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Hyperkin® Retron Sq HD Gaming Console
A dedicated, stand-alone console that plays Game Boy games on the big screen!
For those who read articles/reviews, from start to finish, we welcome you to our modest review of HyperKin's Retron Sq here at KCU Network.
Just from the design alone makes you wonder, and wish, that Nintendo would've devised something like this. With so many fans of the Game Boy, portable entertainment has officially become an accepted way of life—mobility and convenience to compliment our mundane activities, in similarity with listening to music, to ease off situations that require waiting. We've always been a fan of portable consoles, and to "consolize" a handheld system's game library onto the big screen isn't anything new, thanks to Nintendo's Super Game Boy for the Super Nintendo, and also the Game Boy Player for the GameCube. Designed and shipped in a miniature cube, catering to those who embrace the popular handheld to this day, Hyperkin presents the Retron Sq!
This system measures roughly 3½ inches tall, upscales games to 720p, has a 4:3 and 16:9 switch for aspect ratio adjustment, comes with one USB-A controller they call the "Scout," includes a 3-foot HDMI cable, and a USB-C AC adapter (5V). According to the manual, and the outer box, this is compatible with Game Boy and Game Boy Color cartridges, while Game Boy Advance games are in Beta. This system also has a 512MB micro SD card for firmware updates, as this came pre-installed with v1.2, after complaints of poor performance from its original release. The cartridge loads in a similar way as the NES toploading system, but the slot unfortunately doesn't have a dust cover to accompany it. We recommend storing this back inside the original box, or keep the console covered, to prevent dust buildup (sadly, there are people out there who mistreat their consoles...then they blame the company for it?). The "Scout" controller resembles a lot like the Super Nintendo controllers, with four buttons, a D-pad, START and SELECT buttons, and an L and R [shoulder] buttons. Unlike the Super Nintendo controller, this one sports an ergonomic "cushion" on the back, making it comfortable to hold. This Retron Sq comes in two colors, both of which are Hyper Beach and Black & Gold. We got the Hyper Beach as it looks like colors of the original Nintendo 3DS, plus its scheme overall just 'pops' visually.
One should know that this is a clone system—a console designed and sold to work with most games, but not all. Please don't get confused with the words "most" and "all," with "most" being anywhere in the neighborhood of 80%-90% compatible, as opposed to "all" being 100%. Companies, [tech] reviewers on YouTube may misuse these words, so be wary of such. This is compatible with most Game Boy games we've tested. Official game releases, as shown starting on the 18th image on the slide above, are compatible and work as normal. Upon loading the cartridge and booting up the system, you'll notice the LOADING... screen show up, after seeing the HYPERKIN logo. This is the system dumping the cartridge's ROM—read-only memory—into the software, thus running the ROM off the cartridge via emulation. This has been met with mixed reactions among the retro gaming community, given that its built-in software can be obtained for free with a little know-how and work-around, but alas, that is what's happening underneath. After the cartridge ROM has been off-loaded, the game runs and operates as normal. Thus, you're good to go!
As of late, due to my bitter opinions of online sellers hiking up prices for older video games just because it's being played, streamed or reviewed on YouTube, Twitch and other platforms, I've been exploring homebrews/hacks and reproductions of games I've never got to play nor heard of, including titles that are too pricey to own. With that said, I have a cartridge titled Super Mario Land X, which is a hack of the million-seller hit Super Mario Land for Game Boy. Do Game Boy hacks work? Here are some pictures for proof:
Let's expand further: Here's our test run of the fan-translated Game Boy Color game Star Ocean: Blue Sphere:
Japanese [Game Boy Advance] games? Not a problem! Here we have NAMCO Museum:
Original Game Boy games seem to load much faster, as here we've tested Tail 'Gator (official copy):
Here's a test of V.I.P. (tested and played as a compliment to the new series Pam & Tommy):
Lastly, even though we own the Japanese version of it, here's the US version of Mario Kart Super Circuit:
Some have stated they haven't gotten any of these games to load, but as seen above, especially if you have a handful of homebrews/hacks/reproduction games on hand, we find that it has worked properly on our end. Out of all the games we've tested, original Game Boy games loaded the fastest—no more than 3-4 seconds. As for this system stating that its Game Boy Advance (GBA) compatibility is in Beta, it is GBA games that loaded the longest for us. In fact, upon booting up the system, and using the popular series Mario Kart for the GBA as a test, it never worked on the first try. Turning off the system, removing the cartridge, then plugging it back in suddenly worked and played as usual. Both official Game Boy and Game Boy Color games loaded just fine and worked as usual with no reports of anything worth mentioning. While it displays in 720p, some may complain that the top and bottom are cropped and are unable to adjust it. It may be your TV's overscan which you may need to access its settings to fix. (Whether you're experienced in video production or not, TVs somehow "absorb" screen space around the edges, which explains why video editors add titles and logos accordingly to comply with such "flaw." In other words, absorption of screen space is normal on TVs, so just look at the settings on your TV and adjust them if need be. I have to mention and explain this since people whine about something so little, make videos about their complaints on YouTube, then attack the company because of it, when in reality, it's an easy fix that doesn't deserve a big rant about.) If you ever want to enjoy the entirety of this console's display, we'd recommend a monitor instead as they do not absorb screen space.
