What to expect from the Retro-bit GoRetro Portable

Gaming has reached an age where people are getting unprecedented access to import games. Newer titles are becoming easier to acquire, thanks to the removal of region-blocks. Older games are being picked up and localized. One company, Retro-bit, is releasing plug-and-play systems and compilation cartridges with NES and SNES games that include some titles that never received an official release outside of Japan. One of the latest is the Retro-bit GoRetro Portable, a Game Boy-inspired handheld that runs on four AAA batteries and plays an assortment of titles that either were on the NES or would have been at home on the system.

How many Retro-bit GoRetro Portable games are there?

The Retro-bit GoRetro Portable box says that “260+ Exciting Games” are present. In total, there are 262. 37 of these games fall under the Featured Games header. That means they are more notable and official NES or Famicom games made by companies like Capcom and Data East. The 225 other titles are of varying quality from Power Joy or, more commonly, unnamed developers. The quality of these games varies, as you can expect from such a device.

Which “good” Retro-bit GoRetro Portable games are available on the handheld?

The 37 major titles are all of varying degrees of quality. In the case of some, like Higemaru, there is no English translation. Some run well, while ones like Dark Lord tend to chug along. Let’s look through what you get. As an aside, all of the following games appeared on the NES.

  • 8 Eyes (Thinking Rabbit, SETA): This is a Castlevania-style action game that appeared in Japan in 1988 and in North America in 1990.
  • 1942 (Capcom): This is a vertical shoot’em up that showed up in Japan in 1985 and North America in 1986.
  • 1943: The Battle of Midway (Capcom): This is the second 19XX game and is once again a vertical shoot’em up. It appeared in Japan and North America in 1988.
  • Bad Dudes (Data East): This is a side-scrolling beat’em up. It is known as Dragon Ninja in Japan and launched in that country in 1989. Its North American name is Bad Dudes, and in Europe it went by Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja.
  • Bad Street Brawler (Beam Software, Mindscape and Mattel): This is a 1987 beat’em up that was notable for being Power Glove compatible.
  • Bionic Commando (Capcom): This action game showed up on the NES in Japan and North America in 1988, followed by a European release in 1990.
  • Buggy Popper (SAS Sakata, Data East): Here is an interesting one. Buggy Popper was localized as Bump ‘n’ Jump for the NES in North America in 1988. However, it is the Japanese Data East version from 1986 that is on this handheld.
  • Burgertime (SAS Sakata, Data East): This is the action game about building burgers that appeared in Japan in 1985 and North America in 1987.
  • Code Name: Viper (Capcom): This is an action game that appeared in Japan and North America in 1990.
  • Commando (Capcom): Capcom’s top-down shoot’em up appeared in North America and Japan in 1986.
  • Dark Lord (Data East): While some of the formerly-Japan-exclusive games on the Retro-bit GoRetro Portable were not translated, this RPG has been! It first appeared in Japan in 1991. Unfortunately, after talking with Gideon Zhi from Aeon Genesis, it turns out the English translation is being used without permission.
  • Dash Galaxy in the Alien Asylum (Beam Software, Data East): This is a puzzle game with action elements that appeared in North America in 1990.
  • Exed Exes (Micronics, Tokuma Shoten): While Savage Bees, the Capcom developed Arcade version of this vertical shoot’em up, appeared outside Japan courtesy of Memetron, the Japanese Famicom version was handled by other companies and never appeared outside of Japan.
  • Ghost ‘n Goblins (Capcom): This action game first appeared in Japan and North America in 1986. Europe got it a few years later in 1989.
  • Gun Smoke (Capcom): Yet another vertical shoot’em up from Capcom, it debuted worldwide in 1988.
  • Higemaru (Capcom): A Japan-exclusive adventure game that puts you in a pirate ship on the high seas debuted in 1987. The version on the Retro-bit GoRetro Portable is in Japanese.
  • Legendary Wings (Capcom): Most Capcom shoot’em ups were released in multiple regions, but this one is a North American exclusive that was released in 1988.
  • Mega Man 2 (Capcom): This run-and-gun game showed up worldwide, with the Japanese version arriving first in 1988. It was followed by a 1989 North American and 1990 European debut.
  • Mega Man 3 (Capcom): Even more Mega Man appears on the Retro-bit GoRetro Portable. It originally showed up in Japan and North America in 1990, followed by a European release in 1992.
  • Mighty Final Fight (Capcom): Here is a beat’em up starring some Final Fight/Street Fighter characters. It appeared worldwide in 1993.
