The Retron 5

The Retron 5 - gaming console

The Retron 5 – Looks off, works great

A universal retro console – the Retron 5 allows you to play physical releases of games for a bunch of old systems. Is it worth snagging this device, or is its fantastic premise overshadowed by design flaws? Find out below!

The Summary

  • Made by Hyperkin
  • Plays NES/Famicom, SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis, Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance cartridges. Can also run Master System games if you have a power base converter.
  • This is achieved by dumping the roms from the cartridges. Despite working with physical games, the system still uses emulation to properly run…a whole bunch of emulation.
  • Comes with a mandatory wireless controller. It’s required to properly operate the device thanks to extra buttons, but the device is also compatible with standard NES, SNES and Sega controllers.
  • Works with games from any region. Doesn’t work with flash cartridges.
  • Allows usage of savestates. Also allows standard game saving, but this should be avoided (more on this below).
  • 720p HDMI output and a plethora of filters, as well as regional display modes. Your games will certainly look great.

What makes the Retron 5 stand out?

The Retron is a wonderful device for big time collectors, allowing them to play most of their older titles on a single console. It’s also a great starter item for anyone who’s just getting into collecting physical games, since it means you don’t have to collect the consoles themselves.

The user interface is also rather convenient, though the wireless controller is required to use it. Compatibility with other controllers lets you use your favorite, even letting you use it for games/systems it wasn’t intended for originally!

The Retron offers a great visual experience. Filters can make games look better than originally intended and 720p upscaling is smooth. Emulation seems relatively bug-free as long as you don’t save games.

Easily hackable/moddable. A bit of searching will reveal how to play roms directly on the device, and you can even play Playstation games on it.

Downsides

The device looks somewhat off. It’s fully functional but anything but sturdy, with a flimsy plastic exterior. The cartridge ports are also difficult to work with, though fully functional. Many users have complained that connecting/removing cartridges is a bigger chore than it should be.

The Wireless controller is required to fully access the UI thanks to its home button. This same controller is mediocre, having some ergonomic issues and a rather unique micro-switched stick that, despite being rather cool, isn’t the analog we all know and love. Using an original controller is a better move.

The Retron has issues identifying games and storing savegame data. Deleting the latter is a common occurrence, and sometimes games fail to be properly detected. Savestates also sometimes stop working in the midst of this mess.

How often and how badly this affects you depends on both luck and the state of your cartridges. It may be more convenient to simply hack it and use roms of games you already own.

Verdict

The Retron 5 has more annoyances than true issues. Its identification and saving problems can be solved with some hacking, leaving the strange controller and cheap-looking appearance as the only defining flaws.

Grab another controller and you’re left with a great system that merely looks a bit ugly.

Buying a Retron is easier and more convenient than buying all of the systems that it supports. If you’re into collecting games and/or systems physically, the Retron is a great shortcut to hunting the consoles down, with some added versatility and usability. A solid device overall.