Hyperkin's RetroN 5 Release Date Pushed Back Again

RetroN-5-Release-Date-Pushed-BackIt promised to be the dream solution to retro enthusiast who either had limited space or desired a crystal clear picture on their big TVs. Hyperkin's clone console the RetroN 5 was described as being able to play 9 systems out of the box, all from one unit. Be it the Japanese Famicom, NES, SNES, GameBoy, Game Boy Color, GBA, Mega Drive or Genesis you could play your original games even with classic control pads too.

No longer would the enthusiast of old games have to juggle switch boxes or clear shelves of space under their 40inch LCD screens. Better yet these games would be shown in a way that has never been seen before; through a HDMI port, up-scaled and presented using a range of filters to optimise the visuals. Bored of having to use your converters or region switches? Worry no more, the RetroN 5 promises the ability to play games from anywhere in world, full screen at full speed. It was set to cater for those new to collecting retro games, while also offering a convenient and practical way for people with established collections to get an authentic experience from a multitude of systems.

There was a real sense that Hyperkin had looked at what people who had grown up with emulators wanted and implemented it in this wondrous machine. Save states, wireless controllers, cheat codes even a fancy operating system powered through Android, the RetroN 5 could do it all. Only, there was a slight problem; Hyperkin have delivered the promises, but the console is yet to be seen on shop shelves.

Initially announced at the Midwest Gaming Classic Trade Show in March 2013, the RetroN 5 caught the attention of the internet’s gaming websites and forums around the world. However, as the months wore on these same websites and forums would turn from cheerleaders to critics as released dates came and went while Hyperkin remained tight lipped on the reasons for delay. ‘We’re still in summer’ they pleaded, at least until the October 31st release date passed and the sun had most certainly set. Delay after delay meant that enthusiasm in the retro gaming community was waning, especially with competitor Retro Bit successfully releasing the Super Retro Trio - a machine that plays most of the same systems.

For many the RetroN 5's impact was fading, chalked up as vapourware or an abandoned dream that was proving difficult to make.

That was until December, when Hyperkin suddenly announced that by Christmas the machine would be in people’s homes. It was not to be. An apparent last minute “problem with the Famicom connector in some units” pushed release back to the second quarter of 2014. Hyperkin were evidently as frustrated as the rest of the Internet. "We apologize for the inconvenience," project manager Lawrence Lee bashfully admitted. "Hyperkin would like to thank you for all the support you have given us throughout the development of the RetroN 5. We are looking forward to its release as soon as the issue has been resolved." Justin Valero Hyperkin’s Community Manager was more upbeat about the delay though. “We did not want the product to have glaring issues that we overlooked because we had to make a deadline. I often hear people get really upset that it is not out yet but I just take it on the chin because I know when it comes out you guys will really like it.” - a respectable move to ensure the system met retro gamer's demands.

Having said that, the problem was that after a year of waiting, Hyperkin’s sometimes vague and repeated responses had frustrated the very audience they were trying to court. Speculation about what was actually going on in the machine began. Some believed that the system would simply read the ROM file from game cartridges, and then boot it up using emulators running on internal Android-based software. This idea was then supported by the claim that the system used ‘save states’ only because it couldn’t write back to the cartridge’s SRAM. If this were true, the RetroN 5 becomes little more than a emulator than the cartridge-enabled system we were hoping for. When queried on the matter, Hyperkin they didn’t comment at all, though they were happy exhibit their machine at conventions giving an new April 2014 release date.

In Europe, things were also getting interesting. The official European distribution of the RetroN 5 had an exclusive deal to distribute the console, however, even they had little idea what was going on. Their frustrations were made clear in an email sent to all customers that had already paid for and pre-ordered the console, in some cases 6 months in advance. “We still have no information from the manufacturer regarding release date” the retailer said apologetically, “we share your frustration in this continued delay”. “[Hyperkin] have provided very limited information about the development of this product since it was delayed in 2013, this is the reason we have not given you regular updates – there has been nothing to say”.

Hyperkin has continued to make further promises up until the start of April, but for most patience had worn thin. Even the quickest search around one of the largest gaming communities, NeoGaf, displays people circulating rumours about the RetroN 5’s technical failings. Significant sound problems are discussed, some claim the system crashes when multiple carts are inserted, and many believe the console will be incompatible with numerous games. As the April release date slips past, Hyperkin’s response to these concerns continues to baffle. The only new information given at the time of writing is a 40% price increase, while the internet tries to predict when the next release date will be.

On the final day of April, the suggested release month for the RetroN 5, Chris Gallizzi (the company's Product Developer) took to their Facebook page to reach out to the masses eager to sample the system. In this short 3 minute video, reassurance was given to those doubting the console's actual arrival. "We are pouring a lot of time and a lot of effort, and even a lot of our own resources just to make this thing happen". Evidently demand has far exceeded expectations, and to ensure a worldwide release was met, a further delay was inevitable. You can't question the sincerity of Gallizzi, especially after giving his own Facebook account details out for fans wanting to contact him. That said, while explaining the company's recent silence, little of the rumours circulating online were specifically addressed although Gallizzi believes that it's going to be "worth the wait". As for a new release date, one is yet to be confirmed.

