E3 2013: RetroN 5 Retro Gaming Console

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

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I love older video games, so much that I have a rather large library. With technology advancing, those old games are becoming harder to get running on TVs due to input issues. Hyperkin is looking to bring back retro gaming with the RetroN 5 and give it a modern twist. From what I saw, collectors of retro video games should be excited.

RetroN 5

The RetroN 5 gaming console is a clone console that can play NES, SNES, Genesis, Famicom, and GBA (and earlier) games. With five cartridge slots, it sounds like the console should be pretty massive, but in reality, it’s only about the size of a first-generation SNES. One of the concerns I had when they first showed the design concept was I thought it looked rather ugly, but when seeing it in real life, it actually looks rather sleek, with a glossy finish.

Being the first clone console to include an OS, it’s important that its design is simple so the time from turn-on to play is very short. With the RetroN 5, all you have to do is highlight the console slot you have the cartridge loaded into and press Play. Trying to play a retro game on a large-screen TV ordinarily would bring out the imperfections, but the RetroN 5 upgrades the graphics to look right at home on your 60-inch TV at 720p. The example given to me was Mario Kart for the GBA. With all the filters off, the graphics look jagged and noticeably old. With the filters on, the game looked incredible and had no noticeable lag. For those who need that nostalgic feel in their games, they even included a filter to add scan lines!

RetroN 5

The RetroN 5 also includes features that were once exclusive to legally grey emulation programs. Save states, fast-forwarding, and overclocking are all made available for you to take advantage of. Each game gets ten save slots where you can save your game to an SD card. You can set macros with the RetroN 5, making things like entering Mortal Kombat‘s blood code as easy as pressing a button. Still have all those old controllers? There are even slots for those, and you can use them for any console, so if you want to use a Genesis controller on an NES game, you can. For those who like to import their games, the console includes the option to manually or automatically set the region, so now you can play your PAL copy of Terranigma with no hassle!

There’s still no announced release date or price, but I was told it should be out this summer for under $100 USD.

I’ve always liked playing games the way they were intended to be played, so the RetroN 5 is a godsend for me. Whether you’re a longtime collector or just looking to play those retro games you have lying around, you should keep an eye on the RetroN 5.

  • Ninja Ned

    But will it play Game Boy/GBC games if I put them in the GBA slot?

    • Yes sir! I just reworded what was in the parenthesis to make it a little more clear, by earlier I mean GB and GBC. The one thing that isn’t possible is to do multiplayer Gameboy games such as tetris or Mario kart. It would take a lot of programming to make that possible.

    • Ninja Ned

      Thank you for the update!.

    • Roberto Ruiz Contreras

      It says “GBA (and below)”, so YES!
      I need one, no two!

  • HeroOfGames16

    When I have the money, I’ll buy THIS console and the two Super Robot Taisen Original Generation games for the GBA… and play the living heck out of that console.
    Oh yeah… that’s my question…
    I live in Europe, so I wonder if that means I can still buy the console since it seems more North America-targeted?
    Also, is there some kind of region-lock on that system when it comes to GBA games or is it just as region-free as the original GBA was?

    • GBA Games are region free…but even if they did the Retron5 is essentially going to be “region-free”

    • HeroOfGames16

      Good to hear. But is it also available to be imported to Europe?… because it’s an American-made machine right? So is it possible that I have to adjust my energy output, input.. use different cables and such?

    • That’s not something I asked, but if it’s like their other consoles you might have to get a plug adaptor.

    • multibottler0cket

      If it’s only targeting North America, it’ll be NTSC, so there wouldn’t be a PAL version. I don’t really know what their plan is.

    • DavidHollinger

      From what I understand, all the region locking is removed, so you’d only need to have an adapter for the PAL power standards.

  • peteykun

    How legal is this?

    • That was something I meant to ask…I believe it’s perfectly legal because you need the actual cartridge of the game to play it. You cannot load a bunch of roms on it. It also doesn’t hurt that neither Sega nor Nintendo support those consoles anymore.

    • multibottler0cket

      I heard somewhere that hardware patents last only fifteen years, whereas IP patents last like seventy five or something. You can renew them, of course, but they didn’t bother with the older systems.

      Not sure how true that is, but it makes sense. Legal clone consoles have been out for many years now, at stores and at events like E3 and PAXX and stuff.

