Your aging plastic cartridges have never looked so good.
Back in 2014, we marveled at the announcement of the Analogue Nt, a heavily modified version of the original Nintendo Entertainment System with a solid aluminum case and an even more solid starting price: $500. We’ve been playing with our loaner unit for a few months now, and we’ve come away impressed with this sleek, modern love letter to classic gaming. While the price will put it beyond all but the most dedicated retro gaming hobbyists, we’re glad a product made with such obvious care and devotion exists for those who value authenticity and style above all else.
Before you go comparing apples to oranges, let’s be clear about what the Analogue Nt is not. It’s not one of those gray-market “Famiclone” systems that uses knock-off chips and provides “close enough” compatibility with most NES and Famicom cartridges (see our review of the Generation NEX for an example). It’s also not a system that uses an Android-based software emulator to run legitimate cartridges (like the Retron 5) or ROMs loaded onto an SD card. And it’s not one of those do-it-yourself kits that upgrades an existing NES with more modern features.
At its core, the Analogue Nt is actually a Famicom, the original Japanese version of the NES. Designer Christopher Taber tells Ars he sourced the system’s internals from “a large quantity of HVC-001 Famicom systems that were in cosmetically undesirable/unsellable condition.” That means the CPU and PPU that power the Analogue Nt were produced by Nintendo to run Famicom software about three decades ago. This means in turn that, unlike some other modern hardware that runs NES cartridges, the Analogue Nt should be compatible with any and all of the hundreds of NES/Famicom cartridges in existence with perfect accuracy (every game we’ve been able to test has run flawlessly). The Analogue’s authentic core also means it can take the Japan-only Famicom Disk System as an attachment. We haven’t tested that, but it’s an important feature for a certain subset of collectors.