Archive for November, 2010

Hyperkin RetroN 3 Review

Posted in Hardware, Retro Gaming, Reviews on November 28, 2010 by satoshimatrix

Since console patients expire after twenty years, in the last few years we gamers have been seeing a lot of cloned hardware out there. From early examples such as the Yobo FC Game Console and Messiah Generation NEX to the Gen Mobile and FC-16 Go, clones have become more and more common with each passing year.

Now another company, Hyperkin, has released what they claim is the ultimate retro system for oldschool gamers. Let’s take a closer look at it.

Features

the Hyperkin RetroN 3 (pronounced either like a robot from transformers “Retron” or “Retro” with the letter “n” added to the end) has the following features:

-Three cartridge slots for NES, Genesis and SNES games
-Two included clone Genesis six-button style IR controllers that work with all three systems
-Six controller ports – two for each system
-Composite video output with stereo for all three and S-video output for SNES and Genesis
-NTSC and NTSC-J region switch for Japanese Megadrive titles
-Also includes good quality S-video cable, male t0 male composite cables and a decent quality Power Supply Unit

Description

The Retron 3 is a clone retro system that has plays Nintendo Entertainment System games, Sega Genesis games, and Super Nintendo games. It has three cartridge ports, a system selector dile, S-video output (SNES and Genesis only) and supports first party controllers for all three systems, meaning you can use real NES, SNES and Genesis controllers on this one clone.

Compatibility

NES

The RetroN 3’s NES board is just the same ol’ NOAC crap we’ve been seeing for years, so don’t expect to be able to to play your MMC5 games such as Castlevania 3 or Uncharted Waters. All games will have typical NOAC quality sound issues with none sounding as they should, some with quite pronounced differences. The cheapness of the NOAC rules the Powerpak out from working as well. When attempted, the Powerpak will boot, but say it cannot find the CF card. Grade: 6/10

SNES

The SNES side of things is pretty damn perfect. S-video output is clear and crisp and the audio is absolutely flawless. It will play almost anything you throw at it with the lone exception of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. All but the earliest revisions of Mario RPG will not play on systems lacking Nintendo’s lockout chip, which is still under patient and pirates dare not copy for legal wrath.

While the SNES Mouse works, the Super Scope doesn’t work at all, in S-video or Composite. I even went through the troubleshooting process by even setting my real SNES right next to it, plugging it on and turning it on and making sure it works, then seconds later trying it on the RetroN 3 to no avail. Super Scope games will load up fine, but you cannot use the scope itself as the receiver isn’t detected.

The SNES side will work with every commercial game I’ve tried (other than Mario RPG) and also works with my Star Fox 2 reproduction cartridge. All the enjoyment of the unreleased game can be had on the Retron 3. Surprisingly, the Retron 3 will even play the Super Powerpak from Retrozone! Grade: 9.5/10

Genesis

The Genesis is sort of a mixed bag. While S-video provides a clean clear video, the audio is a little wonky. Not AWFUL like AtGames attempts, it’s just that the volume levels are not what they should be, meaning some of the audio is twice as loud as it should be (some background music, some sound effects) while other music that should be louder is twice as quiet as usual (some lead music). It leads you to hear some things you probably would not have noticed on a real Genesis.

The Retron 3 will play every game I’ve tried with it except for Virtua Racing without any problem. The system even has a region switch on the back of the system for Japanese Megadrive games! PAL Megadrive games will not work on it however. The cartridge slot is designed to allow both the small and sleek US Genesis cartridges and the slightly more bulky Japanese Megadrive carts to fit.  I’ve heard unconfirmed reports that the EverDrive Flash cart doesn’t function. Grade: 7/10

Build Quality

The Retron 3 has a light mat finish that is reasonably scratch resistant and cartridges are easier to get out than on some clones. While it’s not something I’d want to toss around carelessly, the Retron 3 is actually a fairly sturdy piece of hardware for being a clone system. The system is not nearly as light as you’d expect from a clone and the included S-video cable is actually rather heavy duty. The Power Supply Unit it comes with is 9v DC center pin negative, and can be substituted for  a Model 1 Genesis PSU if you wish.

