I love the idea of hardware clones for retro systems. Who wouldn’t want to be able to still play their old games after the original hardware has died? Or even get a system that can play games for far cheaper then scouring the web for an original? The problem though is that clone systems have notoriously been unreliable and inaccurate compared to the real deal. As a collector, the thought of using a hardware clone that didn’t cost $300 or more was just absurd. Then an NES clone system came across my review list and may have changed my mind of what a lower end clone system would be capable of. Enter the RES Plus.
Specs and Special Features
The RES Plus, at its core, is a simple system on a chip NES clone with the ability to play NES cartridges that we have seen for years. Only this year, we are treated to a HDMI equipped upgrade over the previous model offered by Retro-Bit. Outputting at 720p allows the RES Plus to play your NES cartridges at a clarity that would normally cost $200 dollars or more to obtain on real or aftermarket hardware (Not including the Retron HD which I have not gotten to test yet). Surprisingly, it manages to pull off a decent job of matching the colors found on even Nintendo’s own NES Classic Edition system. Even more surprising is the fact that most games sound almost as good as the NES Classic as well! While not 100% accurate to the real deal, newcomers into the NES scene would be hard pressed to tell the difference. Best yet, this thing can play CASTLEVANIA 3 which has always been a game that clone systems would have trouble with. Included in the packaging for the RES Plus is the system, 2 controllers, a micro USB cable with wall adapter, and a HDMI cable.
CRT / HDMI 16:9 / HDMI 4:3
Aesthetics and Build Quality
The system itself is a red/black modern take of the NES. It has a small footprint, only being as big as it is to fit the NES cartridge port, which helps it keep a slick look. While lightweight, it doesn’t feel like it would break easy if accidentally dropped. Likewise, the controllers included with the RES Plus, while feeling light, don’t feel cheap. Mimicking the design of the original square NES controllers, the controllers do offset the A and B buttons while changing the placement of the Start and Select buttons. The greatest part about the included controllers would have to be the fact that the D-Pad didn’t completely suck! Eight hours of SUPER MARIO BROS. 3 and I never once felt out of control. Even if you feel that these controllers are beneath your NES standards, fear not! The RES Plus does use the standard NES 7 pin controller port to allow you to use official controllers.
What Could It Have Done Better
While the RES Plus does what it is supposed to, play NES games, it does have a few things that could be worked on. The biggest item I hope Retro-Bit will address is the lack of 4:3 output for the display. NES games existed during the height of CRT TVs and having them stretched out to 16:9 is jarring and does soften the overall picture quality. While most TVs should have a 4:3 display option you can turn on, not all do. I would also like to take this time to state that the RES Plus will not be able to play Famicom games out of the box for those of you who might want to play imported games. While adapters that would convert the games to be playable on American systems do exist, I was not able to test this functionality to see if it worked on the RES Plus. The final issue I encountered with the RES Plus (I hesitate to even bring up since most users won’t be using a RES Plus for this purpose anyways) is that it had issues with my NES Zapper when playing Duck Hunt. Having the RES Plus hooked up to a CRT TV should theoretically allow users to play Duck Hunt with no problem. On my unit however, the Zapper would never detect a shot properly, thus rendering Duck Hunt unplayable just like if it was hooked up to HDMI.
While I would still not swap out my RGB modded NES for a RES Plus to use as my main source of professional NES footage capture, at $39.99 I am hard pressed to not want to run out and grab one for my TV downstairs to use with my kids! The RES Plus could play every one of my 30 games that I threw at it, including CASTLEVANIA 3. For a budget system with 2 controllers, good picture quality (if you can set your TV to 4:3), and fairly accurate sound, I see no reason not to recommend this unit to anyone looking to start playing or collecting classic NES games!