The Retro Freak is an Android-based console that imitates several classic systems using emulation allowing you to play your beloved original cartridges. If you kept your old school days cartridges, you can rediscover excitement and amazement once again.
At the very beginning of this retro freak review we need to tell a few modern day benefits of the console such as save states, screen filters, upscaled 720p HD output and the ability to dump ROMs onto a MicroSD card which allows you play games without having to plug in the cart each time.
The retro game console is a competent solution to play cartridges of 12 different game consoles. Retro freak 12 in 1 console supports cartridges like Nintendo entertainment system (NTSC/PAL), Famicom ( Japanese version NES), Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Mega drive(NTSC/PAL), Genesis(US version Mega Drive), etc.
The console consists of two parts-the cartridge adapter and the main system itself and has its own controller. It comes with an optional accessory that allows you to use the original joypads with the system.
Design and controller of Retro Freak
The Retro Freak design is simple. The design features a relatively plain block of plastic peppered with cartridges slots for various system it supports. It’s top parts slots for the Super Famicom / SNES, Famicom and Mega Drive / Genesis, while the front slot for PC Engine / TurboGrafx-16 and Game Boy. Front side has also three USB ports, into which you plug controllers and other USB accessories.
As stated earlier, the unit comes in two parts. One part is the cartridge adapter which can be disconnected from the main unit. Cartridge adapter part is bulkier but the main part is much small which is around the size of a game cartridge making it extremely portable. The small unit or the main unit has ports of power, HDMI and MicroSD media, and also showcases the power button to turn the whole thing on.
The controller which packaged with the Retro Freak has much resemblance with the SNES. It is well-made and comfortable to use. The console uses Google’s Android OS making the console to plug to any USB pad. But it has no Bluetooth included. So, you cannot use wireless pads.
The software of Retro Freak
Retro game system uses Android as its operating system. The main menu offers you a range of options upon turning on the console. You can play around with various screen filters to get the image you are looking for, and it is possible to install cheats or configure controllers. Plugging a game cartridge into one of the available slots prompt a short loading sequence as the game data is dumped into the console’s memory and information related to the game, for example, title, developer and the release date is displayed which indicates that the title is already present in the console’s pre-installed database.
How can you work?
You can then either load the game or if you have a MicroSD card present, download and retain the ROM. This means that once the cartridge data has been “dumped” once, the cartridge is not required to play that particular game in the future. What’s more, you can also download save game information from cartridges and store them on the Retro Freak. This is a very useful feature particularly if you have an old cart which is precariously close to experiencing battery backup failure after decades of sitting idle in your cupboard.
The screen filters are not useful. Instead of applying scanlines for authentic CRT appearance, the default setting is fine. It displays lovely blocky pixels perfectly. Save states is another cool feature of the software. It means when you exit a game you can load it up again at exactly the same point. It is also possible to install cheats which functionality is unlocking elements such as infinite lives and ammo, depending on the game you are playing. Another striking feature is the ability to apply patches to cartridges to change content. An ideal example would be taking a Japanese RPG which is not released in Europe yet and adding a fan-made translation patch, so you play it in English.
Performance of Retro Freak
Retro Freak is emulation based. It means it recognizes your cartridges as you plug then in and dumping them for use on the system. However, the problem is no emulation is perfect. In this case, for example, if you are a seasoned veteran, you will notice that some of the sounds is little off on Mega drive and NES titles.
The manufacturer, Cyber Gadget, offer firmware updates from time to time. but the Retro Freak lacks wireless connectivity. So, you will need to undergo a cumbersome upgrade procedure which involves writing an upgrade request to the MicroSD card from the console itself, inserting it into a pc, downloading and verifying the update file, and finally plugging it back into the Retro Freak to kick off the upgrade. It is a tedious process. But nevertheless, as the time goes by, you can expect an improvement and augmentation of the system.
Would the Retro Freak worth be purchasing?
If you are in the market for an all-in-one retro gaming solution, Retro Freak is good for you. The unit is compact, feature-rich and supports a wide range of classic systems. On the other hand, the Retro Freak lacks support for NES games without an additional adapter which could act as a deal-breaker for hardcore Nintendo fans. Another con of the console is it does not allow you to use your original pads which translates you will need to spend a few extra money for an extra accessory for this.
But the ability to dump ROM data from cartridges is a strong selling point. It also allows you to have your collection all in one place. In addition, you need not look for cartridges in your storage. Save everything in a MicroSD card. Then, carry the main, portable module of the Retro Freak around with you.
However, it is also possible to download ROMs data off the internet and play them from the MicroSD card. So, it makes the process of dumping your own games useless. However, many people simply buy the console without using ROMs from the web.
The Retro Freak console comes with different advantages, such as PC engine support and ROM dumping. Also, there is a great user interface with a sleek, compact physical footprint. It is all -in- one hardware solution for those who have an extensive collection of vintage games. Maybe, you have a sizeable collection of Nintendo and Sega cartridges. Then, you need to be cautious about spending the price of Retro Freak (170 pound).