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RetroDuo NES/SNES clone mini review


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#1 remowilliams OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:16 PM

I've commented in various places on this system, though there isn't a cohesive AA topic about it so I will create one here.

I'll start by saying that I've had extensive experience with other clones such as the NEX, Yobos, FCTwin, Blade, Power, etc. so I'm quite familiar with the usual clone limitations. That being said, here are some of my findings/thoughts on the new NES/SNES clone - the RetroDuo.

Pros:

- Many classic NOAC problem titles (such as Gauntlet) work correctly on the RD
- The NES PowerPak works on the RD - the only clone to date that does so. This is a HUGE plus.
- the RD does not seem to suffer from SNES NOAC problems (audio, colors i.e. Starfox)
- FX / DSP carts seem to work fine, at least the ones that I have.
- There is s-video output for both the NES and the SNES sides, though the NES s-video has a static 'interference pattern' present in it. Most users would probably choose the composite output which is clean and crisp. s-video and composite output are both active at the same time.
- Video output overall is better than the FCTwin
- Unit has a sturdy feel to it. It doesn't feel like it will twist apart like the Yobos.
- AC adapter is nice and compact, though the cord is a bit short
- NES cartridge recognition/bootup is excellent. Even titles that I previously had problems with (i.e. Archon) work fine and without having to mess about with them.
- Basic NES pad connected via a NES adapter wired to the RD's SNES conectors works fine in NES mode. NES Zapper is not supported.
- Supplied controllers work and feel good, though a bit stiff. Better than the FCTwin packins.
- Mode switch (8/16) is off centered, so cycling through the SNES side isn't necessary every time you want to play a NES cart
- My Tototek SNES flash cart works just fine on the RD. FCTwin also had no issues with it
- Nice small footprint. More compact than even the FCTwin.

Cons:

- On the NES side some games have a muted melodic / normal percussion quality to them. The worst affected I've found seems to be Jackal, which of course is one of my favorite games. The 'melody' side of the music seems muted, while the percussion is fine; the firing sound is wrong/garbled and the grenade sound is very low.
- FDS is reported as not compatible
- Super Mario RPG versions higher than 1.0 are reported as not compatible
- Hi gloss plastic finish picks up lint and fingerprints like mad, just like the PS3.

Overall I am very pleased with the RD. It does seem to have some odd sound issues that the Yobo/FC didn't have, but the NES compatibility overall is better. It has earned a permanent setup place, replacing all other previous clones and my main NES/SNES units.

Bottom line - though still a bit imperfect, I proclaim the RetroDuo easily the current crowned King of the Nintendo Clones! :)

EDIT: I've confirmed that in some circumstances weird interference artifacts can be seen in SNES composite video. So I stand by my recommendation of s-video for SNES / composite for NES.

EDIT: The NES audio outputs on the RD are not dual mono, they are the two discrete NES chip sound output lines brought out to the RCA jacks. On the NES audio, one line carries the 2 square wave channels and the other one carries the triangle wave channel, the noise channel and the sample channel. Note that the NES was never meant to have stereo audio, and when you use these two NES sound chip outputs as discrete stereo outputs - some stuff sounds very screwed up. Use an RCA MM/F cable connected to the two audio jacks if you want to have a proper NES mono audio signal.

Edited by remowilliams, Sat Jun 28, 2008 5:02 PM.


#2 bones OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 21, 2008 6:58 AM

Pros:
- NES Zapper is not supported.

Geesh, Duck Hunt isn't that bad :P

Good to know this works with the Power Pak, that's definitely a plus. I've been meaning to test the Power Pak out on this. Somehow ended up with a version designed to play NES carts and not the Famicom version shown. It'd be sweet if that would play the Power Pak, tho not holding my breath ;)

#3 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 21, 2008 10:14 AM

Great review, I'm so close to buying one of these. Actually, I was casually talking with the wife about yesterday selling a bunch of them next x-mas season.

it works with the snes flashcart, nes flashcart and even gb flashcarts through super gameboy--what can't it do? speaking of snes flashcarts, is there more than the tototek one these days? I was reading about a custom portable one a few days ago which had an sd drive, and I'm wondering where I can get one.

#4 DracIsBack OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:00 PM

Does it play Castlevania 3 or is this still elusive as far as NESclones go?

Edited by DracIsBack, Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:02 PM.


