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Review of Super Retro Trio Plus from Retro-Bit

There are tons of clone, retro systems on the market right now. Some are single systems, some are multi-systems, some are emulator based, some are hardware clones, some are cartridge based, some come with games preinstalled, some do composite, some do 720p HD, and some do 1080p HD. There’s a ton of options across the board. Today we’re going to be discussing the most recent iteration of a clone console that touts multiple systems that is hardware based and takes carts and outputs to 720p HD. That system is the Super Retro Trio Plus ($79.99, retro-bit), let’s just dive right into it, shall we?

Alright, first up we have the official description of the Super Retro Trio Plus:

‘Step up your retro-gaming experience and relive three classic systems like never before, in crisp 720p resolution! The SR3® Plus is the premium top loading console for all of your original NES®, SNES®, and Genesis® games. Custom built with three cartridge slots, six controller ports, and now with HDMI® compatibility!’

Followed up here by the features list:

  • ‘Compatible with original NES®, SNES®, and Genesis® game cartridges
  • AV and HDMI® (6 ft. cable included) compatible
  • Includes two 10 ft. wired six button controllers
  • Controllers compatible with SNES® and select Retro-Bit® consoles
  • Two controller ports for NES®, SNES®, and Genesis® controllers’

And an unboxing video by yours truly:

Hardware & Structural Stability:

So the Super Retro Trio Plus that exists in the US comes in one color scheme, red and white. The previous iteration of the console had a few different variations. I hope we can see more colors exist at some point. In the UK the Super Retro Trio Plus comes in a blue and black color scheme. I would love to take the black from the UK one and put it with the red of the US one. That would be my personal jam. Aside from color, the whole shebangs are made up of plastics and rubber.

For example, the white main shell of the device is a hard plastic that doesn’t give way if you try to squeeze it hard. It’s a strange thing that I’ve just said, but I know some other Chinese hardware clones to be made of flimsy plastic. The reset and slider button on the top by the cartridge trays are very nice. The reset button clicks as it should and doesn’t seem to give way like some lesser quality buttons. The slider button clicks very precisely as well. To help let you know if you’re on NES, SNES, or Genesis, there are 3 differently colored LEDs that illuminate. This is especially helpful if you’re in a dark room. There are no eject buttons for any of the cartridge bays.

To touch on the lack of eject buttons a little bit more; it’s worth pointing out that the cartridge bays hold onto the games very snugly. Additionally, the small door flaps are a very tight squeeze as well. All of this means that you will have to hold down the system with one hand and pull with the other when you go to remove the system. Unfortunately, this means putting them in in the first place can be something that you will have to get used to. You have to put the carts into the systems straight down. I know, I know, this sounds dumb that I have to say it, but original systems are more forgiving and you can go at them at an angle and then they’ll help you put the cart into place. This one relies on you not being rough with it and knowing what you’re doing.

The cartridge bay for the SNES has a strange shape by the way. It’s crafted in such a way that the different styles of SNES games from the US (multi-carts and other 3rd party things) as well as Super Famicom games fit. This will cause you great grief though because the squared edges of the bay conflict very much with the rounded corners of some carts. You know how I said you need to go straight down? Yeah, I mean STRAIGHT down. I mean if you don’t make it the first time, don’t leave the cart in the hole and try to move it around. Just pull the cart back up and out and go in again. The connectors in the Super Retro Trio Plus are a little higher than you would expect. To clarify, the carts will not play if they are not properly seated in the device. The upshot is that most people will play a game until they’ve beaten it and then change it. If you’re changing carts every day, you’ll be frustrated with this console.

On the front, you have a red door that opens by you clicking it inward. You’ll find all controller ports for NES/SNES/Genesis. Next to that you’ll find a slider switch that lets you choose between which controller you want to use. You’ll also find a region switch for your games. You need to set a region before turning on the game. You can’t turn on the game and change it whilst the game is unsuccessfully running. I do wish that this system had region detection and just let the game be played. The slider is far too small as well. I have larger fingers and they’re simply too big to move the slider left and right. The slider is half an inch in width and you have 4 options in that distance. It can be quite frustrating to see if you’ve chosen the right region or if you have to try to get the slider to stop in the right position. If they weren’t going to implement region detection, then at least just give me four separate buttons for the regions that just click in and out.

On the bottom of the device, you have four rubber feet to keep the Super Retro Trio Plus from sliding around. They work just fine, nothing to talk about there. On the backside of the device though, you’ll find several ports. You’ll see the micro-USB port which is used to power your device. You’ll also find the same AV output that the original Super Retro Trio had. And you’ll also find the HDMI out port too. They all work great, there were no connectivity issues here, no complaints. The only interesting thing I found is that you cannot use HDMI and the AV outputs at the same time. I was trying to record HD and SD content simultaneously and I just couldn’t get the thing to do it. What I did discover is that you can use the left and right audio from the device at the same time as the HDMI though. So you can do surround sound from the left and right (red and white) and do video from the HDMI. Nothing that I need, but it may be useful for you.

