RetroN 5

Posted September 15, 2013

I’ve never been particularly interested in Nintendo and Sega console clones other than as conceptual curiosities. Their hardware emulated renditions of games seem less faithful than software emulation alone (though I’m sure that’s true in reverse as well). And there’s just something tacky and depressing about them, impulse purchases near the registers of Urban Outfitters. Handheld clones like the SupaBoy and GB Boy Colour are somehow more appealing – maybe it’s the novelty of playing SNES cartridges on a portable device, or the backlit improvement over the original Game Boy Color (the fact that Nintendo didn’t truly backlight the screen until the 2005 release of the Game Boy Advance SP “AGS-101” echos their hardware decisions today – thanks to Aaron Schnuth for the late model tip). Handheld mods can also be worthwhile, if only as Ben Heck proof of concept projects.

When images of Hyperkin’s RetroN 5 first appeared, it looked like the fantasy rendered mockups of a retro gaming fan, a machine that could accept cartridges from nine (!) game consoles: NES, SNES, Genesis, Famicom, Super Famicom, Mega Drive, Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance, along with original gamepad ports. Reviews of their previous model generally seemed mediocre, and some comparison video I’d seen (which I can no longer find) of the RetroN 3 vs original hardware gave the impression it may still be best to just deal with the spiderweb of cables and AC adapters from old systems, assuming you still have them. Then they set a release date and showed at E3. HDMI output, a 720p upscaler, multiple rendering filters and optional scanlines, tweaked sound emulation, overclocking controls, and save states for $100. The RetroN 5 is rumored to be running on a modified version of Android on an ARM-based System-on-Chip, along with various chips plucked out of devices from the 90s. “This method of manufacturing will eventually be impossible.”

If you have shelves of old games and a modern tv, and don’t want the hassles of setting up rows of old hardware consoles and the expense of upscalers, this seems like a potentially ideal setup for many people. Now just imagine packing every game slot with flash carts.

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