The RetroN Sq is a tiny cube-shaped console made by Hyperkin, a company known for making retro consoles. The console can play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance Games scaled up to 720p on your TV. For anyone with old GB cartridges, this sounds like a dream come true.
However, weeks before the launch, YouTuber MetalJesusRocks reviewed a unit. He found many issues such as incorrect aspect ratios, slow framerates, and overall bad performance with GBA games, which was a feature in beta. It was clear the RetroN Sq was half-baked. Like many, I immediately canceled my pre-order.
Longer RPGs such as Golden Sun, Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Advance Wars are much better when played on the TV, where you can kick back on the couch for hours. For those who grew up with the original GBA, not having to worry about battery life or moving around to see the screen better is a game-changer.
Even with the update, the RetroN Sq isn’t perfect. Loading times are long. It sometimes feels like nothing is happening, but then it eventually loads. The console also is quick to reject cartridges with dirty pins, so you’ll need some alcohol and cotton swabs to get them working.
Hot swapping cartridges is possible, but stay away from it. After popping my Pokémon Red copy in and out a couple of times to get it working, I noticed my save file was completely wiped. It was a brand new save, so I didn’t lose any progress, but still, it’s better to shut off the console first before swapping carts.
Unlike the Analogue Pocket, which uses FPGA hardware emulation that interacts directly with the cartridge, the RetroN Sq uses software emulation, which downloads the game ROM to emulate it from the onboard storage. It’s why the console takes so long to boot games.
If you have a collection of Game Boy cartridges, the RetroN Sq is worth considering. But with Game Boy and Game Boy Advance game prices so high these days, if you just want emulation, you should look elsewhere. A Raspberry Pi running Retro Pi, for example, uses software emulation and offers more control and access to different gaming platforms at roughly the same price point.
For $50, the GB Operator loads games much quicker and backs up your saves or entire game ROMs. In comparison, the RetroN Sq feels like a cheap way to make a quick buck by leaning on Nintendo nostalgia, delivering an experience far from anything Nintendo would ever put out.