 

Game Compatibility:

Now, this is a tricky one. I tested everything that I had and the Super Retro Trio Plus works as advertised. However, I wasn’t able to test everything. I tested a US and a Japanese Super Game Boy (the Japanese one will play US Gameboys) for SNES. Also, I tested an NTSC-J copy of Super Mario RPG for SNES. And I tested all of my NES games, which are too many to list, but I had zero issue. And I tested all of my Genesis games which worked. I do not have any PAL Europe or PAL Australia games to test, sadly. So that part is something that you would have to find out on your own. However, I’ve seen videos of the device and action and those people have gotten their PAL-E and PAL-A games to work like a dandy. And yes, Super FX games work just fine on this system! But on the other side of that coin, SVP games for the Genesis do not work.

I’m going to mention, of course, that I had issues getting games seated in the SNES and Genesis ports. It was a frustrating endeavor because when I say that the games have to be seated correctly, I mean it. My suggestion to you would be to get an Everdrive for the Genesis, SNES, and NES and put every ROM in your collection on them and then never change the carts. Games will work with a very high compatibility since it’s hardware based and not emulation (software) based. So the Everdrives would play very nicely here.

Here are some videos that I captured of playing some games in SD versus HD (apologies for the bad playing, there’s a delay when recording that I hadn’t figured out how to fix at the time of the recording. Also, the audio is generic to stop Nintendo or Sega from flagging my videos):

Controller Compatibility:

This section is quite easy compared to the rest. Yes, every controller port works accordingly. So you can faithfully plug in any controller that you’ve got, flip the switch to that controller config, and play! Or, if you’d like, you can play with the controllers that they sent with the device. The controllers have the rubber buttons with plastic that I was mentioning up in the hardware section. They have little grips on the back for the rest of your fingers, they feel good overall. There is no latency between any of the controllers and the gameplay either. And best of all, I love that they give you full compatibility with your favorite controller. I hate when you’re forced to use something that isn’t comfortable, it ruins the gaming experience. And for those wondering, yes, your favorite wireless 8bitdo controller will work too.

Now, to address the big fat elephant in the room. If you do not have any original controllers to use and you have to use the controllers that it comes with…you might be sad when you play Genesis games. For those of you who don’t know, Sega Genesis controllers came in 3 button and 6 button configurations. Once the 6 button controller came out, a fair amount of games started to use that controller configuration. This is especially true for fighting games as it closer emulated the arcade experience. Plus, the 6 button controllers could still play 3 button games. However, the default controller for the Super Retro Trio Plus is a four button configuration. So what do you do? Well, they incorporated the left and right triggers as the Sega Genesis controller didn’t have triggers. So your L, Y, and B are the lower 3 buttons and your R, X, and A are the upper 3. It’s not the most comfortable layout. And that is especially true when trying to play fighting games. If you don’t have the original Genesis 6 button controller, just buy one for this. And use the default controller for NES and SNES. You’ll breathe a sigh of relief.

Overall Thoughts:

If you buy one of these, and you probably should, you should only get it for the HDMI out. If you’re getting it for usage on your CRT, I’d just get the previous model. It’s going to be less money at this point and there are other colors. CRT purists should save their money. However, for the rest of you, as you saw in the footage, it’s like night and day between AV and HDMI. My girlfriend even walked in the room when I booted up Super Mario Bros. 2 in HDMI. She was like, “That looks so good, what did you do?”. Her disbelief is unfortunately understandable as we’re all under this impression that old games have to look bad. These older games can just look like modern day indie games (8/16 bit, HD). This system gives you precisely that. No, there is no video options to change, no you can’t add scanlines. This product is what it sets out to be, a way to play your collection in HD. Additionally, I love that they give you not just one, but two controllers. I also love that the controllers are 10 feet long. Heck, including a 6 foot HDMI cord didn’t hurt either!

As I said before, there are hiccups, though. Nothing is perfect. I would say putting games in is frustrating, so if you get one, don’t change your games all of the time. Also, I’ve noticed that SNES games that try to do 3D come out looking clumpy on HD. I would play those games through the AV out, they look a lot better. This is only because when those games were made, TV’s didn’t have the fidelity that they do now. So the devs tried to take some shortcuts and they knew the viewer wouldn’t notice them. You also have the tiny region slider that is hard to pinpoint the exact region you want. And, as I said before, the default controller on Genesis games in another bummer here as well.

All in all, there are a lot more positives than negatives with this system. If you do feel as though there are too many negatives here, maybe wait and see if they release a more refined version here in the future. Maybe one that is HDMI only and also plays Master System games and has one 4 button controller and one 6 button controller. And maybe it will have automatic region detection.

Interested in buying the Super Retro Trio Plus from retro-bit? Either click here or here!

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