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Thread: RetroN5: Hands on first look

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    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    It's not absurd at all. This is how emulators run roms.
    Perhaps absurd was the incorrect term to use. Pointless? Needlessly limiting? I'm sure there is one but I just don't see a technical reason for it.

    This instantly means Pier Solar and any future Watermelon games and any Super Fighter Team games will not work.

    Taking the usual culprits out (Castlevania III, Virtua Racing) clone systems generally boot virtually anything you throw at them and as a whole have *more* compatibility with games than official systems do. By requiring a certain header in games in order for them to work the console has less compatibility than both a real system or previous clones. Requiring header information when it previously wasn't needed is why playing oddball stuff on both the SNES Powerpak and Everdrive is a nerve wrecking experience but with a normal copier it's a walk in the park.

    Both real and clone SNES machines do not require valid headers. MD clones will play games that have screwy headers and do not include TMSS. PC emulators for either system are the same way, they don't require a rigid set of header info to work.
    Last edited by Az; 01-08-2014 at 07:27 PM.

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    shadowkn55 is a long-time and reputable member here. Honestly I'm not sure of what the hoopla over the RetroN5 is? For a pack rate like me it's totally unneeded!
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    Generally speaking, it's unneeded for me as well. It's neat and all, but I still have original systems for all the games I own. Anything I don't own that the Retron5 runs I can download.




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    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    I never did get a reply from the OP of this thread, but my hunch is that the rom data is dumped only temporarily and then deleted later.
    Like we already said, he did reply to you on this matter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Az View Post
    Perhaps absurd was the incorrect term to use. Pointless? Needlessly limiting? I'm sure there is one but I just don't see a technical reason for it.

    This instantly means Pier Solar and any future Watermelon games and any Super Fighter Team games will not work.
    Whoa whoa, slow down. First, keep in mind that everything mentioned here is based on what one person said who didn't post any proof of his claims and in fact quickly removed the claims he did make. Also, he was using beta hardware. I'm not saying that he was lying, just that there is no confirmation on anything of this, and even if there was, things could change a lot between now and whenever hyperkin decides to release this damn thing.

    Second, you're directly comparing reverse engineered hardware to raw emulation. Hardware clones are incredibly dumb; they're limited at whatever flaws they were designed with, with a limited window of tinkering from the end user should they be knowledgeable in soldering and basic electronics.

    Emulators on the other hand exist purely as software. The RetroN5 won't be running any of the games in hardware because it doesn't have the hardware to do that. It's not a reverse engineered hardware clone. Therefore, it has to reduce the games to roms for the emulators to run them. Interfacing with the cartridges at that point is no longer possible. Think of it like the GameBoy Player's boot disc that's only purpose is to be there upon bootup. the header check is needed so the Retron5 knows what the hell cartridge it is that it's dumping to rom.

    Third, the header check against a database doesn't necessarily mean the RetorN5 won't be able to play games that don't show up in the database. For example, on Ouya, one of the SNES emulators -SuperGNES- uses the header info of snes roms to generate boxart thumbnail to make browsing for the game you want to play a less boring.

    It's possible Hyperkin might have the same kind of thing in mind for the RetroN5's interface. Maybe there could be a 'history' page telling a blurb about the game and it's release data similar to have mame and coinops work.

    Any game that's a fan translation or unlicensed or whatever shows up with invalid boxart data, but the games are still playable. The interface might spit out "unknown game" for games like Pier Solar or Battle Kid and still let them boot. and even if not...this is fixable in the future with firmware updates.

    Quote Originally Posted by Greg2600 View Post
    shadowkn55 is a long-time and reputable member here. Honestly I'm not sure of what the hoopla over the RetroN5 is? For a pack rat like me it's totally unneeded!
    This IS an interesting question, no doubt. What is the point of the RetroN5? why not either stick with the original hardware on all accounts, or go with a 100% pure emulation option like the Ouya? Why do this half-and-half system?

