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May 2015 Retro Gaming Article


May 21, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

From Retron5 to Retro Freak, these emulation consoles ignore Atari & gaming's entire 2nd generation

For a lot of retro gamers, ROMs are appealing simply because they're easy and accessible. Boot up your computer, launch your favorite emulator, and play! It doesn't get much easier than that. However, a lot of us love to push a cart into a console and feel a familiar controller in our hands. Quite a quandary when you have more consoles than inputs on your TV.

Yes, we know about switch-boxes, but those ports fill up pretty quickly too. When a product like Hyperkin's Retron5 offers 5 cartridge slots for 9 different gaming systems, it piques our interest quickly. It's essentially a box full of emulators that allow the 9 different game types to be played. This is the first console we've heard of that supports such a wide variety of game formats. We have a few that support NES and SNES in one unit, but this one really expands the options. But, no Atari support!

The Retron5 has been so popular, it's price has gone up! That trend may end as a competitor, the Retro Freak, is coming to market in Japan (no news on export to other territories) and supports a similar array of games, and includes support for TurboGrafX games. Additionally, the Retro Freak can store your game's ROMs on the unit itself - much like a ROM dump. But, no Atari support!

Retro Freak emulation game console

What About 2nd Generation Consoles?

Kotaku ran an article titled, Retro Console Promises To Play ALL The Games. How can this title be taken seriously when these emulation consoles ignore Atari games, among others? Both of these emulator consoles ignore the Second Generation of video game consoles. No support for Atari 2600 or 5200, Mattel's Intellivision, nor the Colecovision. Interestingly, all of the unsupported systems I mention, are part of the Flashback series of consoles from AtGames.

There are only 2 things that would prevent emulation consoles from including Atari, Intellivision, and Colecovision: legal issues or financial issues. It's always about money or copyrights. But, there may be a technical hurdle. I'm not a programmer, but there may be some issues with the 2nd gen games and their ability to seamlessly work with the console. But, it's probably about money or legal issues.

When comparing the Flashback consoles with the Retron5 and Retro Freak, they operate under much different circumstances. The Intellivision and Colecovision Flashbacks were released in the Fall of 2014. The Atari Flashbacks date back to 2004 with 5 versions having been released. The Flashbacks are self-contained units with 50+ games built-in to the unit. The Sega Genesis Classic Game Console by AtGames, is similar, but had a functional cartridge slot that accepts Genesis game carts. It's a shame this model didn't take hold and offer both built-in games and the option to play actual game cartridges.

The emulation consoles offer an array of cartridge slots and controller ports with the addition of universal controllers that work with all of the game ports. They offer a level of sophistication lacking in the Flashbacks. For what they are, I'd opt for a Retron5 or Retro Freak over playing ROMs on my computer, but why won't these consoles support Atari's early era?!?

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