Now generally I’m very supportive of people who find new ways to enjoy retro games, traditional games in a modern setting if you will, and therefore I tend to look upon initiatives like this sympathetically.
After all, it takes a great deal of guts to invest time and money into niche projects like this that don’t necessarily make the developer much money, but which is intended to bring a lot of joy to people around the world. The high price of $85 clearly isn’t driven by greed but by necessity when so few are being produced means no economies of scale can be produced.
That said, I can’t help but wonder what precisely the point of the Retrode is.
I mean, I understand that it’s basically an adapter you plug into your PC, and using the Retrode you can create a ROM backup of your cartridge, which you then play via an emulator on your PC.
This is intended to encourage legal ROM playing rather than illegally downloading pirated ROMs online.
I understand what it does, but still don’t see the point.
Firstly, I think it’s a grey area to suggest you can make a private backup of a cartridge that you can play on a different media. I’m not sure if a video game cartridge is covered by the same copyright laws as a music album on CD, for instance, but let’s give the developer the benefit of the doubt that he has looked it up and is sure it’s all legit.
That means the Retrode is for people, as it says on it’s site, who want to play legal ROMs rather than the alleged freely and easily available illegal ones I’ve heard so much about on the internet.
Fine, and anything that encourages legal things over illegal things must be good. But, if I’m going to spend $85 on a piece of kit to make legal ROMs of games I already own, why not spend the money buying an actual Megadrive and play it on that?
After all, the outlay for the controllers and the actual games is still the same. The only difference is I spend money either buying the Retrode or buying the original hardware.
Even accounting for the increased tendency for older systems to fail they’re still available on eBay a lot cheaper than the Retrode is.
The only unique feature of the game is that you can rip your saved games onto the PC and even burn them back onto the cartridge. That’s a great feature, but it’s value is questionable given the $85 outlay.
It’s because of that I can’t really see the point of it. Even among the niche audience of retro gamers it is only appealing to those retro gamers who don’t want to spend the money on the actual system and don’t want to download widely available ROMs from the internet (but will still have to download an emulator to play it with).
It’s a niche within a niche and while it’s to be expected that legit and relatively mainstream sites like Engadget will go out of their way to praise it (as it promotes legal retro gaming) I just don’t see the appeal to gamers who have managed to play retro games for years now without problem, either on the original systems or via emulation.
In fairness the developer is well aware of this niche appeal and says as much on the Retrode website so obviously thinks it’s a viable product nonetheless. I’ll also admit to being intrigued at having the ability to rip my own ROMs from the games I own, but not at the price it’s available for.
I wish him well, but it’s an idea I’ll be taking a pass on.