Retron 5 Impressions

General and high profile video game topics.
JustLikeHeaven1
Posts: 2971
Joined: December 31st, 1969, 7:00 pm

Retron 5 Impressions

Postby JustLikeHeaven1 » November 24th, 2014, 4:18 pm

* I do not want to discuss the current legal issues and all the turmoil currently surrounding the Retron 5.  That stuff has no bearing on my impressions at this time.  My hope is that these impressions can help others that are on the fence.  Thanks!*


So the only new system I happen to get this year was the Retron 5 by Hyperkin.  This is their long awaited follow up to fairly popular Retron 3.  The Retron 5 is an emulation based piece of hardware that takes ROMs off carts inserted into the system and then emulates them.  So it's technically emulation based.  This has some pluses and minus that I'll get to later.  The system can play NES/Famicom, SNES/Super Famicom, Genesis/Mega Drive, Game Boy, Game Color and Game Boy Advanced titles.  It only has one output and that is via HDMI.

I've had the system for a little over a month and I've played around with it ALOT.  It's completely renewed my interest in classic gaming by making it viable for me again.  What do I mean by viable?  Well, I still own many of my old systems...however I don't have a ton of spare CRT TVs nor do I want to have more than few systems hooked up at once.  I have a media room with a small entertainment center which currently houses a Wii and a PS3.  That setup alone gave me access to PS1,PS2, PS3, Gamecube and Wii games.  Alot of bang for your buck.  I wanted something similar for retro gaming and the Retron 5 seemed to be the obvious solution for my HD TV.  Not only is the Retron 5 hooked up to my HD TV...it's all hooked up to my sound bar which means it has great sound...especially with those awesome NES/SNES/GEN tunes.

So what do I think of the Retron 5 thus far?

I'll admit I was VERY skeptical of this machine.  I had heard horror stories about the connectors being WAY TOO tight.  Others complained about the system not recognizing games.  The very first game I put it was Pro Wrestling on the NES (something I didn't give a crap about if it got destroyed).  I played it and MARVELED at how it looked in 720p on an HD screen.  It looked so damn good.  Played great too as there was no discernible lag.  Then I tried to take the game out.  HOLY KUNG FU DEATH GRIP.  I couldn't get it out.  I tried for a solid 2-3 mins.  I thought I was going to crush the cart in my hands.  Finally it relented and came out.  

Pissed off I put another game in.  This time Mike Tyson's Punch Out.  OMG.  Those huge sprites look so good.  The console gives you the option of giving the games scan lines so it looks a little more natural.  Depending on the game I'll turn these on or off.  I played through Punch Out and I got to use another cool feature of the Retron 5.  Save states.  After each opponent I downed I went ahead and created a new save state.  This came in handy once I got to Bald Bull.  After each time he kicked my behind I could just bring up a menu and load my previous save state and fight him right again without going down to Great Tiger.  Awesome!  

My verdict for NES games is that the thing is awesome.  I've tried like 12 games or so and almost all of them work flawlessly.  The only thing I noticed was the sound of fighters falling down in Mike Tyson's Punch Out was slightly off.  In the fishing game the Blue Marlin it appeared to have intense slow down while driving your boat and while fishing.  It made impossible to play which was a bummer.  On a positive note the carts connector loosened up the more I used it.  Games slide in and out of the console fairly easily now.

When I tried playing Earthworm Jim I couldn't for the life of me get the system to recognize my SNES controller.  No clue why.  I finally tried every damn SNES controller I owned and the last one finally worked.  Not sure what the deal is with that.  SNES cartridge slot is also very tight...but again loosens after use.  I've only played 2 or 3 games and all of them looked great and sounded even better. 

This past week I've been breaking out some Genesis games.  First up was the shooter Phelios.  The system wouldn't recognize it.  No errors...it just wouldn't do anything. That might be an issue with my cartridge though...not sure.  Upon trying to rip that little Genny cart out of the machine I thought it was all over.  It held onto that game for dear life.  I really thought I was going to break the cart or the console.  Finally after a five min struggle it came out.  I've had no other issues with any other Genesis carts.  All the games play fine...look amazing and sound great.  I've tried close to 10 Genesis games.  That awesome Genesis 'twang' sounds great.  I had so much fun playing Truxton on this thing.

Overall the Retron 5 is a bit of a mixed bag.  It has flaws.  The cartridge connections are too tight, but eventually loosen up.  There are some compatibility problems, but I've yet to download and install the latest version...so those might be fixed.  Also, it's strange that you have to hold the power button down for 5 seconds to boot the system.  I do love the way the games look and sound.  Sure it's emulation, but I don't care.  If I want to break out the originals I can do that.  The point of getting this system was to play these games on an HD TV WITHOUT any issues/lag.  If any of you have played that awesome Sonic's Ultimate Genesis collection on the PS3/360, you know how good these classics can look AND sound in HD.  Imagine being able to do that with your entire library.  Another aspect I love is the fact that I can play imports now. I've already ordered some like Splatterhouse Wanpaku Graffiti (Famicom) and Splatterhouse 2 (Mega Drive).  

So yeah, right now the Retron 5 has a permanent spot in my media room.  About the only thing I need to do is get some cable extensions so I can actually sit on the couch instead of a folding chair near the TV.  One thing you take for granted with new consoles is wireless controllers...going back to the old wired controllers means sitting closer to the TV.  All in all I'm happy with the purchase (it was actually a birthday gift from my awesome wife).  I'd recommend the console to any classic gamer looking to consolidate space or one that once to get better picture/audio for their old games.   

Thanks for reading...hopefully this helps any one on the fence.  If you have any questions about the Retron 5 I'll be happy to try and answer them for you.