    I'm not sure I have an explanation myself as to the interest besides novel curiosity. I do admit that I am drawn to the idea of multiple in one consoles such as the crazy contraptions Bacteria has made and I'm also drawn to the concept of having convenient emulators on other devices like the PSP.

    I'm also at a crossroads of sorts when it comes to how I really prefer to play my retro games. Long has it been that I've hung onto several CRTs to keep my precious retro gaming systems alive since they look awful on HDTVs, but with devices like this that aim to bridge the gap I'm hopeful the day is not too distant that I'll feel completely justified in getting rid of all but one of my heavy heavy CRTs and replace them with slim, light HDTVs.

    "Need' isn't the right word.

    I have hope for the RetroN5.

    Quote Originally Posted by JSoup View Post
    Generally speaking, it's unneeded for me as well. It's neat and all, but I still have original systems for all the games I own. Anything I don't own that the Retron5 runs I can download.
    This brings up anther conflicting point within me. I own everything the RetroN5 will run in hardware, including the Famicom. I Also own an Ouya - an HDTV ready emulation machine that does everything the RetroN5 does and a whole lot more. The RetroN5 won't work on CRTs (at least not natively) and I already have an HDTV retro gaming solution I'm very satisfied with. Still, its the burning curiosity that drives me forward with the RetroN5. I'm really curious to know it directly compares to the original hardware and also the Ouya.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_A View Post
    Like we already said, he did reply to you on this matter.
    If so, it was [removed]. Do you know what he said?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    Whoa whoa, slow down. First, keep in mind that everything mentioned here is based on what one person said
    Pontificating over the header issues may be a moot point but one absolute remains; the OP mentioned that it dumps the cart to RAM and runs it as a ROM image as any other emulator does. Granted anything and everything may change by the time it's released, but that's a fairly gigantic puzzle piece to remove and redesign hardware/software over, and I personally don't see anyone going that far back to the drawing board.

    Taking that into consideration means that anything that won't work in a regular copier (or Retrode) won't work in this.

    You can't jam a Super Game Boy into a Double Pro Fighter and get a workable ROM image, nor can you use an Action Replay, Game Genie, Magicard, or any other cart based peripheral. No compatibility with copiers or flash cartridges, with the exception of possibly Tototek's flash cart (since you can have it load as a single game with no GUI). Anything with complexity beyond a pin converter won't work.

    You won't be able to play any MD stuff from Watermelon (Pier Solar, Project Y, etc) SFT (Beggar Prince, Star Odyssey, etc) and a few other unlicensed companies, you won't be able to play any unlicensed SNES games or some of the oddball, GB, GBC, & GBA titles from Sachen, Gowin, and other companies due to

    ) The emulators do not support the copy routines
    ) Even if they did support the routines, the carts cannot be dumped with conventional run of the mill copier tech, so the console can't pull a working ROM image from the cart

    Granted that those issues probably do not matter to 99.9% of people in the world, much less the RetroN5's target audience; I'm just disappointed that there's an extremely good possibility that all these clones we've dragged through the mud over shitty sound or colors being off will manage to have more compatibility than something brand new.

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    not to beat a dead horse, but

    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    Whoa whoa, slow down. First, keep in mind that everything mentioned here is based on what one person said who didn't post any proof of his claims and in fact quickly removed the claims he did make.
    the dude was involved in the MVS Omega & has had people vouch for him since, why bust his chops like there's no credit in the bank there? i'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here.

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    Az, it really just sounds like you are harping on the RetroN5 for being an emulation machine even though that's clearly what it is. You're probably right though; peripherals like the GameGenie or Super GameBoy and unlicensed/indie game support is questionable at best with the RetroN5.

    That's the trade off for full comparability of all licensed games, particularly the troublesome licensed games on NES such as MMC4 and MMC5 games, Rad Racer 2, Gauntlet 2, etc that typically don't work with hardware clones.

