Famiclones and the like

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Famiclones and the like

Post by DaMadFiddler » Fri Oct 15, 2010 3:44 pm

Any thoughts?

Lately I've been thinking about digging out my old NES cartridges (they're at my grandmother's house, where they've been collecting dust for the last ten years). However, my system is long gone, the traditional NES has the pin problem (and even if you get a refurbished one, the contacts will just wear out again), and the top loaders only have RF out. which wouldn't really work for our setup.

So I've been toying with the idea of picking up a clone. There seems to have been a major spike in both the quality and quantity of these units in the last few years. There are four in particular that stand out:

The Generation NEX. It was a commercial failure, mainly because the company hyped it to be something better than it was. But it is the most aesthetically appealing and seems to have the best (physical) build quality, is the most compact, and it has a separate Famicom slot. It also uses real NES controllers, but of the items on the list it has the most inaccurate sound, and the one big compatibility catch for me is that it doesn't play Castlevania 3. Castlevania 3 *is* one of the games I own.

The FC Twin. Also a pretty attractive unit, with good build quality. Plays NES and SNES games, looks sort of like a late-model SNES (so is fairly attractive), uses SNES controllers, and has more accurate sound than the NEX. However, it still doesn't work with CV3. The manufacturer (Yobo) also has an FC3plus model which contains a Genesis slot as well, but from what I've heard, that model suffers a high failure rate.

The Retro Duo. Has the best NES compatibility of items on this list, and works with almost everything (including CV3). It also seems to work with more SNES games than most clones (such as Star Fox and MarioKart), and like the FC Twin, uses SNES controllers. The SNES portion is region free. However, it seems more flimsily built than the FC Twin or the Generation NEX.

The Retron3. Appears to use the same SOACs as the FC Twin (with the attendant compatibility issues), but also has a Genesis slot. This one is ugly as sin, but seems relatively sturdy and has one big advantage: controller ports for NES, SNES, and Genesis, so you can use original controllers for everything. Again, though, no CV3.

Of course, there's always the option of just getting vintage systems, but a front loading NES will always keep having to be repaired... and as I said, the top loading model won't work for us due to the lack of AV outputs.

Are these the best clones out right now, or am I missing something? Is something better out there? The Retro Duo seems the best of the available options, purely for compatibility reasons, but it would be nice to use actual NES controllers.

Thoughts? Recommendations?
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Re: Famiclones and the like

Post by Christuserloeser » Fri Oct 15, 2010 6:29 pm

The FC3 Plus by Yobo is pretty sweet.

BUT: The NES side of things suffers from the same problems as the other clones (no CV3, sound is slightly off, although not distorted), and you can't use original controllers with this one - although the included controllers are fine, especially considering the built-in auto fire option for NES games.

The SNES and Genesis portions of this machine however are 100% perfect. The Genesis sound is better than on any other hardware. It even beats the Retron 3 with its "at-least-twice-as-loud-as-it-should-be" PSG which totally ruins all games that make use of it.

The FC3 Plus is pretty much on par with the early variants of the original model 1 Genesis.

[youtube]SBV9MBA5HGA&fmt=18[/youtube]


Other than that, the Retro Duo seems to be more accurate than most other clones, at least when it comes to the NES part.


EDIT: The Retromini-X looks rather sweet:

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Re: Famiclones and the like

Post by Eviltaco64X » Sat Oct 16, 2010 10:49 am

I got a Yobo FC for Christmas once.

It was a strange little clone. When you'd turn it on it would slowly warm up to the screen (sort of like a CRT monitor). The sound was slightly off, too.

You get 2 NES 2/SNES-ish looking controllers, and I think you can use original controllers on it, but I'm not sure.
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Re: Famiclones and the like

Post by not just souLLy now » Sat Oct 16, 2010 2:42 pm

I'd be interested if there was a famiclone around that loaded games from an SD card or something similar and had hdmi output, I can't be bothered to dig through the attic to find all my old carts
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Re: Famiclones and the like

Post by DaMadFiddler » Sat Oct 16, 2010 3:35 pm

not just souLLy now wrote:I'd be interested if there was a famiclone around that loaded games from an SD card or something similar and had hdmi output, I can't be bothered to dig through the attic to find all my old carts
In other words, you want a computer that runs an NES emulator ;p
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Re: Famiclones and the like

Post by Ex-Cyber » Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:42 pm

not just souLLy now wrote:I'd be interested if there was a famiclone around that loaded games from an SD card or something similar and had hdmi output, I can't be bothered to dig through the attic to find all my old carts
Could be done. Probably won't be done because it's just too expensive/risky (more development work vs. just dropping in an NOAC, possibility of Nintendo suing, more parts in the system). Good emulators are mostly more accurate than Famiclones these days anyway.
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Re: Famiclones and the like

Post by impetus » Sat Oct 16, 2010 11:20 pm

I'd not heard of the Castlevania 3 thing, but I love my FC Twin.

I also have a Retro-Duo; I got it for the S-Video output. It has problematic video display (muted/faulty colors) and awful, tacky, unresponsive controllers.
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Re: Famiclones and the like

Post by DaMadFiddler » Sun Oct 17, 2010 12:25 am

impetus wrote:I'd not heard of the Castlevania 3 thing, but I love my FC Twin.

I also have a Retro-Duo; I got it for the S-Video output. It has problematic video display (muted/faulty colors) and awful, tacky, unresponsive controllers.
Interesting. That's the problem: I've heard that the Retro Duo isn't as well built, but it also seems to work with several games that the FC Twin can't handle. And, unfortunately, Castlevania 3 is one of the main reasons I'd want one... which severely restricts my options. I suppose I could get a top loading NES and perform the RCA mod on it, but I kind of hate to hack up vintage hardware. [sigh] It's too bad the NEX was such a piece of garbage; that thing really is attractive.

And as for the controllers: that doesn't matter to me, as long as the system doesn't use proprietary controllers. I'd be using first party controllers regardless of the system ;)
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Re: Famiclones and the like

Post by Lartrak » Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:40 pm

If you can pay for it, I suggest an AV Famicom with a converter cart. That's what I use. Uses the same AV out plus as the SNES/N64/Cube. Great picture quality/sound, uses NES controller ports, and perfect compatibility since it's made by Nintendo. Only downside is, being a Famicom, doesn't work with the zapper or four player adapters. It's also fairly expensive stateside for some reason. A friend of mine bought me one in Japan for like $60.
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Re: Famiclones and the like

Post by impetus » Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:18 pm

DaMadFiddler wrote:
impetus wrote:I'd not heard of the Castlevania 3 thing, but I love my FC Twin.

I also have a Retro-Duo; I got it for the S-Video output. It has problematic video display (muted/faulty colors) and awful, tacky, unresponsive controllers.
Interesting. That's the problem: I've heard that the Retro Duo isn't as well built...
To clarify, mine is clearly defective. This obviously isn't how they were designed to work.
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Re: Famiclones and the like

Post by Christuserloeser » Sun Oct 24, 2010 12:46 pm

Final part of a series of eight videos comparing the RetroDuo with a real NES:
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