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About the product
- HD audio and video (720p), 16:9/4:3 aspect ratio switch
- High compatibility for NTSC AND PAL cartridges (via bottom case switch)
- Premium classic-style “Cadet” controller (10 ft. cable)
- 3 ft. HD cable, 6 ft. Micro USB charge cable with USB AC Adapter
- Also includes AV ports with AV cable
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8-bit gaming never looked this good! The RetroN HD will play original NES (NTSC AND PAL) cartridges in beautiful , crisp 720p. It includes one premium classic-style controller, a 3 ft. HD cable, and a 6 ft. Micro USB charge cable. Its amazingly high compatibility with NES titles assures you and your game collection are in for a treat. PAL cartridges work at the flip of a switch!
Top customer reviews
It includes one controller, and that controller feels spot on. It has a premium look and feel, and a huge cable. The cable is about 2' longer than my original NES cable. (And it's about twice the length of the NES Classic controller, which was a complete travesty).
The buttons feel exactly like a traditional controller. At this point, probably even better since my original controllers have worn down a bit. The controller has nice "humps" on the back, making it a bit more comfortable to hold. If we're being honest, the original NES controller wasn't super great to hold for long periods of time, especially in adult hands. The D-pad and A/B buttons feel great and super accurate.
With a cartridge plugged in, it does look a little weird and top heavy. Cartridges insert with minimal force, but you definitely need to use two hands to take a cartridge out. It's a tight tight fit (probably so it connects to the cartridge connectors without requiring you to blow on them).
I honestly found it a bit difficult to pull cartridges out. Very difficult. To the point where I wouldn't let my kids take cartridges out. It really feels like you're using a LOT of strength to remove them.
It's other huge selling feature is the ability to output via HDMI. It includes a 3' HDMI cable (a nice addition), and you can select whether to output via 4:3 or 16:9 via a selector on the back. I haven't tested the RCA cables because who cares.
I played it via a 3-to-1 HDMI splitter with no problems.
It gets power via a standard micro-USB. It includes a 5' cable and USB adapter, which is nice.
Now, is it hardware or some fancy emulation? I can tell you that it powers on in 1-2 seconds. To me the games start up just as fast as the original NES. There's no hint of an OS bootup or anything like that. It loads right to the game screen and you're off. I probably will crack it open to see what's inside, but for now, I would say that yes, this is hardware vs software emulation.
Since it's basically a recreation of the original NES, there are no NES Classic features like save states, or anything like that.
What games have I tested? I briefly played Megaman 2, Megaman 3, Super Mario 3, Tetris and Dr Mario. My wife and I played Dr Mario for an hour, and SMB 3 for an hour. Both worked flawlessly. All worked well after cleaning my cartridges with rubbing alcohol. Without cleaning them, they had a lot of trouble starting up. So be aware that if you have old NES cartridges that haven't been used in a while, you'll want to clean them first.
There are two downsides that I see right now, keeping this from 5 stars:
* Very very hard to remove cartridges from the system. You also feel like you're ripping the system apart. Young kids will have trouble removing them. I almost wish the system had the Super Nintendo's eject button thing to help. Inserting them is easy, removing them is very difficult.
* The colors seem a bit washed out. I'm going to test this out some more, but in Super Mario 3, Mario's face is pure white. It just didn't look right. I'm going to investigate this some more.
I definitely recommend this for those into retro gaming. You can use your original controllers and cartridges and it just FEELS right. Considering the ridiculous prices for the NES Classic, this seems like a steal.
Mine had minor cosmetic flaws on case edges near power/reset buttons, and the included controller black 'face' decal was peeling off on the edges.
The cartridge slot was not excessively tight like some people had experienced with previous Retron consoles. Build quality seems fairly good overall, especially considering the price point. The controller is very nice, and the ergonomic additions are welcome. The buttons move nicely and the D pad is almost identical in feel to an original NES controller. The console itself works mostly as advertised, with HDMI output and some (absolutely noticeable) lag introduced in the conversion. The color and sound are off from 'true NES' but this might not bother people right at first. Colors are slightly off to the point most won't notice. With some use however, the sound specifically leaves much to be desired. If you're like me and bothered by distorted sound this may to be a deal-breaker. Some games which have less complex music might be fine, but as soon as I put in MegaMan2 I almost cried. Original NES or even PC emulators do a much better job overall on the sound, and I'm sad because this takes away from an otherwise solid clone system with HDMI built-in at a reasonable price.
However, it is absolutely not a substitute for a more expensive AnalogueNT Mini or RetroUSB console, which are FPGA-based HD reproductions of the original hardware. You'll be disappointed if that's what you're expecting. What you get here is a decent way to play *some* of your old NES cartridge collection on a modern TV. Things probably won't quite look or sound like you remember, but it'll be better than hooking up your old NES to an HDTV.
My big issue with the system is questionable compatibility. I was initially impressed with how it handled Castlevania III. It was way better than playing on my original NES on an HDTV. I tried a few more games from my collection (Mega Man 2, SMB 3, Jackal, Gradius, Double Dragon 2, Metroid) and they seemed similaly decent. I was all set to give it a 4-star review, but then I tried my Ninja Gaiden cart. All I got was a black screen. I immediately confirmed the cart works fine in my NES. I have yet to try out the rest of my collection. This one may be an anomaly, but it was disappointing that such a popular game didn't work at all.
I'll update this review if I run into any other incompatible carts.