Moving on from the Amstrad's, the C64's and the ZX Spectrum, today we are going to look at a rather cool retro based console sent to us by funstock, who previously sent us the Commodore 64 : A visual Commpendium. This is the Super Retro TRIO developed by Retro-Bit; an impressive looking (NES / SNES / Genesis/Megadrive - 3 in 1 System ), that can play those old console games without actually having to switch consoles. Today we are going to give you that hardware review and give our final opinion from both myself Neil and my other staff writer David.
As usual the first thing we like to look at is the contents, and contained within this package is the Super Retro TRIO console, a composite cable, two controllers (compatible with original and third party NES, SNES, and Genesis/Megadrive controllers), an AC adapter (US) and the all important manual. Each device is neatly packaged away and well protected, however our first issue came about that the only plug supplied was a US power supply with no UK adapter. Thankfully we did have an adapter and was able to use that with the correct volts/amps to be able to use the console. - Please note that the retail version does state This console is supplied with a 2 pin US power supply, please check your local power requirements as a replacement power supply unit or plug adaptor may be required*. However we would've liked a UK power cable or adapter for a wider market.
Next up we take a look at the main product itself and compare it to an original Megadrive 2, although both are pretty equal in size, both me and my other staff writer did feel that the Super Retro TRIO did feel very cheap and plastic and was designed on an extremely low budget. We also disagreed in regards to the controllers, I felt that the buttons and design felt very much like a SNES controller but my other staff writer felt once again it was too cheap and plastic. What we did agree on was the D-PAD feeling worse on the Super Retro TRIO than an original SNES controller.
As for the rear and front of the console, we see a composite cable connection with S-Video output on the rear with a power inlet. On the front, the all important connections and switches such as, two real SNES controller connections, two NES controller connections, two Sega Genesis Controller Connections (also used for supplied controllers), a region switch (NTSC,PE,NJ,PA) and finally a switch which swaps between original controllers or the NES/SNES controllers. Very nice indeed, great for two player! The only thing lacking is a HDMI connection, just incase someone doesn't have composite or scart, however that may have been more costly and taken away that classic CRT feel.
Now it's time to move on to the games and first up we have an original Sega Sonic NTSC. We connected the controllers, inserted the game which took more force than was expected, switched to the Genesis connection and powered it up. The game loaded up straight away, but through testing we found the game to be extremely laggy, glitchy and the quality was not the best, much worse than the high quality scart connection I use on the Sega Megadrive II. It was almost as if the Super Retro TRIO was using a bad RF cable.
Thankfully we fixed this issue, as the the Super Retro TRIO was switched to PAL mode and the game being played was an NTSC version. Switching over to NTSC and the game was super smooth with no lag, it played as quick as any real Sega Megadrive II. But this did not fix the quality, the colours still looked bad, blurry and generally not very sharp. The Megadrive II quality output is much better, but at least Sonic is as fast as he ever was!
The next game under the spot light was the excellent Codemasters; Micromachines Turbo Tournament 96, in which you race tiny vehicles through different areas against the AI or a friend. Again making sure it was set to the correct mode PAL for a PAL game, we found it to be spot on in frame rate for two player with no lag and perfect to play. But yet again, the quality was bad, it's playable sure, but as a purist I expect a console like this to be as good as scart or original composite.
We did not get a chance to test the extra two player adapter
The last game to try in the Sega Genesis/Megadrive slot was my personal favourite Fantastic Dizzy, in original mint condition! Once again frame rates were spot on and seeing as the game has a fine tune as well, the sound output from the Super Retro TRIO console was just brilliant! But again, bad quality colours and a blurryness, of which we will show later.
Moving on from the Sega games, we decided to try out a SNES title and it's none other than FZero, a launch game for SNES which used a technique called "Mode 7". When Mode 7 was combined with scaling and positioning of the layer on a scanline-by-scanline basis it could simulate 3D environments.
What we saw impressed us both, the frame rates were perfect! This TRIO Console can play Mode 7 just perfectly and also to mention, in all the games we have played so far, the controls through these supplied controllers were very responsive. Yet it wasn't until we played FZero till we could give them a proper test. I was very happy with this and so was my other staff writer. So big thumbs up for that Retro-Bit. Also a final note to FZero, we did try the original SNES controllers and they worked perfectly, which for purists would give top marks.
The last cartridge console version to try was the NES and this is when we ended up with a huge issue, one that put a big downer on not just my latest purchase but the console itself. We placed a NES game into the NES slot, turned it on and..... Purple screen! Or as some call it, the purple screen of death. There was no getting around this, we tried different switch methods, different regions and nothing, every NES cart was doing it. We even took the cart out, turned the NES part console on and still purple screen, at one point it gave us a yellow screen. So we didn't get to play my Dizzy game or any other NES title.
One of the other main tests was, will this console work fine with every slot taken, could you switch between one game and another, without messing around like the usual of getting a different system, different cables for every game. The answer? YES! You could fill every slot and just switch to a different game, of course not NES as that was in our opinion, broken.
The final test and one we've been banging on about for ages is the quality of the image put through the composite cables. Now we also tried composite into scart and it was the same, the quality was awful. Now I'm not sure if it was the cable or the console itself, but even with a standard output from a Megadrive II that still looked better. Colours were muted, blurry and generally messy, it was as we said before like I was using a bad RF output.
So here we are then, the end of it and time for our PROS and CONS!
But it all comes down to this, what do we think of it? Well in all honesty I actually liked it! It can play all of those great retro games from Sonic on the Megadrive to FZero on the SNES. What's more, it can even play region locked games without the faffing about of a modded real retro console, also able to use classic controllers or the ones provided. We also liked the precise controls, great sound output and fantastic frame rates.
What was seriously lacking was the quality of the output detail, the build quality felt cheap and plastic and which we hope gets looked into, is our purple/yellow screen issue when playing NES titles.