#5 remowilliams OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:12 PM

I've been meaning to test the Power Pak out on this. Somehow ended up with a version designed to play NES carts and not the Famicom version shown. It'd be sweet if that would play the Power Pak, tho not holding my breath ;)

Cool, I'd probably buy one of those if wasn't the Famicom version.

Does it play Castlevania 3 or is this still elusive as far as NESclones go?

Yes it does, one of the first things I tried. ;)

#6 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 21, 2008 12:56 PM

well fine, I bought one. Now let me see what nes/snes games I have that aren't buried deep in my storage locker...wheel of fortune nes...

back to ebay I go...

#7 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:50 PM

there are a lot of conflicting reports of svideo on NES, and I'm guessing that it really has more to do with the TV used to reassemble the signal. Some people say it's there, some that it's not, and the people who see signal seem to report different problems with nes s-vid--so I'm guessing that retro duo doesn't output this video correctly, but that some of our TV's are flexible enough to put up with it. (or at least most of the signal)

alrighty, I snagged me a starfox and fzero for $15 shipped (from some nutcase using his auction to push a US presidential hopeful), at least I won't be stuck looking at an 8-bit Pat Sajak. I can already see myself digging through that hellish storage area for my hidden cache of other games.

I'm pretty excited about this system comming. Should be here soon, shipping was $10 and it's only comming from georgia...

Edited by Reaperman, Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:56 PM.


#8 buckeye25osu OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:04 AM

Thanks for the great review. Other than the size/convenience factor though, is there any other reason to use these clone systems for SNES games? With the regular availability of the SNES at reasonable prices, I just don't see why anyone would want to use a clone system, except for when space is severely limited. I understand these systems for NES use however, considering the PITA getting games to run on the traditional, non-topload nes. I just don't see how anybody would rather use one of these for SNES over the real thing. That said, thanks once again for the great review.

#9 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2008 11:55 AM

Thanks for the great review. Other than the size/convenience factor though, is there any other reason to use these clone systems for SNES games? With the regular availability of the SNES at reasonable prices, I just don't see why anyone would want to use a clone system, except for when space is severely limited. I understand these systems for NES use however, considering the PITA getting games to run on the traditional, non-topload nes. I just don't see how anybody would rather use one of these for SNES over the real thing. That said, thanks once again for the great review.

that's a good point. really I'm comming at it from an angle that I want a high-end way to play NES games, and the fact that this has an SNES slot too helps me justify spending $50 on it. Of course now that I've bought it, I've totally flipped to wanting to play snes games on it, even though I have a perfectly good (yellowed) snes somewhere around here.
this is probably because, while I own a snes, I never really got too into it, and bought very few games (ff3, smw, and super empire strikes back, are all I currently own IIRC)

Edited by Reaperman, Tue Apr 22, 2008 12:10 PM.


#10 remowilliams OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2008 1:36 PM

Thanks for the great review. Other than the size/convenience factor though, is there any other reason to use these clone systems for SNES games?

Convenience mostly. :) With the RD, I've got a pretty darn good NES with the ability to flick a switch and play SNES games the same as my big SNES units. So that, form factor, and standard video connections are all a plus. Plus they make a good recommendation to the not necessarily technical or enthusiast types who want to just hook up and play some games.

there are a lot of conflicting reports of svideo on NES, and I'm guessing that it really has more to do with the TV used to reassemble the signal.

Yeah, I don't quite get that unless there are some hardware revision differences of the RD going on. I've displayed both outputs on both sides on my old CRT 1084s, LCD and Plasma HD screens without issue. Besides the 'interference pattern' in the NES s-video the signal seems to be in spec and clear.

Edited by remowilliams, Tue Apr 22, 2008 1:44 PM.


#11 Warriorisabouttodie OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2008 2:44 PM

I already have a real SNES (well SNES 2 actually) but I am thinking of getting into the NES and it seems like a such a pain to get a console since they are so unreliable. Does anyone know if the GEN X console which plays NES/Genesis carts is similar to the Retroduo (at least the NES side of things)? I say this because they came out at the same time and since I don't own a NES or Genesis it seems like a better bet for me.

#12 madhatter667 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2008 4:05 PM

After reading a bit about this clone, I up and ordered one. First off, I find the clones interesting, if a little campy at times. Second, this one is sounding really well done. I have the older FC Twin (charcoal colored, no yobo logo anywhere), and a handful of actual famiclones like the Micro Genius, and Super Joy. So, I figured why not? I got myself a red and black one... just looks better than blue and white. Ha ha ha!
I'll have to play with it a bit and post my thoughts on it when it arrives. Snagged it off of eBay, but the seller did have pretty good feedback (like 99.8%). There were cheaper ones out there, but the seller of that one only had about 97% positive... and that's about where I start getting sketchy about ordering from someone.

