The retro gaming market is having a bit of a Renaissance lately, thanks to Nintendo’s NES Classic console and the ever-expanding industry dedicated to re-creating, refurbishing, and resurrecting nostalgia-fueled products of the past. Hardware maker Retro-Bit is a big part of this community — the company makes classic console controllers, adapters, consoles, and USB emulators. It even revealed an all-in-one Game Boy cartridge-compatible gadget called the Super Retro Boy earlier this year.
Now, Retro-Bit has a new product that is more outlandish than any old-school gaming hardware you might have seen before. It’s called the Mega Table, and it’s a full-blown coffee table-sized NES controller that can actually be used to play classic games. The company brought the device to the E3 show floor last week, and we got a chance to try it out ourselves.
It’s not practical, nor is really an ideal way to play any game. Retro-Bit set the device up with one of its custom Generations emulators running Banishing Racer, a cult Japanese platformer released in 1991 for the original Game Boy that never made its way to the US. I got the hang of playing it after 5 to 10 minutes of using my outstretched hands in unison and some serious trial-and-error practice, but it’s definitely not the best way to play. It only really works for games that require simple movements and perhaps one or two different input controls, making Banishing Racer a solid showcase in fact.
Of course, playing games isn’t really the point. This is more for the enthusiast who wants a piece of furniture that just happens to have a kitschy dual-purpose as a game controller. You won’t need a Retro-Bit emulator to use the table as an input device — it will plug into any original NES console, as well as any PlayStaton 4, Xbox One, or Mac via USB. Although, the company’s Generations emulator certainly makes more sense, as the company licenses games from classic publishers to preload on its emulators. That way, you don’t have to wade into the legally questionable world of online emulation and ROM hacks.
Retro-Bit plans on launching a Kickstarter campaign in the next month or two, with an estimated price of $500 for the Mega Table and an October ship date if all goes well with production. That’s an aggressive time table, so prospective buyers should put money down with standard crowdfunding expectations that something could go wrong.