RetroN 5 Review
As most of you that follow our podcast know, I am a retro game collector. Over the past 15 years, I have bought classics I had as a kid, as well as some games (and systems) that I always wanted. When I first heard about the RetroN 5, I was so excited. Not only have I been hanging on to a 30in tube HDTV just to play my retro consoles on, but I had all 6 or 7 of them connected all the time. With the RetroN 5, I could not only get rid of this huge tube TV, but also put 90% of my consoles back in their boxes and into the closet. Like most of us, I ordered my RetroN in September 2013 from Amazon. After 9 months and a few delays, I finally received my console about two weeks ago. I then spent three days trying out every game in my collection.
For those that don't know, the RetroN 5 is a Android based console that will play 10 (11 with the Power Base Converter) retro console cartridges. There are five cartridge slots: NES, SNES (Super Famicom), Genesis (Mega Drive), Famicom and Gameboy/Gameboy Color/GBA, that allow you to play original game carts on an HDTV via HDMI. It also allows you to smooth out the graphics, enhance the sound, use save states to continue your games and has a built in cheat menu. The system even has a SD card slot that is not only used to update the system software, but to save your game data as well.
When you first insert a cart into the system, it will load the game. What it does is dump the game onto the system and actually makes a ROM of the game. Once the game is removed, the ROM is deleted. The system will also import your game that is saved to the battery backup of the cart so if the battery ever dies, you have your game backed up to the system. You can even move the new save back to the original cart if you ever want to play your game on the original console.
The system includes one wireless bluetooth controller, but you can use your original NES, SNES and Genesis (and now Master System with the latest update) controllers via ports on both sides of the system. The controls are fully remappable so if you want to play your favorite Genesis game with a SNES controller, you can.
Over all, I am loving the system. I have played more retro games in the past two weeks than any others. The buffed up sound and graphics are amazing. I have read that many people are having problems with their consoles, but I have not had one problem. One thing I will stress is clean your cartridges, even if they look clean. If you have questions about correctly cleaning them, please refer to my article here about cleaning and care. There were a few games I own that I have never gotten to work in a regular system, but they work in the RetroN 5. This makes me leery about using the RetroN 5 as a test system. You could have a game that will work in the RetroN, but not in the original system and vice-versa. I dont know if I would pay the $140 asking price, but I got in at $99 and it is worth every penny. Be sure to check out the unedited video below to see how the system performs with my playtest.
I also own the RetroN 5 and so far, I have been impressed. The games look great and most of them play like I remember. The cartridges fit snug in the system, and I would be gentle trying to get them out. If you own any of Sega's EA games, they have to be inserted just right. The included controller with the RetroN 5 feels good. But some gamers may prefer to use their original controllers. SNES controller with Sega games, why not?
Something I would recommend is updating the firmware which will help with some issues the games have. I also recommend downloading the cheats to an SD card and putting them in the system. This is just like having a Game Genie. Infinite lives and flight in Super Mario World only makes the game easier.
One of the other cool features with the RetroN 5 is it seems to support playing repo carts. Users over at NintendoAge have started a forum thread with a list of what repo games are working well with the RetroN5.
I recommend this system just for the nostalgic value that so many gamers like myself will be able to experience easier due to this magnificent piece of hardware. The RetroN 5 offers so much for such a great price.