Though the wait was long and the development cycle the source of a heated debate, the Retron 5 has been released along with a critical revision that addressed some flaws with the original run of the system. What makes the Retron 5 unique is that it is not exactly a “clone” console like its previous releases, which run off of modified hardware that has expired it’s copyright claim. Let’s take an in-depth look at the system
The most stand out feature is the sheer amount of functionality with the system, both through hardware and software. The Retron 5 reproduces any game inserted in the system, but allows players to harness the power of modern emulators. The system will load the cartridges into memory, then play them through an emulator running off of an Android OS. It allows for customization of the game’s graphics, allows use of Game Genie/Action Replay codes and most importantly, state saving.
The system can play games from:
- Super Famicom
- Mega Drive
- Game Boy
- Game Boy Color
- Game Boy Advance
Though this seems overwhelming, it is a tremendous boon to have a device that can run all of these cartridges and upscale them to 720p. The GUI is simple and easy to navigate, allowing you to customize your gaming experience on the system, manage save data and other options. Within the graphics settings, you can alter shader and filter effects, and even reintroduce scanlines to your games for the true vintage feel of playing on a CRT. The save state feature is an absolute godsend, especially for those who have held onto cartridges that have had their save batteries fail to keep operating, or have become corroded with rust or acid. This can render the game nearly worthless, but with the Retron 5 you now have an even better method of saving your progress on any game.
The system itself is rather well constructed, managing to cram as much as it can into its compact frame. It also has controller ports for the corresponding supported consoles. If players do not prefer the Bluetooth thumbstick-style controller that the system comes boxed with, they can substitute it for any controller that worked with their system of choice.
Though one would think the Retron 5 fulfills the needs of a niche audience, that is hardly the case. Though PC/Mac emulators and Android-based game consoles running emulator apps with downloaded ROM packs are the norm now, there are many games who wish to make use of their old, cartridges but do not wish to spend the money on a used console, namely exorbitant prices for ones in mint condition. Not only does the Retron 5 allow gamers to enjoy their cartridges, it gets around the issues that often make classic console gaming a bit of a chore. Any issues found with the system are updated via firmware delivered through a USB connection, so longevity is not an issue. If the appeal of using your old cartridges with the added benefits of quasi-emulation, the Retron 5 is a very sound purchase at $149.