Review: The awesome Retro-Bit handheld Genesis

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PSP what? Nobody cares about that old thing. Honestly, do you want to carry around yet another heavy, fragile, state-of-the-art toy? No. What you need (what this country needs) is a cheap little handheld Genesis sporting 20 of the system’s greatest semi-hits. No need to worry about managed copies, DRM, firmware updates, or UMD transfer — just hit the power button and you’ll be playing Altered Beast or Sonic & Knuckles before you can say “Segaaaa!”

genesis (1)

It’s a fully-licensed little device, meaning you won’t be playing Revenge of Shinogi or Ecco the Porpoise. These are the real games. The device itself is about as cheaply made as you’d expect for $50, but it runs everything perfectly well and the controls are comfortable and responsive. The screen is bright and sharp, though it appears to have a sort of interlacing effect. Sound is loud and clear with little distortion (and no bass). It comes with an AV cable as well, which, combined with a pocket projector like the MPro 120, means you’ve got a big screen Genesis in your bag wherever you go, provided it’s dark enough. I can’t speak to battery life, but I suspect it’s pretty good, considering how little the hardware needs to do. It takes AAAs.

(Update: I had it with me, with pocket projector, at a party last night and it was a hit. You have to be careful though, it’s an extremely nerdy thing to do)

genesis

genesis (2)My system came with a flaw in part of the screen’s covering, but it’s not very noticeable during gameplay. And since mine is a free review unit anyway, I’m not going to buck — I’m sure they’d replace yours in a snap if it had an issue like this.

The question, though, is whether you want to lock yourself into the games and system provided here, or pay another $50 and pick up something like a Dingoo? It’s up to you, but the simplicity of this little system is a selling point as well as a weakness — and in its limitations, it doesn’t attempt anything it can’t do, as the Dingoo does (its Neo-Geo and SNES performance is spotty).

I suppose what it comes down to is what games are on it. After all, it could be the best gadget in the world yet if it didn’t have decent games, why would anyone want it? Here’s the full list:

Sonic & Knuckles
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Gain Ground
Arrow Flash
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja
Ecco Jr.
Golden Axe
Crack Down
Altered Beast
Flicky
Decap Attack
Cyper Police ESWAT
Alien Storm
Shadow Dancer
Columns III
Sonic Spinball
Jewel Master
Kid Chameleon
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
Ecco

So. Some classics, some garbage. It’s to be expected. Anyway, this little thing is a great little time-waster, perfect for subway rides, waiting in lines, and so on. It’s a gadget, it’s awesome, what else do you need to know?

They’re around, but Buy.com has free shipping.

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