Nintendo Hardware Refreshes Via The Ages – Function


Mid-cycle hardware refreshes could from time to time really feel like a somewhat current improvement, but console companies have been releasing revised versions of their consoles because video gaming initial entered the household. You could associate Nintendo hardware refreshes mainly with handheld consoles thanks to the umpteen variants that have crowded shelves more than the previous decade or so, but lots of of its household consoles have also received a facelift.

It is not constantly the case that these refreshes are ‘upgrades’, either, with marquee functions from time to time removed totally in a new SKU. With Switch Lite arriving at a less expensive cost point than the regular model, what superior time to take a appear back at the company’s history of hardware refreshes?

For the purposes of this function, we’re not going to deep dive into the ‘silent’ hardware revisions that companies routinely place out to address flaws or take benefit of less expensive or additional effective elements and the like. Right here we’re concentrating on refreshes that introduced (or removed) substantial functions with cosmetic variations, as well. And no, the Classic Mini consoles do not count!

So, let’s head back to the 1990s…

NES-101 / AV Famicom

The trusty Nintendo Entertainment Method got a substantial facelift in the type of the NES-101 which appeared on the marketplace immediately after the launch of Super NES. A top rated-loading technique, it didn’t will need to property the cartridges internally and could as a result be a great deal slimmer than the boxy original. It came with a redesigned ‘dogbone’ controller which echoed the Super NES controller with its curved, comfy style.

The removal of composite video out connections on the North American version meant RF was the only way to connect this to the Television – a price-cutting measure that we’ll be seeing additional of as we function our way via this list. A uncommon later version replaced RF with the exact same AV multi-out port made use of on the Super NES (and the Nintendo 64, and the GameCube). The equivalent-hunting Japanese Famicom revision made use of that port as regular and as a result came to be identified as the AV Famicom.

New-Style Super NES / SNS-101

In a great deal the exact same style as the NES-101, the spending budget New-Style Super NES came out a superior whilst immediately after the Nintendo 64 launched. It was even made by the exact same individual (Lance Barr, the man accountable for the appear of all the Nintendo household consoles released in North America to that point) and it arguably blended the style of the Super NES with the additional rounded appear of the Super Famicom to generate a neat tiny machine. The bottom expansion slot was removed and it only supports composite video via its AV multi-out port (despite the fact that a somewhat very simple mod can re-allow S-Video and RGB output).

Regrettably, as with most of these spending budget redesigns that come at the finish of a console’s life, we have a tendency to be excited for the subsequent console and it arguably requires a generation or two till we commence wishing we’d picked up a single of these whilst we had the likelihood. If we had been sensible, we’d be eyeing up a New 3DS/2DS appropriate about now…

Pikachu Nintendo 64

The Nintendo 64 didn’t get a spending budget facelift immediately after the GameCube launched. Nintendo did, on the other hand, copy the colours of the ultra-trendy iMacs of the day and sooner or later released a multitude of consoles with coloured shells. We keep in mind getting a tiny perplexed that these weren’t a Day 1 choice, but that was a additional innocent time when a launch console could reasonably be anticipated to final the complete generation (and effectively beyond – our launch unit is nonetheless going sturdy two decades later). Coloured variants would go on to be a fixture of Nintendo hardware from this time onwards.

Discounting the Chinese-only iQue 64 Player, the only version of the N64 which really alters the OG console’s type element was the Pikachu Nintendo 64 which changed the energy button into a Pokéball and embedded a plastic Pikachu in the appropriate-hand side of the console, with light-up cheeks and a reset button on his appropriate foot. Hardly an necessary ‘upgrade’, but beautiful nonetheless.

Panasonic Q

We got a colour option of ‘Indigo’ or ‘Jet Black’ at launch with the GameCube, with other colours arriving sooner or later (despite the fact that the beautiful ‘Spice Orange’ would stay Japan-only). Beyond a minor mid-life revision which removed some video output possibilities, we by no means saw a correct refresh of the ‘Cube. It would have been really hard to boost on the original, no?

Even so, fortunate Japan did get probably the sexiest variant of any Nintendo console, ever. The Panasonic Q added DVD playback, optical sound output and turned the GameCube into a thing that could sit comfortably alongside the rest of your AV kit. This was incredibly exotic for western Nintendo fans at the time, and decent secondhand examples go for quite huge sums on auction websites.

Wii Household Edition and Wii Mini

The Wii received two most important hardware revisions: a single which retained the common appear of the original console, and a single which claimed to be ‘Mini’, which was a major fat lie.

The Wii Household Edition or ‘RVL-101’ removed GameCube compatibility and the stand from the box and was meant to sit horizontally, as indicated by the reoriented text. The shell, even though, was virtually identical to the original, minus the ‘doors’ on the top rated (despite the fact that if you unscrew the new panel you will locate holes in the case under exactly where the GameCube ports are on the earlier model).

The Wii Mini was the correct price-cutting revision. Not only did GameCube compatibility get the boot, but the technique also removed all video outputs except composite, plus on the net connectivity (so no on the net multiplayer, Virtual Console or WiiWare), Wi-Fi, the SD slot, a single of the USB ports and, probably worst of all, the attractive disc slot and its blue light. No, all that got ejected in this a top rated-loading take on the Wii. Frankly, it really is surprising they did not wire the Wiimotes to it and get in touch with it a ‘homage’ to the Famicom.

If all these omissions weren’t insult sufficient, the Wii Mini was nearly the exact same size as the original console and appears distinctly significantly less sleek, like a thing Captain Kirk would preserve his logs in. Eventually, it really is quite hard to argue this is something other than Nintendo’s worst ‘refresh’.

