Last year, or I suppose it is now the year before last, we saw the Retrode, a little device that let you easily create ROM files from your SNES and Genesis cartridges. Useful, but sort of a one-shot device if you’re not a serious collector. The team behind it has created a new device, the Retrode 2 naturally, that is a bit more useful to the average retro-loving gamer.
Instead of just forming ROMs in a one-off process, the Retrode 2 acts as a cartridge reader for your emulator, and lets you plug in the original controllers as well. Being able to play SNES on those is a great bonus — there’s nothing that takes true 16-bit fans out of the game so much as having to play these old things on a newfangled controller.
The games still run in emulators on your computer – the Retrode merely allows them to read the cartridge, and passes along controller input. So it’s a bit of a franken-gadget. In a way, it’s the worst of both worlds. You have the idiosyncrasies and occasional lag of the emulator, without the benefit of the infinite compactness of ROM files. But on the other hand, it’s authentic, old-school, and acts as a controller hub.
They’ve been in development for a while, but they’re finally about to ship. The Retrode works on “any USB host, under any OS, using any emulator,” which is big talk, but it sounds like they mean it. So this could be a good solution for playing games on your tablet, as long as you get one with USB host capability.
They go for about $85. We’ll see if we can get one of these guys shipped out to review. It’s too bad they missed the holidays, when many a gamer would have been thrilled to find one of these under the tree, but they still expect to ship in February. If you’re in the Euro zone, buy one here; if you’re in the US, try here.