As the years roll on, we tend to forget that our gaming consoles from two (and even three) decades ago will not last forever. To ensure longevity of our precious plastic, Hyperkin has taken the task to create a console that will play most (if not all) of our game cartridges. We cornered Hyperkin’s David Yu and asked him some pressing questions about their upcoming RetroN 5 gaming console.
Australian Retro Gamer [ARG]: In the beginning – tell us about the genesis of Hyperkin and their product line.
David Yu [DY]: Hyperkin was founded by three brothers who started out in the games industry by selling Dance Dance Revolution (DDR) Dance Pads at the height of their popularity. As their business started to grow, their customers and retail partners started to ask them to supply more peripherals and accessories. Eventually, as the demand for these products started to grow, they chose to shift their business toward concentrating on peripherals and accessories. They realised that they needed to create a trademark, and thus, Hyperkin was formed.
Hyperkin found that in order to carve an identity for the company, they needed to find a niche. Upon further research, they found that the retro gaming market was grossly under-served and because most of them had grown up with classic consoles, the decision was made toward focusing their efforts to serve this demographic.
ARG: What is the biggest ‘thing’ about the RetroN 5 system?
DY: The biggest thing? It’s really hard to pinpoint one aspect of the console that is the biggest feature, as there are so many. One of big features is the HDMI output and up-conversion. Most of the retro games do not translate well on a HDTV, and that is a shame. The fact that we have to hold onto our old CRT TV’s to play these games, is a travesty. I do know, that for some hardcore retro gamers, that is the preferable way. But for myself, it didn’t make sense that I had to continue to hold on to a heavy CRT TV just to play my favourite games, while my really awesome slim HDTV just sat there. The fact that the RetroN 5 can play our classic games in full HD glory is personally my favourite feature. The RetroN 5 will output a resolution of up to 720p, and you will be given the option to change the aspect ratio. We have also added filters and shaders which will make images look smoother and brighter, and for those who like scan-lines we will also include that filter. Pretty much, we’ll be giving users multiple options to customize their overall gaming experience, because, at the end of the day, isn’t that what we really want?
ARG: Just to follow up on the HD capability of the RetroN 5, does that mean ‘gun’ games, like NES Duck Hunt will work on it ? If it did, that would be a miracle!
DY: Unfortunately, no, as this is an issue with the television rather than the system (ARG: Darn HDTV!). There are currently no plans to update or to create a light gun that works on HDTVs.
ARG: One of the key selling points will be compatibility. Which old game cartridges should we hold onto so we can play them on the RetroN5 ?
DY: As it stands, the RetroN 5 has five cartridge slots for the Famicom, NES, Genesis, SNES and Game Boy Advance. Additionally, Mega Drive, Super Famicom, Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges will also be compatible with the system. In essence, that is 9 different systems that gamers can have access to on one convenient console.
We wanted gamers all over the world to be able to play their favourite games without having to worry about region compatibility. All PAL and NTSC cartridges will be compatible, including games with FX chips and CIC lockout chips. We have stated that our goal is for 100% compatibility, and to ensure that we meet this goal, we have asked several prominent members of the retro gaming community to assist us in compatibility testing, as their collections range from the rare to the obscure. To some extent, we do realize that a small number of games may not be compatible at launch. To remedy that, once we have identified those games, we will provide users with consistent firmware updates which can be downloaded from our website. We will also include additional console features (in our updates) which we will continually develop.
ARG: I have always wanted know about the R&D process of gaming consoles – how long does it take to bring such a product to market?
DY: I cannot disclose our practices regarding our research and development, as it wouldn’t be wise to give our competitors a glimpse into our processes. I can go as far as letting you know that there is extensive planning and research, prototyping, testing, and eventually production. I will also say that we get a lot of feedback through attending various trade shows and conventions to directly connect with the gaming community. We are also very active on social media, as we feel it is a key tool into allowing gamers to have direct interaction with us. This is one of our methods we use toward research of a product.
ARG: The all important question which is on our mind – what are the launch, availability and distribution details ?
DY: At the moment, because we are still in development, we do not have a set release date. So, I’ll say Summer 2013. At this time, I can only give you information on the US launch. Regarding launch in different regions, I do not have anything definitive to say at this moment, and if and when a decision are made, we will make an official announcement. I wish I could elaborate more on that, however, I will say this: we are doing our best to try to have the RetroN 5 available to as many people as we possibly can.
ARG: Lastly, are you a Nintendo, Sega, Atari or Commodore retro gaming fan ?
DY: Wow. That’s a great question. I know it sounds like a very vanilla answer, but I’m a fan of all types of gaming. I am a firm believer in playing everything at least once. Working at Hyperkin has definitely given me the opportunity to revisit a lot of my favourite games in the past, as well as playing multiple current gen games. That being said, I will have to say that for retro gaming, I’m a huge Super Nintendo fan. I truly believe that the SNES was the best Nintendo system ever. Most recently, my greatest thrill was to go to pick up a copy of Mike Tyson’s Punch Out for the NES from the Midwest Gaming Classic. Not the Punch Out with Mr. Dream, but the one with Mike Tyson. That game isn’t as satisfying unless you know that you can fight Mike Tyson.
Thank you for your time David, it was great to get an insight on Hyperkin and the upcoming RetroN5 system. We can’t wait to get our hands on it.
Don’t forget to check out Hyperkin at this year’s E3 (South Hall, Booth #417). Roll on summer (Australian winter) 2013!
Images source: Hyperkin