March 26, 2013
Retron 5 Lets Gamers Play All Their Past Favorite Console Games
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
While it is said that the third time is the charm, for video game hardware developer Hyperkin five might be the magic number, provided it can actually get its new RetroN 5 hardware emulator to market. This isn´t actually the fifth in a line of products, and in fact the system has been announced at the RetroN 4 at the Midwest Gaming Classic.
However, the developer took it up a notch, by adding an additional cartridge slot.
In essence this hardware emulator allows gamers to relive classic games from five video game consoles from the 1980s and early 1990s via a single system. These include the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), SEGA Genesis (plus Mega Drive), Super-NES (SNES), Game Boy Advance (with Game Boy Color support) and now Japanese Famicon slot. The latter is essentially the same as the American NES, but Famicon games have 60 pin connectors whereas the NES has 70.
The latter addition means that gamers who never could have scored an original Famicon will now have an opportunity to play games released in Japan.
The system will reportedly include a custom Bluetooth controller that can support each system, but will also be compatible with original proprietary controllers. The addition of the Bluetooth controllers could thus offer wireless options that none of the systems originally offered.
Moreover, the RetroN 5 will allow for saves directly on the system, but more importantly it will support 720p video resolution and offer HDMI connections — something none of the aforementioned systems provided.
“That is really use useful [sic], otherwise you need those special adapters,” said Billy Pidgeon, video game analyst with BP Research.
The question however is how the original hardware producers might feel about such a system being introduced. While there have been prior RetroN systems, those mostly flew under the mass radar.
“They could be looking for the trouble,” Pidgeon told RedOrbit. “A lot of people say that emulation is not piracy but companies with powerful lawyers beg to differ,” he added. “It could come down to who has the best lawyers and in this case that is pretty obvious.”
Of course the difference here is that this is actually hardware emulation, not software, and so far Hyperkin has avoided the wrath of the hardware makers.
“As this hardware uses emulation to play original cartridges as opposed to downloaded files Nintendo, Sega and other console vendors would likely be less concerned with devices like this than they would be with software emulators used to play ℠ripped´ downloadable files,” Pidgeon added.
The final question is actually who the system, which will reportedly be released in July for around $100, would appeal to — as it is providing support for systems that can be typically found at flea markets and garage sales. With many of the fans of those games likely owning the system, does it really have broad appeal?
In a way it could be something collectors like, especially as old video game systems can be rather temperamental..
“That is how it can work on the boutique level, for those who can keep the old systems in the closet,” said Pidgeon. “I can see where it could be handy for that. Keep the old NES in the closet and use this instead.”