I had my 2 year old Retron 5 finally die (it had been having problems with the Famicom slot for a while now, and the most problem-ridden slot was the Famicom (for whatever reason). Then the Genesis slot started becoming grabby (for lack of a better word) on the cartridges, but the NES slot finally gave up the ghost and I decided to give it a once-over. It didn’t look like anything “blew out” or “let the blue smoke out” of any chips, but the cart slot pins on the NES and Famicom had a few bent ones. I tried re-bending them with small tools, but after that, none of the cart slots would show the cart’s name (just “unknown cartridge”) on things that were cleaned or used previously and cleaned. So I bought another one, but I got to thinking, what about all those one-chip hardware compatible SNES/NES clones out there? I knew I needed HD, just because the Retron 5 spoiled me, so I began looking for a possible replacement (and one that can play multicarts and repros.)
I went digging around youtube, looking around the reviews and settled on two to try out. The Old Skool Classic II and the Gamerz Tek Super HD-2. Both are SNES/NES (and Super Famicom, but not famicom (without an adapter that I am not sure would work anyway). I got the Old Skool first (hence named “Classic II” and the Gamerz Tek will be called “Super HD-2”).
The Classic II so far…
I’ve been fiddling with it for about a week and it has been really compatible with most anything (it has issues with my Burger Time cart for some reason), and it has some really nice controllers. The problem I had with the Classic II was when the 4:3 switch was set (not widescreen), 90% or more of the NES/SNES games I tried came out garbled, like they needed cleaning. I tried on a whim to go to 16:9 and had no issues with any cart, even those that were garbled initially. Another weird feature was the passive HDMI, which played havoc with my HDMI powered switchbox. It never showed as “connected” until shortly after the intro started on any cart I tried. And I would have to manually switch to the port on the HDMI switch to get to it. It was strange, but it would work fine after that. Other than these issues, the Classic II is a solid console. It’s surprisingly beefy, compared to some of the other clones. You always know a clone by its weight, and most of the time you have to put double-sided tape on the clones to keep them on the desk. 🙂
The Super HD-2 so far…
I got this just today (May 28th) and so far it’s been far better than the Classic II in two respects: 1. It has no trouble with 4:3, with all carts working flawlessly, and 2. the HDMI port isn’t playing weirdly with my switch box. If I turn on the Super HD-2, it switches like I expect it to. (And the Super HD-2 has a Pal switch too, not that I would ever need it.) The Super HD-2 has the same problem with Burger Time, but it seems not as bad as the Classic II. I like the fact that my Retro-bit Joe and Mac compilation works (on both without incident.) I am going to play with the Super HD-2 some more over the week and see how it handles various strange carts, like SuperFX cartridges, etc. The Classic II had no trouble with them, so it should be the same for this one. Overall, I like this one as I do the Classic II.
Verdict so far…
I am right now leaning more to the HD-2 because the Classic II has weird issues with my switch box. I don’t consider this a dig at the Classic II, because they both perform very well (and are colored like the American SNES.) I just prefer the active switch on the HD-2. Other than that (I am not a slave to 4:3) I like both and will keep both for my “main” gaming console. I will continue to use my Retron 5 for Famicom games and for Genesis (until my Mega HD gets here from Gamerz Tek). I will also use my Retron for gamest that have a “Save” feature but have a dead battery. (Makes it easier to play RPGs on it.) But if I were in the market for a decent clone console, both of these SNES/NES clone systems are top notch.
As an aside, I couldn’t get the Retro Trio 3+ to work at all (it was DOA.) I may try again, because it’s also hardware, but it has some nice features (like a cover for the controller ports, and would be more compact than 3 devices on my desk.) I’ll order another from Amazon soon, but not right away, because I don’t want to run afoul of their “return violation” policy. 🙂
I am not a fan of the FPGA “super” clones, mainly because of their price. If they were about $100 cheaper, I’d snatch one up. But $300 for an FPGA (emulated after all) console is not my cup of tea. Heck, I use a cheap-o Dell PC with onboard video for most of my MAME gaming. 🙂 I am not one to be looking for the aesthetic equivalent of a Rolex watch. My Casio tells time just as well and at a fraction of the cost. YMMV, but I’m more into buying the games I want to play. I skipped the Genesis/SNES era, mainly because I was a computer gamer (and I really missed the NES era for the same reason), so I’m playing catchup a bit. I would’ve bought a Genesis had I been more financially secure then (college wasn’t cheap.) But I still had my Amiga 500 well into my college years (yes I’m old.) 🙂 Happy gaming!