Have you ever wanted to take the good parts of two things and just smush them together into something awesome?  Meet Hyperkin, a small company that tried doing just that, except this time with retro gaming consoles. 

Last month at the Midwest Gaming Classic a new gaming console was unveiled.  This Hyperkin RetroN 5 is a brand new console capable of playing NES, SNES, SFC, Genesis, MD, GameBoy, Famicom cartridges and last but certainly not least Sega Mega Drive games – all on five game slots. 

The console has been made where Compatibility is no longer an issue despite Nintendo’s and Sega’s harsh 90’s Rivalry.  The new console runs not only American NTSC cartridges but European PAL cartridges as well.  This “Swiss Army Knife” of video game systems also comes up with an up to date wireless controller. 

The Hyperkin team, working out of what seems to be a very large shack near Los Angeles, started out by selling unusual video game accessories and controllers like Dance Dance Revolution mats as well as Guitar Hero controllers.  However the RetroN five was not Hyperkins only gaming console, three other RetroN models were released prior to number five (skipping number four as it is considered unlucky by some Asian cultures.)

Eventually Hyperkin could not make ends meet through only accessories, Hyperkin marketing director David Yu said

“As the dance-pad craze started to die down, they remained in the video game industry, but realized that they needed a niche to survive. [The Mar brothers] identified that the classic/retro video game market was underserved, and focused their efforts toward catering to this market.”

Hyperkin thusly began to sell controllers for everything from the NES to the Sega Dreamcast, eventually moving on to making the consoles themselves and finally creating consoles of their own.

“One of the challenges I keep hearing from our hardware team is how complicated our PCB [printed circuit board, the green card that plays host to all the vital electronics] has become,” says Lawrence Lee, project manager for the RetroN. “Currently, we support five cartridge ports, six controller ports, a USB and an SD Card. That’s a lot of traces to route.”

Lee was very open in sharing what was viewed as Hyperkin’s prior failures

 “Having been in this market for some time, we have a chip on our shoulder that we have yet to bring anything to the market that truly surpasses the original. Besides portability, we are still no better than what was manufactured two decades ago. This is the reason why we wanted to take this bold step with the RetroN 5.”

And with that, the team has come up with a brand new (wireless) controller that connects to all the systems in the Retro 5 via Bluetooth, and you can set the buttons however you wish.

“What we have now is a very angular and ergonomic controller designed by a former colleague or ours by the name of Roy Roh, despite the fact that it is flat and rectangular in design, it’s very comfortable to hold, and has a retro appearance with modern comfort and features.”

Unless they encounter any legal complications, expect Hyperkin to keep on refining and combining all your classic consoles from “back in the day.” It is not known what will come next, but one can only expect them to move onto CD- based systems eventually.

“I do tend to think, long term, that retro gaming will eventually encompass disc based platforms, however, those are just ideas at this point. Nothing is set in stone, but if possible, I will definitely be working on an all-in-one disc system someday,” he says.

Despite how easy it is to play old games through digital downloads or even on smartphones via emulators, gamers will always love dusting out and playing these old school cartridges.  And playing through your collection will be made just this much easier with the RetroN 5.

What about you, would you buy the RetroN 5? Is it a good idea?

Our Verdict

Michelle Wetherbee
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