Tag Archives: Retro console clones

Retrobit Super Retro Advance Adapter Review

Last time we took a look at the Retro Gen adapter by Retrobit, a Genesis clone built into a Super NES Game Pak. This week we look at the Game Boy Advance version of this clone in a cartridge. Is it as good as the Genesis one?

PROS: You can play GBA games on your TV!

CONS: Not without some inconvenience.

REPLACEMENT: For your GBA? In some instances yes.

The Super Retro Advance, like the Retro Gen is a clone system in a cartridge. This time around Retrobit made a GBA clone. It has the one major issue the Retro Gen has, and that is it requires its own AV cables. It uses the same one set the Retro Gen includes. So if you own both, you can leave the same cable plugged into the TV. Then plug it into the either cartridge as you need to. Otherwise if you’re out of ports on the TV or your switch box, you’ll have to hot swap the cables with the Super NES cables.

Other than that inconvenience, it’s a pretty cool system. Once again, the system uses the Super NES as a power source. The game performance is pretty good here. Colors are bright, and things look pretty crisp. In most games. The thing to remember is that these games were designed to run at the Game Boy Advance’s screen resolution of 240 x 160. Playing on your TV is going to stretch that out a bit. The system displays the games at the proper aspect ratio, but it doesn’t re-render the games at a higher resolution.

Now before you balk, note that you’ll see a similar thing happens when you buy GBA games on your Wii U. It doesn’t look terrible, but you’re going to notice the pixels a bit more since they’re being up scaled rather than completely re rendered. If you can’t get past that, then you’ll want to stick to an actual GBA, GBA SP, or DS. The other option is the Game Boy Player for the Gamecube, but finding one with a working disc these days can be difficult at times. If you do, they’re often fairly expensive.

When factoring that all in, the Super Retro Advance becomes an attractive option for those who want to play their GBA collection on a TV set legitimately. I threw several games at mine, and they all ran perfectly fine. Performance was pretty good here. I didn’t run into any unexpected slowdown, and nothing crashed. The games stayed in the system nice, and snuggly. Sound was almost identical to what I experienced on the Game Boy Advance. The system also has a GBA link cable port on it. So if you want to run games that support multiple GBA multiplayer you can do so.

If you ever ended up passing on some portable games in the past because you had problems looking at the small screen you might like this. It opens up an entire library of games for you to check out using your Super NES for power. The GBA library is indeed stuffed with many children’s games, and it has its share of shovelware. But, it also has a multitude of wonderful Nintendo games, and a lot of great games that rarely showed up in other places. Stuff like Ninja Five-O, and Iridion II. So if you haven’t played them because you never got into the handhelds, this might be something you want to look into.

In the end it’s a short review this time, but it’s worth checking out the Super Retro Advance. It isn’t going to do it for the purists out there. Sadly, if you just have to have the 1:1 experience on your TV you’ll need to invest in a Game Boy Player with a working disc. But for the rest of us, this is a great option even if you do have a cable swap. If you’ve decided to get yourself a new 3DS, but you want to keep on playing your GBA games, the Super Retro Advance might be your ticket.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Retrobit Retro Gen Adapter Review


As those of us who buy, and play a lot of old games eventually discover, old consoles take up space. Sometimes old consoles wear out for good, and there are all kinds of third-party clone systems these days. But this week, and next week I’m looking at a couple of items that are more recent, having only been out a couple of years. Retrobit, makers of the Retro-Duo, have made retro game adapters for the Super NES. One that runs Sega Genesis/Mega Drive games, and one that runs Game Boy Advance games. This time I’m focusing on the Sega Genesis adapter.

PROS: Pretty great Sega Genesis/Mega Drive clone. Space saver!

CONS: Setup is a bit of a pain.

REGION FREE: Thanks to a handy switch.

As I said earlier, one of the pains with collecting old games is that there are a bunch of great consoles, and computers to pick up. Atari, Nintendo, Sega, Commodore, Coleco, Milton Bradley, you name it. There are a ton of them, and everyone has only so much space. Even if you’re extremely wealthy, you can still fill up that mansion pretty quickly.


Another issue is when your Sega Genesis dies. Do you invest in an original one?, The CDX? A model 3? Or do you go with a clone? Newcomers to the hobby may ask similar questions? When it comes to the clones, times haven’t been as kind to the Genesis. The AtGames 80 in 1 models have been notorious for bad sound emulation. That system lets you use cartridges too, but many people question the quality of the build. Those same people may also question the build of the Yobo clone. There’s a pretty good store in my area that gets them in from time to time, and I have to say it’s certainly one of the more brittle clone units I’ve tried. Though at least it works better than the AtGames model.


