Retro Duo Portable Review

Retro Duo Portable

About a decade ago, I acquired and proudly wore a t-shirt bearing the image of a Nintendo Entertainment System controller, with the words “Know Your Roots” scrawled boldly below it on my chest. About a decade later, and Nintendo is topping charts with callbacks to the old days in The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and Super Mario 3D World, entries into two of the company’s very first franchises. Meanwhile, I’ve been exploring an open world and braving treacherous dungeons in The Legend of Zelda, a game that was first released in 1986 on the company’s first home gaming system. We’re all reconnecting with the very roots noted on what has now become my old, worn, and faded t-shirt.

Retro Duo PortableI’m playing the original gold NES cartridge, and I’m playing it on Retro-Bit’s Retro Duo Portable, or RDP, and the experience is almost exactly the same as I remember. The RDP is a handheld gaming device that resembles a large Game Gear system, or the more recent Wii U Gamepad. Surrounding the handheld’s central 3.5” LCD screen are all the buttons one would find on a Super Nintendo controller, with a huge slot on the top of the device to accept any region’s SNES cartridges or adapters for NES, Genesis, and Game Boy Advance carts.

The Retro Duo Portable is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that lasts around eight hours, with a DC input along the left side of the system next to its on/off switch. An additional button between the Start and Select buttons below the screen doubles as a contrast adjustment and reset button (when held down). There’s a volume control slider on the bottom of the system, and an A/V output between the L and R buttons on top. In addition to accommodating standard headphones, this jack can deliver stereo audio and composite video via an included cable to any display with standard red, white, and yellow RCA jacks for big-screen gaming. And completing the on-the-couch console experience, an included adapter with two standard Super Nintendo controller ports plugs into the right side of the RDP for those nostalgic multiplayer sessions.

Retro Duo Portable

Retro Duo Portable  Retro Duo Portable  Retro Duo Portable

With SNES controllers plugged in, playing the RDP on the TV screen is no different from the way we played the Super Nintendo back in 1991. The games run flawlessly on the system, and the interface is identical to the original. Playing on the go via the LCD screen and the onboard controls is nearly the same, as well. The layout and tactile response closely approximates the standard SNES controller, albeit a bit spread out to accommodate the screen. The directional pad, frequently a source of disappointment on third-party accessories, works well on the RDP, though it feels slightly clickier than the one on Nintendo’s gamepad. My ultimate test: Could I knock out Mike Tyson with it in Punch-Out!!? The answer is yes, with only a few misread inputs along the way.

Retro Duo Portable

NES games also play very well on the Retro Duo Portable, despite the included, cart-sized RetroPort adapter towering out of the top of the system. It made me nervous to watch the double-stacked contraption wiggle back and forth when the system moved, though it was comforting to know that the connectors on the RDP and RetroPort are more reliable than the classic, blow-to-make-it-work parts in the NES and SNES. Additional adapters, dubbed the RetroGEN and Super Retro Advance, are also available for the RDP. These expand the system’s compatibility to include Sega Genesis and Game Boy Advance cartridges for suggested retail prices of $25 and $45, respectively. The Super Retro Advance is particularly special in that it works with Nintendo’s original SNES hardware, as well.

The whole approach taken by Retro-Bit with the Retro Duo Portable is quite impressive. Though its LCD screen and speakers are not the best in the business, the hardware manufacturer has managed to pack an incredible amount of functionality, compatibility, and playability into a small and portable package that has the potential to replace up to four separate legacy game systems. Playing on the move with the well-built and comfortable RDP is satisfying, and connecting the device to a TV screen mimics the genuine home console experience to a T. Of course, the whole endeavor will only be useful to gamers who have access to classic game cartridges, but those who do will find that the Retro Duo Portable scratches a nostalgic itch almost as well as the real thing.


Pick up your Retro Duo Portable by Retro-Bit herehere, and here.

Retro-Bit is exclusively distributed by Innex, Inc.


Images generously provided by our friends over at Nintendo Life.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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