The Retro Duo by Retro-Bit is a hardware clone capable of playing NES and SNES cartridges. It comes in a variety of colors including Black/Red, Silver/Black, White/Blue. Following in the steps of the Yobo FC Twin, the Retro Duo had promised to improve on the notorious compatibility issues that many NES clones ran into.
With three available color schemes, we have to say that this system looks pretty darn good. It uses two wired dog-bone style controller via SNES controller slots. This means that the system will support original SNES controllers, but not NES controllers. Unless you happen to have NES-to-SNES adapter, instructions for which can easily be found with a quick search. This also means that NES accessories like R.O.B., Zapper, and Power Pad can also be used if you can make the adapter.
The system supports NES, SNES, and Super Famicom cartridges, making it a great clone for those who want to relive those two generations of Nintendo consoles. For those looking to play Japanese 60-pin Famicom games, you’ll need to buy a third-party 60-to-72-pin adapter. The cartridge slot for the SNES takes a bit of force to put in a game, and takes more force to get that game out. The NES games slide in and out much more easily.
The Retro Duo is supposed to settle the compatibility issues of previous clones, well does it? Games that other clones cannot play, like Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse for the NES, or Star Fox for the SNES work just fine! It even supports the Game Genie cheat cartridge, even though it has a distorted video output, the functionality is there. For those of you who have old Game Boy cartridges, you’ll be happy to hear that it supports the Super Game Boy adapter.
Not everything with the Retro Duo is puppies and rainbows, there are a few games that are reportedly not supported. One weakness is the apparent inability to handle SNES games that used the Super Accelerator 1 (SA-1) chip, such as Super Mario RPG: The Legend of the Seven Stars, Kirby Super Star, Kirby’s Dream Land 3, and Power Rangers Zeo: Battle Racers. Though there is a workaround that has been confirmed for at least Super Mario RPG.
SA-1 Super Mario RPG Workaround for Retro Duo
There are reports of making Super Mario RPG run with a workaround, insert any NES game into the NES slot, while Super Mario RPG is in the SNES slot. Turn the system on to the 8-bit setting. Count to 5 seconds, then switch it to the 16-bit power setting. Then, the game should run. Whether this means all SA-1 chip games are able to play with this workaround has been unconfirmed.
The video output on the Retro Duo looks great, it supports either S-Video or Composite. The sound for the SNES sounds fine as well. The NES portion’s sound has had mixed reactions, some users claim to have sound issues on CRT televisions, and the issues being fixed on HDTV’s. Others find a hardware fix useful in fixing the NES sound.
NES Sound Fix for Retro Duo
A modification has been floating around that is supposed to fix the sound issues on the NES, but it does require soldering. You can find it here.
The Retro Duo is a great dual system clone that can play what its competitors cannot, most famously Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. It has great potential, and it seems the sound fix and the SA-1 workaround could be easily incorporated into a future version. For now, this is a well rounded system and it stands its ground amonst a sea of competitors and wannabe’s.