  • Motor City Patrol (Source Research & Development, Matchbox): This is police simulation released in North America in 1992 that has people acting as a cop in a car driving around and (hopefully) stopping crimes.
  • Mutant Virus: Crisis in a Computer World (Rocket Science Production, American Softworks): People need to stop a computer virus by shooting it up as they float through a digital space. It appeared in North America in 1992.
  • Nightshade (Beam Software, Ultra Games): This is an adventure game starring a superhero that appeared in North America in 1992.
  • Noah’s Ark (Source Research & Development, Konami): While most of the games on the Retro-bit GoRetro Portable were Japan or North American exclusives, this action game about rescuing animals only appeared in Europe in 1992.
  • Power Punch II (Beam Software, American Softworks): Ready for an interesting fact about this boxing game? At first, Nintendo was watching over this as a Punch Out sequel, but it left, American Softworks took over, and it showed up in North America in 1992.
  • Pyramids of Ra (Source Research & Development, Matchbox): Yet another oddity, Pyramids of Ra is a puzzle game where you walk over blocks once and try to make it to the starting point. It was supposed to appear on the NES and Game Boy. The Game Boy version was released, but the NES version was canceled. This is the NES version of the game.
  • Rescue: The Embassy Mission (Infogames, Kemco): This shooter has you taking out a terrorist group. It appeared in Japan in 1989, North America in 1990 and Europe in 1991.
  • Section-Z (Capcom): Here is a horizontal shoot’em up from Capcom that appeared in North America in 1987 and Europe in 1989.
  • Side Pocket (Data East, Namco): This pool game appeared worldwide, starting out in North America and Japan in 1987 and Europe in 1992.
  • SonSon (Capcom and Micronics, Capcom): Here is another Japan-exclusive. It debuted in 1984. It is a side-scrolling adventure where you switch between floors to collect items, defeat enemies and save a friend.
  • Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight (Capcom): The original version of this 1990 game first appeared in Japan and North America. It is a beat’em up and, in the English localization, it is made to seem like the star is Street Fighter’s Ken.
  • Strider (Capcom): Strider is a name that sounds familiar, but it is also rather special. It was developed along the arcade version by Capcom and released in North America in 1989, but the Japanese version was canceled.
  • Target: Renegade (Software Creations, Taito): This is a beat’em up that debuted in North America in 1990.
  • Tetris (Unknown): This is not the NES version of Tetris. The information on its developer in the Retro-bit GoRetro Portable is not available. It does not have the A and B types present in the NES version. Rather, starting a game takes you to a Settings section were you determine the level, handicap, whether or not Ghost is on, set if the music is on or off and say if sound is on or off. The actual gameplay looks different from the NES version, as you can expect.
  • Thunderbolt II (Gamtec): This is a vertical shooter that was made in 1993. There is very little information about this Chinese game online.
  • Treasure Master (Software Creations, American Softworks): Here is another odd game released in North America in 1991. A MTV contest was tied to this action game. People who used a secret password, then beat the game’s levels would get a special code. This could be reported to a hotline for a chance to win prizes.
  • Trojan (Capcom): This is an action game that showed up in Japan in 1986, North America in 1987 and Europe in 1989.

Hows does the Retro-bit GoRetro Portable run?

The Retro-bit GoRetro Portable is built relatively well. The screen is bright and clear. It offers an AV-out option. It checked and its batteries tended to last around eight hours. There is a power light indicator. The speakers are sufficient for your needs. There are standard A and B action buttons, as well as two turbo buttons.

However, the actual performance is hit or miss. The buttons sometimes did not feel precise enough for games that demanded quick movements, like Burgertime. Dark Lord seemed like it struggled to run. SonSon had display issues, as did Code Name: Viper. But then other games, like Higemaru or Buggy Popper, work fine. The turbo buttons are really only needed for the shoot’em ups, but even then did not feel like the offered the performance edge you would expect. Everything is playable, but some games at not at their best.

The normal price for a Retro-bit GoRetro Portable is between $34.99 and $39.99. It is currently available at Target stores for $39.99.

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