#13 Ace_1 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2008 7:54 PM

I already have a real SNES (well SNES 2 actually) but I am thinking of getting into the NES and it seems like a such a pain to get a console since they are so unreliable. Does anyone know if the GEN X console which plays NES/Genesis carts is similar to the Retroduo (at least the NES side of things)? I say this because they came out at the same time and since I don't own a NES or Genesis it seems like a better bet for me.


The Gen-X, AFAIK, has the old-revision NOAC that is incompatible with Castlevania III, alters colors and distorts sound. For a NES, it's not your best option, but for a Genesis, it's an entirely different story. Sure, the audio has some issues(mostly volume-related, some sound channels are too silent or too loud), but the compatibility is on par with original Sega hardware(even works with Virtua Racing, which the Genesis 3 can't even load), save for the Sega CD(non-existent expansion port) and Sega 32X(nowhere to plug in the crossover cable). Actually, come to think of it, it IS and original Genesis in there, with a chip labeled TecToy, who manufactures the Brazilian Genesis. I freaked when I saw that. The post was over at BenHeck's forums, but has been lost, so I'll link you to its Hyperkin version, the SG/FC Dual Action(more inaccurate than either the Gen-X or GN Twin, though, but identical to the Gen-X hardware-wise): http://forums.benhec...pic.php?t=23432. Or, there's also the GN Twin by Yobo, which is a similar system, but seems to have more accurate Genesis audio. It also doesn't look like a Genesis 3(it's an entirely new case design that I find looks pretty bizzare, but nice) and still has a TecToy chip doing the work on the Genesis side. You can also play MegaDrive games from Japan on all the Genesis/NES 2-in-1s as they all come with an integrated region switch. Take a look here for more info on the GN Twin: http://forums.benhec...pic.php?t=23166

#14 Warriorisabouttodie OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 22, 2008 9:25 PM

I already have a real SNES (well SNES 2 actually) but I am thinking of getting into the NES and it seems like a such a pain to get a console since they are so unreliable. Does anyone know if the GEN X console which plays NES/Genesis carts is similar to the Retroduo (at least the NES side of things)? I say this because they came out at the same time and since I don't own a NES or Genesis it seems like a better bet for me.


The Gen-X, AFAIK, has the old-revision NOAC that is incompatible with Castlevania III, alters colors and distorts sound. For a NES, it's not your best option, but for a Genesis, it's an entirely different story. Sure, the audio has some issues(mostly volume-related, some sound channels are too silent or too loud), but the compatibility is on par with original Sega hardware(even works with Virtua Racing, which the Genesis 3 can't even load), save for the Sega CD(non-existent expansion port) and Sega 32X(nowhere to plug in the crossover cable). Actually, come to think of it, it IS and original Genesis in there, with a chip labeled TecToy, who manufactures the Brazilian Genesis. I freaked when I saw that. The post was over at BenHeck's forums, but has been lost, so I'll link you to its Hyperkin version, the SG/FC Dual Action(more inaccurate than either the Gen-X or GN Twin, though, but identical to the Gen-X hardware-wise): http://forums.benhec...pic.php?t=23432. Or, there's also the GN Twin by Yobo, which is a similar system, but seems to have more accurate Genesis audio. It also doesn't look like a Genesis 3(it's an entirely new case design that I find looks pretty bizzare, but nice) and still has a TecToy chip doing the work on the Genesis side. You can also play MegaDrive games from Japan on all the Genesis/NES 2-in-1s as they all come with an integrated region switch. Take a look here for more info on the GN Twin: http://forums.benhec...pic.php?t=23166



thank you very much for all the info I appreciate it. After reading all the reviews I think I would be better off taking off my chances with the real thing than going with a NES/Genesis clone.

#15 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:57 AM

well, I got mine a few minutes ago, but haven't plugged her in yet. What a sharp looking little system! Great build quality on my black/red unit. I'll take fingerprints over yellowing any day.

to add to the reviews/comments, make sure you buy/have other snes controllers handy when it comes. The controllers it comes with are the type that you can press the center of the cross, and it clicks on all four directions. it's also extremely stiff. If you don't have an old pad, the new generic snes cotrollers on ebay are quite a bit better--though they're not quite as good as the old ones.

