Review: COOLBABY HDMI NES Mini Clone

Coolbaby Retro Gaming NES Mini Clone


Sound Quality




Design & Features







  • 600 Games
  • Excellent controllers
  • HDMI Output
  • Super Affordable


  • Occasional glitches
  • Lacking Some Classic Games
  • Bootleg ROMs

The NES Classic Mini was a huge hit for the 2016 holiday season. These little gems let you relive the best videogames during the home console rebirth of the late 80’s and early 90’s. With the NES Classic Mini almost impossible to get your hands on, it wasn’t long until clones came along to fill the gaps in the market. While we were lucky enough to cop a NES Classic Mini, these little clones made promises of far more games at a much lower price. Our curiosity got the best of us and Zapals was nice enough to send us one of their more popular models for review.

Real Vs Fake NES Classic Mini Comparison

At a glance, these NES Mini clones really don’t look any different from the real thing. The housing is quite clearly the original Famicom aka Nintendo Entertainment System from the 80’s. The tiny little box holds 600 NES games, the 90’s kid in me couldn’t help but think how absolutely unbelievable such a gadget would seem back in the NES’s hay-day. After all, without even considering inflation you’re looking at tens-of-thousands of dollars worth in hardware and games, all for $36. But we’ve been let down before by cheap Chinese knock-offs, so we booted this puppy up with a bit of skepticism.

The Coolbaby Retro Gaming System comes with a microUSB power supply, two controllers and a HDMI cable so you’re ready to roll, right out of the box. It boots up quickly with two options, Chinese and English. We obviously chose English and came to a menu with that broke up your gaming choices by franchise. Mario of course, Contra, (Ninja) Turtle(s), Adventure (Island), HotBlood and 545-In-1.

NES Clone Menu

Coolbaby NES Clone Main Menu

We started with Mario, as one does, with the original Super Mario Bros. The first thing we noticed was the lack of sound. No music, no sound effects, nothing. We rebooted, rebooted again, tried different HDMI cables, but no avail. The COOLBABY was mute.

Looking online, there was not any real tech support, or reddit posts about this issue. I assume I must be the only person with this issue, but it’s a big one for sure. Playing Bubble Bobble without sound takes away half the experience. So when it comes to gameplay we simply cannot rate the sound, because, we didn’t have any. Undeterred we continued to play game after game trying to get an overall feel of the experience of playing the Coolbaby Retro System.

Something is missing…

We had some two-player fun with Balloon Fight, lost hours to Dr. Mario and discovered just how good McDonalds MC Kids really is… but there was something lacking. While there is a plethora of games, classic franchises like Zelda, Mega Man, Castlevania are notedly missing as well as some iconic NES games like Skate Or Die or Ducktales. But all the Double Dragon, Paper Boy, 1942, Batman etc will entertain you and your friends or kids for hours on end.

Fake NES Mini Nintendo

There are a number of hacked and homebrew games thrown in there as well. Expect some weird crap like “Yoshi Hash Cookie” and a bootleg Mortal Kombat that are virtually and in some cases literally unplayable. Sure, you get 600 games, but 2/3 are just garbage. When it boils down you get 100-200 good games and of those about 125 play flawlessly. Still miles more than the NES Classic offers at a fraction of the cost, the gaming value is solid.

The look of it overall was really nice…

Visually, the Coolbaby does a great job. If you’ve seen how fuzzy those other clones are, the HDMI output has really cleaned it up. Not only is the resolution clean, but the layout and menus really aren’t bad considering. The look of it overall was really nice. While lacking the CRT or 4:3 video settings of the Nintendo NES Mini, I found them gimmicky anyway. Really just a way to get the worse experience, or maybe “true” experience, retro gaming offered. I’d rather have a crisp, sharp video and the Coolbaby clone offers just that.

Unfortunately, as emulation often does, glitches are plenty. For those old enough to remember gaming on the original NES, artifacts and broken hit-boxes plagued the original. The emulated boot-leg versions only amplify this issue. Some games, certainly worse than others, it wasn’t an issue that slowed down or even hampered the overall experience, but it’s worth noting. Expect glitches, expect crashes, this is after all console emulation.

NES Mini Knockoff controllers with Turbo buttons

The controllers were solid, the cables modestly long but I would have appreciated another 4 feet. The addition of two turbo buttons is a nice touch, especially in shooting games where you don’t have to keep mashing the buttons the whole way through. What really stands out is the construction. The controller is sturdy, feels good in the hand. The buttons are nice and tacky. I can’t help but feel they’re honestly better than the original. Again, for such an inexpensive console I was expecting, thin, creaky, buggy hardware but these controllers are top notch. Overall it looks good and construction seems like these puppies will last for a while


So is the Coolbaby NES Classic Mini clone worth the $35.99? Absolutely. Even without sound we just put spotify on and got hours and hours of fun. There’s enough games that you’ll tire of the 8 bit system long before you run out of games to play. There is a true nostalgic feel and a bit of delight from playing some of these games that were missing on the classic mini. With the original NES Classic Mini still pulling in over $100 this is definitely an economical solution that doesn’t sacrifice the overall experience.

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