Hyperkin RetroN 3 Review
Since console patients expire after twenty years, in the last few years we gamers have been seeing a lot of cloned hardware out there. From early examples such as the Yobo FC Game Console and Messiah Generation NEX to the Gen Mobile and FC-16 Go, clones have become more and more common with each passing year.
Now another company, Hyperkin, has released what they claim is the ultimate retro system for oldschool gamers. Let’s take a closer look at it.
the Hyperkin RetroN 3 (pronounced either like a robot from transformers “Retron” or “Retro” with the letter “n” added to the end) has the following features:
-Three cartridge slots for NES, Genesis and SNES games
-Two included clone Genesis six-button style IR controllers that work with all three systems
-Six controller ports – two for each system
-Composite video output with stereo for all three and S-video output for SNES and Genesis
-NTSC and NTSC-J region switch for Japanese Megadrive titles
-Also includes good quality S-video cable, male t0 male composite cables and a decent quality Power Supply Unit
The Retron 3 is a clone retro system that has plays Nintendo Entertainment System games, Sega Genesis games, and Super Nintendo games. It has three cartridge ports, a system selector dile, S-video output (SNES and Genesis only) and supports first party controllers for all three systems, meaning you can use real NES, SNES and Genesis controllers on this one clone.
The RetroN 3’s NES board is just the same ol’ NOAC crap we’ve been seeing for years, so don’t expect to be able to to play your MMC5 games such as Castlevania 3 or Uncharted Waters. All games will have typical NOAC quality sound issues with none sounding as they should, some with quite pronounced differences. The cheapness of the NOAC rules the Powerpak out from working as well. When attempted, the Powerpak will boot, but say it cannot find the CF card. Grade: 6/10
The SNES side of things is pretty damn perfect. S-video output is clear and crisp and the audio is absolutely flawless. It will play almost anything you throw at it with the lone exception of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. All but the earliest revisions of Mario RPG will not play on systems lacking Nintendo’s lockout chip, which is still under patient and pirates dare not copy for legal wrath.
While the SNES Mouse works, the Super Scope doesn’t work at all, in S-video or Composite. I even went through the troubleshooting process by even setting my real SNES right next to it, plugging it on and turning it on and making sure it works, then seconds later trying it on the RetroN 3 to no avail. Super Scope games will load up fine, but you cannot use the scope itself as the receiver isn’t detected.
The SNES side will work with every commercial game I’ve tried (other than Mario RPG) and also works with my Star Fox 2 reproduction cartridge. All the enjoyment of the unreleased game can be had on the Retron 3. Surprisingly, the Retron 3 will even play the Super Powerpak from Retrozone! Grade: 9.5/10
The Genesis is sort of a mixed bag. While S-video provides a clean clear video, the audio is a little wonky. Not AWFUL like AtGames attempts, it’s just that the volume levels are not what they should be, meaning some of the audio is twice as loud as it should be (some background music, some sound effects) while other music that should be louder is twice as quiet as usual (some lead music). It leads you to hear some things you probably would not have noticed on a real Genesis.
The Retron 3 will play every game I’ve tried with it except for Virtua Racing without any problem. The system even has a region switch on the back of the system for Japanese Megadrive games! PAL Megadrive games will not work on it however. The cartridge slot is designed to allow both the small and sleek US Genesis cartridges and the slightly more bulky Japanese Megadrive carts to fit. I’ve heard unconfirmed reports that the EverDrive Flash cart doesn’t function. Grade: 7/10
The Retron 3 has a light mat finish that is reasonably scratch resistant and cartridges are easier to get out than on some clones. While it’s not something I’d want to toss around carelessly, the Retron 3 is actually a fairly sturdy piece of hardware for being a clone system. The system is not nearly as light as you’d expect from a clone and the included S-video cable is actually rather heavy duty. The Power Supply Unit it comes with is 9v DC center pin negative, and can be substituted for a Model 1 Genesis PSU if you wish.
What are complete garbage are the included controllers. They are modeled after Genesis 6-button style and work with all three systems, even providing turbo fire for NES games. Unfortunetely, the buttons are stiff, the controller feels cheap, requires 2 AAA batteries and operates not on 2.4 GHz wireless, but IR Infrared like you would find in a standard TV remote. This means the controllers need to be more or less level with the console itself and a distance of less than six feet. Even under these conditions, the response times aren’t very good. Just use original controllers and either throw these out, keep them in the box or use them for parts.
Availability & Price
The Retron 3 is available on ebay, stoneage gamer and a few other shops for around $65-75. The SNES side is so good it makes a great substitute for a real SNES for that special someone who might be into oldschool SNES gaming.
Hyperkin, a small manufacturer of affordable niche gaming products has been around for several years now, first selling products for the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox. In time though, they began to develop more products and now offer a few clone systems including the Retron1 which is a standalone Famiclone. The Retron 3 is one of their best selling products to date.
-S-Video output for Genesis and SNES is simply excellent
-Extremely high compatibility with most NES games, nearly all Genesis/Megadrive games and 100% compatibility with SNES and Super Famciom games
-Controller ports for real controllers mean no puppies get skinned as punishment against nature for using crappy clone controllers
-Region switch for Genesis and Japanese Megadrive games
-Super Powerpak works with it
-Poor composite quality for all three systems
-A 2004 quality NOAC for the NES. Expect all the problems associated with NOAC’s.
-Genesis produces audio at incorrect volumes. Often sound effects are WAY too loud while FM Synthesis is 50% softer than it should be.
-Doesn’t support SNES specialty controllers including the Super Scope
-A bit too pricey to comfortably recommend to everyone looking for a retro gaming solution
With the S-video output and a real first party controllers, there’s literally no difference from the real hardware in any game you throw at it when you play SNES games. Even with some sound volume issues, the S-video provides Genesis games with a beautiful picture you couldn’t get out of a Genesis unless you were to mod one. The biggest problem I have with it though is the NOAC Famiclone. It’s little better than a 2005 Yobo FC Game Console. Inaccurate sound, wrong colors, displays glitches on some games, doesn’t play advanced stuff like Castlevania 3 or the NES Powerpak.
All this said though,the Retron 3 is a great system for people who are into oldschool gaming. While it might not be the true answer to your Retro gaming prayers, the Retron 3 is still a great product that comes recommended as long as you buy knowing what you’re getting into.
Make sure you buy from a seller willing to accept returns or exchanges. As you can probably imagine, this is a system from China and carries no real quality guarantee. While mine has been fine, I’ve heard reports of systems being broken or defective, parts not working, stereo sound being reversed, controller ports not working, etc. Not sure how much of a real concern this is, but just be ready for a plan B should the worst happen to you.