Gaming Alternatives: NES Classic Edition, Apple TV, NVIDIA SHIELD TV

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When someone mentions gaming, the first things you probably think of are the Xbox One, the PlayStation 4, and the Nintendo Switch. However, you’re not limited to those gaming consoles. Sure, if you want the latest games and are invested in gaming, those are the devices to get, but what if you’re just a casual gamer or already heavily invested in PC gaming? Here are some alternatives.

NES Classic Edition

Nostalgia was out in full force, in November, 2016. Nintendo released the NES Classic Edition, which was a miniature version of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, from 1985. It contained 30 pre-installed games from the licensed Nintendo library, including some third-party titles. Get a blast from the past with games like Super Mario Bros, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and The Legend of Zelda. The controller also resembled the original NES controller.

Nintendo NES Classic Controller

The NES Classic Edition may be a replica of the original NES console, but Nintendo did add some upgrades. It’s quite surreal to plug your NES Classic Edition into your HDTV with an HDMI cable. There are also four Suspend Point slots for each game. Just press the Reset button while playing to return to the HOME menu and save your progress to a slot. You can also lock your save file and resume playing later, a convenience that was not really present in the ’80s.

Nintendo NES Classic Edition

Even though Nintendo modernized the NES Classic Edition, you can still enjoy the retro features of the NES. The CRT filter adds scan lines to your expensive HDTV (don’t worry, it’s not permanent). Switch to a 4:3 aspect ratio so you can get the original NES game look with a slight horizontal stretch. Each pixel is also a perfect square, so you see the games exactly as they were originally designed. It’s probably difficult to find the NES Classic Edition right now, because Nintendo underestimated its popularity (*puts on tinfoil hat* or they intentionally limited the inventory), but if you can get your hands on one, it’ll be well worth it, for a trip down memory lane.

Apple TV

You might be surprised to see the Apple TV listed here, especially since most people consider it a home entertainment device for streaming. While it is true that most people use the Apple TV to watch their favorite movies and TV shows, it can also be a fun gaming console for casual players.

Apple TV

While you won’t be playing AAA titles, like Call of Duty and Overwatch on the Apple TV, it does support iOS games you can play with friends and family. Playing a split-screen multiplayer game of Crossy Road on the TV with one person using the Apple TV Siri Remote and the other person using their iPhone is quite fun, especially when you bump your opponent’s character into oncoming traffic.

While some games were made for iOS and tvOS (Apple TV’s operating system), other games were made specifically for the Apple TV, like the aptly named Minecraft: Apple TV Edition. Minecraft: Apple TV Edition requires an Apple TV and a gamepad, which means you won’t be able to use the Siri Remote (not that you want to for a game like this). Instead, you will have to purchase an Apple MFi certified Bluetooth gaming controller.

Thermaltake eSPORTS CONTOUR Mobile Gaming Controller

The Apple TV wasn’t meant to compete with the Xbox One or PS4. However, if you’re a casual gamer who can’t justify spending the extra cash on a gaming console, the Apple TV could satisfy your gaming needs while providing other home entertainment services. If you’re just looking to beat your friends at a casual game and then watch a movie afterwards, the Apple TV might be a better fit.

NVIDIA SHIELD TV

NVIDIA wanted to make something like the Apple TV, except with a power level that’s over 9,000. The NVIDIA SHIELD TV Media Player is capable of streaming games and video at 4K UHD resolution with HDR support, provided that you own a 4K HDR TV.

NVIDIA SHIELD TV Streaming Media Player

GeForce NOW brings a host of games for SHIELD TV owners to play, as well as Pascal-powered GPU performance from the cloud. You’ll be able to play Ubisoft titles, such as Watch Dogs 2 and For Honor. There are also MMO games, such as Paragon and Marvel Heroes, so you can get your online multiplayer fix. Updates and patches are handled by the service, so you don’t have to wait for the downloads to finish before playing.

If you own an NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics card, you can stream from your computer to the SHIELD TV with NVIDIA GameStream. Using ultra-low-latency streaming technology, NVIDIA says the SHIELD TV can do 4K HDR streaming at 60 frames per second. You can also use the Big Picture mode in the Steam app to play your Steam library on your TV in the living room. You’re also not limited to just PC titles. The NVIDIA SHIELD TV also allows you to play Android games for a more casual experience.

The NVIDIA SHIELD TV comes with a remote and a gaming controller. You’ll be able to navigate movies with the remote while playing games properly with a controller.

NVIDIA SHIELD TV Remote

The SHIELD TV’s open platform gives you access to a variety of game libraries. The SHIELD TV also collects all your games in the NVIDIA Games app, which lets you curate titles from the three libraries above into a single location. If you’re a PC gamer who wants to extend your gaming experience to the living room, the NVIDIA SHIELD TV is for you.

Raspberry Pi

If you’re more of a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) type of person, you should consider Raspberry Pi. You can get a Raspberry Pi Zero W with 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. Install an emulator, download some games, and you’re good to go.

Raspberry Pi Zero W

Game with Ease

You don’t have to limit yourself to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and the Nintendo Switch if you want to get into gaming. Whether it’s to enjoy a bit of nostalgia from the ’80s, play a quick game before the next episode of your Insert-Netflix-Original-Show-Here, or stream a Steam game in 4K UHD @ 60 fps to your expensive TV, gaming has evolved to adapt to you, not the other way around.

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