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Dealmaster: The NES Classic comes back tonight—here's where to get one

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The NES Classic Edition is officially back in stores Friday morning.

Before we get into any background, and because time will likely be of the essence for those who want one of these things, let’s just lay out the US retailers that have confirmed to Ars that they will have the retro console in stock online on Friday. If you’re interested in picking one up, the links below should take you right to each store’s product listing:

Note: Ars Technica may earn compensation for sales from links on this post through affiliate programs.

Some context

The NES Classic Edition, which packages 30 classic games released for the original NES for $60, first launched with a limited production run in November 2016. Nintendo had major issues keeping up with demand for the diminutive device, however, which led to widespread stock shortages, massive markups from third-party resellers, and bundles from official retailers that only made the console available with other items at a higher MSRP.

Nintendo eventually ceased production of the NES Classic in April 2017 after selling 2.3 million units in roughly six months. In an interview with Gamespot around that time, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé said there was a “marketplace disconnect” between Nintendo’s expectations for supply and the actual demand.

After launching a similar classic console for the Super Nintendo, Nintendo announced last fall that it would bring the NES Classic back. The company confirmed in May that the re-release would arrive on June 29. At the time, the company said it expects both the NES and Super NES Classic Edition consoles to be available “through the end of the year,” so those who are dead-set on getting one may not be out of luck if they miss out on Friday.

What the stores are saying

That said, retailers appear to be anticipating shortages in supply on Friday itself. Here’s a rundown of how the major retailers plan to approach the system’s relaunch day:

  • Best Buy said in a blog post this week that it will have the system both in stores and online. When reached for comment, a Best Buy representative could not confirm the exact time the console will be on sale at BestBuy.com but said it will limit sales to one unit per customer, with no reservations. The company says if there are lines at its physical stores, it will use the ticketing process it typically rolls out on Black Friday.
  • A Walmart representative said that the NES Classic will be available in the retailer’s physical stores at 12:01am local time and on Walmart.com at 10am PT / 1pm ET. The representative could not confirm how much stock the retailer expects to have.
  • A GameStop representative said the retailer will have units in both its physical and online stores, with sales on the latter beginning at 12am CT / 1am ET. The representative said each physical GameStop location will have “at least 10 units,” though some stores may have more, and that it will not take reservations for the device.
  • ThinkGeek, which is owned by GameStop, will also have stock available. A company representative initially said that the online store would begin sales at 9am ET, and the site’s product page still says that’s the case, but when asked for clarification, the representative later said the actual time would be 1am ET . We will update this post once the product is formally available. In any event, ThinkGeek says it will sell the device individually, not as part of a bundle as it did with the initial launch. Again, the company says it will limit sales to one device per customer.
  • A Target representative said the store will not make the NES Classic available online on Friday but that it will have units at its physical retail stores. The representative could not specify how much inventory the store will have but said it will be “replenishing inventory through the fall.”
  • Amazon and Jet did not reply to a request for comment. In general, however, we expect the system to pop up at other retailers. A stock checker site like NowInStock.net should be useful if you need to keep an eye on the device’s retail status over time.

Is it worth the $60?

As for whether or not the NES Classic is worth buying in the first place, that depends. Most of the games bundled with the console are widely beloved, but it’s hard to expect every title to hold up fantastically well 35 years after it launched. Generally speaking, the Super NES Classic’s lineup plays and looks better today, and while that device has had its own issues with availability, it’s still popping up at retailers every now and then.

Beyond that, the cable of the classic controller bundled with the NES Classic is still too short, and the process of actually switching between games on the console is more tedious than it should be. Nintendo will likely release some of these games as part of the upcoming online service for its Switch console, and tinkerers can always piece together their own classic console with a Raspberry Pi and some external software (albeit in a legal gray area).

Still, the NES Classic is cute, dead-simple to set up and use, and smooth in operation. All of its games are safe to play with a kid. And to be frank, the power of nostalgia makes a lot of us buy things regardless of whether or not we’ll really use them for an extended period of time. Nintendo knows that well. Here’s hoping it can keep up with demand this time around.

Listing image by Jeff Dunn

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