Game Boy Pocket and Light

Seeing as the Wii U did not hang about lengthy sufficient for a refresh, we’re onto the handhelds! The humble Game Boy got a line of coloured shells, but internally they had been identical to the original. The Game Boy Pocket was the initial ‘proper’ revision which lowered battery specifications from 4 AAs to just two AAAs and switched out the green monochrome show of the original for a black and ‘white’ version. It nonetheless didn’t get a backlight, even though – that was saved for the Japan-only Game Boy Light which was marginally bigger but offered the function Game Boy owners had been craving for years.

Are we going to include things like the Game Boy Colour right here? No, we’re not. If you take into consideration that a revision rather than a unique technique, just pretend we did. Sorted!

Game Boy Advance SP and Micro

The original landscape-oriented Game Boy Advance was a fine tiny technique, despite the fact that its lack of backlight produced playing it at any time outdoors the daylight hours of 10am – 6pm impractical with no an external lighting resolution. The clamshell Game Boy Advance SP arrived and not only offered some protection for the screen, but added a blessed backlight (a front-light, really). A later revision, the a great deal-sought-immediately after AGS-101, went a step additional with two brightness possibilities to generate arguably the loveliest iteration of Game Boy ever produced.

Even so, the GBA got a single final refresh in the type of the Game Boy Micro – simultaneously the most desirable and least ergonomic of any of Nintendo’s hardware revisions. It integrated changeable faceplates and was the tiniest GB of all – a chibi-GB, if you will – despite the fact that that meant it couldn’t play Game Boy or Game Boy Colour games. The Nintendo DS overshadowed the diminutive Game Boy Micro at the time and they price a fortune these days, but regardless of the crippling spasms that would shoot via our hands if we really attempted to play a game on a single, we nonetheless browse eBay just about every after in a whilst hoping to spot a clean a single for below £150.

Nintendo DS Lite and DSi / DSi XL

This is exactly where Nintendo began to get a tiny refresh-content. The Nintendo DS Lite is arguably a single of the finest hardware updates ever, enhancing on the original DS ‘Phat’ in nearly just about every way, like screen brightness and battery life.

The Nintendo DSi would raise the size of the show and get rid of the GBA cartridge port in order to squeeze in additional RAM and a superior CPU than the regular model, as effectively as an SD card slot to retailer downloadable DSiWare games from the new DSi-exclusive shop. It also gained a pair of (admittedly low-top quality) cameras as effectively as its personal menu style. The DSi XL did all of this, just a bit larger and in additional luxurious hues. Any one for Wine Red or Metallic Rose?

Nintendo 3DS XL, Nintendo 2DS, New Nintendo 3DS (XL) and New Nintendo 2DS XL

With the DS’ successor, factors began to get a tiny silly with a Nintendo 3DS ‘family’ of systems. While the original 3DS arguably launched in a superior state than the DS ‘Phat’ did, the Nintendo 3DS XL was a quite good upgrade with larger screens which produced acquiring the 3D ‘sweet spot’ less difficult, plus a matte finish which hid unsightly fingerprints.

Then came the 2DS, a non-folding slate-like affair aimed at younger young children that removed the 3DS’ namesake gimmick and which, along with cockroaches, will be the only point to survive a nuclear apocalypse.

Subsequent up, Nintendo developed the New Nintendo 3DS, a gorgeous tiny technique with faceplates, a C-stick (a ‘nub’, actually), ‘ZL’ and ‘ZR’ buttons, a great deal-enhanced viewing angles for the glasses-totally free stereoscopic 3D thanks to face tracking and – most importantly of all – Super Famicom-style coloured face buttons. Lovely! Slightly bigger than the original model, this is a beautiful tiny machine. Of course, Nintendo also released an XL version (the only a single readily available in North America for a time), but the regular New Nintendo 3DS arguably hit the sweetest spot of all these refreshes.

We’re nonetheless not completed, even though. Additional muddying the waters, shortly prior to the launch of Switch Nintendo also announced the New Nintendo 2DS XL. There is no non-XL version of this console, so this final (we assume) variant is primarily a New Nintendo 3DS XL minus the auto-stereoscopic 3D. And a fine console it is, as well – despite the fact that it is really hard to summon a great deal enthusiasm immediately after this lots of redesigns! As we mentioned above, need to actually be maintaining an eye out for a mint a single at a bargain cost appropriate now, but as is constantly the case, there’s a new kid on the block grabbing all the attention…

… and ultimately, Nintendo Switch Lite

Bridging Nintendo’s household and handheld console strands, we ultimately arrive at the Nintendo Switch and its new tiny sibling, the Switch Lite. This transportable-only version does for the ‘flagship’ model what 2DS did to its elder household member – namely, ditch its namesake gimmick.

No, the Switch Lite does not ‘switch’ any longer and will not play a handful of games out of the box with no additional controllers. The capability to switch involving docked and handheld mode could effectively be the ‘point’ of the hybrid console, but as we’ve noticed with the 2DS, naming conventions shouldn’t stand in the way of a technique for which there’s a marketplace. As refreshes go, we would have liked to see that bezel about the screen lowered, but otherwise Switch Lite appears to be a fine addition to a lengthy line of hardware refreshes, and no doubt we’ll be adding it to our collection of Nintendo consoles prior to lengthy.

Really the resume of altered hardware, no? Which a single do you feel supplied the most significant improvements? Let us know by clicking your favourite under and hitting the ‘Vote’ button at the bottom:

We would ask which you liked the least, but the Wii Mini is the only appropriate answer. If for some cause you loved that abomination, even though, really feel totally free to sound off in the comments and otherwise let us know which of these you invested in and why they give you the warm fuzzies.


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