Retron 5 gets its first trailer

by: Sean Colleli -

Hyperkin has a trailer up for the latest in their series of retro consoles, the Retron 5, which was originally scheduled to release last year but has seen multiple delays. Hyperkin has made several similar cartridge playing consoles before, but the Retron 5's standout feature is that it's compatible with a staggering number of formats. According to Hyperkin, it will play NES, Famicom, SNES, Super Famicom, Genesis/Mega Drive, and even Game Boy, Game Boy Color and GBA games on the big screen. It will also support Sega Master System carts if you have the original Power Base Converter.

As the old saying goes if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I have a healthy skepticism of clone consoles; they circumvent copyright issues by playing original carts, not illegal ROM dumps, but they typically use second-rate, "console-on-a-chip" style components that come with a host of compatibility issues. It's not unusual for clone consoles to choke on stranger retro games like Castlevania 3, or carts with extra hardware like the Super FX Chip in Star Fox and Mario RPG. Hyperkin says the Retron 5 boasts 100% compatibility through its Android-based OS, which uses some sort of high-octane emulator to overcome the usual problems. They also delayed the console to source higher quality parts, so I can't fault them for that.

I admit to being something of a retro purist (read:snob), as I don't think it gets better than playing old games on original hardware. That said, the Retron 5 promises some features that have me intrigued. It'll output in 720p and use shaders and texture filling to upscale the old games, even the Game Boy titles. It's tempting to play Metroid Zero Mission on a big screen and a lot of older games just don't look good ported to an HD TV, so I've been forced to keep a CRT TV plugged in.

The Retron 5 also has ports for all of the original controllers--a feature most clone consoles have--which is welcome because the included clone controllers are usually garbage. However the Retron 5 also comes with its own unique rechargeable Bluetooth controller, which seems to have a fairly adaptable design that could work for all the supported systems. I'm interested to see how it works and feels, especially that strange analog D-pad. I think the controller looks a little bit like those weird PS1 prototypes.

I'm still skeptical but that might just be the retro collector arrogance talking. I must concede that the features Hyperkin is promising are exciting, and if the Retron 5 can truly output all of those classic games in 720p with full compatibility, it would consolidate a lot of space on my entertainment system. We'll know soon enough if Hyperkin can back up their claims--they've pegged April as the launch window for the Retron 5.

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