The Nintendo Switch comes out in just about two and a half weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited. And one of the thing I love most about Nintendo consoles is their Virtual Console. I have a very big soft spot for classic games, and none of the other big players have a classic library like Nintendo can boast. In fact, I’m finishing up yet another run-through of Super Mario World on my 3DS right now.
While I love the opportunity to play these games on current consoles, there’s something about clicking a cartridge into place and playing a game. I’ve been interested in the various forms of retro consoles that have been hitting the market the last few years, but there was always something that just didn’t look or feel right to me. Then, I was turned on to Retroblox (by retro gaming guru RGT85).
In a nutshell, Retroblox is an upcoming modular retro gaming machine. It features a base unit with a CD drive capable of playing games from PS1, Sega CD, TurboGrafx-CD, and others. Separate “Element Modules” will attach to the base unit, and allow you to play games from the NES, SNES, Genesis, and more. Even Atari 2600 games are confirmed for support. The beautiful thing about a modular system is that it can continue to be supported down the line. N64 is the best example. Right now, Nintendo still has active patents on that system that prevent legal reproduction of some components. When those patents expire, it becomes easier to make a system that will play those games. If, in theory, you were to release a console today, you wouldn’t be able to legally include N64 compatibility and would need to release a brand new system once you could support N64 play. With a modular system, you can release your system now and create a a new module later.
The other thing I love about this system thus far is it’s sleek look, both in the hardware and the operating system that runs on it. This truly feels like a modern day gaming console, only one that allows you to play your favorite games from the past. And for those who love the modern capability to download and store your games digitally – good news. The system will allow you to install most games to the console, allowing you to play without needing the cartridge. That doesn’t mean that all those ROMs you can download from whatever sketchy site you know of will work, though, as Retroblox will not support that. I applaud that move. I know that ROMs and emulation are rampant, but it’s always the best move to actually own the game you want to play. Piracy in any form is still piracy.
There’s so much more to learn about Retroblox leading up to the launch of their Kickstarter program in April. Price, for example, is a good question. Retroblox has stated multiple times that entry cost for the unit, one module, and a controller will be “much less” than that of a base Nintendo Switch unit (for reference, that’s $299). The “much less” is the promising part of that statement. I’m not going to hold out hope for a specific price, but we’ll wait and see.
If you’re interested, head on over to their website and check out all of the in-depth details. Also, here’s a really good hands-on video that shows the system in action: