It seems like the 8-bit and 16-bit retro video games are as hot as ever, spiking demand not only for the cartridge game hits of yesterday but for the consoles to play them on as well.
Among them is the Super Retro Trio console, coming to us from Retro-Bit. This triple console plays games available for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super NES) and Sega Genesis.
Right out of the box, the Super Retro Trio is light but seems sturdy, and is quick to hook up using an s-video and RCA cable connection which is included. The power adapter included is small and light, taking up little room in your power outlet or surge protector.
The controller design is based on the Super NES "dogbone" style controller and does a decent job replicating the feel of the original. The buttons are responsive, but sadly the directional pad on the controller is lacking in accuracy. Attempts to move an on-screen character down all-too-often led to the character moving to the left or right, showing that these controller may present a bit of a problem. Luckily, the Super Retro Trio also allows for players to hook up and use their original NES, Super NES and Genesis controllers, which can be found fairly easily if the gamer doesn't happen to have them around.
The NES port doesn't come without some issues. The top loading slot could be done slightly better, as it allows for a little 'wiggle room' that can cause an NES game to fail to make a proper connection the first time out. Removal of NES games also sometimes requires a pretty good tug, calling the long-term durability of the connector into question.
All of the 14 NES titles tested worked, though some of the games played with slightly altered sound effects. Most notable during testing was the sound of the bonus timer on the original Super Mario Bros. and the crowd roar in Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! All tested games, however, played true to the originals.
A minor inconvience with the switch that determines which of the three consoles the Super Retro Trio is set to is that the NES option is the furthest away from the OFF portion of the switch. Given that the NES slot proved problematic, this became a minor yet notable annoyance during testing when trying to get games to boot.
The Super NES slot contained far less trouble. Every game inserted into the slot worked perfectly right out of the gate and stayed in the console quite firmly. Testing of 11 different Super NES titles showed proper gameplay and sound effects, but the colors of each game appeared a little washed out compared to an original Super NES. This was especially noticable on games such as Super Mario Kart, Donkey Kong Country and WWF Royal Rumble, all of which should have far richer color than what the Super Retro Trio displayed.
The Sega Genesis slot is where the console shines the most. All eight of the games used to test the console attached firmly in the slot, worked right away and played so close to accurate that only the deepest of Sega die-hard would notice anything different.
The Super Retro Trio retails for $69.99, which is a decent value in an era where the original consoles can each fetch that kind of price to the right buyers. There is an optional $45 add-on that add the ability to play Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games on the console that was not included with the provided review copy and therefore not part of this review.
The product brings good design to the modern retro gaming console market, with only a few minor annoyances that detract from the overall experience.
All-in-all, the Super Retro Trio is a good product for the more casual consumers who wish to re-live their younger video gaming days or for children who might have an interest in retro game titles. The more die-hard fans of the games of yesterday will likely still prefer the original consoles for some of the other multi-console products on the market.