Upcoming Release: Hyperkin's RETRON 5, the Ultimate Retro Console? (kitchen sink included)

Bill Loguidice's picture

Hyperkin RETRON 5 (mock-up)Hyperkin RETRON 5 (mock-up)Although we've been following the developments of Hyperkin's upcoming RETRON 4 closely, Slashdot reports that the company has surprised everyone by going straight to the RETRON 5. Hyperkin has had a spotty history at best of promising the moon and stars with their modern consoles that play classic cartridges, i.e., often falling down on compatibility and emulation, but it looks like they're determined to finally nail it, publicly stating they want 100% compatibility. The RETRON 5 can play the actual cartridges for nine systems, with transparent NTSC and PAL support: Famicom, NES, SNES, Super Famicom, Genesis, Mega Drive, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, and the Game Boy. Hyperkin hasn't ruled out support for other platforms, pending parts, and it's certainly easy enough to imagine scenarios where systems like the Sega Master System and Game Gear would work just as well with the right adapters. In any case, even if it's just those nine systems/four system families, that's still a mighty versatile single console, particularly since you can update the firmware.

In terms of controls, the system will come with two nice looking six button bluetooth controllers (in fact, the d-pad looks a lot like the superb control found on SNK's Neo Geo Pocket Color), which can be charged with the console's USB port, but there are also six controller ports to use any combination of classic controllers in any combination of system modes, meaning two NES, two SNES, and two Genesis controller ports, and the ability to say, use an SNES controller for Genesis or NES games, as just one example (this includes full user configurable button remapping in all modes). Video is upscaled 720p over HDMI (composite audio/video is also supported for older televisions), with all kinds of options to support different aspect ratios and other video modes as the user desires, plus Hyperkin has claimed that all kinds of technological wizardry is in place to make these standard definition systems look and sound the way they're supposed to on modern high definition displays. Finally, of the remaining key features among a laundry list of them, the console will also allow users to create save states, support auto-save for when the system is suddenly turned off, offer a "cheat menu" (built-in Game Genie/Action Replay support?), and also offer "Manual & Passive Overclocking," which means both slowdown and fast-forward at any time (perfect for those overly chatty text-bubble-based classic games).

Obviously, all of that is a lot to promise, particularly at a sub-$100 price point, but we'll certainly be waiting anxiously for the official release after June to put this potential flying unicorn through its paces. Check out the video presentation for the RETRON 5 at the Midwest Gaming Classic below:

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
Does seem to good to be true.

Does seem to good to be true. But.. some hard math does make it possible. I would guess the cart slots and Power are the big dollar items.. adn even those cant be more then $5 each.. but 5 slots and PSU is $25, the "brains" are probably in that $25 area too.. then a case, controller and the rest.. not counting memory. In my mind $100 is cutting it close. Not impressed with controller .. but that's a hard one to judge by viewing, need to hand on for that.. easy decision for me if its $100 I will get one.. if it lives up to the hype.

Bill Loguidice
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Yep
clok1966 wrote:

Does seem to good to be true. But.. some hard math does make it possible. I would guess the cart slots and Power are the big dollar items.. adn even those cant be more then $5 each.. but 5 slots and PSU is $25, the "brains" are probably in that $25 area too.. then a case, controller and the rest.. not counting memory. In my mind $100 is cutting it close. Not impressed with controller .. but that's a hard one to judge by viewing, need to hand on for that.. easy decision for me if its $100 I will get one.. if it lives up to the hype.

Agreed about the controller, but even if it's not good, just plug in your favorite instead. I think the only thing we have to worry about is how accurately it plays the games. If it does that near 100%, then we'll have something truly special. I love the fact that it's HDMI.

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Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
controller :(

It could be good or bad. Worth keeping an eye on I say

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Bill Loguidice
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Sub-$100 price too!

I don't get the negativity with the controller. Sure, we just don't know, but the fact that the d-pad is based on the superb Neo Geo Pocket Color d-pad, I have a lot of hope. Regardless, I'm sure we all have stockpiles of NES, SNES, and Genesis/Mega Drive controllers we can use instead...

I'm also heartened that this will not be using a standard NOC implementation, at least based on what they've said. This will be tweakable emulation from a very capable chip. If this is compatible with the flash cartridges many of us have, watch out, this thing could have a full-time home in front of our TV's...

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clok1966
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Joined: 01/21/2009
control
Bill Loguidice wrote:

I don't get the negativity with the controller. Sure, we just don't know, but the fact that the d-pad is based on the superb Neo Geo Pocket Color d-pad, I have a lot of hope. Regardless, I'm sure we all have stockpiles of NES, SNES, and Genesis/Mega Drive controllers we can use instead...

its so SQUARE.. much like the NES original.. not a real deal breaker.. but rounded sides are just nicer.. my guess is it will be just fine. and as I said its really hard to tell from a picture.. looks and actual play are two different things.. hands on is the only real way to tell.

Bill Loguidice
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Agreed

Yes, the mockup is definitely a bit square, but it looks like it forgoes the sharp edges of the NES controller, which I find can really dig into my skin.

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MazokuRanma
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Joined: 01/01/2011
Review Video

I know you tend to prefer written articles to videos, but do you plan to do at least an accompanying video to your review that demonstrates some of the strengths and weaknesses of this system? I've really enjoyed the Atari Flashback ones you've done before, very informative.

On an unrelated note, Matt seems to have disappeared. I'm hoping he's just really busy with work or the upcoming book or some such project, but I figure you would know for sure if he's ok. No details are necessary, simply a reassurance would be nice. It's very rare for him to miss posting videos without giving advance warning though.

Bill Loguidice
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Answers
MazokuRanma wrote:

I know you tend to prefer written articles to videos, but do you plan to do at least an accompanying video to your review that demonstrates some of the strengths and weaknesses of this system? I've really enjoyed the Atari Flashback ones you've done before, very informative.

On an unrelated note, Matt seems to have disappeared. I'm hoping he's just really busy with work or the upcoming book or some such project, but I figure you would know for sure if he's ok. No details are necessary, simply a reassurance would be nice. It's very rare for him to miss posting videos without giving advance warning though.

Matt is alive and well. He just finished his Matt Chat with Lord British, and I'm sure it will be posted here soon. We're both busy with lots of things, including some new books and the documentary, which is finally in the home stretch.

I don't have the RETRON 5 yet, but when I do, I'll certainly consider a video depending upon my workload (as of now, I'll be purchasing it like anyone else, so I won't have an early unit). I'm also continuing to consult for AtGames and will be doing more videos for their upcoming products in the future.

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MazokuRanma
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Updates

Good to hear Matt is doing well. Very excited to hear your documentary is wrapping up, I've been looking forward to it since I heard about it back when it was called Woot. It's funny to hear that he just interviewed Lord British. I remember not that long ago he spoke on one of his podcasts about Garriot being too big a fish, and now he's going to have him on Matt Chat. The show has come a long way from that first Pools of Radiance review. Can't wait to see what else you guys have coming up for us!

Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Yes, still here. Our writing

Yes, still here. Our writing center director took a sabbatical this semester, and I decided to try to cover for her as the interim. The job is fine and the people are nice, but it's reduced by free time by 100%, and what little productivity I have left goes into Matt Chats and the book I'm working on with Bill. Thankfully, we've got only about six more weeks to go and it'll be summertime! Woohoo!

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