I'll be stopping out to the game shop in a few hours. Luckily thursday is their military 25% discount night--so maybe I can actually afford the downpayment on a few of their retro games.

Edited by Reaperman, Thu Apr 24, 2008 11:58 AM.


#16 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 24, 2008 12:28 PM

- FDS is reported as not compatible


Really? I wonder why? The RAM cart is just like any other Famicom cartridge, there's nothing really special about it.

Tempest

#17 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 25, 2008 1:56 PM

well I've stopped out to the game store and picked up a couple more games. I've noticed that snes freezes if the cart is disturbed--it's very loose. Otherwise, the colors are as bright as I remember them, the picture is even sharper than I remember and I'm having a darn good time.

I do have to keep plugging/unplugging cables on my projector though to get the right video for each system.

#18 remowilliams OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:09 PM

Really? I wonder why? The RAM cart is just like any other Famicom cartridge, there's nothing really special about it.

Don't know. Can't test it out myself, don't have one as the FDS is beyond my realm of caring. :)

've noticed that snes freezes if the cart is disturbed--it's very loose.

Odd, I can more or less slap the carts around in my RD without issue. Your projector doesn't have video input selection? That's kinda annoying. :P

#19 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:52 PM

've noticed that snes freezes if the cart is disturbed--it's very loose.

Odd, I can more or less slap the carts around in my RD without issue. Your projector doesn't have video input selection? That's kinda annoying. :P

I didn't slap, it was a definate 'jiggle jiggle back and forth as far as it goes.' It's not like the nes2 which fails constantly--to mess up a retro duo I have to do more than breathe in the same room as the console for it to fail. As for my AV selection, I have one, but it counts s-vid & composite as one option "video". The other two selections "computer analog" and "computer digital" cover everything nicer.

Star Tropics is pretty darn cool for a title I missed. Control kind of sucks for a first-party nintendo title, though.

Edited by Reaperman, Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:57 PM.


#20 remowilliams OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 25, 2008 4:08 PM

As for my AV selection, I have one, but it counts s-vid & composite as one option "video".

Ah yeah, my plasma does that too. But I can tell it to turn off 'Auto Y/C' then it differentiates between composite/svideo.

#21 classics OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 25, 2008 5:31 PM

Thanks for the review, I'm going to pick one of these up just so I can enjoy my SNES titles again.

Steve

#22 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:02 PM

well, I've sat down with mine for a few extended periods, and I've noticed that in snes s-video mode there's a moving horizontal bar of slight distortion. It tends to move slowly downward until it wraps to the top. I suppose I should see if it's in composite too, but it's pretty minor and s-vid just looks to good to do without. It may also be related to how the projector scales the image, but I've never noticed other svideo connections doing it.

I've just been having so much fun with this lately. I've not got 8 games I'm rotating through with 11 more in the mail. I've also been debating going digging in the storage locker. I don't care about most of the titles I already have, but there's a castlevania 3 and a final fantasy 3 out there and I don't think I can afford extra copies of those right now...or ever...

Edited by Reaperman, Mon Apr 28, 2008 9:03 PM.


#23 Great Hierophant ONLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 29, 2008 4:35 PM

It is encouraging that the clones are, overall, improving on their compatibility. I have a few comments to make:

1. Real NESes never supported and could not support S-Video because the chroma/luma mixing was done within the chip. Good for RD to make it work in some way.

2. If certain versions of Super Mario RPG will not work, then some other good games using the SA-1 may be affected. The SA-1 includes advanced lockout detection circuitry. These include Kirby's Dream Land 3 and Kirby Super Star, both superb games. (The rest are either Japanese or not especially memorable.)

3. I take it that in NES games the ordinary music doesn't sound off-pitch as it did in the older FC Game Console. The audio issues may be more subtle.

#24 Reaperman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Sep 18, 2008 9:41 AM

Does anybody have the Messiah wireless SNES controllers plugged into their retroduo?

I'm debating between messiah's NES controller (for my real console) and the SNES for retroduo, but I'd like to know if the snes wireless pads work in nes mode. The reason I'm asking, is that I noticed my beloved SN ProgramPad, doesn't work well at all for NES titles.

#25 chris2009 OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Sep 7, 2009 7:28 PM

I tried the PowerPak in my RetroDuo and it does NOT work. :sad: Nothing. :x Grey or orange screen.

Of course, the PowerPak works fine on my regular (toaster) NES.

Thus, I would remove this from the list of advantages of RetroDuo. :thumbsdown:




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