What are complete garbage are the included controllers. They are modeled after Genesis 6-button style and work with all three systems, even providing turbo fire for NES games. Unfortunetely, the buttons are stiff, the controller feels cheap, requires 2 AAA batteries and operates not on 2.4 GHz wireless, but IR Infrared like you would find in a standard TV remote. This means the controllers need to be more or less level with the console itself and a distance of less than six feet. Even under these conditions, the response times aren’t very good. Just use original controllers and either throw these out, keep them in the box or use them for parts.

Availability & Price

The Retron 3 is available on ebay, stoneage gamer and a few other shops for around $65-75. The SNES side is so good it makes a great substitute for a real SNES for that special someone who might  be into oldschool SNES gaming.

History

Hyperkin, a small manufacturer of affordable niche gaming products has been around for several years now, first selling products for the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox. In time though, they began to develop more products and now offer a few clone systems including the Retron1 which is a standalone Famiclone. The Retron 3 is one of their best selling products to date.

Overall

Good

-S-Video output for Genesis and SNES is simply excellent
-Extremely high compatibility with most NES games, nearly all Genesis/Megadrive games and 100% compatibility with SNES and Super Famciom games
-Controller ports for real controllers mean no puppies get skinned as punishment against nature for using crappy clone controllers
-Region switch for Genesis and Japanese Megadrive games
-Super Powerpak works with it

Bad

-Poor composite quality for all three systems
-A 2004 quality NOAC for the NES. Expect all the problems associated with NOAC’s.
-Genesis produces audio at incorrect volumes. Often sound effects are WAY too loud while FM Synthesis is 50% softer than it should be.
-Doesn’t support SNES specialty controllers including the Super Scope
-A bit too pricey to comfortably recommend to everyone looking for a retro gaming solution

Conclusion

With the S-video output and a real first party controllers, there’s literally no difference from the real hardware in any game you throw at it when you play SNES games. Even with some sound volume issues, the S-video provides Genesis games with a beautiful picture you couldn’t get out of a Genesis unless you were to mod one. The biggest problem I have with it though is the NOAC Famiclone. It’s little better than a 2005 Yobo FC Game Console. Inaccurate sound, wrong colors, displays glitches on some games, doesn’t play advanced stuff like Castlevania 3 or the NES Powerpak.

All this said though,the Retron 3 is a great system for people who are into oldschool gaming. While it might not be the true answer to your Retro gaming prayers, the Retron 3 is still a great product that comes recommended as long as you buy knowing what you’re getting into.

Make sure you buy from a seller willing to accept returns or exchanges. As you can probably imagine, this is a system from China and carries no real quality guarantee. While mine has been fine, I’ve heard reports of systems being broken or defective, parts not working, stereo sound being reversed, controller ports not working, etc. Not sure how much of a real concern this is, but just be ready for a plan B should the worst happen to you.

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How to: Clean cartridge contacts

Posted in Hardware, NES, Retro Gaming, Tutorials on November 27, 2010 by satoshimatrix

As an oldschool gamer, I have a great many games in original cartridge format. From the 2600 to the GBA, all cartridges can become dirty and require cleaning every now and then.

 

I’ve tried various methods of removing dirt, grime or just plain corrosion from cartridges, but what I’ve found to work the best is simply using a clean large pink school eraser. Use a standalone eraser, not one at the end of a pencil. If you have a large collection of cartridges, you’ll need a big eraser.

 

Tools required

  • Dirty cartridges
  • Large pink eraser (can be found at any stationary store)
  • Paper Towel and Tissue Paper
  • Tool to open your cartridges: Most require security screws that can be found on ebay for a few bucks. Invest in a set that includes all the screwheads you’ll need
  • Screwdriver with changeable screwhead

 

1. Set up a clear area on the surface of a table or other flat surface. Lay out at least two sheets of paper towel as a “bed” to work on.

