1) What can you tell me about Hyperkin's history? Where did it start, what were the original goals for the company? What is your most popular product line?
Hyperkin was founded by three brothers in Los Angeles who started out in the video game industry selling DDR Dance Pads at the height of its popularity. As their business grew, their retail partners and customers started to ask for other gaming accessories and peripherals. As they started to deal with larger quantities of goods, they needed to establish a trademark, hence, Hyperkin was formed in 2007.
However, as they continued to create more gaming accessories and peripherals, they came to the realization that in order to continue to thrive in the video game industry, they needed to find an identity other than dance pads. Through extensive research, they found that the retro gaming demographic was grossly underserved. Because all of us had some experience with classic gaming, as we had grown up with these types of games, our transition toward this market was remarkably smooth.
Our goals are to create quality products that are not only innovative and unique, but to listen carefully to our audience to meet their needs. We feel interaction with gamers, whether it be through social media, or at trade shows and expos are vital toward the success of our company.
Our most popular products are the RetroN 3 and the SupaBoy, as they are products built upon our willingness to listen and serve the retro gaming community.
2) As you do retail distribution of these items, I'm sure you are all legal in terms of sale. What has to happen to allow your company to put out a system that is compatible with old cartridges?
We do an immense amount of research toward the products that we create, as we do our part to ensure that we comply with all laws and legal patents. We also continuously monitor the market demands, and through this extensive analysis, we are able to determine what exactly our market is asking for. Our development cycle for these products are planned months in advanced, sometimes longer, and our product development team goes through all of the processes necessary, from conceptualization, to prototype, toward beta testing, and finally production.
3) The RetroN5 is an advancement from previous iterations of your console. What is new on this console, and what capabilities does the RetroN5 possess? (I know it has HDMI, but personally, I want to ensure that it has traditional outputs as well, as I have yet to join the HDTV generation)
The most obvious advancements are probably the inclusion of the Game Boy family and Famicom cartridge slots onto the system. Both PAL and NTSC cartridges will be compatible, as will games that have a FX and CIC lockout chip.
We wanted the RetroN 5 to have the modern amenities that current gen gamers have, as most retro gamers still resort to using CRT TVs to play their systems. Obviously, as you mentioned, the HDMI output and the upconversion are the key features of the RetroN 5. But also, based on the personal experiences from our guys here in the office, to the common suggestions that we have received from various people, we wanted to create a system that brought our favorite games from the past and give them new life. We wanted to improve upon the visuals, as well the audio output, hence the use of audio interpolation, which would improve overall sound output. The fact that we couldn’t save our games at any point during gameplay irked us, so we found a way where we could save the game at any point. This is especially useful for those games that were almost impossible to beat, and that once you died, you had to start all over again.
We are continuing to have original controller support for all of the systems, however, we wanted to allow users the option to play any of the systems with the controller of their choosing. On top of all that, we wanted to create a universal wireless controller that that wasn’t tethered to the system through wires, and allowed you to play your games from the comforts of your couch.
What is also very unique to the RetroN 5 is the game user interface (GUI). Here, we allow users to access features toward customizing their gaming experience, from setting up macros, to selecting different filters and shaders, to also allowing for screenshots.
4) What is the expected retail price, and what is the release date planned?
The current release date that we have set is Summer 2013. We have not set a firm price point at this time, but we are aiming for something around the $100 range.
5) Do you have a preorder available yet?
At the moment, we do not. Once we have set a definitive release schedule, our retailers will be notified, and we will publicize it at that time.
6) I have followed your Twitter account (@Hyperkin), and they have put a few tweets out there that made me curious, in particular how Hyperkin would love to work WITH classic companies to put out these systems: what would you guys do with it if that dream came to fruition?
We would be delighted to work with those companies, as we would do our best to maintain their original vision and apply our technology to modernize their systems. I am pretty certain that these classic companies either had budgetary or technological limitations that could be realized today.
7) What do you see in the future of the RetroN gaming console? What system would you incorporate next? Would it ever be possible to add features, such as online play to a classic co-op game, or integration into a MiiVerse-esque community? What's your biggest dream for the RetroN systems?
The future for retro gaming looks very bright, as we see no reason why we would not continue to develop our RetroN series. That being said, we are only focused on the RetroN 5 at the moment, and any talks or speculation on future consoles are just that: speculation. We have an idea on what we want to incorporate next, however, we don’t want to disclose this information until we are absolutely certain we can deliver on a quality product.
Regarding possible features, although online play to classic co-op is possible, it would require a large commitment on our part, and could tie up too much of our resources that we could be spending developing other products.
Special thanks to David Yu for taking the time to answer my questions. As you can see, development is still in progress at Hyperkin, but they're hoping for a very affordable $100 price range, and just in time for your summer gaming needs. Many companies are putting out retro playing consoles these days, but Hyperkin has really hit the nail on the head with not only a complete package able to play most all of your retro games, but one that modernizes the classic gaming by allowing ease of plug in to an HDTV and instant save states. GoozerNation will be sure to keep you updated when final pricing information, release dates, and preorder capabilities come to light.