I joined Grouvee the same year that I was gifted a RetroN 5. I didn’t expect to own the system, but it gave me an excuse to buy a few cartridges and revisit that sort of nostalgia. (I know that’s silly… it’s an emulation box, so there’s no real difference between playing it on my PC versus playing it on the RetroN. I can’t really justify it any better than the albums I own on vinyl… the ritual is fun, y’know?)
I’d heard murmurs of the RetroN 5 not being built super well, but I enjoyed many hours of classic games on it and had fun.
The problems started within the first year. The controller it shipped with (which isn’t very good to begin with) stopped accepting any inputs other than “up.” This was really mysterious because nothing really happened to it… I don’t throw my controllers, it wasn’t left in a bin with the joystick pressed a certain way or anything. One day, works fine… the next day, broken. It took several weeks, but Hyperkin eventually shipped me a replacement.
Less than a year later (annoyingly only a month or two past the warranty period), the SNES slot stopped detecting any games. Again, this was mysterious… the NES slot has this “death grip” on cartridges, but the SNES slot had been problem-free. This took even longer to discuss with Hyperkin, but eventually they agreed to replace the console if I paid shipping and sent it in its retail packaging (which I thankfully had).
I got a console back, but (annoyingly) not in retail packaging. But my annoyance subsided when this console seemed to function better. I went a couple of years of occasional use and, aside from the typical RetroN 5 problems like the aforementioned NES death grip, everything was fine.
Then last week, all of the cartridge slots stopped detecting cartridges. Even slots I almost never used no longer worked. Just like the previous issues, it just mysteriously failed one day.
After trying the usual troubleshooting steps (update the firmware, re-flash the firmware, clean cartridge contacts, etc.) to no avail, I reached out to Hyperkin. They offered to replace the console, but because I no longer had its box (which remember, is their fault… they made me ship it back to them, and they did not return one) and because it was out of warranty, I would have to pay shipping and a $79.99 fee.
I declined. Three hardware failures in less than five years is pretty ridiculous, and I’d be paying more than half the cost of a brand new system. I’d rather put that to something like the Polymega, Retro Freak or an Analogue system at this point, y’know?
Anyway, to tie it all back to my subject line: This hardware failure means I no longer have a console for five or ten of the games in my backlog. So… yay smaller backlog?