2. For the sake of this tutorial, I’ll focus on how to clean NES games, but the process is more or less the same for any other cartridge games. Use your security screw to open your game cartridge. Do this by flipping the cartridge over and unscrewing the three screws that hold it in place. For early run NES games, you will see five screws that can simply be unscrewed using a flat-head screwdriver.

3. Remove the backing of the shell and place the screws in a bowl so you don’t lose them.

4. Make sure to ground yourself to avoid any potential damage to your games. Once done, remove the game PCB from the front shell and place it on the paper towel bed.

5. Be mindful of the sharpness of the pins that sick out from the soldered chips. Without hurting yourself, hold down the PCB firmly with one hand and vigorously rub the pink eraser back and forth across the grime and corrosion on the pins. After only a few seconds, you will notice a dramatic difference. Flip the PCB over and repeat the process on the other side.

6. Using a tissue paper, remove the eraser bits mixed witht he loosened grime onto a corner of the paper towel bed you will not be directly working over.

7. Replace the game PCB inside the shell. Remember that all NES games are placed chip side facing towards the front of the shell. Reassemble the game.

8. Repeat the process for each game you have.

Follow these steps and all your cartridges should work first time you try them, no matter how old they are!

THIS ENDS – A VS SMB Followup

Posted in NES, Retro Gaming on November 24, 2010 by satoshimatrix

Since reviewing VS Super Mario Bros. from Retrozone, I’ve become more and more aware of a minor issue I’ve been experiencing with my cart. Every time you visit a few of the night stages such as 3-1, 3-2, 6-1 etc you will noticed the ominous words “THIS ENDS’ as part of the background. After asking about this on Famicom World, I was asked for some evidence, so here’s three different locations of this occurring for all to see:

Maybe this is just my cart, maybe its a limit first run problem, or maybe all copies have this “glitch”? If anyone has picked up a copy, let me know. I’ll email bunnyboy and hopefully get a response. Stay tuned.

Megaman 4 Review (NES)

Posted in Megaman Classic, NES, Retro Gaming, Reviews on November 19, 2010 by satoshimatrix

A New Ambition!!

By 1991, the Super Nintendo was already out and many people were eagerly switching over to the new console and abandoning the NES. Yet, the NES would still endure into its golden years thanks in large part to due to continued support from Capcom. One of Capcom’s major titles for 1991 was Megaman 4, which they announced would not be on the Super NES as many had suspected, but still for the regular Nintendo instead. (bet it’s been a while since you last heard that term!)

This choice kept sales figures for Megaman 4 to never hope to reach those of Megaman 2 and 3, but nevertheless, Megaman 4 did sell fairly well. Looking back on it now though, is Megaman 4 worth a look or were the masses right that it should have been made for the SNES?

Story

It is the year 2011. Megaman has been fully repaired following the injuries he sustained in the collapse of Dr. Wily’s fortress following Gamma’s destruction in his third battle against Dr. Wily. Even though they were adveresies, it is a somber time for Megaman following the presumed death of the tyrannical scientist in the collapse. Although he had sworn to defend justice, he never intended Wily to parish.

After the chaos ended and peace was restored, Dr. Light received a message from a mysterious Russian scientist named Dr. Cossack, claiming to be the greatest scientific genius in the world and having been far too long overlooked by Dr. Light. Angered and jealous, Dr. Cassock has sent his eight most powerful robots to destroy Megaman to prove his robots are better than Light’s.

As Megaman prepares to face off against the soviet robot threat, there is but one thing he is sure of – IN SOVIET RUSSIA, ROBOT MASTERS YOU!

Graphics

Megaman 4 is a great looking NES game, but it adds very little that Megaman 3 didn’t do. Sprites are just as well animated as ever, mid-bosses look great and there’s now environmental effects such as rain and running water. Megaman 4 taps into everything the NES could do and produces some really great effects. You won’t be disappointed with the way it looks. In fact, had Megaman 4 been on the SNES, I’m not sure it would’ve looked as good as what was done on the NES. It isn’t the best the NES could do, but it’s aged very nicely.