    If hardware based peripherals and unlicensed and indie game support is really that important to you, then it doesn't sound like the RetroN5 is really for you. But hey, that's fine - keep in mind that the rival company Retro-Bit is also working on a similar clone called the Super Retro Trio - which is reverse engineered hardware, so that will work with those unlicensed and indie games.



    Quote Originally Posted by IrishNinja View Post
    the dude was involved in the MVS Omega & has had people vouch for him since, why bust his chops like there's no credit in the bank there? i'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt here.
    Why did you gloss over the part where I said:
    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    . I'm not saying that he was lying, just that there is no confirmation on anything of this, and even if there was, things could change a lot between now and whenever hyperkin decides to release this damn thing.
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    I don't really get the hype of this. My original NES, Genesis, and SNES work fine. I have a CRT TV in the basement and that still works fine too. Maybe one day when all the CRTs are dead and I have need to play the classics on an HDTV I'll be in the market for something like this.

    I mean I guess do get it. It's cool but all this arguing about what it can and can't do is solved by just playing your Nintendo on a CRT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    Why did you gloss over the part where I said:
    ...ah, sorry - missed that bit, my bad.

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    A couple of my buddies and I interviewed one of the Hyperkin guys at PRGE this last fall, this is the video of it...... He answers quite a few of your questions. Oh and the controller in my opinion is pretty nice feeling, but it's was a mock up so I didn't get to see how it actually behaved. - Dave

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgBEtnwCiD0

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    To that question of why a half-half system between real hardware or the Ouya. It's simple. It covers their ass.

    If they did another system on a chip, since they're not bright enough to make one work right on their own having imported Chinese junk that's out of the question. If they went the other way of the Ouya and advertised a system that loads ROMs, I'm pretty sure they'd have lawyers up their asses quick and out of business due to legal bills from the fighting alone. You make a thing like this, even if it is a rom dumper to memory, it has to use real game carts, and by having a registry that checks for legit known carts of the period they existed, that forces the use while blocking pirates and other stuff as a side effect.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genesisguy View Post
    I don't really get the hype of this. My original NES, Genesis, and SNES work fine. I have a CRT TV in the basement and that still works fine too. Maybe one day when all the CRTs are dead and I have need to play the classics on an HDTV I'll be in the market for something like this.

    I mean I guess do get it. It's cool but all this arguing about what it can and can't do is solved by just playing your Nintendo on a CRT.
    See the middle of reply #45 on page 2. I give my thoughts as to the "point" of the RetroN5.

    As to what you said about clinging onto CRTs, there is no doubt that there is a prevailing wisdom among retro gamers that CRTs are inherently better than HDTVs for retro gaming, but I think a lot of that attitude comes from the fact that analog (composite and s-video) signals look awful on HDTVs, and that some HDTVs are ill-suited for retro gaming if they lack gaming modes.

    I have an Ouya, which among other things acts as a native 1080p emulation box the same as the RetroN5 promises. Playing NES or Genesis or whatever else in 1080p on a 55" screen is pure bliss. Not only does it makes each pixel bright and crystal clear, it also removes any overscan concerns, so that every last pixel is visible on your display.

    Don't get me wrong, I have a fleet of CRTs in my own home as well that I love to play my retro consoles on, but let's face it - CRTs are the pits. They take up so much damn space, are so heavy to lift, and with age bring all sorts of other problems. On top of it, with devices like the Ouya, their very purpose is being threatened.

    Even when I play my retro systems via RGB SCART on my CRT, those same games look far better on my HDTV in 1080p HDMI. Directly comparing the two, there's a clear winner with HDTVs.

    If the Retron5 lives up to the Ouya, it could very well make retro games look better than they ever could on a CRT.


    Quote Originally Posted by IrishNinja View Post
    ...ah, sorry - missed that bit, my bad.
    Yeah I figured that was the case. No worries.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanooki View Post
    To that question of why a half-half system between real hardware or the Ouya. It's simple. It covers their ass.

