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Hardware Review: Retro-Bit Super Retro Trio & Super Retro Advance Adapter

Posted by Damien McFerran

One clone to rule them all?

We've covered quite a few clone consoles here on Nintendo Life over the past few years, and it's clear that these systems have carved out a healthy niche in the market. Retro-Bit and Hyperkin are two of the leading lights in this particular field, with the latter looking to release the eagerly-awaited RetroN 5 at some point this year, following the unfortunate delay which moved its launch from Christmas 2013 to "Q1, 2014".

While Retro-Bit announced its Super Retro Trio at around the same time — no doubt an attempt to steal some of Hyperkin's thunder — it has actually managed to get is machine to market first. The Super Retro Trio follows in the footsteps of the RetroN 3 and allows you to make use of your original Genesis / Mega Drive, SNES / Super Famicom and NES cartridges. It also offers multiple controller ports on the front and outputs both a composite AV and S-Video signal. All this comes for just $69.99 — but that's only thirty bucks less than the proposed price of the RetroN 5, which will offer luxuries such as save states, a wireless pad, HDMI output and Game Boy Advance support as standard.

While the Super Retro Trio may not be as feature-packed as its forthcoming rival from Hyperkin, it's still an impressive product for the price. Build quality isn't premium but is decent enough, and the SNES-style pads which come bundled with the console are a lot better than we expected them to be. As a neat bonus, these pads can be used with the select few Mega Drive titles which support six buttons. However, one of the big selling points of the Super Retro Trio is the fact that you can use your original pads for a more authentic experience — there are two ports for each supported system located under a flap on the front of the console.

Although the Super Retro Trio doesn't support Game Boy Advance games out of the box, you can purchase a Super Retro Advance Adapter (also made by Retro-Bit and advertised on the front of the packaging) and use that. It's an elegant solution — and one that not only works with all clone SNES consoles, but the original SNES itself — but it's not as neat as the RetroN 5, which has its own built-in GBA slot. Plus, the adapter costs another $45 - which puts the total cost of the system over that of the RetroN 5.

However, it's worth pointing out at this stage that Hyperkin's machine still hasn't been released, and the system's core functionality — which is based on Google's Android OS and a series of retro emulators — is largely unproven. There's no guarantee that the RetroN 5 is going to be worth the wait, and Retro-Bit's console is at least available now, performs admirably and won't break the bank. While the RetroN 3 offers a very similar setup for a lower price, it's not as aesthetically appealing and performance isn't as good on Hyperkin's system — as you'll know if you consulted our review back in 2010, the audio on NES titles wasn't so hot. As such, the Super Retro Trio is a recommended purchase if you've got some spare cash and want to give your library of existing vintage games a new lease of life — along with your well-used controllers, of course.

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Thanks to Innex Inc. for supplying the Super Retro Trio and Super Retro Advance Adapter used in this review. The system can be ordered via online retailer FunStock.

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User Comments (25)



FullbringIchigo said:

it a nice machine, but I still have my NES, SNES and Megadrive so it's not something I will need, but if you want to get into retro gameing this seems like a good way to start



ChessboardMan said:

Hhhhmmmm, sounds pretty cool, though I'll wait to hear how the competitor turns out. My current TV Can handle S-Video, but HDMI might be a smidge more convenient…



EarthboundBenjy said:

I always wonder how these machines handle PAL games, because they run slower than normal. I have PAL Castlevania 1, but I play it on the region-free NTSC top-loader because it runs at normal speed on it. However, Castlevania 3 had its soundtrack sped up for the PAL release so it sounded like it was normal speed when played on the slower PAL machine... so I have to play it on a PAL NES so it doesn't sound off.
Do these retro clone machines have options and settings for this kind of thing?



Reala said:

Looks neat but I'll be going with retron 5 personally, the HDMI and the resolution filters make it sound much more HD TV friendly, plus that one is compatible with the power base converter and I have a ton of master system games.



unrandomsam said:

If I was going to get something like this it would have to be FPGA based. (And at least as good as bsnes in terms of accuracy).

