Retro Duo Portable V2.0 Review

Retro Duo Portable

The Retro Duo Portable V2.0: another clone system to satisfy your nostalgic hunger. These so-called ‘clones’ are fast growing in popularity. Companies like Hyperkin and Retro-Bit have capitalised on the popularity of retro gaming by producing systems that can play your old console cartridges.

Retro Duo Portable

Retro-Bit is having a second crack at this caper by creating the Retro Duo Portable (RDP) V2.0 – a portable (to an extent) unit that plays SNES carts from any region without hacking or modifications. The RDP V2.0 is also capable of playing NES carts using the bundled RetroPort adapter, which sticks out like a sore thumb. The RDP V2.0 can also play Sega Mega Drive / Genesis cartridges using the RetroGEN adapter, which is sold separately.

Retro Duo Portable

Retro-Bit’s first attempt at hardware console creation was modest. The screen wasn’t too flash, the unit felt cheap and games compatibility was limited. They have learned from the experience and introduced a number of improvements for V2.0. These include: upgraded LCD screen, crisper sound, improved D-pad and button layout, better battery life (Lithium-ion) with LED indicator and most importantly, enhanced game cartridge compatibility.

Retro Duo Portable

The RDP V2.0 comes in a slick looking package. Inside you will find a vast amount of gear – the console itself, a plastic stand, TV/AV connection cable, power supply unit, RetroPort adapter, a controller hub and two SuperRetro controllers (which can also be used on your SNES!).

Retro Duo Portable

After playing with the unit for a number of hours (on one battery charge!), here are our thoughts:

Retro Duo Portable

The unit feels sturdy in hand and has a nice soft coating. It doesn’t suffer from that cheap feel you get from other ‘clones’.

Retro Duo Portable

The D-pad and button layout is identical to a SNES pad, so you should feel right at home. However, the shoulder buttons do let the controls down as they are too close to the cartridge slot, but this is only a minor niggle. The external control pads are great to use if you intend on hooking the RDP V2.0 up to a TV, or if you use them natively on your SNES.

Retro Duo Portable

We did have a few compatibility issues with the Super FX SNES games, but overall we were pleased with Retro-Bit’s claim of improved compatibility.

Retro Duo Portable

Using the RetroPort adapter to play your NES carts basically renders the unit ‘un-portable’. The adapter sticks out above the unit which looks damn ugly. But hey, if you want to play your native old NES carts, you will put up with this unsightliness. Playing the RDP V2.0 with the RetroPort adapter definitely got attention on public transport.

Retro Duo Portable

The improved LCD screen is better than the original RDP (it has an increased pixel count), but it has a long way to go. You still have to ‘angle’ or ‘tilt’ the unit to get the best visibility, which gets annoying after a while. There is a contrast reset button which has three preset contrast settings for brightness. The clarity is average when compared to modern handhelds; but considering the price of the unit, it is understandable.

Retro Duo Portable

The beefing up of the sound is great in theory, however we did find the sound became distorted at maximum volume with a distinct ‘crackling’ on certain games (Super Smash TV). The sound was fine when playing with headphones, however the placement of the headphone jack should have been placed on the side of the unit, not on top (it gets in the way!).

Retro Duo Portable

Should you rush out and buy the Retro Duo Portable V2.0? It depends, if you are happy emulating (legally) your 8-bit and 16-bit Sega or Nintendo games, then the answer is no. However, if you want a system that you can plug in your library of SNES, NES and Mega Drive carts, then the RDP V2.0 is perfect. The other plus to owning the RDP V2.0 is that you will safeguard your Sega and Nintendo hardware from further abuse, and let’s face it, these old consoles won’t last forever!

Verdict: If you like the sound of a console that can play your SNES and NES cartridges out of the box, then check this unit out.

The Retro Duo Portable NES/SNES Game System retails for $99.99USD at ThinkGeek.

