“Hardware Inklings: the Super RetroTrio”

multi-retro-trio

“We wake and whisper awhile,
But, the day gone by,
Silence and sleep like fields
Of amaranth lie.”
-Walter de La Mare

 

 

Sometimes you just gotta put Old Yeller down.

The NES I first owned from my childhood is long gone and buried beneath the sands of time in some pawn shop somewhere, but recently my wife’s childhood NES gave up the ghost. The ancient system will work now and then but it’s became tragically unreliable over time. Moth and rust, eh? Moth and rust.

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But in dreams we can meet again.

That left me in a predicament. See, a little while ago I received some NES homebrew games packed onto physical carts from the awesome Mega Cat Studios []. Just my luck that our NES simply refused to play any of these. A variety of alternatives opened up to me, which included picking the brains of my retrogaming peers and confidants []. I ultimately decided to forgo the “oops I just snapped this tiny plastic piece in half with my giant bear-like hands” route in opening up the system and dealing with pins and springs, and instead I opted to buy an affordable replacement.

As I mentioned in my review of Mega Cat Studios’ side-scrolling beat ’em up Almost Hero, at the recommendation of my awesome friend the Deviot I picked up the Super RetroTrio by Retro-Bit. It is capable of playing NES, SNES, and Sega Genesis cartridges. Here are my thoughts on the device in an official hardware review. Seeing as how I’m relatively new at these, I’m going to take a different approach with this hardware inkling and focus on pros and cons rather than a list of points for and against. I like to analyze games but I prefer our hardware talks be a little more concise.vGVRngLT

Pros

Affordable
For a little more than half but less than three quarters of $100, the Super RetroTrio didn’t break my salmon-tone Suidae bank. Retro collecting can be an expensive hobby but there are evidently plenty of workarounds to having to snipe some auction on Ebay after watching it like a hawk for days. The Super RetroTrio is on the low end of cloneware consoles on the market. It’s more affordable than several alternatives. Though that leaves you with less comparative functionality, for me it does what I need it to do.

 

Looks cool
I mean c’mon, this thing is red and black. As we all know in the deepest recesses of our souls, things that are red and black are awesome. Newspapers are read and black. Red and black is just the best color combo ever. Shadow and flame. Passion and mystery. Did the simple arbitrariness of this consoles’ colors form the deciding factor for me to buy it? … “Yes“.

retrotrioheader

 

Easy to set up
The Super RetroTrio comes with a power cord and it can be connected to the TV via Composite and S-Video cables. I’m not sure how much longer modern HD TVs are going to support these connections but mine fortunately does. Odds are if you’re interested in buying one of these to play your old cartridges that you’re familiar with this slightly olde fashioned setup.

Super-Retro-Trio-2 (1)

 

Works with NES, SNES, and Genesis carts
I was able to test all three and the functionality is great. I can cycle through each console type with a switch located on the front of the system. All three cartridge slots on the top of the device can be left occupied simultaneously. Keeping all three slots full is convenient but it serves no additional purpose beyond looking really cool like you own a lot of games. Impress the in-laws!

 

Works with old controllers
On the front of the system, there’s an array of ports allowing you to connect your old controllers to the Super RetroTrio. A simple switch lets you cycle between controller types. Yes that means you can play Genesis games with SNES controllers, like God intended. It also means that bangin’ NES game pad autographed by David Crane can finally make a comeback like mullets in 2018. As with the carts sitting in the top of the device, you can also leave all of the ports plugged full of controllers so you’ve a mess of dangling wires on your hands for that true retro gaming experience. Impress your neighbor’s dog!

1C6006315-110420-tdy-tech-wires.today-inline-large

 

Comes with two new controllers
Just in case your old controllers have gone the way of the dinosaurs, the Super RetroTrio provides you with two new ones. These are clearly based on the Super Nintendo game pad design, which is as it should be. The SNES controllers are simple and streamlined, comfortable and lightweight with a friendly button layout. Best of all, the controllers are red and black. My own NES controllers have frayed and exposed wires so these are a wonderful alternative, at the very least, to surprise electrocution.

