This holiday is all about the retro gaming.  At least it feels that way since the NES Classic Edition is the “IT” toy to buy this holiday season (along with whatever the hell Hatchimals are – I’d look it up but that would take three seconds that I don’t want to waste).  The NES Mini isn’t the only plug and play console hitting stores this holiday season that I wanted.  There is also the Retro-Bit Generations from Retro-Bit.

The Retro-Bit Generations touts over 100 popular retro games from such famous companies as Capcom, Data East, Irem, and Jaleco.  While the NES Mini has a scant few Capcom games I was really excited to sink my teeth into some great games like Commando, Captain Commando, 1942, Ghouls and Ghosts, and one of my all time favorites – BIONIC COMMANDO.  I mean there’s even classic beat-em-up Knights of the Round and awesome shooter Forgotten Worlds!  SCORE.

I asked for the Generations for the holiday season so it was released and home I sat – waiting to play.  Then a funny thing happened.  While the NES Mini got, for the most part, great reviews the Generations did not.  Some online reviewers I actually like had stated that you should just stay clear of the device.  My heart sunk.  REALLY!?!?!?!  This awesome plug-and-play device with Gun.Smoke, Bases Loaded, and Super R-Type wasn’t good?

I kept the faith.  Wifey came through too – because soon the Generations was in my grubby little hands.

The first thing I noticed was that the box didn’t look good.  Well the box itself was actually fine.  It was the stickers placed all over the box.  It was as if Retro-Bit printed the boxes, added (or subtracted) a bunch of games, and thought, “Well why print more boxes when we can put stickers to cover up the crap we don’t want our customers to see!”  If it was one or two stickers…maybe.  But there are SEVEN STICKERS on this box.  SEVEN!

Look at the pictures above – if you look close you can see how it is really just stickers atop the box.  It just came off as slightly tacky and unprofessional.  Which made me sad because overall I really like Retro-Bit and their products!  There even is at least one misspelling on one of the stickers – unless it is really supposed to be Super Ghouls NGhostss.  Wait – up above it says Super Ghouls N Ghost.  Singular.  So whatever intern proofread this box should go back to making coffee.

I’ve never done an unpacking video before but I figured what the hey.  So if you want to see what’s inside the box click and watch the short two minute video.

I will say that the controller cords are fairly long.  You can plug them into the unit and sprawl out on the couch not having to worry about being right on top of the television.  That was fun when I was six playing Atari but as an adult with wireless controllers I know it is more fun sitting my ass comfortably on the couch.  I know that with the NES Mini there is a ton of complaints on the short cord the controller has so score one for the Generations.  As I stated on the video the actual controller feels…okay.  I have Retro-Bit’s RetroDuo (which I think I’ll be reviewing shortly) and the controllers that came with that console (SNESesque controllers) feel great.  These controllers are a bit smaller and just feel a bit cheaper.

The good news is when you are these controllers to play the games they feel absolutely fine.  So it turns out, to me, it is no big deal.  As these are USB controllers I wonder if any USB controllers would actually work – this way if you didn’t like the controllers you can swap them out.  I have no USB controllers lying around so I can’t test to see if they do work or not.  On the flip side I guess this means if you want to use the controllers on your personal computer I’m sure they’d work great.

The Retro-Bit Generations has a fair bit of NES, SNES, Gameboy, Genesis, Arcade and, very surprisingly, a slew of new indie games.  The indie games really shock me and I’m not sure why they are here in a console that touts “Over 100 Popular Retro Games”.  These games are pretty much the worst of the worst, but I’ll get to them in a moment.

The one thing I was really looking forward to was playing some Capcom arcade classics like Commando and Bionic Commando.  I couldn’t wait to play Bionic Commando.  As much as I thought the NES game was great the arcade version was really my jam.  I fired Bionic Commando up first and up came that NES title screen I knew so very well as a kid.  I was instantly both sad and happy.  For some odd reason I had thought that Bionic Commando was going to be the arcade version so I was REALLY looking forward to that.  But the NES version is such a great game that I’ll get over it pretty quickly.

There is a number of Capcom games that are the NES versions.  This includes Gun.Smoke, Bionic Commando, 1942, 1943, and Commando (Again…disappointed.  I was really hoping for the arcade version.  I played Commando a billion times when I was a kid and it is a decent port.  But I would have also loved to play that arcade version).  Mercs is here from the Sega Genesis and Super Ghouls N Ghosts appear to be the SNES version.

I was very happy that Captain Commando and Knights of the Round are the honest-to-goodness arcade versions.  I recently sat down with my kid and we went right through Knights of the Round.  He kept pressing the Mode button on the controller which added more credits to the game.  He kept dying, he kept adding credits.  He thought this was the coolest thing.  It was really nice to finally beat the game 20+ years later as I never had to worry about running out of quarters.

I was also super surprised to find that Ghouls N Ghosts is actually the arcade version – which is sweet.  As I always did with the arcade, NES, Genesis, SNES, and Saturn version I SUCK at Ghouls N Ghosts so it doesn’t matter which version I’m playing.  I’m naked in the first thirty seconds and dying shortly afterward.  With everything else just the ports of the game I was very surprised to find that Capcom and Retro-Bit included the arcade version and not the NES port.  There’s one more Capcom arcade game and that is the awesome Forgotten Worlds.  Unfortunately I found the game nearly unplayable with the Generations controller.  The arcade had a rotatable button so you could quite easily swivel your character to shoot in 360 degrees.  It was unique and made the game very fun.  But you have to do it with the buttons on the controller and it just doesn’t work.  I “tried” playing – really thinking I just had to get used to the control scheme.  I couldn’t.  SAD FACE.