The Game Genie

gamegenie

Long before there was an Internet to search for clues and codes to hack your way through a stubbornly difficult game, Codemasters brought a product into the game market which permitted access to your video game’s code, thereby letting you add unearned lives, power-ups, and so forth. The Game Genie was an accessory that you could insert into your game console, and then the game would attach to the Game Genie, allowing the Game Genie to act as an intermediary between the console and the game.

gamegenie

Many gamers found this helpful, and different Game Genies were produced for a variety of game consoles, including the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), the Nintendo GameBoy, the Super Nintendo, the Sega Genesis, and the Sega Game Gear. Two different companies distributed the Game Genie over the years it was being manufactured: Galoob and Camerica, one of which (Galoob) was actually sued by Nintendo in an effort to prevent the Game Genie from being sold. Fortunately for many gamers, Nintendo lost their legal battle and had to pay Galoob for damages.

Time marches steadily on, however, and the Game Genie is now in the dustbin of gaming history, while Nintendo continues to be a gaming powerhouse.  All we have left of the Game Genie are the few units that can be found here and there in the retrogaming marketplace, and our memories. Speaking of which, see if the following ad brings back memories of how you salivated over the thought of finally mastering that one irksome game, if only you got a Game Genie.

FC Twin Console

FC Twin console
FC Twin console

In the world of virtual consoles and emulators one might wonder why you would need a console system that plays old NES and SNES games and the answer is, why the hell not. The FC Twin is a clone system meaning it copies what the original system did hardware wise, but it is not the original. In the FCT’s case you can play both the 8-bit and 6-bit games on the system. The FC twin can be purchased at major outlets online and sometimes in stores for about $40 USD.

Now the first thing to remember is you will need the original cartridges from either the SNES or NES to play on the FC Twin. The good news is you can find a ton of games on eBay or even your local thrift store. The FCT comes with the following:

Base Console

Two SNES style controls

AV Cables

AC Adapter

FC Twin console
FC Twin console

The base console itself is really light, but the plastic case seems strong enough to take a little beating. The controllers feel good in my hands even though it is much lighter than the original SNES controller. It may feel like cheap plastic and true enough I am sure it is not the best, but honestly they feel better than the original classic controller that you can purchase for the Wii. Another cool thing about the control input is it can fit the original SNES controllers.

A little bit more about the controllers.  The FC Twin is not compatible with the original NES controllers and that includes the guns. The FCT is compatible with most SNES controllers including the light gun and in fact a light gun was release just for the FC Twin.

The AC adapter is pretty standard as is the AV cables. I connected the system to my Vizio television. Don’t expect any differences visually, the system will look the same as if you connected your original SNES to your T.V., so there is no HD mode or anything like that.

FC Twin console
FC Twin console

On the console itself are two cartridge ports, the upper one is for the 8-bit games and the lower one is for the 16-bit games. There are only two buttons on the console. One button is to reset the system and the second is a switch that goes from Power to 16-bit to 8-bit. What makes the switch cool is you can put in two cartridges and switch between both on the fly.

As for looks and sound I personally did not see a difference between the FCT and the original consoles however, it has been a while since I played the original non-emulated. Other uses have reported that sometimes the sound with NES games are not exactly like the original, but I have not been able to confirm that. You can connect your FC Twin’s audio ports to a stereo even with surround sound, but keep in mind the old NES games were not meant to utilize that technology so it might sound a bit weird.

Compatibility wise there are quite a number of games that are not compatible with the FC Twin, but instead of listing them here you can see the list on the Wiki Page for the FC Twin. Most of the compatibility issues are a result of the Super FX chip found in these games as well as the lack of ability to use the Power Pad and R.O.B.. So far playing a few games on both the SNES and NES side I can tell you it plays just like the original, but I can see how if you are a bit rough on your controllers you could wear them out in time.

All in all if you have the original cartridges and are missing the console system then the FC Twin is a cool way to play them. Sure, you could just get the emulated versions, but why not to both as that is the mark of a collector.