The switchless mod's are pretty easy to do for SNES and Megadrive. (Making it not a great disadvantage to get any model working over RGB and at 60hz)

The Saturn is totally different and I don't know whether if I try I will succeed - it seems far more difficult. (The other option is using two Saturns and taking the power board from the PAL one but the RGB uses a different pinout on the none PAL versions.)

What I do want is a high quality dpad replacement for my original SNES pad. (Replaced all the pad's and one direction is more warn than the rest other than that it is immaculate).



GumbyX84 said:

While I love my RetroDue (it's what got me back into retro gaming), I'm going to hold off on this until the RetroN5. I didn't know it ran on Android OS. This means we shouldn't have the same compatibility issues as we do with repo consoles. Looking at you Battletoads.

I do have one question I hope gets answered in the Super Retro Advance Adapter review: Will it only play GBA games or will GBC games work as well? To my knowledge we don't have a way to play GBC games on a TV yet.



3dcaleb said:

i liked that video because showed pretty much everything about it. i'm not sure if i'll get one of these because i still have all the retro systems. but it would be super convenient to just have one of those next to the t.v. and i did really like the color and look of the black and red one. i dont remember what the other ones looked like but i don't think they looked as cool as that one. anybody know how much the hyperkin retron 3 costs? also, how much is the retron 5 is going to be?



Anguspuss said:

looks nice but will have to see how it compares to RetroN 5 when it comes out



Agent721 said:

These look like a nice cheap alternative to buying OG unopened onsoles. The modern inputs are very cool additions. I recently purchased an unopened top loader NES 2 (absolutely mint condition) & a famicom adapter to go with it, and getting back into retro gaming has been awesome. I'm stuck with an RF adapter input & some games get the "jail bars" effect the top loader is known for, but it's overall been awesome. I also got an NES Advantage Joystick...what a beast those things are & a great match for Track & Field!



Kirk said:

This actually looks pretty cool.

The hardware makes me think of Virtual Boy (but in a nice way).



Rockman said:

Nah.. i'll pass.. getting the Retron5 as the 720p upscaling is something i'm really wanting.



9th_Sage said:

Is Retron5 Android emulators? From what they've said when I asked them, I was under the idea that it was 'clone' hardware, with an Android layer setting on top of that (allowing the various extra features).



TenEighty said:

Would have been cool if it had an HDMI output with perfect pixel scaling. By that, I mean, only scaling 2x, 3x, 4x to meet HDTV's resolution.



Damo said:

@9th_Sage How else would Android interact with the replicated systems if it were not through emulators already available for the platform? The cost of coding a version of Android which sits on top of other, unassociated hardware would be huge, and I doubt very much that is what Hyperkin has done.



Pj1 said:

I bought a Retro duo a few years ago and it said it can & does play NES games it didn't.... I imported it from the U.S it came and I had to pay import tax and buy a new adapter plug for it! Wasn't a bad system though. At the time I had Mario RPG and it was nice getting it to work on the system, however I sold RPG for same price I bought it for and then a couple of months later it came out on Wii-VC!!



unrandomsam said:

@Damo The emulators already on the platform (For SNES anyway) are all based on snes9x which is under a specific none commercial use license. If they do that it is basically the same as bundling it with a load of roms. (Redistribution of stuff illegally).

MESS is strictly none commercial as well. Zsnes is not of any use because it is nearly 32 bit x86 assembler. Bsnes won't have enough hardware to run it. (But they could I suppose if they shipped source code but then they would end up with clones of clones on ebay).

FPGA would be the best. (And it can be done D4 Enterprise did an MSX on a chip using one. Somebody emulated e.g the Super FX / SA-1 etc etc all of them for a really expensive flash cart).



XavandSo said:

I have the Retro-Duo 3.0, the model before this one, and it is working admirably. I haven't had any issues with it, as even games that people say don't work in the system play perfectly, like Mario RPG and the Super GameBoy. Mega Drive games don't interest me at all, so I'm not goig to upgrade.

... The Wii U browser sucks for typing into.



ledreppe said:

It's a shame about the pillaring on either side of the picture, but I guess it can't be helped.



edhe said:

This looks quite interesting. I'll have to wait for the review of the Retron 5 first. If I hadn't heard about the Retron 5, I would have probably snapped one of these up.

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