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Remember 16 bit?
Let me take you back to a simpler time when Nintendo pretty much ruled the video game market - till upstart Sega came along with their Genesis 16 bit system. Not only was the game console edgier looking than anything Nintendo had done, but the games pushed the graphic boundaries of the time both in their visuals as well as in game play mechanics. Of course the purpose was to get caught up in another world, but having multiple buttons and combinations available to use in games meant more control over what happened and more choices as to what to do.
And as “modern” games strive to become more like the road rage we see on Los Angeles highways, let’s not call those Genesis games “old school” or “nostalgia” but what they are - fun.
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Retro Back to retro-bit
I’m all about the latest tech so I’m giving a thumbs up to this portable game console called retro-bit. Not just because the name makes me chuckle, but because I love the idea of cramming 20 full sized Genesis games down into a hand held with better than Sega’s own Game Gear could ever display.
We’ll get the specs out of the way first - this isn’t one of those LCD giveaways from McDonalds, but a powerful game console miniaturizing 16 bit graphics for display on a color 2.4 inch LCD screen. And with the expected headphone jack and ‘AAA’ batteries running the show. Yet it’s still lighter than the hard case surrounding my iPhone 3G s.
All the controls are there, from the D-Pad to the A, B, C buttons, to On/Off and volume control (yeah the speaker is kind of tinny so yank the earbuds off the iPod). You can even plug retro-bit directly into a TV for a bigger picture - the cable is included - and better sound that most of us playing Genesis on our TV (Sony Trinitron or otherwise) ever heard. If nothing else, the display case it comes in is as nicely executed as anything Apple ever does - making the box worth keeping just to hold the retro-bit when it’s not being heavy petted.
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Game play falls naturally under your hands - the left taking care of the D-Pad while the right mashes the buttons (sorry Lefties). There’s no brightness control but no need for one - it’s a nice bright image that holds up under ambient light, though obviously it falls short when taken outside under bright sunlight (I prefer shaded spots anyway). And the screen is big enough so that you’re not squinting like a fool to see some of the details (though hooking it up to the TV really raises the bar).
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It's the Games, Stupid
Of course it’s the games that make this worth having and there’s plenty of favorites to choose from. I got right back into the spirit of all the attempts at death combos I remembered for Golden Axe and Altered Beast - these two having consumed more of my time and more of my frustrations than my so-called social life at the time. And between Alex Kidd and Kid Chameleon I’m finally going to get through those (expletive deleted) levels that have haunted me for all these years. I might even pull up Ecco just to see what all the hoopla about Dolphins was. And it’s easier playing Columns here (Tetris clone that it is) than buying the App for the iPhone. Plus more than enough Sonic to keep you busy for days (if not longer).
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Playing Like It's the 90's
The point is that the retro-bit hand held makes gaming easy. That and the fact that the graphics haven’t been watered down but are going full bore
Now I’m not nuts enough to try and convince you that playing Genesis games on a hand held is better than pulling out the Xbox 360, Wii or PS3. But if you’re all about the game - not the tech - then you’ll find retro-bit is a bit of gaming heaven. And just plain damn fun.