I’m going to preface this review with a little trip through my history. When I was a young child, my Mum bought me a Sega MegaDrive as my first console. As such, I spent much of my formative years as a Sega fanboy, before moving over to the PlayStation. I’m sorry to say this, but my first Nintendo console that I actually owned was the Gamecube… However, I had played the N64 a lot at a friend’s house.
Because of this, I didn’t really get to experience the NES and SNES games when they were coming out. However, as I grew up I started to play them through emulation. Naturally, emulating these incredible games on the PC wasn’t nearly as good as playing with the right controller and an actual cartridge. But I never had the cash available to buy the NES or SNES console. They’re actually pretty expensive to get these days.
That’s where Retro-Bit’s RES (Retro Entertainment System) comes into play. Designed as a clone console of the NES, the Retro-Bit RES is supposed to be the answer for people like me who want to play original NES games but can’t afford the actual console. But is it worth it? Let’s find out!
Getting the Retro-Bit RES setup is actually surprisingly easy. However, there are two different versions of the RES, and the setup process is slightly different depending on which version you have. If you have the standard RES console, then you’ll need to plug it into the mains and then plug the AV cable into an upscaler in order to use it on a modern TV. On the other hand, if you have the RES+ you plug it into the mains and then use the HDMI to plug straight into the TV.
Once you have it plugged into the power and TV, you’re actually good to go. That really is all you need to do. Well, that and put a cartridge into the console as well.
The Retro-Bit RES and RES+ are both top-loader NES clone consoles. This means that you don’t have the wear and tear caused by the front-loader mechanisms of the older NES consoles. Instead, the cartridges slip in neatly, clipping into place with a nice click to let you know not to push any further. The controllers also slot into place firmly as well, with the two controller ports on the front.
The controller ports also work with original NES controllers as well as Retro-Bit’s own controllers.
Usability of a NES clone console really comes down to how easy it is to get the game started and whether or not it is playable on the clone console. And with that in mind, I’m pleased to say that the Retro-Bit RES works beautifully in this sense. Once you’ve slotted the cartridge into the RES console’s cartridge slot, just turn the power on and the RES will boot the game with no issue.
On top of this, because it is a top-loader, you also don’t risk damaging the cartridges as you put them in and take them out. So that’s a huge plus, right there!
Anyway, you’ll find that the games boot up instantly without a problem, getting you straight into the game. If you’re using the RES+, the graphics will already output in HD. However, if you are using the standard RES, then make sure to turn on your upscaler as well, or just connect it to a CRT TV.
In terms of the controllers that come with the Retro-Bit RES, you’ll find that they feel exactly like the original controllers when in your hands. The buttons feel sturdy with no aggravating clicking sounds as you press them, and the cable length is really good too.
When it comes to the effectiveness of the Retro-Bit RES console, I was pleasantly surprised. To be fair, the only other clone console I have used was the MegaDrive Flashback by AT Games (the standard AV version) and that was a total bust (as you can read here). So I came into this review with reservations about how well the RES clone console would be able to play original NES games.
Thankfully, it has a really good track record by playing a huge amount of the NES cartridges without an issue. In terms of the quality of playback, I tested the Retro-Bit RES out with Top Gun and found that it plays really well. The colours were slightly different and the sound a little deeper, but honestly, that might be because I’m using the NTSC (American) version of the console and game which runs at a different frame rate to the TVs over here in the UK.
With that in mind, I would recommend getting the (PAL) European version of the Retro-Bit RES if you can, but if not, the NTSC one will play your games just fine. The controls are really responsive as well. For the entire time of playing on the RES, I didn’t notice any input lag, which is amazing. The guys at Retro-Bit have done a brilliant job creating a clone console for the NES that actually replicates the original console to a really high level.
The final aspect of this Retro-Bit RES review is the cost of the console. As I said before, the NES itself can be really expensive if you want to get one in good condition. On eBay they sell for anywhere between £60 and £150 depending on the condition. That’s a pretty pricey amount when you consider that the games aren’t cheap either.
The Retro-Bit RES, on the other hand, costs just $24.99 (plus $13.16 shipping to the UK) if you want the NTSC version (see it on Amazon here) or just £29.99 with free delivery if you go for the PAL version (on Amazon here). This makes it a far more accessible and affordable option for getting started with your NES collection, or if your original NES has finally bitten the dust.
You really do get great value for money with the Retro-Bit RES. It’s between half and a fifth of the price of an original NES and still plays the cartridges brilliantly!
And That’s All Folks
All in all, the Retro-Bit RES and RES+ are amazing NES clone consoles. You’ll be able to play all of your original cartridges just as if you were using the original NES hardware. The controllers feel sturdy and well built, and getting the console setup only takes 2 or 3 minutes. The Retro-Bit RES really is great value for money and, if you are looking for a way to play your NES games, then outside of paying through the roof for the original hardware, the Retro-Bit RES is one of the best options out there!
Have you used the Retro-Bit RES? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!