Old Made New: The RetroN 5

For years, Hyperkin has been making "alternative" consoles for gamers who don't necessarily want to shell out premium bucks for old reliable hardware. These came in the form of RetroN systems, and while the intentions were good, they weren't quite perfect. Shoddy building and lackluster controllers left a few gamers crying foul, wondering when the company would make something worthwhile. Well, kids, that time is now with the RetroN 5. Unlike other hardware in the company's line-up, the RetroN 5 actually makes a difference when it comes to playing your classic games. That's because it comes packed with an HDMI connection (and cable), which lets you play your favorite games through a modern connection, rather than the old, fuzzy AC adapter. For good measure, you can also go into a sub-menu and set up options to make the display even better. In most cases, you can also remove the vector lines, making the games look like high-definition remakes. On some titles, like Super Mario Bros. 3, this can make all the difference in the world, as you're getting an HD transfer without having to grovel at Nintendo's feet. The hardware itself isn't the best-looking system in the world, as it comes across as a futuristic toaster with all its slots and plug-in ports. However, its practicality is unprecedented, since it supports various systems this way. This includes the NES, Sega Genesis, SNES and Game Boy Advance, as well as import options like the Famicom and Mega Drive. And we know there are some of you out there who love your imports.

Thanks to the Retron 5, Mike Tyson really is a knock-out

The RetroN 5 also fully supports older controllers, through convenient slots located around the system. It never gets to the point of inconvenience, and most of the time, the games and controllers worked without a hitch. There were occasional titles that the system wouldn't recognize (like our homebrew cart of The Goonies, since it never got a U.S. release), but overall it really holds up with some of the better favorites out there. There are some downsides to the hardware. First of all, it doesn't support multi-cartridge plug-ins. Only one cartridge can be used at a time, which makes the system a bit finicky in certain cases. Also the included controller, which comes with an analog stick and a few interactive buttons, isn't as well-made as the original system controllers. That's not to say it doesn't perform, because it does, but chances are you'll be hunting down an old-school controller sooner rather than later, instead of using this pad. It's about on the same uncomfortable level as the Turbo Grafx pad. While the $140 price tag may have a few people balking, you will get your money's worth out of the RetroN 5. The HDMI support and video options are superb, the control options are worthwhile (and, with the average controller included, necessary), and the numerous platforms that the system utilizes are quite high in number. If only there was a Turbo-Grafx card slot… ah, well. At the end of the day, old is new again, and for some people, that's what counts with the RetroN 5.
This review is based upon a unit purchased at retail. The RetroN 5 is available now for $139.99.