When the RetroN 5 does see the light of day you can only hope that the performance promises are honoured, even if release dates have been frequently cast aside. After all, the last console to see a delay of this magnitude was the Nintendo 64 and that changed the face of gaming significantly. Here’s to hoping the RetroN 5 can do the same, something our review of the system upon release will no doubt detail.

So has this delay affected your desire to buy a RetroN 5? Still holding on to your pre-order? Or has all this delay announcement actually brought the system to your attention? Let us know in the comments below.

Last Updated ( 30 April 2014 )  

Julian Hill

Julian is the author of the popular blog Boxed Pixels, and is currently on a mission to document his thoughts as he buys boxed complete SNES Games.

Described by PlayStation Access as a "gamer, Dad and all round hero" he has been playing games since they had four colours on screen and blips for music.

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(Link to this comment) Lionheart1 2014-05-01 00:48
If it uses save states through android based emulator, then its just another emulation box or rom ripper like the old pro fighter or wild card. If that is the case I'd rather keep to buying and collecting original machines.

Yes its a pain having to find the room for all the consoles and connecting them to different tv's, but I'd rather do that than pay for an over priced emulator that I can get for free on my PC. Also one thing I would like to point out is the issue of light gun games, most if not all games that use light guns for the nes, snes and genesis/mega drive don't work with flat screen tv's. So using a HDMI tv with the RetroN 5 means that you won't be able to use those games. Unless of course they have found a way around it, but seeing as they haven't really given any details on game compatibility we can only assume there will be other games that won't work as well.
-1 (Link to this comment) Turkish 2014-05-01 02:10
If it uses the original cartridges, then it is not emulation.
(Link to this comment) JulianHillUK 2014-05-01 07:20
For me if it simply reads a ROM file off the cartridge and then loads it through an in built emulator (or even loads a corresponding ROM on the unit itself) then it is emulation. The cartridges are simply acting as keys that unlocks content that's already stored on the RetroN 5 . Hyperkin need to be honest about it, if that's what its doing as its inaccurate to call it a clone console.

Basically I want to be able to save my game file to the cartridge and continue the game on the original console if I choose. If I can't what's it offer over my laptop, which I can also plug into my TV via HDMI cable.
(Link to this comment) BuckoA51 2014-05-01 10:10
"If it uses the original cartridges, then it is not emulation."

Um, yes it is, where do you think those original ROM images came from that you use with an emulator, they were all on cartridge originally. If Hyperkin are selling this as "not an emulator" they are breaking trade descriptions act.

This machine has potential if you don't set your expectations unrealistically high. It's not designed to replace a CRT and original console, or a cutting edge PC and emulators. It is a convenient way to play retro games without needing to spend hundreds on upscalers, have dozens of consoles set out all over the place or tie up your laptop or PC.
(Link to this comment) Thermoptic 2014-05-01 12:26
Me and all my friends who have pre-ordered the Retron 5 already own all the consoles that the Retron 5 have so we only purchase the Retron 5 because its a cool system, and for its extra features like save-states etc.
But if the rumor that they will increase the price with 40% is true i decided to cancel the pre-order and never purchase the Retron 5. We are all very disappointed in Hyperkin because of the delay and the face that they never tell us anything and never answer to any mails and tweets etc.

But i heard that Amazon has a pre-order guarantee, and this way you will still get the Retron 5 for its original price
(Link to this comment) reimu 2014-05-01 13:26
>authentic experience from a multitude of systems.

It's emulation.
+1 (Link to this comment) espontaneo 2014-05-02 20:43
To me, there is absolutely no point in this thing if it just loads the cart into an emulator. It's no different to simply loading the rom into an emulator on a pc or android box, which can be done a lot cheaper (a raspberry pi could do this fine). If you want to use original controllers then there are a multitude of USB adaptors for pretty much every controller that are pretty inexpensive. The retron 5 will have all the disadvantages of emulation but few of the advantages.

If you want authenticity, accuracy and compatibility, use the real thing. If you want a good picture on a modern screen buy an xrgb-mini. If you just want to play old games on the cheap just use an emulator.
(Link to this comment) JulianHillUK 2014-05-09 03:54
I'll write a more detailed follow up to this article when I review the console but a tweet from Chris
At Hyperkin has answered my biggest fear- you can indeed write to the Cartridges. This is great news for me as it means I can play Final Fantasy 3 on the Retron 5 , save my progress as you normally would and then continue my game on my commute to work when I play using a SupaBoy.

Presuming they have also ironed out the other issues outlined in the article above I cant see any reason why the Retron5 won't be the most significant Retro Console release in recent memory.

The wait to get my hands on a unit now seems even more unbearable!
(Link to this comment) Flozem 2014-05-09 05:38
I am actually looking forward to its release. There's only so many consoles I can cram into my audio / video cabinet.

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