Clone Consoles – Such Wasted Retrogaming Potential

I swear if I see another clone console that showcases wasted retrogaming potential ….. let’s not go there.  😛

I recently posted a comment on this YouTube video about the upcoming AtGames Sega Genesis Classic that’s going to be released with mono sound.  The whole mono sound thing was the dealbreaker for me there considering stereo sound was one of the original features of the Genesis, at least the Model 1 (Genesis Does What Nintendon’t!  😉 ).  Seriously, so an old console from the late 80s could have stereo sound, but a clone box from the 2010s can’t?  What is wrong with this picture?  =(

I’m really sick of all these clone boxes having silly little catches to them, like compatibility issues, bad controllers (particularly “wireless controllers” that are infrared instead of RF and thus have line-of-sight :-P), graphical anomalies, or *all* *those* NES clones out there who swap the square wave and sawtooth wave synthesizers and goof up the sound in NES games (YOBO!!!).  Heck, even the much-lauded Retron 3 does that.  (Skip to 2:25 to see this clone box goof up the sound in Super Mario Bros. 2  :-P)

Am I the only one in the world who sees wasted potential with these devices?  As far as clone boxes go, the Retro Duo was really the only one I ever tried, but I might ditch that thing and just stick with refurbished versions of the original hardware because even the Retro Duo has some problems with graphics, compatibility, and sound distortion, though it at least gets NES sound correct synthesizer-wise.  The Super Nintendo part of that box actually is a step up from the original machine because the Retro Duo supports S-Video output for the Super Nintendo half.

Basically the bulk of my disappointment here comes from the fact that these clone box makers are trying to dig out some market share between two big and fanatical groups of retrogamers here – the Emulation crowd, and the Retrohardware crowd.  Emulators of course have been tweaked to run ROMs more faithfully to the original devices over the years.  Heck, there are even peripherals blatantly made for emulators, like USB NES controllers.  🙂  Then there’s retrohardware fans like myself, since I’m a bit of an electronics freak I heavily prefer refurbishing and maintaining the original hardware, and for the more popular consoles a little poking around on the Internet is really all I need to hunt down most retro consoles like an NES with a replacement 72-pin connector so it doesn’t blink, etc.  Clone boxes aren’t exactly going to persuade either crowd to switch to devices like the Retro Duo, FC Twin, or Retron 3, etc., if these things keep having all these little hiccups with them, like the Atari Flashback not coming with a controller port even though electronics geeks can easily mod one in with some soldering and a Dremel.  😛

Then of course you have the hard numbers:

AtGames Sega Genesis Classic on Amazon – $59.99

Model 1 Genesis on JJGames – $49.99

Well, at least the AtGames box has built-in games.  :o)

Still though, there is just so much potential flying out the window here.  Emulator folks will guffaw at these things because emulators can replicate or even improve the experience of these old games, and retro-hardware folks like myself will guffaw at them because they *could* do on the hardware side what emulation does on the software side, replicate or even improve the experience, but these boxes just keep coming up short.  Instead what we get is cheap chunks of plastic that make us wish Nintendo, Sega, etc., would just restart production of older consoles to fill this demand gap for older hardware here.  Heck, I’d love to see a brand new NES in the box again, even if it’s a re-release, but I highly doubt that’ll ever happen.  😛

Oh well.  A retrogamer can dream, can’t he?  😀


2 thoughts on “Clone Consoles – Such Wasted Retrogaming Potential

  1. I’m one of the guilty souls that pre-ordered the latest Atgames console you linked above. At least i got it for the pre-order price of $40. Anyway, my only experience with an Atgames unit was one of those 2010 models with the crappy blue-wii style controllers. Game quality was pretty bad, but i heard the latest version of their emulation software was much improved and i saw a few vids that sounded pretty decent. Mostly this is a curiosity buy on my part but i want to believe atgames finally got their act together after the past 3 years. Although despite being a Genesis fanboy, i’m also a fan of emulation, and can be forgiving if the video & audio emulation are at LEAST 88% accurate.

    Overall, i agree its a shame Atgames does not take this a little more seriously. Finally ironing out the emulation problems(they’ve had over 4 years at this point to get it right), and better output, such as full-stereo composite or HDMI would go a long way.

    Supposed to be shipping at the end of october so i’m looking forward to getting this device and seeing how it stacks up. I love the concept and the looks of the device and want to believe atgames is capable of putting out good quality product.

    • I’m back and have the system. Brief review: Looks cool. Great game list. Good overall build quality on the unit(actually took it apart) and controllers. Video emulation is good for the most part but composite-only holds it back. Audio emulation is pretty decent(still sounds nice, but lacking from originals) & mono-only holds it back. Games play great & proper speed. Bland menu w/no options.

      Overall, pretty decent unit! But NEEDS improvement. NOT worth web price of $60! Got mine for $39 at Family dollar.

      Its sad that despite the emulation problems, quality would take a step up automatically if only the output was better, with something like true stereo HDMI. Atgames kinda screwed themselves by cutting corners, but whats here is still pretty decent. Just a shame as it could easily be better.

      One more thing to note, is that emulation quality of this unit seems nearly identical to an Atgames unit from 2010. This was kind of a bummer, since they were supposed to have improved upon it.

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