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.