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Old Made New: The RetroN 5

The RetroN 5 is just what the doctor ordered for old-school gaming fans.

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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.

From The Chatty

  • reply
    June 20, 2014 2:00 PM

    Robert Workman posted a new article, Old Made New: The RetroN 5.

    The RetroN 5 is just what the doctor ordered for old-school gaming fans.

    • reply
      June 20, 2014 2:06 PM

      I'll probably snag one of these just for the all-in-one convenience. Also, I never found the Turbo-Grafx pad uncomfortable.

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      June 20, 2014 2:11 PM

      You def want to dig out an old controller to use with this. The controllers that came with previous models were absolute shit.

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      June 20, 2014 2:12 PM

      Great review, Robert. This looks interesting. Question for you: can I use a controller to play a game even if the game wasn't designed for that controller? For instance, I'd like to use a SNES controller to play NES and Game Boy games. Can I do that? I'd prefer to use the SNES controller as much as possible, since it's still really comfortable.

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        June 20, 2014 2:14 PM

        From what I read, yes. I've been waiting for it to get in stock, but it's kinda been paper launched. Hyperkin is supposedly working on patching in multi-cart support too. Hopefully that becomes real by the time I can actually buy one.

    • reply
      June 20, 2014 2:17 PM

      Small issue:

      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.

      You probably meant RF adapter. AC adapter is for power.

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      June 20, 2014 2:20 PM

      Not sure what "remove the vector lines" means. There's nothing in any of the systems it plays that could be called "vector".

      • reply
        June 20, 2014 2:32 PM

        He probably means scanlines

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      June 20, 2014 2:40 PM

      It's not a bad system. The cartridge port for the genesis is really REALLY stiff though.

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      June 20, 2014 2:53 PM

      I've heard that the emulation can be pretty. The sound especially on some games is terrible.

      Don't know if the retron 5 is any better, but the 3 butchered a lot of the sound effects in Mega Man X

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HNAQxIQGx5I

      If you care enough about old games to have the cartridges, then you should play on actual hardware

      • reply
        June 20, 2014 2:54 PM

        pretty bad

      • reply
        June 20, 2014 3:00 PM

        Is it very difficult to connect old hardware to new televisions?

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          June 20, 2014 3:13 PM

          Nope. A majority of TV's have at least a composite input. Of course that doesn't look very good for 16-bit games, so ideally your TV would have S-video.

          IF you don't have S-video, there are external boxes that can convert S-video or RGB to HDMI or component. Some are better than others, but the cream of the crop is the XRGB upscaler, which takes RGB from consoles and converts it to HDMI.

          The best option, if you're really into old-school games like me, is to just keep a good CRT for old games. You can get really nice Sony Trinitrons on craigslist for free or near-free.

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      June 21, 2014 5:07 PM

      The TurboGrafx-16 pad is excelliente, way better than the NES one. The best rapidfire ever in a console was made standard there.

    • reply
      June 23, 2014 8:27 AM

      Anyone know if there exists a console like this that works with Atari 2600/7800 games? Mine old atari has fits sometimes