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E3 2013 Hands-On: The RetroN 5 Brings the Past Into the Future

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Over the years, manufacturers have been trying to bring back the old school by making game systems compatible with classic cartridges for the NES, SNES and Sega Genesis. On the one hand, this is a much more affordable – and convenient – way to play old school games without having to hunt down older, less reliable hardware. But on the other, you don't really have too many details about the company that made the console, and those controllers can just feel… weird.

Hyperkin is one of the better manufacturers of these consoles, as it proved with the RetroN 3 a little while back. However, it's opted to skip RetroN 4 in an attempt to go right to the RetroN 5, the latest – and perhaps greatest – console from the team yet. We recently paid a visit to its booth at E3 this past week to give the system a test drive.

First off, the controllers included with the system don't actually feel too weird this time around. Sure, there's nothing that beats the classic SNES and Genesis controllers, but for a default, wireless pad, it's actually not bad when it comes to response and performance with a game. However, the RetroN 5 does give you the option to plug in whatever controller you feel like, so if you own some of the older ones, have at it.

The system also supports several formats. The slot on the front allows you to load Game Boy and Game Boy Advance games with ease; and the up-top slots let you play Famicom, NES, Super NES, Super Famicom, Sega Genesis, and Mega Drive games. That's a lot of support, and though the system does appear to resemble a high-tech toaster with all those slots, the games load up with ease, without you even needing to blow out the cartridges – unless they've been gathering dust over the years, obviously.

But the thing that really makes the RetroN 5 stand out – you ready for this? – is the addition of an HDMI port. Prior systems have allowed for connection to S-Video and component, and have gotten decent video quality, but we're calling it now – the HDMI is a game-changer.

Retro

Granted, the games may appear ugly at first, as they should, because 80's games weren't really built with high definition in mind. However, in the game's interface menu, which can be accessed with a simple tap of the control pad, you can tweak a number of options, smoothing over the emulation service that gives each game the highest quality possible, as well as the option to remove scanlines.

Wait, what?!

Scanlines, it seems, were a huge factor with older games. You could see them pretty clearly on NES and Genesis titles, as they were made that way to kind of fit the format of the TV at the time. However, with this option to turn them off, the picture becomes much clearer, as if they're prepped for high-definition. We took on a round of Punch-Out!! and were so mesmerized by the improvement of the visuals, we almost lost a fight to Glass Joe. (Almost. We're not stupid.)

The fact that the system will provide the option to do this with ALL games may make you a collector of classic games yet. It even manages to provide better options than most classic services available – we're looking at you, Virtual Console.

The RetroN 5 will be on sale later this year for $99.99, and it appears to be Hyperkin's ultimate system yet. Between its awesome options, decent control set-up and deluxe build, it could be just the hardware you need while you toil over whether to get the Xbox One or PlayStation 4.

Read more on the RetroN 5 on the official Hyperkin page!

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Robert Workman
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Games: Gear & Gadgets

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