I truly believe this was a great idea, and a tough one to ignore as we happily purchased it. Harsh critics of Hyperkin have been adamant about the company using emulation software, which can be obtained for free, be built-in to their systems and being re-sold. According to these critics, this has gotten them in hot water, ruining usage agreements on the software's licenses meant for non-commercial use (there are still debates about this). Nevertheless, out of all the system released since, this one stood out to us the most.
We do own a pirated Game Boy Advance game titled 369 in 1. Result? Games on the first and second pages, numbers 1 to 20, load fine, but the game gets wonky after that. Often times, the game would completely freeze or crash, leaving us to constantly reset. You're thinking, "pshhh whatever Kris, who's crazy enough to buy and collect pirated games anyway?" This online thread from SEGA-16 features some video gamers sharing their neat collection of pirated Game Boy games. Keep laughing if you want, as some of these multi-carts include some unique and exclusive titles never released on a stand-alone cartridge, thus are being sold at prices higher than the newest games released today (that's no joke, by the way). To each their own, yes, but no matter what, there's value to nearly every type of game (that includes sports and casino games).
(As of now, we do not own an EverDrive Game Boy cartridge, nor do we own European-released games, so testing and results for those aren't available on this review.)
Even if it's not 100% complete compatibility, I truly like this system. While I will always love our Game Boy handhelds, though we still don't own the modernized ones with sharper and brighter screens, consoles like this come to the rescue and it's a blessing. Compared to modified systems, this is cost-friendly for the penny pincher. Despite all the harsh critiques on YouTube, Hyperkin went on to fix the issues to keep it alive, and that they did (aren't you YouTubers proud of being Beta testers for us?). The build quality is good, though the outer casing could be more solid, so this isn't something you can throw in the corner to play later, as we will never understand why people use and abuse their video game belongings, then sell them at high prices when they don't want them anymore. Video game cartridges are like children: Treat them well and they'll be in good health for a very long time—there, I said it. Anyway, the console is something I wish companies like SEGA could do for their Game Gear games, as well as SNK doing the same for their Neo Geo Pocket games. It may not seem like it but there's a pretty good audience, ourselves included, for these handhelds. Now, if we're talking about the obscure ones, such as the Mega Duck/Cougar Boy, the Game Master or even the Gamate, then yes, there may not be a reason to build a console like this for those systems (their rare value is quite high, but aren't too hyped up/demanded here in the US). Anyway, while we understand its underlying logistics and political arguments in the making of this system and many others like it, we're just happy this kind of thing exists. We're not sure if any external attachments will be available for this console to play handheld games from other brands, since this is strictly focused on Game Boy games, but we'd like to see portable game libraries, like Game Gear, get some love and attention. Not sure how high the demand will be, but if anyone in Hyperkin is reading this, we'd like to see an all-in-one console focused on just handheld games. (Yes, we're aware of their Retron 5 system, but we'd like to see a multi-port of only handheld systems. Is that possible?)
The load times for GBA games take a little too long, even though we know it's in Beta. If a v1.3, or a v1.4, firmware were to be released before the end of this year fixing the GBA games' load times, then our rating would change (however, at the time of this review's publication, we cannot change our rating regardless of any improvements that follow after). Speaking of firmwares, I'm also unsure if any futures fixes will include proper playing of pirated Game Boy games but we can only hope. (As linked above, there are collectors of such games, so it's best not to count them out.) Again, we love this idea and would like to see this pushed much further for avid, portable retro gaming fanatics like ourselves.
As for streaming or speedrunning, we can't comment on those. We purchased this for the sake of casual and leisure play. If we were to record our gameplay for presentation and/or production purposes, we would use either official hardware, with a professional upscaler, or a "consolizer" connected to a computer running the game's ROM via emulation (the latter technique is done for our MS-DOS games off-loaded from its floppy disk).
If you've got a good amount of Game Boy games in your library/collection, I'd recommend this console. Slouching down to use our phones has ruined the mystique of popping out our favorite handheld system and playing games on the go, so to actually sit and play our favorite portable games on the big screen is a huge compliment. (Often times, I'd like to explore and sightsee when I'm outside, given all that's happened since 2020.) We're not against those who still love the beauty of playing their games on an actual Game Boy, but consoles like this is perfect for those who want to be secure at home and play a game to relax and take their minds off of work and/or school, or even from thought-provoking activities like reading. The world outside is coming back to normal, but still feels a little chaotic and confusing, so you might as well stay away from all the drama and play that one game you enjoyed as a kid. Despite its imperfections, it's a viable console we suggest you purchase.
