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Old Made New: Hyperkin's RetroN 5

If you're like me (and most of the staff here at Shacknews), you like your old-school gaming. There's nothing like stepping back in time and taking on a round of Battletoads between your hardcore gaming sessions of Watch Dogs and Wolfenstein: The New Order. However, investing in an old console can be a crapshoot, especially if you're buying one from a shady pawn shop with barely any guarantees. Well, that's where Hyperkin comes in with the RetroN 5. This company has been making secondary consoles for years, starting with the original RetroN and improving upon the model to include more functionality with other systems, including Sega Genesis and Super NES. While hardly as good as the real thing, they were suitable replacements when you didn't feel like spending $75+ on an original mint condition console with controllers with frayed wires. Now, Hyperkin looks ready to change the game with its latest system, the RetroN 5. In addition to providing more accessibility to classic games than ever before, it's adding a feature that could redefine how you play old games. This feature comes in the form of an HDMI connection and the options that come with it. Beforehand, RetroN consoles came with the usual audio/video cables, which were good quality, but hardly to the level of high-definition that we're used to these days. The RetroN 5 comes with HDMI support, so you can hook it up to a new television with little-to-no problem, and set it proudly alongside your Xbox One and PlayStation 4. For good measure, there's another option that's rather nifty. There's a sub-menu included with the system that lets you play around with visual modes in the game, and one very cool one allows you to remove those vector lines from games. Now, in the past, video games were made like this to work with television models at the time. Removing them makes them look smoother and up-to-date with today's television technology.

Comparison photo of Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! -- Hyperkin's line-free display on the right

We tried two games with this tech: Street Fighter II for the SNES and Punch-Out for the NES. Both times, we were amazed at the change that came with removing the vector lines, as the games came across as nearly high-definition transfers, rather than old efforts from the 80s and 90s. We could only imagine what it could do with games like The Legend of Zelda: A Link To the Past. However, we're guessing that some games like the truly awful Uncanny X-Men for NES can't be helped. It's good that the system has great accessibility, because the system itself is rather ugly. To support numerous classic consoles (NES, SNES, Genesis, Famicom and Game Boy Advance), the system has enough slots to compete with a nuclear toaster from the 90s. However, it's available in two different colors, classic Super Famicom and pitch black, so you can pick the one that best blends with your entertainment center. Another negative for the RetroN 5 is the included controller. This square, disastrously designed, Bluetooth controller isn't comfortable fit at all, even with its analog capability. Fortunately, gamers can get shift past this little unit and use their old-school controllers, as the system is fully compatible with Genesis, SNES and NES peripherals. Time to grab that NES Advantage and put it to the test. The Hyperkin is still questionable in many areas, most notably availability. The company has quietly launched it without mentioning how to order one. But old-school fans manage to get their hands on it, they'll find that it's worth the $140 investment, especially when it makes old games look new again. We're already trying to figure out what classics we should give a fresh polish to next...