It can be quite difficult to pick up an original retro game console in this day and age, one that works well with a slew of games and accessories that are still functional, but it’s possible!
While ‘retro game consoles’ might mean different things to different people (for example, The Gamesmen website lists the PS3 as a retro console) we’ll be talking mostly about consoles from before 2005.
What are my retro game console options?
Since classic consoles like the SNES and the Sega Megadrive are pretty hard to come by, there are some other options. Let’s get retro.
Option one: Buy the retro console of your choice
For actual retro consoles (as in, a console manufactured during the time that it existed), you can expect to find them on secondhand websites like Ebay, Marketplace and Gumtree in Australia, or established storefronts, such as The Gamesmen, EB Games and even Cash Converters. Expect the price to match the condition, but, if The Gamesmen is any indicator, along with Ebay listings for popular retro consoles, buying a used retro console won’t actually break the bank.
From a quick glance, you can expect to spend between $200 and $400 on the Nintendo 64, depending on the seller and the device quality. Likewise, a first generation PlayStation goes for mostly between $80 and $250, while the Sega Megadrive goes for largely between $100 and $200, also depending on quality and the seller.
If you’re after the best quality gaming consoles, then you can absolutely expect to spend well over these prices (often over $1,000), and we haven’t even talked about accessories or games. Last year, a sealed copy of Super Mario 64 sold for $2 million, which is far more than any avid gamer would spend and is a pretty big price for a collectors item.
Option two: Emulation
While emulation are usually thought of as legal in Australia, they (and ROMs) usually aren’t, as this article from Kotaku explains. While it’s possible to play Super Mario 64 on your computer through some downloads and some setup, know that Nintendo is a gun at stopping this kind of behaviour. You’ve been warned.
This being said, emulation appears to be a bit of a focus with this generation of games. Buying a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, for example, gets you access to a wide range of retro games from the NES and the SNES, like some of the original Super Mario and Super Metroid games. A Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack subscription gives you additional access to some Nintendo 64 and Sega Megadrive games.
On Xbox, access to a small assortment of original Xbox, Xbox 360 and some Xbox One games is available through Xbox Game Pass, allowing you to download or cloud stream some games. Phil Spencer, the CEO of Xbox, is a fan of emulation, and the Series X is compatible with Xbox, Xbox 360 and Xbox One discs.
Over on PlayStation, PlayStation Plus is changing in June to offer cloud streaming access for some original PlayStation, PS2, PSP and PS4 games. We’re unlikely to get this cloud streaming access, but we will get PlayStation Plus Deluxe in Australia, offering download and play access to games from the PlayStation, PS2 and PSP era.
Additionally, it’s quite easy to pick up retro console controllers for modern consoles, if that’s what you’d like to do.
Option three: Mini consoles
This options was made for you, retro lovers. Over the past decade, some console-makers have focused on re-releasing their original devices in miniaturised forms, packed with inbuilt games. Internally, they’re largely not the same consoles (remade with modern tech) but they come packed with inbuilt games.
In Australia, you can pick up mini remakes of the NES, SNES, Sega Genesis and the original PlayStation (with matching controllers), along with several mini Atari consoles.
Keep in mind though that these consoles only offer a small assortment of games.