, 17 years ago, the PlayStation 3 should be considered a retro console.

Q: What are the most popular game consoles of all time?

The PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Switch, and Game Boy/Game Boy Color make up the top four game consoles in terms of units sold.

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