If you're a gamer who grew up in the eighties (like me), you have the chance to help Link defeat Princess Zelda or Mario King Bowser on a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Thirty years later, Nintendo helps players re-live their old-school victories with the NES Classic Edition.
The NES Classic Edition was released in November 2016, but is no longer available and is a small version of the original system. It comes with a single two-button controller and 30 preloaded games, including old favorites like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Donkey Kong, Metroid and Ghosts & # 39; s Goblins.
How did Nintendo pack so much 8-bit fun into a single box? To find out, I broke my tools.
Note: This story originally ran in the Autumn 201
Cracking Open the NES Classic Edition
I started with the four rubber pads or feet on the bottom of the console. Using a thin Phillips screwdriver, I removed the pads and the small screw that was hidden under each one. I then lifted off the top half of the plastic housing of the system to reveal the technique in it.
Although less than a quarter of the size of the original NES, the interior of the Classic Edition is much less cramped. Gone are the front-loader VCR-like cartridge compartment, the 72-pin cartridge connector that so often failed, and the bulky video, audio, and power circuitry. All of this' 80s technology has been reduced to a single motherboard about the size of a beverage coaster.
After I removed the cables for the two game controller ports and a thin cable for the power and reset buttons, I removed a few more screws, removed the metal cover from the motherboard, and removed the board myself.
Next, I removed the two controller connectors, each fixed with a small bracket and a single screw. Finally, all I had to do was detach a black plastic case containing a small board that holds the contacts for the power and reset buttons and the front LED. My teardown of the console was complete.
I turned to the game controller, removed six screws from the bottom of the clamshell case, and then separated the two halves. Inside is a single rectangular circuit board.
The whole Cracking Open process lasted less than 15 minutes and was the easiest teardown I've ever done.
What the Teardown Says
Easy to Break: The only tool you really need to disassemble the NES Classic Edition is a small Phillips screwdriver (# 00 or # 000 should work) , There is no glue in the console or controller, all internal components are easily accessible and the screws are all the same diameter and length.
More technology in a smaller package: The Classic Edition features a quad-core ARM processor, 256 MB of RAM and 512 MB of memory. For comparison, the original NES had an 8-bit processor, 2 KB of RAM, 2 KB of video RAM, and no game memory.
NES emulator on a single-board computer: The Classic Edition is basically a Nintendo-approved NES emulator running on a Linux single-board computer. Yes, Linux. And if you're wondering if it's possible to hack the Classic Edition and load more games? This answer is also yes. There is a lot of information on the internet that shows you how to update the system's software and install additional games. But be warned: there is always the possibility that changing your system can cause irreparable damage. More importantly, downloading and using games that you do not already have a license for is usually illegal.
Yesterday's games are based on today's technology
The NES Classic Edition is pure retro gaming fun. It's a much easier way to play old NES games than hunting for flea markets or online auctions for original hardware. And it's less complicated (and more legal) than running emulator software with downloaded games on a PC.
Unfortunately, after selling more than 2 million Classic Editions, Nintendo. If you have not been able to buy one, you may still be able to buy one online. albeit at a probably inflated price. It is also . We kicked out $ 200 for the one I cracked, which is much more than the $ 60, £ 50 or AU $ 100 retail price.
Perhaps the most noticeable thing I noticed after cracking the NES Classic Edition is how much technology has improved over the past three decades. The hardware in the Classic Edition is tiny compared to the original system, but it's so much more powerful. I can not wait to see how far the technology is going in the next 30 years.
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