The Retron 5, an emulation dream machine?

retron 5 black version

While the annual trek to the video gaming mecca known as E3 is usually associated with new games, there are instances in which old games make an appearance. Having four iterations of the Retron under their belt, Hyperkin decided to go all out with their fifth, the Retron 5.

retron 5 compatibility chart

The Retron 5 allows for Famicom (the Japanese NES), NES, SNES, Genesis, Gameboy Advance, Gameboy, Gameboy Color, and Mega Drive games to be played on one system, and that’s a feat in itself. While I am perfectly fine with the inconvenience of dozens of wires, and over half a dozen systems under my television, for those of you who have space problems or just don’t have those old systems anymore, the Retron 5 could be the answer to your retro gaming problem.

retron 5 bomberman

I was demoed various features, some of the most important relating to how the old games can be displayed. I saw an HDTV filled with the vibrant colors of the original Legend of Zelda from NES. It was a clean, crisp, HD-like Zelda that I had never seen before. It almost looked like someone had painted it. Thankfully, adding scan lines and retaining the chunkiness of the original graphics are both options for fans who like the dated look. Games can supposedly be scaled to fit your screen, remaining pixel perfect. It did seem to be the case, but more testing will be required before I can fully back that claim.

RetroN 5 zoom

As for compatibility, which a lot of retro gamers know can be a problem, Hyperkin is shooting for one-hundred percent of games working properly. The Retron 5 will purportedly not have issues with FX Chip games and CIC lockout chips thanks to their new chipset. Alongside that is the fact that region locks won’t be a problem, and there’s even an auto-region feature so users won’t have to fiddle with the unnecessary. I certainly hope that they reach their one-hundred percent goal, because discovering that one of your favorite games can’t play when you’ve probably been really aching to could be a little awful.

There are a host of other options on the Retron 5 as well. For one, players will have access to an enormous list of pre-installed cheat codes to beat games, or to just have some fun with them. The system will autosave if it gets powered off, so you won’t have to worry about losing progress if the power goes out. There will be an option to hear the original sound of the games, but players can also utilize the new audio interpolation feature which will create new samples from the original audio for a cleaner, potentially higher quality. Players can use turbo fire on their standard, original controllers, and they can remap buttons as well. The Retron 5 also comes packed with the convenience of state saves, allowing you to save your games at any moment (just be careful about those infinite death loops).

The only problem I had with the system is one that may or may not be a problem at all with the final product. I was playing a system that was behind a wall (E3 booth setup), and thanks to that there were extenders (not sure of the number) connecting the controller to the system. This resulted in game-breaking lag. I was playing Super Mario Bros. 3 and desperately trying to jump on the over-sized goombas (which really should have been easier). I’m glad that there were probably only a few people who saw me play, because I was a very embarrassed gamer at that moment. Asking about the lag, in addition to being informed about the extensions, I was essentially told that it was being worked on, indicating that the problem was in their hardware. Whatever the cause, games simply cannot be enjoyed with that much lag, so hopefully the Retron 5 won’t have any lag issues when it hits the market.

The Retron 5 is a retro-playing console that I could love. It’s packed with a ton of options to appease the old-school crowd, and those who don’t mind the old games looking and sounding “better”. The games look great on a widescreen television, either way. Here’s to hoping that the system comes together in the final package, ready to play several libraries of great games.

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Ryan Southard
Ryan Southard 776 posts

Ryan Southard is a video game enthusiast, dissecting games down to their tiniest details. Whether it's new or it's old, as long as it's awesome, he'll play it. Follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Southard <a href="http://nerdreactor.com/about/">Meet the Nerd Reactor Team</a>