But Retrobit brings us something different. An adapter cartridge. That you can plug into your Super NES. You can then stack your Sega Genesis cartridges on top of it, and then viola! You’re playing Sega Genesis games on your Super Nintendo! Except not really. You see the term “adapter”, is a bit of a misnomer in this case. Because your Super NES isn’t really running the game at all. The Retro Gen adapter isn’t really an adapter. It’s a full-fledged Sega Genesis clone console. But with no controller ports, or power supply. Basically the system is designed to use the electricity from your Super NES.


The drawback to all of this is that even though you save a big chunk of space by not having a Sega Genesis sitting in your entertainment center, you still need to take up a separate line of composite ports on your TV. Now if you only have a couple of old systems it isn’t that big a deal. You plug the RCA composite cables included with the system, into your TV, or RCA switch box, and call it a day. But if you’re like me, and have accrued more consoles than you have ports on the TV or RCA switch box, you’re going to have to swap something. This can be very annoying, especially if you tend to go back, and forth between old platforms frequently. So make sure you have a sizable switch box if you have more than a handful of old game systems.

Fortunately, there are a lot of  things to like about the Retro Gen. Hardware emulation is very good. The sound is substantially better than any of the other clones I’ve tried. It isn’t quite as good as running an actual Sega Genesis. But it’s close enough that all but the most critical Sega fan would mind. Picture quality is also very close to what you might find running on a Sega Genesis. It’s very good. I put the Retro Gen through the paces playing Golden Axe on it. I was very pleased with just how close it came to playing on an actual Genesis.


Another thing that is nice is it works using your existing Super NES controllers. If you’re a purist, you can try to track down a port converter so you can use Sega Genesis pads. But the Super NES controllers work great. If you’re coming into it as someone who does not yet own a Sega Genesis, but you want to buy a few Sega games, this is cool because you don’t have to invest in added controllers.

The build quality is also really good. It is nice, and sturdy. The Retro Gen looks, and feels like a Super NES launch cartridge. Except it’s painted black, rather than gray. It stays pretty sturdy when playing, it doesn’t wobble any worse than Nintendo’s own Super Game Boy does. Which is great news to anyone who is going to pour a lot of hours into any of their favorite Sega cartridges.


But the best part of all of this is the region switch along the side of the system. This gives the Retro Gen a leg up over a multitude of competing clones, and even the original version of the console. You can play imports without having to do anything to the system. Switch to the appropriate region, and the cartridge will think it’s being played on that region’s version of the Genesis. This makes the Retro Gen a must own, if you love to buy games that weren’t originally sold in your area.


Overall, I highly recommend the Retro Gen. Even if the requirement of extra composite cable inputs on your TV, or switch box is a major inconvenience. The region switch, is a Godsend for importing. The fact that the audio, visual, and build quality is much better than some of the better known clones is also a huge plus. If you don’t already have a Sega Genesis, and you can deal with its one major caveat, give the Retro Gen a go.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

Retromini X review

For this entry I decided to do a little something different. Something that has become more common over the last few years is the creation of clones. Consoles that can run the software of older, defunct consoles. There are Sega clones, Nintendo clones, among others. The Nintendo clones are often called Famiclones, as many of them can even run Famicom cartridges. Of all of the vendors making these things, a handful stand out. The Retromini X is a pretty good one. I nabbed one a while ago, and while I took a number of decent photos back then, I never got around to reviewing the thing.  So I’m rectifying that.

PROS: Runs the majority  of the NES library. Can also be connected to a TV.

CONS: Wireless pads aren’t so hot. Light guns won’t work on modern HDTV’s.

WHAT?!?!?: The reaction you will hear playing it in public.

The Retromini X is one of the better portable NES clones you can find. The unit is lightweight without feeling too cheap. It has pretty responsive buttons, in a great layout. As far as handhelds go, it’s very comfortable, and you can easily spend several hours playing it. At first glance, one might complain about the size of the screen. It measures around 2.5 inches. Consider that’s about the size of the original Game Boy’s screen. But the quality of the screen is honestly, quite good. Colors pop, and the detail of the sprites show up without a hitch. it is also positioned nicely in relation to all of the face buttons, and the viewing angle is pretty wide. You don’t have to look at it dead on, just to  see it.

The Retromini X also has a very nice audio chipset. The speaker itself can be set very loudly, without distorting the sound, or becoming muffled. It does have a headphone jack as well. So you can play it out, and about without distracting everyone around you. The Retromini X  runs on 4 AA batteries. I would recommend using rechargeable batteries in lieu of the standard alkaline batteries. Because the regular batteries will drain fairly quickly. You can expect to get around 3 hours or so out of regular batteries, whereas the rechargeable ones can go a lot longer. That said, I do like that the unit works on standard batteries as, many other portable NES clones go with a proprietary battery. Especially a lot of the more recent releases.  While these do give you much longer play sessions there is a problem. When the units go out of production you have no way to run it as a handheld any longer. Because this in turn means you cannot find a replacement battery, as they were only ever made for that specific handheld. Which makes replacements very scarce.

