The retro gaming scene never ceases to amaze me. Just about everyone I have met over the years that are a part of this vibrant community are talented, whether in music, speedrunning games, making documentaries, etc. However, some companies have taken their hobby a step further to keep the retro gaming library accessible. Enter Retro USB, a company known for its selection of NES homebrew titles, reproduction cartridges, and various tech and gadgets. Lucky for gamers, Retro USB is developing their own take on the NES, known simply as the AVS.
Anyone who has tried to dust off an old console to relive memories on a modern television knows that its just not the same experience. This is due to the visual output of those consoles not being well-supported on most televisions, often resulting in borders, stretched images, screen tearing, and more unsightly problems. Upscaling the image with an extra device usually doesn’t do it justice either, but can make things look a bit better. Really, the best way to enjoy retro gaming is on a retro television, commonly known as a CRT monitor. Retro USB, among other companies and other consoles in the past, seek to bring the libraries of the NES and the Japanese original Famicom libraries into the modern era. The AVS system brings the resolution up to 720p with variable scaling options to fit just about any screen. Scan lines can also be adjusted, a common feature in these sort of consoles, but still great to have for that old-school feel.
Visually, the AVS is sexy. The flat design fits alongside any console, but still has the color scheme of the NES. It’s what I imagined the Nintendo Revolution to look like all those years ago, before Nintendo added motion control and named it the Wii. Still surprised that its the top-selling console of all time. On the AVS, four controller ports allow for some crazy multiplayer or two NES Advantage sticks. NES carts are put in the slot with a flap that protects the game cartridge from outside damage, while the Famicom cartridge slot is on the top of the system. There will also be online leaderboards that can be saved and uploaded with a USB drive, presumably to be uploaded to Retro USB’s servers. If the Game Genie was your thing, the AVS is capable of using it as well as supporting Pro Action Replay, Pro Action Rocky, and raw formats. Like the Hyperkin Retron 5, the Retro USB AVS can be upgraded via the USB slot.
Retro USB as a company has an interesting history, starting in a basement turning old controllers into PC ready USB controllers. After their skills were mastered, the wizards developed the awesome PowerPak flash cart. After the success of this rom loading cartridge, reproductions and homebrews were quickly added to their resume, making the website still one of the best places to acquire some of these games. Using real hardware, Retro USB took their passion one step further with the AVS, cutting out any slowdowns with cheap emulation. This also means that compatibility should be close to 100% and the company promises it will support future releases on the system as well. Retro USB have essentially mastered the NES in every aspect, even improving upon it.
The AVS combines the best qualities of each Nintendo Entertainment System model, a natural evolution for the system. Amazing how a 30 year old piece of tech is still getting use. New phones arrive every week and I’m still cleaning the dust out of my copy of Super Mario Bros 3, funny how that is. Be sure to follow the Retro USB Facebook page for the latest news on development and when consumers will be able to buy one. Their website also has some great offerings for those who need their retro fix sooner.
The AVS just might be the top gift for NES enthusiasts. We’ll see when we get a hold of the system for ourselves.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am the biggest fan of retro gaming. Things like this make me all giddy and if it allows me to enjoy my NES games without having to replace the 72 pin connectors regularly, you can bet I’ll be one of the first with a console. Now if only I could luck into a copy of Little Samson at a yard sale. . . Hey, a guy can dream!