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Retrode

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The Retrode, made by Matthias_H, is a nifty device that allows you to play SNES and Genesis games on your computer. Thanks to skaar for letting me use his Retrode and access to his SFC collection!

By: Evan G
Last updated: August 8, 2010

For many years, if you wanted to play SNES games on your computer, you either had to resort to downloading ROM images off the Internet, or buy a bulky copier from Asia (most of which require serial cables or floppy disks). Matthias_H has created a new alternative, which he calls the Retrode. This solid piece of hardware makes things easy on the user end of things by mounting the carts as a mass storage device. Using a properly configured emulator, you can even use the SRAM that is right on the cart. Of course, the Retrode also allows you to copy games and saves to your hard drive, making this a great device for backing up your games.

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Retrode with carts plugged in.

The Genesis experience

As a big SNES fan, it might not come as a surprise I don't have much in the way of Genesis games. I had a copy of Phantasy Star III to test on the Retrode, and it seemed to work fine. My buddy had a prototype of Road Rash, but didn't have the same luck. It seems others had better luck (Mike from NESPlayers dumped this prototype of Stone Protectors with a Retrode).

The SNES Experience

I tried out the Retrode on a collection of Super Famicom games. The shape of the cart slot on the Retrode isn't perfect for an SFC cart (as it had to be designed for US carts as well), but overall, the Retrode handled things well. One major issue I had was that probably half of the games would not read on first try. This was almost always due to dirty contacts (the Retrode is not as forgiving as the actual SNES console). In total, I was able to successfully read and confirm 88 games, some which include DSP and Super FX chips (I believe most of the games are on the Retrode compatibility list now). The following games with special coprocessors that I had do not work with the Retrode:

  • Dai Kaiju Monotagari II (S-RTC chip)
  • Kirby Super Deluxe (SA-1 chip)
  • Momotetsu Densetsu Happy (SPC7110 chip - only dumps first 8 Mb)
  • Super Bomberman Panic World (SA-1 chip)
  • Super Mario RPG (SA-1 chip)

Unfortunately, Matthias_H has no plans to include support for these games, as he does not want to break the lockout mechanism that prevents them from being read (though you can access the SRAM for all these games). I also ran across four games that should have been able to be read by the Retrode, but I was not successful at reading. I can only suspect that the connectors were in too rough of shape.

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The Retrode can handle some games with special co-processors, such as Ballz 3D (DSP-1 chip).

Summary

The Retrode is a great device that is a must have if you need to back up your games and saves. Because it mounts as a mass storage device, it is very easy to use and should work on any computer OS (I was using Ubuntu Linux). With this, you can play games directly off the cart with an emulator, though it is probably more practical to copy the ROM image to your hard drive, as it takes a few seconds to load the game in the emulator if you play it right off the cart. The only downside is that it is pretty fussy with dirty carts, and there is no internal check to make sure the game loaded properly. For 60 Euros for the base unit (about $80 USD at present), is is a great value for emulation enthusiasts.

Go to the Retrode website


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