Review: Retro Duo Portable V2.0

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The Retro Duo Portable V2.0: another clone system to satisfy your nostalgic hunger. These so-called ‘clones’ are fast growing in popularity. Companies like Hyperkin and Retro-Bit have capitalised on the popularity of retro gaming by producing systems that can play your old console cartridges.

Retro-Bit is having a second crack at this caper by creating the Retro Duo Portable (RDP) V2.0 – a portable (to an extent) unit that plays SNES carts from any region without hacking or modifications. The RDP V2.0 is also capable of playing NES carts using the bundled RetroPort adapter, which sticks out like a sore thumb. The RDP V2.0 can also play Sega Mega Drive / Genesis cartridges using the RetroGEN adapter, which is sold separately.

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Retro-Bit’s first attempt at hardware console creation was modest. The screen wasn’t too flash, the unit felt cheap and games compatibility was limited. They have learned from the experience and introduced a number of improvements for V2.0. These include: upgraded LCD screen, crisper sound, improved D-pad and button layout, better battery life (Lithium-ion) with LED indicator and most importantly, enhanced game cartridge compatibility.

The RDP V2.0 comes in a slick looking package. Inside you will find a vast amount of gear – the console itself, a plastic stand, TV/AV connection cable, power supply unit, RetroPort adapter, a controller hub and two SuperRetro controllers (which can also be used on your SNES!).

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After playing with the unit for a number of hours (on one battery charge!), here are our thoughts:

The unit feels sturdy in hand and has a nice soft coating. It doesn’t suffer from that cheap feel you get from other ‘clones’.

The D-pad and button layout is identical to a SNES pad, so you should feel right at home. However, the shoulder buttons do let the controls down as they are too close to the cartridge slot, but this is only a minor niggle. The external control pads are great to use if you intend on hooking the RDP V2.0 up to a TV, or if you use them natively on your SNES.

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We did have a few compatibility issues with the Super FX SNES games, but overall we were pleased with Retro-Bit’s claim of improved compatibility.

Using the RetroPort adapter to play your NES carts basically renders the unit ‘un-portable’. The adapter sticks out above the unit which looks damn ugly. But hey, if you want to play your native old NES carts, you will put up with this unsightliness. Playing the RDP V2.0 with the RetroPort adapter definitely got attention on public transport.

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The improved LCD screen is better than the original RDP (it has an increased pixel count), but it has a long way to go. You still have to ‘angle’ or ‘tilt’ the unit to get the best visibility, which gets annoying after a while. There is a contrast reset button which has three preset contrast settings for brightness. The clarity is average when compared to modern handhelds; but considering the price of the unit, it is understandable.

The beefing up of the sound is great in theory, however we did find the sound became distorted at maximum volume with a distinct ‘crackling’ on certain games (Super Smash TV). The sound was fine when playing with headphones, however the placement of the headphone jack should have been placed on the side of the unit, not on top (it gets in the way!).

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Should you rush out and buy the Retro Duo Portable V2.0? It depends, if you are happy emulating (legally) your 8-bit and 16-bit Sega or Nintendo games, then the answer is no. However, if you want a system that you can plug in your library of SNES, NES and Mega Drive carts, then the RDP V2.0 is perfect. The other plus to owning the RDP V2.0 is that you will safeguard your Sega and Nintendo hardware from further abuse, and let’s face it, these old consoles won’t last forever!

Verdict: If you like the sound of a console that can play your SNES and NES cartridges out of the box, then check this unit out.