419312-super-retro-trio

 

Cons

Power switch is flimsy
As opposed to the Nintendo Switch, which is awesome, the Super RetroTrio switch which is used to power on the machine and cycle through the console types is rather flimsy. Some stubborn cartridges demanded the system be switched on and off before they would work but I didn’t want to push the power switch to its limits. Maybe a dial or individual buttons would’ve been preferable? There is a reset button, at least.

 

No HDMI port
The Super RetroTrio does not support HDMI connections. For some that may be nothing but an annoyance and for others it may be a deal breaker. I felt that this was the most important thing to know about the system beyond its tri-functionality. On the upside, at least you’re going to be playing these games like they originally looked: fuzzy and full of static. Quick, grab the remote and hit the tracking button! Authentic!

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Had to route through my VCR
This isn’t actually the RetroTrio’s fault (beyond not having HDMI functionality; there are other Retro-Bit products which do). My HDTV refuses to recognize the signal from a handful of my retro consoles now and then: N64, PS2, Sega Saturn. The work around I had to use this time was connecting composite to VCR then coax to TV. Just something to be aware of that the RetroTrio may not be much more recognizable to some snooty modern television than the systems it emulates.

 

 

All in all, I’m happy to own the Super Retro Trio. I already had a working SNES but the NES and especially the Genesis functionality is awesome. I was delighted that the system ran both the homebrew carts from Mega Cat as well as some dusty old Genesis carts as well. I would recommend this system as an affordable way to get back to playing the classics!

Also… I didn’t toss out the old NES. Someday I’ll give it some TLC.

In your service,
Well-Red-Mage-Black-sm.png
-The Well-Red Mage

 

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16 thoughts on ““Hardware Inklings: the Super RetroTrio”

  1. Very intrigued by these “all in one” consoles, but was generally skeptical of how well they worked. I assume they’re all running emulators on the inside and it simply dumps the cart to the system and runs it? Be interested to see what’s under the hood.

    I’m baffled as to why it doesn’t come with an HDMI output, or at the very least, component cables. The issue with composite is that it’ll look stretched out on an HDTV which just about everybody has now.

    An old buddy of mine gave me his old PS2 with component cables and I was blown away how much better it looks with those cables on my 50″ 4K TV, compared to how I had it set up with composite. It’s a night and day difference. I’d love to grab one of these things but would definitely need to find one with HD out!

    Nice review Well-Red Mage 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Geddy! I appreciate the comment. I was told that is how this console runs the games. I was very happy it was able to run the homebrew carts I have.

      For HDMI you’re going to start looking at a higher price tag, which may just be worth it for you. In that case, this is on the lower end and it may not be what you’re looking for. Some of the old hardware… trying to get them to work with modern TVs can be quite the adventure! Anyway, check out their website and maybe there’s something there you’ll like. I heard there’s a RetroTrio HD but I’m not sure if it’s out yet or on the way. There’s definitely other options out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to see it’s working out for you. As far as budget clones go, I’ve had pretty good luck with Retro bit stuff.
    They usually get the builds sturdier than other budget brands, and have a high compatibility level with system libraries.
    Of course they don’t hang with the likes of the Retro AVS or Analogue NT, but one shouldn’t expect them to. At the very least you get accurate enough performance, and convenience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s working out well, indeed! The compatibility was higher than I expected and the convenience is great.

      Thank you for the recommendation and providing a wealth of options. I knew to ask you about these alternatives when my problem cropped up, so take some encouragement that you’re associated with retro/hardware knowledge. They say that’s successful marketing, after all!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. My personal definition is at the clear breaking point between 2D and 3D at the end of the 4th generation of consoles, but as there’s no official word on it, I’ve been seeing people say PS3 is retro on the basis that anything not current is retro.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like this! I may have to pick one up soon. I have a SNES, NES, and Genesis, but it would be nice to preserve them as items in my video game collection by not using them too much, haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I must admit, if it wasn’t for the price, I’d be tempted by something like a RetroN 5. That runs NES, Famicom, SNES, Super Famicom, Genesis, Mega Drive, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance. Having that all-in-one option is so space saving!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! Price! That and specific functionality is what led me to pick up the RetroTrio. The RetroN 5 was the first one I looked at but the fact is that the Famicom, Super Famicom, and the Mega Drive options would be lost on me. I don’t own any carts for that, so I couldn’t foresee spending the extra money for functions I didn’t need. Maybe someday!

      Like

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