Friday, 21 June 2013

RETRON 5 - Multi-format retro games console - coming soon!

I am sure most of you are aware of these strange retro consoles that keep appearing year after year. Ugly, cheap looking machines with crappy controllers, and emulation that is usually mediocre at best. I have played on several of these machines over the years and I have to say that they are universally awful. I can only assume they are aimed at the very casual retro gamers who won't notice sound issues, graphical abnormalities or other failings that separate these emulator based machines from their genuine counterparts.

I am clearly biased against these types of machines, but I still watch new consoles under development with interest as, who knows, they may nail it with the next new thing. Hyperkin certainly hope to do so with their new RetroN 5. Looking like a plastic toaster from a 1960's Sci-Fi series, it certainly isn't going to win any awards for its looks - in fact I would go as far as to say that it is butt ugly. 

It's like shining a spotlight on the ugliest person in the room. It almost seems cruel.

The 5 bread.. I mean cartridge slots, allow you to plug in Famicom, NES, Super Famicom, SNES, Sega Mega Drive (Genesis), and even Gameboy Colour / Gameboy & Gameboy Advance. A decent selection, but with some glaring omissions. Where in the name of Satan's ringpiece is the Sega Master System and Game Gear, PC Engine (Turbo Graphx 16), and Nintendo 64 slots? This is a major oversight in my opinion. If they are going to put so many slots on this damn thing, two or three more aren't going to hurt - heck, it would even be worth spending more on the console for this extra functionality.

The absolutely abysmal looking controller. Thank Christ you can plug 
in the original console controllers, and chuck this in the nearest furnace.

What the RetroN 5 has got going for it, though, is the fact it has HDTV output, ports to use the official controllers for all the systems emulated (an absolute must, based on the awful looking pad that is bundled with the machine), the ability to use save states, and a powerful Android based operating system that should ensure some decent quality emulation. There are also graphical options to add smoothing filters and even scanlines, so hopefully this will result in a nicer looking experience on HDTVs.

The main problem facing the RetroN 5 is that purists will always stick to the original systems, while casual retro gamers can just use their PC or laptop (home to the very best emulators around), custom firmware PSP, or mobile phone to replay the old classics. Anyone who is willing to collect the game carts will, surely, be keen to buy the original systems. You could pick up an actual Mega Drive, SNES, NES, and Gameboy Advance for the same price as buying the RetroN 5.

The Android based menu system

To be honest, no matter how good emulation gets, you simply cannot beat playing games on the original hardware as intended, and on a classic CRT TV set. Maybe the RetroN 5 will buck the trend and actually live up to the promises made by the developers, but I have a feeling that once it lands, the true retro enthusiasts will pick apart the emulation quality, and the system will soon fade into obscurity. Let's hope this isn't the case and that the RetroN 5 is a fantastic machine and a big success, hopefully paving the way for the RetroN 6.. 7... 8 etc.. Maybe one day we will have a hybrid monster sitting under our TV sets that can play all these systems, plus Sony Playstation, Sega Saturn, Atari Jaguar, N64, 3DO and many more - I can only imagine what that would look like.

The release date and price has not yet been set, but it is expected to launch this Summer at a cost of around $100. I am not sure whether the machine is going to be launched outside of the USA, but I wll keep you posted with any further news.