With the Retromini X you won’t run into that trouble as it isn’t likely we’ll stop seeing AA batteries any time soon. The system does include an AC adapter as well, so you can still play your games off of an outlet. The AC adapter (at least the one included with the North American release)also appears to be a fairly common style that many devices use. So if you lose it, or it wears out you can probably find a suitable replacement for it. So long as you’re willing to put a bit of effort into scouring the internet for one. If not?  Then common, every day AA batteries will have to do.

Where the unit begins to fall short however, is as a home console. It does come with AV cables, and you can hook it up to a TV.  But this is not going to replace an NES in your gaming setup for a number of reasons. The biggest of these is that the handheld has no ports for game controllers on it. To alleviate that concern, the manufacturer included two wireless gamepads. But these pads cannot be replaced if they become lost or broken. They run on two AAA batteries each. Unlike the plastics used in the Retromini X itself, the pads are made of flimsy, and brittle plastics. The pads also don’t retain the same shape as classic NES pads or the NES Max. Instead, they take the shape of the Super NES controllers. But they won’t give you the same comfort, or feel as the handheld or classic controllers will. They also aren’t as responsive as a wired controller. So in some games where timing is key, you’ll really wish you could use something else.

Mysteriously, the system also includes a Zapper clone. The Nintendo Zapper was a light gun used for games like Duck Hunt, and ports of light gun shooters like Operation Wolf. Surprisingly, the Zapper clone works really well. Almost as well as the original gun. It isn’t as comfortable to hold as it is made from the same questionable plastics as the wired pads. But it does work as advertised. The biggest problem with it is the same one affecting the original Zapper, and other light guns. Modern televisions. Back in the 80’s, and 90’s light guns worked on a combination of light patterns off of a TV screen, and coordinates on a grid. It could read a pattern, send the data to the software, which would tell if you were close enough to your target’s hit box to count as a hit or not. But modern HD TV technology doesn’t display the image you see the same way. The Zapper was built with a CRT’s line by line refresh rate, where HD TVs mostly draw all of the image lines at the same time. I’m sure someone even more technically inclined might comment with a better explanation. But the bottom line is unless you are hooking up the Retromini X to an old CRT you won’t be able to play the NES light gun games on it whatsoever.

The unit works with the overwhelming majority of the NES library. Even most of the unlicensed third-party game paks in your collection will run well. The system’s emulation is pretty spot on, as the music, effects, and visuals are on display as you remember them. In the time I’ve had with mine over a few years, I’ve put a lot of games through the paces on it. The only game I ever ran on it that didn’t work was a copy of Paperboy. The cartridge fired up fine enough, but none of the buttons would work. I switched the game out with Mario Bros., to find that game played pretty flawlessly. So again, most of your collection should run on this swimmingly. With that said there are a number of game paks that will not run on this. There are no definitive lists of incompatible games that I’m aware of. So for the most part, it’s going to be hit, and miss. At least until either the vendor or a group of collectors get together to make a definitive list.

One last note about this system is how well it holds games in place. The Retromini X is a few years old now. A number of other handheld NES clones have come about, and yet many of them have wobbly cartridge slots. That is, the cartridge can shift forward or backward while it is in the system, and cause the pins to briefly disconnect. In the Retromini X, Game Paks fit in pretty snuggly. You don’t have to worry about the game falling out of the unit completely. Despite that fact, the Retromini X does has a hint of this issue, as you can get games to wiggle slightly. Yet it is not as bad a problem as on some of the other retro themed handhelds you might find in the wild. So if you find yourself looking at them, it is something you might think about when trying to decide on one. With my time on the Retromini X, I’ve found you almost have to go out of your way to tap the cartridge, and knock it loose. Although I suppose there are some titles you’ll pop in that will make you want to do exactly that. Isn’t that right Deathbots?

As a handheld NES, the Retromini X is actually a pretty cool product. It’s standard battery use, comfortable layout, and spot on emulation are wonderful. Bringing a handful of NES games on a long trip, or killing an hour in a coffee shop will be nice experiences. Provided of course you use rechargeable AA batteries. As a console replacement you’d be better served trying to find a used NES or a dedicated Famiclone. The Retromini X doesn’t give you controller ports, and the wireless pads really don’t lead to a good experience. I should also note that the system was also released as the FC Mobile II. So if you do hunt one down you may see that version. For all intents, and purposes they’re the same handheld. The only differences are some minor paint decorations around buttons.

As far as I can tell Hyperkin is still producing these for independent game stores, and E-tailers. So it shouldn’t be too hard to find if you want to give one a go. Do note that according to their website these are for PAL territories. So if you live in another region you’ll need a power converter, and an outlet adapter if you plan on plugging it into an outlet. It isn’t confirmation that the NTSC versions are discontinued. But if you see one, verify the version so you’ll know if you need those additions or not.

Final Score: 7 out of 10