Even though here are few retro games for which the internet has no ROM source, retro gamers generally prefer to play on original hardware. Sometimes that isn't possible and ROMs can fill that gap, allowing us to play the actual game on a computer. The Retrode was a hybrid in the middle. It has cartridge slots for SNES and Genesis carts and connects to the computer via USB - without needing a driver.
I'm guessing this is primarily a ROM-copying accessory, but it also provided USB connectivity to your old controllers. Some retro controllers have een modernized with USB connections, but they don't always feel like the originals. That made the Retrode a nice option for controller support as well.
Controller ports for SNES & Genesis systems are onboard thus acting as an adapter for your retro controllers via it's USB connection. Obviously this product's use skirts the legality of copying ROMs, but if you don't tell... neither will we.
In the middle of 2013, they ceased production of the Retrode. It may be licensed to other manufacturers, but you'll have to visit the official Retrode website for more info on availability.
Top view of the Retrode.
Open view of the Retrode showing the SNES and Genesis cartridge slots.
The Retrode shown with an SNES and Genesis cartridge installed.
Side view of the Retrode showing the SNES and Genesis controller ports. Aside from allowing you to rip ROMs from your retro carts, the Retrode also acts as a USB connection between your original controllers and the computer.
The Retrode could be seen as a replacement for failing SNES and/or Genesis hardware as it lets you copy the ROM to your harddrive while adapting your controllers to USB.
The Retrode's USB port that connects the "adapter" to your computer.
Other adapters are available for the Retrode giving it support for other platforms like the N64 among others.