    If they did another system on a chip, since they're not bright enough to make one work right on their own having imported Chinese junk that's out of the question. If they went the other way of the Ouya and advertised a system that loads ROMs, I'm pretty sure they'd have lawyers up their asses quick and out of business due to legal bills from the fighting alone. You make a thing like this, even if it is a rom dumper to memory, it has to use real game carts, and by having a registry that checks for legit known carts of the period they existed, that forces the use while blocking pirates and other stuff as a side effect.
    I doubt that the legality of roms is Hyperkin's motivation. Consider the AtGames Sega Genesis portables which are even fully licensed by Sega. Those things have build-in licensed games, and a few of them don't even have cartridge ports but instead offer to play Genesis roms directly from an SD card. I would guess that its more likely a marketing strategy on Hyperkin's part to use the carts to set up a niche to differenciate it from their competition, Retro-Bit and Yobo Gameware.

    As to your complaints against clone hardware out of China, it's not so simple as that. 100% fully compatible NES/Famicom clones do not exist despite over two decades of various manufactures producing them. Early discrete clones would have PPUs with the wrong pallets and CPUs with reversed duty cycles causing bad audio. When NOACs began to take over, the quality of clones began to differ wildly. Some - like the TriStar/Super 8 are nearly perfect in all aspects while others like the Yobo FC Game Console are incredibly inaccurate. This has continued over the years and the dream of a perfect NOAC still isn't a reality.

    The solution to fix that would be to design an FPGA solution, but that would drive up the cost immensely to around at least $150 for an NES only clone. Then factor in the other four systems also being FPGA based and you'll quickly realize that reverse engineered hardware that's 100% accurate is too cost prohibitive. Emulation makes far more sense, especially if it's Android based as Chinese companies are pumping out low cost android devices on a regular basis now.

    I personally would rather have an FGPA based RetroN5 that costs $300, but that would have no chance of selling to the general public and causal gamers.
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    I'm aware of the atgames deal, and Sega was totally cool with that whole deal including the SD card loading or it wouldn't happen. I remember that being brought into question and looked into in the past as it was a stunner when that system first popped up. Sega is a hell of a lot more chill about their old carts than Nintendo by a long shot.

    I know I simplified the whole System on a Chip setup, but the point is still that they can't be 100% and won't be, so this was a logical step to approach to do something different while still accessing carts. Atgames did it, ignorantly though, over the last year with their latest handheld revision that got a console version with a cart slot, yet the emulator annoyingly won't let a legit cart with a battery save a game! I'd take the FGPA setup as well but the price would suck and almost no one would buy that given what just an NES alone version would cost, so again the android box makes sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanooki View Post
    I'm aware of the atgames deal, and Sega was totally cool with that whole deal including the SD card loading or it wouldn't happen. I remember that being brought into question and looked into in the past as it was a stunner when that system first popped up. Sega is a hell of a lot more chill about their old carts than Nintendo by a long shot.
    The point he's making is if this is anywhere remotely illegal, it just wouldn't be done in a mainstream product from a manufacturer (AtGames) that appears to want to hang around rather than a fly by night operator that disappears as quickly as they popped up.

    Sega doesn't own all the IP that was released on the Genesis so their okay doesn't magically cover all the bases. So if there were any legality issues here (Which there isn't), it wouldn't be done and possibly grab the attention of the legal team at a publisher like EA that holds an extensive library of IP that was released for the Genesis.
    Last edited by Leo_A; 01-09-2014 at 07:11 PM.

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    Ultimately, Hyperkin has to be most concerned about their bottom line - producing a console that will appeal to the greatest number of people rather than strictly creating the best hardware possible with little regard for price or potential sales.

    For most people, unlicensed and indie game support isn't even on their radar. All they'll care about is if the device runs Super Mario Bros., Megaman, Sonic the Hedgehog, Tetris and Pokemon.

