Everyone is going apeshit crazy about the NES Classic right now, and they pretty much have been since it was first announced a few months back. For me though, it's something that's fallen under my personal radar, and been mentally categorized with the likes of the Atari, Sega, Coleco, and Intellivision Flashback systems. Owning both an original NES, and a Retron 5, plus the actual carts of the 30 games that come preloaded on the Classic it's one of those things I really haven't felt the need to run out and buy.
You’ll have to forgive me if I catalogue the NES Classic in with other Flashback systems but that's essentially what it is. The only major difference is that in the Classic’s case the original manufacturer, Nintendo, is the one making the system instead of a third party in the case of the others. When it comes to these Flashback systems, the only ones I actually own are the Colecovision, and Intellivision systems mainly because I didn't want to get into collecting them just yet. To be more specific in the case of the Intellivision I should state that I had a choice between the Flashback and actually system, I went with the latter only to have it break down on me and be deemed irreparable a week after buying it, and at that point I just bought the Flashback instead. In the case of the long string of Atari Flashbacks however I decided to pass and just get the real thing since I had a connection to the 2600, 5200, and 7800 as a kid and wanted to have the actual consoles. Of course most of the Atari Flashbacks have been focused on Atari 2600 games anyway, so owning the physical systems has had some major benefits.
As I've stated here though my choice not to buy an NES Classic is just based on the fact that it would be a little redundant in my collection. With that said what I tell you is as both the owner of Flashback systems and an actual NES, is that owning an NES Classic can have advantages if you're not a serious collector. First of all its hardware emulated access to 30 classic NES games, meaning you don't have to track these games down, buy them, and then store them, all of which is a tremendous amount of time, money, and space saved. Secondly, these systems are easy to hook up, meaning they're great to bring out when company is over, or when you're just in the mood an NES game. Lastly, this is hardware emulation at its finest, meaning right down to the controllers, this is going to give you the best possible experience of playing an NES without actually playing an actual one. I also need to mention that it's Nintendo itself that's making this unit, which is the first time we've seen the producer of the original machine also making the nostalgia based emulation unit since the current Atari, Sega, Coleco, and Intellivision units are all produced under license by a third party. So what results should be both interesting and well made.
If getting one of these has peeked your attention than I need to give you a few words of warning. First these things are already sold out from major retailers, although I imagine the demand will cause more to be produced and available soon so patience is a true virtue here. Second, be cautious and try to avoid buying from sellers on eBay or other sites where the seller is trying to ask higher than the retail price, you may feel very foolish buying one for $250 just to see it at GameStop a week later for $59. Lastly, if you want the real experience instead the average price of a functional original NES with at least one controller, TV hookups, and power supply is about $40 and the original Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt cart can be easily found for less than $5 (no matter what you hear this one isn't rare). As a word of caution light guns won’t work with modern flat screen plasma or LED TV’s, so if your firing away and nothing happens now you know.
To end I just want to say that if you're thinking about buying a NES Classic and really want get into retro games perhaps now, while these things are sold out, is a good time to ask yourself if you maybe want to get an actual NES instead, and start into something new. The NES Classic may be great and all, but becoming a true NES collector gives you access to some really wonderful titles a flashback unit like this never will, as well as access to some of the nearly 700 games the NES had.