    • peteykun

      Ah okay, that explains it. Thanks. 🙂

  • Tom

    I think it looks really cool, combines some of the old console’s touch with something modern. I think I’m up for one, I never really had a chance to play these games as they were. I joined console gaming during the 7th generation of video games and only went back as far as the 5th generation (PS1).

  • Brandt Mackay

    How well do the GBA games run? I think the Retron5 uses an EoC or emulator on a chip since they don’t use the original hardware. I think, but since you use the original games, nothing illegal is going on.

    • Mario Kart Super Circuit seemed to run pretty flawlessly.

    • Brandt Mackay

      Impressive. Usually, these unofficial means of running GBA games are flaky at best, but the fact that GBA games run perfectly is awesome. You also mentioned that there’s a way to have a filter so that games don’t look distorted on HDTVs?

    • Compared to running a regular console with a s video cable vs running the retron 5 is like night and day. Granted there will be only so much they’d be able to pull off, but from what I saw it does look pretty great! Jared (the photographer) tried to take a picture of what the game looks like without all the filters on but it didn’t come out right so you’re going to have to take my word on that.

  • HeroOfGames16

    I am impressed that you can save your games on a SD card, considering that the save files of past console and handheld games were dependant on the batteries. Without the batteries, no save file anymore. Fortunately, that’s now different with the DS and 3DS.

    • Brandt Mackay

      (Login isn’t working at the moment, using Gmail)}. I’m glad you don’t have to buy those stupid batteries and solder them on anymore. SD cards are a smart move!

  • zeezee

    More than likely, they’ve pirated a half a dozen open source emulators (by violating their licenses) and shoved them onto an ARM SOC with Linux. Don’t buy this crap. So is it illegal? Probably will be, but not for the reasons that you are expecting.

    And filters do not look “good”. Interpolation ruins the graphics.

    I understand and agree that we need to have ways to preserve and play retro games on HDTVs, but I don’t feel that these low quality emulation boxes are the right approach.

    • Agent357

      Nothing illegal about it, friendo. This is all original work, and a damn good job of it, too. Nothing low quality here.
      Don’t buy this crap? Probably illegal? You do realize they’ve already made a different box without the GBA, right? That’s been out for years with no problems.

    • zed

      all original work, really ? like the neogeoX was until people figured out it was illegally using a copy of final burn alpha ?

      you will be damn naive to think those companies would spend thousand of hours to develop their own emulators when they basically have android ported versions freely available that can simply be reuse without anyone noticing anything. i hope this thing got cracked once it is released and the android binaries exposed to public…

      you got to remember, these things are done to make money, using the current nostalgia around retrogaming, and to make it beneficial, they have to make it the cheapest possible… the “quality” and “customer first ” talk is just usual business bullshit 🙂

    • Posty007

      Even if they used work by others what makes you think they didn’t follow the book?

    • zeezee

      “Friendo”. Dude. That’s awesome and I have to remember it.

      All jokes aside, that’s 5 separate emulators running on top of Android / GNU Linux. So unless Hyperkin releases some source code when it is released, there is most certainly some legal grey area.

      It tales a very long time to write a quality emulator, let alone for 5 consoles. I have trouble believing that this box from China is 100% legit.

      What would I like to see some day? Complete game consoles 100% replicated in FPGA, complete with HDMI. Some day.

  • multibottler0cket

    I’ve heard about it, and it looks very cool… But I don’t know how I feel about save states. I used to use them on emulators when I was a kid, and that stuff is addicting and detrimental to the gameplay experience. I realized that the tantalizing option to save and load any time resulted in me ”cheating” in almost every game.

    I ”beat” Super Castlevania IV by rewinding against Dracula, and FFV was too easy when you could erase your mistakes in a boss battle. It’s too easy to become addicted to save states!

    Haha well, that’s just me, and I sound like an AA spokesperson 😛

    I hope that they manage compatibility with games like Mario RPG and Megaman X3.

  • Kyle Emch

    If this game could play N64 games, I’d definitely buy it. I don’t really have any NES/SNES/Genesis games to play on it.

  • joseluis

    can you play the GBA games with a link cable ?

  • Now THIS is a “next gen” console I would buy!

  • spooie

    I’ve yet to find any article anywhere specifically detailing the kind of output video source the system is capable of. I know that it will output with HDMI, but does anyone know if it will output composite, component, s-video, etc?


  • Stealth

    day -12