    I think you know this all already, so I don't mean to preach to the choir, but they'll do what they need to do to make it appeal to the masses, not the hardest of the hardcore. Just like Nintendo's been doing with their consoles for the past decade.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satoshi_Matrix View Post
    See the middle of reply #45 on page 2. I give my thoughts as to the "point" of the RetroN5.

    As to what you said about clinging onto CRTs, there is no doubt that there is a prevailing wisdom among retro gamers that CRTs are inherently better than HDTVs for retro gaming, but I think a lot of that attitude comes from the fact that analog (composite and s-video) signals look awful on HDTVs, and that some HDTVs are ill-suited for retro gaming if they lack gaming modes.

    I have an Ouya, which among other things acts as a native 1080p emulation box the same as the RetroN5 promises. Playing NES or Genesis or whatever else in 1080p on a 55" screen is pure bliss. Not only does it makes each pixel bright and crystal clear, it also removes any overscan concerns, so that every last pixel is visible on your display.

    Don't get me wrong, I have a fleet of CRTs in my own home as well that I love to play my retro consoles on, but let's face it - CRTs are the pits. They take up so much damn space, are so heavy to lift, and with age bring all sorts of other problems. On top of it, with devices like the Ouya, their very purpose is being threatened.

    Even when I play my retro systems via RGB SCART on my CRT, those same games look far better on my HDTV in 1080p HDMI. Directly comparing the two, there's a clear winner with HDTVs.

    If the Retron5 lives up to the Ouya, it could very well make retro games look better than they ever could on a CRT.
    I see that point but I still side on the "what's the big deal" side of this argument. Yes CRT's take up a lot of space. But I have an entire basement I could fill with them should I want to. I guess my big thing is I see all this argument/concerns about what this console is going to be or not be and I and I get it don't get me wrong. This could make or break some gamer's entire gaming setups and It would be cool to have a console work on my HDMI TVs for retro games. I'm just not at the point where I HAVE to have that. I'm happy going downstairs to play my original Genesis on a CRT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genesisguy View Post
    I see that point but I still side on the "what's the big deal" side of this argument. Yes CRT's take up a lot of space. But I have an entire basement I could fill with them should I want to. I guess my big thing is I see all this argument/concerns about what this console is going to be or not be and I and I get it don't get me wrong. This could make or break some gamer's entire gaming setups and It would be cool to have a console work on my HDMI TVs for retro games. I'm just not at the point where I HAVE to have that. I'm happy going downstairs to play my original Genesis on a CRT.
    And I don't really understand the "retro games have to be played on a CRT" argument. Yes, systems like the N64, PS1 and Saturn look much better on a lower res TV, but my SNES (1CHIP) outputs gloriously crisp images via S-Video and, while my Twin Famicom doesn't have the best composite signal, the AV Famicom looks quite good. With properly calibrated equipment (or modified systems for those who don't think s-video is good enough or whose TVs don't have s-video), CRTs just aren't all that necessary anymore.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genesisguy View Post
    I see that point but I still side on the "what's the big deal" side of this argument. Yes CRT's take up a lot of space. But I have an entire basement I could fill with them should I want to. I guess my big thing is I see all this argument/concerns about what this console is going to be or not be and I and I get it don't get me wrong. This could make or break some gamer's entire gaming setups and It would be cool to have a console work on my HDMI TVs for retro games. I'm just not at the point where I HAVE to have that. I'm happy going downstairs to play my original Genesis on a CRT.
    And I don't really understand the "retro games have to be played on a CRT" argument. Yes, systems like the N64, PS1 and Saturn look much better on a lower res TV, but my SNES (1CHIP) outputs gloriously crisp images via S-Video and, while my Twin Famicom doesn't have the best composite signal, the AV Famicom looks quite good. With properly calibrated equipment (or modified systems for those who don't think s-video is good enough or whose TVs don't have s-video), CRTs just aren't all that necessary anymore.

    Also, not everybody has a basement (or even a house) for storing a CRT. That was one of the things I had to sacrifice when I moved to NYC, and I'm okay with it

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