E3 2013: Dust of your cartridges, the RetroN 5 is coming

One thing that annoys me is when a new console comes out, your previous games are automatically obsolete due to the lack of back-compatibility. Sure, we can keep all our consoles plugged in, but that would be if we had the space and money to invest in the amazing layout we would like to display them all neatly. Not to mention, some of the old ones are collectibles, and we wouldn't want them to get damaged, right?

For some time, I had my eye on these 3-in-1 systems that appeared a while back, but never saved up for one (priorities, priorities... bills do come first after all). It was something on the to do list, but not one of the most important. Then I heard of the RetroN 5, which swept me off my feet.

The RetroN 5 is one of Hyperkin's gorgeous little babies that hosts multiple cartridge slots to accomodate five systems in one. You can drop in your original NES, SNES, Genesis, Famicom, and Game Boy Advance cartridges and play them all from the same system.

I made sure to book some time to see the system in action during E3, and just about dragged Gil there since he had little idea what it was. The good news is that now we both want it, so it's not just me being all giddy about it.

The RetroN 5 is region-free, so you can use cartridges from PAL and NTSC regions - how sweet is that? I'm glad, because I did buy a handful of GBA games when I was back in Portugal some years ago, and now I know that I can hunt down some other cartridges too for the next time I visit!

The system supports 2 controller ports for each SNES, Genesis, and NES, but you can use any of the controllers to play any of the games. It will also ship with a wireless Bluetooth controller, rechargeable via USB. The RetroN 5 can connect to your TV via AV or HDMI output.

The basic user interface is pretty self-explanatory, showing you the available systems to play. Within each system, more menu options are available, such as gameplay tweaks, use of cheat codes, taking screenshots and managing your game saves. Yep, that's right, you can save your game at any point during gameplay, and load your saves whenever you feel like. There is also an autosave upon shutdown to make sure you don't lose your progress.

The system options menu allows you to customize the controls and reassign buttons to your gameplay preferences. Further customization comes in the form of graphic adjustments made possible through HDMI. The system already up-converts the signal to show better and cleaner images, but you can also change the aspect ratio of the screen. We saw the difference between original image and the smoother pixels, and it sure makes everything look great without distorting images.

I guess to sum it up, the RetroN 5 functions a lot like an emulator, but instead of software, it's all in the hardware, where you use your own game cartridges. We are loving the retro look and functionality! As for release date and price, Hyperkin is aiming for a Summer 2013 release, with the price point being under $100. The system will be available in major online retailers (Amazon and Best Buy were mentioned), and those like us who live in Canada will also be able to get it. There are plans to expand the market, but not much was said about that.

Time to dust off your oldies, 'cause retro is back in style!