Oltobaz1
Posts: 1605
Joined: December 31st, 1969, 7:00 pm

Retron 5 Impressions

Postby Oltobaz1 » November 24th, 2014, 5:04 pm

Great review, if I wasn't so damn lazy, I 'd go ahead and translate my French review, yet I feel JustlikeHeaven pretty much covered everything. Just thought I'd mention you can play Master System games as well via the Genesis port thanks to the PowerBase adaptor. Also, the connectors do loosen over time, and, probably thanks to the updates, the system didn't give me issues with the dozens of carts I've fed it. Great customizations options as JLH mentioned, and great quality overall!

Leo1
Posts: 2325
Joined: December 31st, 1969, 7:00 pm

Retron 5 Impressions

Postby Leo1 » November 24th, 2014, 5:05 pm

They raised their price and supposedly that has been to fund higher quality cartridge connectors and other quality control issues. So hopefully your primary complaints are being addressed for future customers. 

Have you updated your firmware? They've done a ton of work to the firmware, including software compatibility. Folks have relatively few complaints these days with it. 

I think that your power button issue was even rectified with one of these patches. 

JustLikeHeaven1
Posts: 2971
Joined: December 31st, 1969, 7:00 pm

Retron 5 Impressions

Postby JustLikeHeaven1 » November 24th, 2014, 5:22 pm

I haven't tried to upgrade the firmware.  I'm too lazy lol.  Funny that I complain about system updates and how much of a PITA they are...but if this thing could update wirelessly I'd have already done it.  I have a SD card and have read up on how to update the firmware.  I might do that this week.  I'll update you guys when I do.  

Also, I believe that I have the newer hardware.  From what I've read online the newer hardware features better quality plastic on the top that doesn't cave in when you press on it.  Also it comes with rubber plugs for all of the controller ports.  Mine has both.

While I struggled with the carts for the first few times I almost rarely have any issues with them now.  It is scary that first time though!  I had to check and make sure I didn't have any bent pins or anything.  So far so good.

Also, great point Oltobaz!  Add one more system it can handle.  I might need to track down a power base converter now!

Leo1
Posts: 2325
Joined: December 31st, 1969, 7:00 pm

Retron 5 Impressions

Postby Leo1 » November 24th, 2014, 6:28 pm

I don't own a Retron 5 at this time, but judging by what I've read and depending on the current firmware revision on your console, updating could potentially offer many improvements for you. And you've waited long enough now where it very well may never need to be done again (The flow of regular updates seems to have ceased at this point).

If you want to add Master System compatibility, I thought this posting about this new product linked below was relevant. It's cheaper I believe than a Power Base Converter  and will be easier to remove. No 3D glasses or card games though, just cartridge compatibility. 

http://www.stoneagegamer.com/powerbase-mini.html

Rev1
Posts: 1777
Joined: December 31st, 1969, 7:00 pm

Retron 5 Impressions

Postby Rev1 » November 24th, 2014, 6:36 pm

Great review. I might actually get one relatively soon just so I have one to play in the main living room. It would be worth owning just to be able to play the old games in HD. Hopefully it sticks around for a good while.

Tron1
Posts: 401
Joined: December 31st, 1969, 7:00 pm

Retron 5 Impressions

Postby Tron1 » November 24th, 2014, 6:58 pm

Thanks for the info. I really really wanted to get the Retron 5, but then heard you have to go online to get optimal functionality. If this sucker would work right out of the box I'd buy one. From the way I understand it you have to go online to get it to work right & I'm not interested in that.

User avatar
VideoGameCritic
Site Admin
Posts: 11118
Joined: April 1st, 2015, 7:23 pm

Retron 5 Impressions

Postby VideoGameCritic » November 24th, 2014, 7:45 pm

Thank you for taking the time to post this review!  It was a fun read.  Not sure when I will finally get around to buying one of these, but I feel a little better about the system after reading it.

I'm starting to think the emulation aspect is less of an issue.  I mean, can we really expect them to recreate hardware from 1985?  I think emulation has advanced far enough that the different is negligible (depending on the game of course).

Leo1
Posts: 2325
Joined: December 31st, 1969, 7:00 pm

Retron 5 Impressions

Postby Leo1 » November 24th, 2014, 8:46 pm

They apparently didn't recreate anything. They've "borrowed" homebrew Android emulators rather than code their own. They're quite capable with few problems thanks to a dedicated community and talented programmers.

The early issues with the Retron 5 have instead been more around Hyperkin's end. The build quality, quality control in general, and their own operating system have all had issues. But they've largely addressed the latter and supposedly are working on the former two issues. 

[QUOTE=Tron]Thanks for the info. I really really wanted to get the Retron 5, but then heard you have to go online to get optimal functionality. If this sucker would work right out of the box I'd buy one. From the way I understand it you have to go online to get it to work right & I'm not interested in that. [/QUOTE]

All you have to do is download a file from their website, place it on an SD card, and plug it into the Retron 5 in order to install the latest firmware. The Retron 5 itself has no online capabilities. Not sure if that makes it any less distasteful for you, though. 

Presumably if you order one next year, you'll likely have capable enough firmware where you could easily forgo even that step. Order right now though and you'll risk having the launch version which had many issues. 

[QUOTE=Josh]How is the cheat system on it? I've read that it has like a built-in Game Genie. There are a lot of games from those systems that I never got the chance to see the ending or later stages because they were so hard. It would be cool to have some cheats easily available. 
[/QUOTE]

You can't input your own cheats. You download a database of them off Hyperkin's website and place them on a SD card. Then, you enable or disable what you want via the dashboard. 

Some systems don't yet have any codes up. 


Return to “Video Games General”