Hyperkin has been one of the biggest names in 'new' retro products for quite some time now, thanks to products like the RetroN 5 and Supa Boy. The company is back with a new device – the RetroN Jr. – which plays the entire Game Boy library on your HDTV.
Keen to get a little more insight into this new console, we sat down with Sebastian Jennings, Hyperkin's Director of Product and Licensing, for a short chat.
Nintendo Life: What inspired you to focus your next product on the Game Boy family?
Sebastian Jennings: The biggest inspiration for the RetroN Jr. is to provide an updated, alternative way of playing Game Boy games comfortably with a HD TV and a gamepad setup.
The Game Boy range is obviously associated with portable play - why did you choose to make this a home console rather than a handheld, or a handheld that can connect to your TV?
The benefits of playing a Game Boy game on a home TV is to take advantage of a large screen. This can potentially allow gamers to appreciate their classics again, this time in a comfortable living room instead of those streetlight-lit car rides home. The pick-up-and-play nature of a handheld console becomes more relaxed and possibly more patient. Now your whole family can see you tackle those dungeons. This gives a whole new perspective to your favourite RPGs and puzzle games that you enjoyed as a kid.
There's a lot of hype around FPGA technology when it comes to creating 'new' classic consoles these days; we've already established that the RetroN Jr. uses software emulation - was this a cost-based choice or do you feel that your software emulation is good enough to satisfy most players?
Even though FPGA-based consoles are becoming a more popular playback method, we find that software emulation is still an effective solution for the RetroN Jr. – Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance games are nearly 100% compatible with the RetroN Jr.
Will there be any way for players to load ROMs onto the console, or will they need original cartridges?
Like all our past consoles, original cartridges will be required to play the games on the RetroN Jr.
Will the RetroN Jr. work with flash cartridges?
Flash cartridges will not be supported.
You're not the only company entering this space in 2020 – Analogue is producing a handheld console that will run the same games. How closely are you monitoring that particular product?
We are always excited to see projects from other companies, especially when it comes to retro gaming. Analogue upholds the spirit and ingenuity that we ourselves try to uphold in the creative process.
The Analogue Pocket, much like Analogue's other consoles, caters to a different market than the RetroN Jr. which can be seen in the price point. The RetroN Jr. offers a solution for anyone looking to play their cartridges in the simplest and easiest way possible, of course, while looking great as well.
What aspect of the RetroN Jr. are you most proud of?
We are most excited about the form factor of the RetroN Jr. The RetroN Jr. is technically a home console, but we aim to make it small enough to be easily plug in and play on the go.
You've previously released the RetroN 5, which runs a whole host of gaming formats. Does the release of the RetroN Jr. indicate that you're heading down a more focused path, with consoles that just run a single format rather than several?
Not necessarily. We want to do our best to explore all the creative ways that we can expand the RetroN family in order to fulfil market needs and market gaps. The RetroN 5 has helped us gauge what the community desires in an HD console. We've started to gradually release new HD consoles in what we consider a new line of RetroNs. This started with the RetroN HD, the Supa RetroN HD, the RetroN 77, and most recently the Mega RetroN HD.
These consoles, with the exception of the RetroN 77, are digital solutions that don't employ the use of an operating system, like the RetroN 5. Of course, we did release the RetroN 2 HD, which is compatible with NES and Super NES, so we are releasing HD multi-consoles as well.
We'd like to thank Sebastian for his time.