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Retron 5 Review

A long time ago, as early as 1990, I grew up owning and playing an NES and Sega Genesis, and many lost weekends ensued with how wrapped up I got with the games I owned on both and over time one game console I owned got replaced with a newer one. With such a vast library of systems we have now it's hard to keep tabs on the old systems we once had to make room for newer generation ones, but thankfully the Retron 5 is here to clear the clutter.



Online retail prices for it can seem steep for some, but for what you're getting all in one console is worth every penny. NES/Famicom, SNES/Super Famicom, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance carts are all compatible making for infinite amounts of replayability at your disposal, add that to having an HDMI output with graphic rendering settings and it's like playing your games with a fresh coat of paint.

One thing I should mention is that the Retron 5 actually relies on emulation, hence the crisp visuals. When inserting a game cartridge the system will "load" the cart rather than instantly booting it up as you would expect it to. Another side note is the trial and error of getting the cartridges to read, sometimes you may need to reinsert it for it to load properly otherwise you'll get an "unknown cartridge" error. On top of that, the prongs that hold the home console cartridges are pretty tight, which can make removing them to be a chore, so you'll have to remove them with care.



The Retron 5 can also display Game Boy games with Super Game Boy exclusive screen borders, the only downside is that the other Super Game Boy features aren't present, such as the graffiti drawing option and the Super Game Boy's built in screen borders for games that don't have their own screen borders.


On both sides of the Retron 5 system you also get two controller ports for each home console system, and you can even map a different controller to another system. This may be intentional for buyers, as the controller that the Retron 5 comes with has a rather clunky analog stick and the button placement can be awkward, and I picked up a Super Nintendo controller to substitute for it.

I did run into a couple of personal snags, the instruction manual mentions that you can use SD cards for system updates and saved games, but it never said which sizes are required, leading me to contact Hyperkin by email about why the Retron 5 wasn't reading any of the SD cards I had, so I had to pick up a 32 GB one at my nearest Wal-Mart. Another problem I ran into was playing Super Mario All-Stars, for some reason Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 had the 2 player game option, but the 1 player option was completely absent. I made sure that only my lone Super Nintendo controller was mapped to the system, so it may be the Retron 5's emulation. In the case of using an SD card though, I would recommend only using it for firmware updates for the Retron 5. If you plan on keeping your hard work of Pok'emon saved on the cartridge, do not use the SD card for your save files, otherwise they may get lost.

Aside from those couple of drawbacks, every other classic game I owned worked just fine on the system with no real noticeable input lag on the controls, and the games played as smooth as butter.


Pros:

HD visuals with 720p resolution
2 controller slots for each system
Crisp stereo sound
Save state and load state feature
SD card support for cheats, saves and screenshots
Supports 16-32GB size SD cards


Cons:

Bundled controller seems clunky
Cartridge slots hold games a little too tight
Can only keep one cartridge in the console at a time


Overall score: 8.5/10


The pros outweigh the cons, but does that mean the Retron 5 isn't worth buying? not at all. If you want a solution to clear up space on your gaming entertainment setup, the Retron 5 is definitely worth looking to. If you'd like a more in depth look of gameplay running on the system, check out my video which you can find here.

Have you picked up a Retron 5 yet? Leave a comment and as always, see you next article!
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Rick Ace Rhodes Posted on Jul 19, 2019 at 11:31 AM

I just got the Retron 3 for my birthday last year. I originally wanted the 5 but after seeing all the negative reviews talk about the same issues with the console, I realized the 3 was a safer bet.

Benjanime Posted on Jul 19, 2019 at 03:05 AM

@vapor

i think the icing on the cake was this being my 50th article, haha. i'm definitely loving this thing :) thanks again for gifting it and i'll have tons more articles on the way!

Vaporman87 Posted on Jul 19, 2019 at 02:18 AM

I'm glad to learn you're getting some good mileage out of that RetroN 5 you saved up so long for. You earned it sir!

Benjanime Posted on Jul 19, 2019 at 01:22 AM

@blueluigi

i wasn't too interested in the retron 5 myself until i heard about an exploit that can make the system run actual rom files, definitely a solution when it comes to scalpers selling games on ebay for a steep price. i may invest in a raspberry pi myself in the future, but for now i'll see how the retron goes for me.

blueluigi Posted on Jul 19, 2019 at 01:05 AM

I bought a RetroN 5 a few years ago. I enjoyed it for a little bit, and it was great to be able to use it as a way to run translation patches for certain Japanese games. I played the original Fire Emblem on the RetroN 5 for a little bit, before my entire team was wiped out, and I was only left with Marth to fight with.

Eventually, as I purchased the XRGB Framemeister, and started looking into other ways of getting RGB out of my old consoles, the novelty of the RetroN 5 began to wear off for me. As I tried the RetroN 5 again, I soon realized that using the system doesn't feel that much different than running an emulator on my computer, or even using a Raspberry Pi. And also, I find the emulation on the NES and SNES Classic to be much better than the RetroN 5's emulation.

The RetroN 5 is good as a cheaper and simple way of running retro games on your HDTV. But me personally, I'm so over emulation based clone consoles that run on cartridges. To me, I don't find those to be nearly as satisfying, especially when the console doesn't actually run the games straight from the cartridge. I find that if I were to ever buy another clone console that runs cartridges, then I would rather go for a system on a chip, like the FPGA consoles that Analouge makes, as those actually recreate the original hardware, and is not emulation based like other clone consoles are.

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