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Author Topic: NES/Famicom clones. Are they worth buying?  (Read 488 times)

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Grasshopper

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NES/Famicom clones. Are they worth buying?
« on: May 24, 2017, 07:44:59 am »
Disclaimer - Iíve never actually owned a real NES. When I was growing up, most kids who were into computer games played them on ďrealĒ (mostly non-IBM) personal computers. And as far as retro gaming is concerned, my main interest is in emulating old arcade games.

So I donít have any particular feelings of nostalgia towards the NES platform. But Iím still interested in old gaming platforms in the more general sense, so when Nintendo released the NES mini last year, I got caught up in the hype, and decided that I wanted one. Unfortunately, like most people, I failed to get one before Nintendo inexplicably pulled the plug.

I think itís likely that Nintendo will eventually re-release the NES mini (or something like it). But in the meantime, Iíve been looking at alternatives. I had an old Raspberry Pi lying around gathering dust. So I installed a Nintendo based Retropie image on it, and overall, Iím pretty happy with the end result. Iím discovering a lot of decent arcades style games for the NES and SNES (particularly the latter) that Iíve never played before.

But for me this hobby is as much about recreating the physical hardware as emulation. So Iíve been toying with the idea of buying a cheap NES (or Famicom) clone, and using the case to house my Raspberry Pi.

However, now Iíve done some research into the clones, Iím thinking they might actually be worth buying in their own right. Iím amazed how much hardware you can get direct from China for about $25 these days. For that sort of money Iím prepared to take a punt.

Most of the clones come bundled with hundreds of games. Even allowing for the inevitable repeats and hacks, thatís an awful lot of games. And if the console turned out to be crap, I can still fall back on my original plan to use the case to rehouse my Raspberry Pi.

The problem is, I know from past experience, that buying from China can be a bit of a gamble. A lot of the sellers have a very cavalier attitude towards describing their products, and quality control is practically non-existent. So, Iím wondering whether some of you guys who are more knowledgeable about the NES platform than me, can give me some pointers over what to look out for, what to avoid etc. when buying a clone.

Thanks in advance.
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pbj

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Re: NES/Famicom clones. Are they worth buying?
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2017, 11:13:25 am »
Spend the $100, get a Famicom Mini while you still can.




Anyway, I've got a couple of clones and a legit top loader NES.  The Chinese multicarts, particularly the 143 and 151 in 1s, are better than you'd suspect.  I played $10-15 shipped for them and used their arrival as an excuse to play through a few NES games I missed back then.

But I haven't touched that stuff since I got the Mini.
 :cheers:

JDFan

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Re: NES/Famicom clones. Are they worth buying?
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2017, 11:58:46 am »
But for me this hobby is as much about recreating the physical hardware as emulation. So Iíve been toying with the idea of buying a cheap NES (or Famicom) clone, and using the case to house my Raspberry Pi.

However, now Iíve done some research into the clones, Iím thinking they might actually be worth buying in their own right. Iím amazed how much hardware you can get direct from China for about $25 these days. For that sort of money Iím prepared to take a punt.

Most of the clones come bundled with hundreds of games. Even allowing for the inevitable repeats and hacks, thatís an awful lot of games. And if the console turned out to be crap, I can still fall back on my original plan to use the case to rehouse my Raspberry Pi.

The problem is, I know from past experience, that buying from China can be a bit of a gamble. A lot of the sellers have a very cavalier attitude towards describing their products, and quality control is practically non-existent. So, Iím wondering whether some of you guys who are more knowledgeable about the NES platform than me, can give me some pointers over what to look out for, what to avoid etc. when buying a clone.

Thanks in advance.

Like you mention - for $25 it's worth giving a shot - the latest mini knockoff comes with 500 games and even though most of them are hacks and knockoff versions there should still be several that are worth playing (I'll know more in a few more weeks after mine arrives  :dunno ) - plus the case is useable for a pi build if/when you decide to go that route. Sure the NOAC (NES on a chip) clones have their problems but they can still be fun so I'd say it's worth the $25.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2017, 12:01:48 pm by JDFan »

Howard_Casto

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Re: NES/Famicom clones. Are they worth buying?
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2017, 01:20:52 pm »
A real NES, so long as you just need it in playable condition, isn't super expensive, so I would go with that over a clone.  That being said, the nes classic/famicom mini is a far better choice for just playing games because the interlacing of the av out on a nes is pretty hard to clean up on a modern tv. 

pbj

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Re: NES/Famicom clones. Are they worth buying?
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2017, 02:24:38 pm »
Yep, recently played an NES on an LCD.  Looked HORRIBLE.  At risk of sounding like one of those CRT nuts, I am actually glad I'm running original hardware on a CRT.  Emulators look fine on LCD, though.





Grasshopper

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Re: NES/Famicom clones. Are they worth buying?
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2017, 03:25:24 pm »
Spend the $100, get a Famicom Mini while you still can.

 :cheers:

If I could get one for $100 shipped, then I'd be tempted. However, where I live, they're selling for a lot more than that, so unfortunately the Famicom Mini is not currently an option for me.
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Grasshopper

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Re: NES/Famicom clones. Are they worth buying?
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2017, 03:32:49 pm »
A real NES, so long as you just need it in playable condition, isn't super expensive, so I would go with that over a clone.  That being said, the nes classic/famicom mini is a far better choice for just playing games because the interlacing of the av out on a nes is pretty hard to clean up on a modern tv.

Some of the clones now provide HDMI output which is nice. But I'm not convinced they're worth the extra money.

Anyway, the aim of this exercise is not really to create the ultimate NES playing experience. The reality is that we've reached the point where, at least for the early consoles, emulation is better than the real thing. I already have a Retropie image that enables me to play over 3000 Nintendo games through HDMI, without the hassle of having to change cartridges, and using any USB controller I choose. How can real hardware compete with that? It's hardly surprising that Nintendo chose to base the NES Mini around an emulator instead of actual hardware.

All I'm really aiming for is to buy a cheap trinket that will enable me to get a taste of what it would have been like to play on a real NES/Famicom 30 years ago (warts and all). In that sense, AV output is actually more authentic. If it gives me a few hours pleasure then it will have paid for itself.

If my current interest in NES games turns out to be more than a passing fad, then I'll almost certainly eventually go back to playing the games on an emulator of some sort. It's just so much more convenient. And as you say, emulators work better on modern TVs.
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Grasshopper

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Re: NES/Famicom clones. Are they worth buying?
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2017, 03:39:35 pm »
Like you mention - for $25 it's worth giving a shot - the latest mini knockoff comes with 500 games and even though most of them are hacks and knockoff versions there should still be several that are worth playing (I'll know more in a few more weeks after mine arrives  :dunno ) - plus the case is useable for a pi build if/when you decide to go that route. Sure the NOAC (NES on a chip) clones have their problems but they can still be fun so I'd say it's worth the $25.

Yes, for $25 it feels like a no-brainer.

My main dilemma is whether to go for a full sized clone or a mini version.

The full sized ones have the advantage of working cartridge slots, and in the case of the Famicom clones, they also come with full-sized controllers. However, I think the mini versions are more suitable for housing a Pi.
"Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." - Samuel Johnson

  
 

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