Thank you, Hyperkin! Looking forward to more firmware updates/fixes and perhaps more systems similar to this. Keep it up!
- A stand-alone console for Game Boy!
- Compact and lightweight.
- Scout controller comfortable to hold.
- Includes a micro SD 512MB card, AC adapter and HDMI cable.
- Runs and displays games in 720p60.
- Costs less than $100.
- Brings life for those who still purchase/collect Game Boy games (that includes us).
- Lots of room for improvement, faster load times and compatibility fixes.
- Console has no pin cover for the cartridge slot, to prevent dust buildup.
- System software runs off emulation that can be obtained for free (its menu can be accessed with a USB keyboard).
- Unlikely to work with all Game Boy games, including homebrews, pirated releases, etc.
- As of firmware v1.2, Game Boy Advance games load the slowest despite still being on Beta.
- Best played on a monitor than a TV, due to overscan.
|Game Console||Retron Sq HD Gaming Console|
|Description||For • Pour • Para
Game Boy® / Game Boy Color® / Game Boy Advance® (Beta)
*Compatibility with Game Boy Advance® cartridges is a beta function.
La compatibilité avec les cartouches Game Boy Advance® est une fonction béta.
for Game Boy Advance® Performance
[LEFT SIDE OF BOX]
C E FC RoHS COMPLIANT
WARNING: Cancer and Reproductive
Harm - www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.
LIMITED WARRANTY / GARANTIE LIMITÉ / GARANTÍA LIMITADA
To register this product, go to www.Hyperkin.com/warranty
Pour enregister ce produit, visiter www.Hyperkin.com/warranty
Para registrar este producto, visite www.Hyperkin.com/warranty
© 2021 Hyperkin Inc. Hyperkin® is a registered trademark of Hyperkin Inc. Game Boy Advance®, Game Boy Color®, and Game Boy® are registered trademarks of Nintendo® of America Inc. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective owners. This product is not designed, manufactured, sponsored, endorsed, or licensed by Nintendo® of America Inc. in the United States and/or other countries. All rights reserved.
© 2021 Hyperkin Inc. Hyperkin est une marque déposée de Hyperkin Inc. Game Boy Advance®, Game Boy Color® et Game Boy® sont des marques déposées de Nintendo® of America Inc. Toutes les autres marques et marques déposées sont la propriété de leurs properiétaires respectifes. Ce produit n'est pas conçu, fabriqué, sponsorisé, approsuvé ou sous licence par Nintendo® of America Inc. aux Etats-Unis et/ou dans d'autres pays. Tous droits réservés.
Designed in the USA
[RIGHT SIDE OF BOX]
HD Gaming Console
Console de Jeu HD
For • Pour • Para
Game Boy® / Game Boy Color® / Game Boy Advance® (Beta)
[BACK OF BOX]
•Compatible with Game Boy® and Game Boy Color® cartridges via open source software. Compatibility with Game Boy Advance® cartridges (beta function)
•Upscales to 720p+4:3/16:9 Aspect Ratio Switch
•1 x Wired USB "Scout" Controller (10 Ft. Cable)
•Included memory card slot for firmware updates
•3 Ft. HD Cable
•6 Ft. Type-C cable with AC adapter
•Compatible avec les cartouches Game Boy® et Game Boy Color® via un logical open source. Compatibilité avec les cartouches Game Boy Advance® (fonction beêta)
•Passage à l'échelle 720p+4:3/16:9
•1 x Contrôleur "Scout" USB câlé (câble de 3 mètres)
•Fente pour carte mémoire incluse pour les mises à jour de firmware
•Câble HD de 1 mètre
•Câble de type C de 1.8 mètres avec adaptateur secteur
•Compatible con los cartouchos de Game Boy® y Game Boy Color® mediante software de código abierto. Compatible con los cartouchos de Game Boy Advance® (funcíon beta)
•Escalando a 720p+4:3/16:9
•1 x Controlador USB "Scout" con cable (cable de 3 metros)
•Se incluye una ranura para tarjetas de memoria para actualizaciones de firmware
•Cable HD de 1 metro
•1.8 metros de cable tipo C con adaptador de AC
•Kompatibel mit Game Boy® und Game Boy Color® Kassetten ü Open Source Software. Kompatibel mit Game Boy Advance® Kassetten (Beta-Funktion)
•Hochskaliert auf 720p+4:3/16:9 Seitenverhältnis-Umschaltung
•1 x kabelgebundener USB "Scout" Controller (10 Ft. Kabel)
•Inklusive Speicherkartenslot für Firmware-Updates
•3 Ft. HD-Kabel
•6 Ft. Typ-C-Kabel mit AC-adapter
|ISBN / Bar Code number||810007711928|
|Video Format||1.3:1 (4.3), 1.78:1 (16:9)|
|Audio Format||Mono (????)|
|Region Compatible||NTSC, PAL|
|Item Number||M01128-HYB 3173PO8|
|Other||Made in China|
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