There is some other great NES classic here like Kid Niki: Radical Ninja, Totally Rad, and 10 Yard Fight (wasn’t that a black box game?).  I was ecstatic that Totally Rad was included here.  I’ve had my eye out to pick it up cheap for the NES as it looks like a silly, stupid Mega Man clone.  Playing it here confirms that it is a silly, stupid Mega Man clone but I had a great time playing it.  There was also a game titled Kung Fu Master 2.  Was it a sequel to Data East’s original classic?  It appears that it is though I didn’t find much about it through the eight seconds I bothered to look on Google.  The graphics are god awful and it starts out with your character on top of a train.  But the controls appear to be just like the original game.  It is quite awful though but hey – it is another retro classic I suppose.  The classic Ring King boxing game is here too – I was hoping it too would have been the arcade version but it is the NES version.  As a kid I remember being quite good at it but playing it on the Generations I got my ass beat by the CPU fairly quick.  I’m sure I just had to get used to moving around the CPU character then stopping to punch.  I didn’t spend too much time on it, I’ll go back and revisit later.

You know what I was super excited to find on here?  Wisdom Tree’s Super Noah’s Ark 3-D.  This game is the only unofficial game released for the SNES and it is a Wolfenstein 3-D clone except that you aren’t fighting Nazis with a machine gun but goats with a slingshot.  I always wanted to play this game from the second I heard about it but it is pretty expensive.  I mean copies go on eBay for about $200 and there’s repro carts but even those are around $50.  Playing it here I’m glad I didn’t pay that kind of money for it.  Don’t get me wrong – it is pretty fun.  But the controls are a bit hard to control.  Maybe the more I play it the more used to it I’ll get.  I remember playing Wolfenstein on the ol IBM and had a much easier time with a keyboard then I did with a controller.  Again I’m sure once I play it for longer than five seconds I’ll have an easier time.  But the goats?  They are assholes…they don’t go down as easy as the Nazis do.

There appears to be THREE Alfred Chicken games on here.  I tried all three versions (NES, Gameboy, and SNES) and wasn’t impressed.  I never heard of the game and I’m glad I never did.  There was a SNES platformer called Rocky Rodent which looked pretty stupid but I had a ton of fun with after playing it a couple minutes.  Rocky gets some hairspray and gets this stupid horn here but it allows him to jump into the ceiling and boost himself up.  It is a quite interesting mechanic.  I really can’t wait to play through the entire game.

Bases Loaded II is here (as is Bases Loaded I and the Gameboy version).  Not sure I needed ALL of these versions.  I did play part 2 and the game still holds up pretty decently.  Again – I don’t know if I really needed THREE versions but they needed to fill out the roster.  Trust me…there’s much worse games to come.

There are a number of Gameboy games on here that I REALLY enjoyed playing including Avenging Spirit, Banishing Racer, and Maru’s Mission.  For some odd reason I seem to enjoy playing this ugly Gameboy games the most.

A LOT OF SHOOTERS – I’d love to play a game of Xevious and just call it a day but there is a shit ton to choose from on here.  Never really my thing (I can certainly get behind 1942 and 1942) but maybe I’ll get bored and play them.

Then there’s the indie/homebrew games…

There is the game on here called Zooming Secretaries and it is a game that looks near early Commodore 64 quality with a woman in a red dress answering telephones.  I can’t even figure out how to answer the telephones and I’m not really sure why anyone would want to spend more than 8 seconds on the game anyway.  This is a NES homebrew and it sucks.

There’s a game Lawn Mower where you play as a lawn mower mowing grass.  WHY!?!?!?!?!  Why include this crap on a console that is supposed to be dedicated to retro games?

Creepy Bird.  It’s a Flappy Bird ripoff.  WHY IS IT ON HERE!?!?!?!

On top of that there is Night Defender which is just a godawful clone of Donkey Kong.  I’m not really sure why they just didn’t call it Konkey Dong.  Actually that sounds a bit pornographic.  Hmmm…maybe they’ll make the Mario/Donkey Kong porn some day…that would be a great title.

I think overall what makes this console is the Capcom games.  It’s fun to have them all in one spot and they are almost all classics.  There appears to be some other great retro titles on here and I’ll get a kick out of playing some of it over and over again. I am still greatly puzzled at the inclusion of the indie/homebrew games but I guess they just wanted to fill out the roster to get up to 100 games.  I’ve had the AtGames Sega Genesis for a number of years and there is a shit ton of games they put on there to fill out the games roster.  Never played them either – I just stuck to the Sega classics.

Is this the NES Mini?  No.  It’s not even close.  But it is a fun system with a easy to use GUI, can plug into HDMI, and even has a SD card slot if you want to save and continue your games.  Is it worth it for the price?  I’d say yes.  There’s at least thirty great games on here and that is worth the price alone.  Could this console have been better?  WAY BETTER.  Could they have made some better game selections?  You bet your ass.  But is it a fun alternative to those who aren’t getting that NES Classic Edition this holiday season?  I do think so – especially if you love the retro games.  So seek it out and have some great fun playing some 2-player Captain Commando.  The game still rocks all these years later.  Is it better than an AtGames Genesis?  I still think that little system has the ultimate advantage – having a slot to play Genesis carts.  Overall the Generations is a system that promised a lot and delivered a bit.  But what it did deliver was excellent.

AGAIN – they could have made it much better.  But I guess the improvements can be there for Generations 2.

RANK: B-