Retron 5 - Hardware and Gameplay Review

Giving you a brief hardware and gameplay overview of the Retron 5 after a few weeks of play. Here's what we think...

We got the console from www.funstock.co.uk (you can get 5% off with code: GYL) a few weeks ago - before Christmas. We'll tell you what it's all about - what we like about it, what we know about it so far and especially if you don't have one right now - some of the features.

First thing off this is not for people who just like to emulate without any sense of the cartridge involved or physical 'game' experience.

There are a number of ways you can emulate purely using a PC etc, but this is not what the Retron 5 is about. Basically its for people who love cartridges and playing games with them. Pure and simple.

If you already have an extensive back catalogue of carts, looking to get more even and play more or are simply getting into collecting physical hardware then read on...this could be a really interesting console for you.

Check out the video which covers the review too:

So here's our overview:

The console version we preorded from www.funstock.co.uk was the black and grey version - chosen because of the variant tone styling and also it was one less completely shiny black machine to keep clean! There is a bit of black on the unit - but alot less than the full black console option.

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The styling and product design is pretty nice - it looks different to any console and that's the cute thing. Its not trying to be another console in disguise. The number of slots in the machine give it the personality.

There is the native controller aspect where you can plug your original controllers in. The only slightly negative bit (but not a huge issue) is you can lose the rubber covers so easily. Or you could just keep them safe in the original box if you are losing them alot - like anything in life. :) I personally quite like them covered up on the console and then to play the controller that came with the console. We also have a spare of these Hyperkin controllers for 2 player games.

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The Hyperkin controller fits in with the angled design of the console - it does look pretty neat - especially tucked into the console for overall storage. It charges off a simple standard micro SD when in the charge state. The wireless and quick pick up and play aspect is the main reason for our preferance using the Hyperkin console controller. The clicking aspect to the buttons and joystick-type D-pad is not to everyones liking - but you generally don't notice it once you have the game sound cranked up. Design wise is works fine in your hand - there is a preferance to original controller ergonomics but it's light and I'd give it a 8/10 on the basis its a easy play experience (and a space saver).

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Onto the main hardware - across the machine its slightly 'longer' than a SNES and about the same width and height. In fact if it was any closeness in design to a previous system it would be the SNES. When you power the console up by holding the power button for a few seconds the LED power blue light comes on.

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Putting carts in - a seperate LED sequence runs over the console variant icons and lands on the cart-type (console type) you have in at the time which is a nice little feature. On the back on the unit is the power (obviously!) and a micro SD slot for charging your controller or charge your PS3 controller if you want too (it won't work but saves chucking it into something else).

There is also a HDMI slot for that all important 720 progressive signal through to your HD TV. So unless you use a convertor (which you can do into your CRT) you are going to run this into a new TV. Even that said your light gun just won't work - so no Duck Hunt or Terminator 2 with your light guns I'm afraid.

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So what's it like when it comes to the all important gameplay. Over the course of the last few weeks we have played about 40 games from all types. Genesis, Mega Drive, SNES and NES the most - some Famicom and a few on the Game Boy Side. Game Boy is an interesting experience, but we generally prefer the monochrome Game Boy than the color and the Advance. Sure it works fine for the GBA or color but it's not really built to have large on a screen. For some reason the simplier blockier Game Boy is cool and retro looking.

Pretty much most carts worked - sometimes not the first time but that's because they might have needed a clean. 2 or 3 Famicom carts (can't remember which ones) didn't work but others did. So out of the 40 we had a couple not working. 

The game experience overall was very different to your original console - and thats why you buy a Retron 5! It's not supposed to be the exact experience of your original console. If you want that - just play your original console!

It gives you a different way of playing your games. With the features of the system. Again we'll say it  - this is for physical cart collectors and players only. If you want to purely emulate and are not bothered about the 'physical experience of the game cart' this is not for you.

The cool things for us are game saves (especially when trying to learn and master sections of the game) if you don't overdo it. The enhancement of the filters on certain games - some we kept on - some were just interesting to see!

The other aspect is the cheat aspect to the SD slot - and we tried only a few out on this and it worked fine. But generally with the game save aspect you could say this is a slight cheat so with too many cheats we didn't want to damage the overall experience. Really the game save is when you are banging your head against a brick wall in a game - it just helps you learn the section easier and quicker (as we don't always have hours and hours to master every single game these days) and get to a point in the game you are happy with - then continue.

Other aspects to the SD is the ability to take HD quality screen shots of games for reviews, blogs and your instagram. These are top quality by the way.

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As far as the main thing for us as to why you want the Retron 5, is the excellent quality of picture and sound - we cannot fault it. And we hear about this lag issue on the controller - well just playing and enjoying the game without overthinking it - we just can't see it.

Honestly if we could feel something so bad like some people have described - we would'nt use the controller at all. We have used native controllers but the wireless version is a quick and easy experience to benefit from - a plug, play and go.  

Other aspects worth mentioning are the filter options of which there are a few - Super Eagle and Scale2x are pretty well worth a mention - but like anything it's a matter of taste. We like some games with them but the HD experience with the retro pixel feel without any filter is our general preference. Worth checking out some Master System games like Operration Wolf and Outrun though - looks pretty cool with Super Eagle on.

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The other thing to try out is using a SNES controller with a Mega Drive game or NES with SNES - not to everyone's taste but again - it's all about a different experience. Too much of the same thing in life is boring.  That's the Retron 5 - yes it's not the original console but that's the point really - it's never meant to be. So if you are an avid cart gamer looking for new experiences in life, why not give it a try.

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