Audio

New composer Minae Fuji (Ojalin) joins Megaman 3 composer Yasuaki Fujita (Bun Bun) to pump out more incredible tracks. You will find that you’ll hum many of these tracks and possibly want to seek out remixes to put on your ipod. Megaman music on your ipod? It’s more likely than you think!

Here’s a remix of my favorite track in the game, The Cassock Citadel stage 1-2 theme.

Gameplay

Everything from Megaman 3 is here – the jumping, shooting, even the sliding. Megaman 4 adds one new element that has since been a staple of Megaman: the Mega Buster charge shot. By holding the B button for several seconds, Megaman will charge up his standard Mega Buster up to three stages, unleashing a powerful bolt of energy equal to three of his standard plasma shots in a row.

Holding down B for only 2 seconds results in a small round shot, which would later be a “mid-charge”. In Megaman 4 though, this move is only as powerful as the regular plasma pellets, so keep that in mind when on the offensive.

The weapons for Megaman 4 are somewhat of a mixed bag. While none are as absolutely worthless as 3’s Top Spin, you’ll find a few of them are pretty poor and rarely used. The Skull Barrier is more a lot like the Woodman’s Leaf Shield from 2, except that it vanishes when it hits anything. The other fairly useless weapon is the Rain Flush, which pelts the screen with a weak acid rain damaging everything other than Megaman. As the Rain Flush does very little damage, you’ll hardly ever use it.

On the other hand, Megaman 4 also includes some of the best weapons in the series including the Ring Boomerang, Dive Missiles, and Pharaoh Shot. The Ring Boomerang travels through enemies, can grab items through walls, and is a rather powerful attack. Dive Missiles automatically home in on the closest enemy, making them extremely useful. The Pharaoh Shot is a combination of the multi-directional  Metal Blade and the charge ability of the Atomic Fire. Hold down B to amass a large ball of energy that can be thrown from 50 to 90 degree arches. Some of the weapons suck, but the awesome ones more than make up for it.

Control

Megaman 4 controls literally identically to Megaman 3. That is as good as it gets. You will never fight with the controls.

d-pad: Movement

B: Fire
A: Jump

Start: Pause
Select: No fucntion

Frustration

Megaman 4 includes the embarrassingly easy to defeat Toadman, but also the quite difficult Ringman, Pharaohman and Drillman. The difficulty of Megaman 4 is perhaps slightly more challenging than Megaman 3, but Megaman 4 is by no means an overly tough game, especially for NES standards. On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the hardest, I’d give Megaman 4 is a 6.

Availability & Price

Megaman 4 was only ever released for the Famicom and NES. It seems to be one of the more commonly seen Megaman titles as I’ve seen it a number of times used in various game stores that don’t often get in Megaman NES games. On average, expect to pay $15-30 cart only for both the NES and Famicom versions. Alterntively, it is also on the Wii Virtual Console for 500 points. It was released for the Playstation in Japan in 1999 as part of the Rcokman Complete Works series, and the PL1 version was ported with the rest to Megaman Anniversary Collection in 2004 in North America.

History

Megaman 4 pioneered many concepts that would become staples of Megaman platforming for decades to follow. It is the first game to feature the Mega Buster, the basic ability for Megaman to charge his arm cannon. It marked the first game where Wily framed someone, a reoccurring theme in nearly every sequel to follow. It was the first Megaman game to make use of many cutscenes, allowed players to revisit stages of defeated robots, and marked the first to have hidden items and alternative paths through some of the stages.

There is a extremely rare gold variation of the the Japanese version that was given out to the finalist winners of the Robot Master Creation Contest held in Japan. These eight cartridges are considered to be one of the Famicom’s holy grails. The only non-privately owned copy is for sale in Akiharaba’s legendary Super Potato retro game store. The price? well, just watch this segment from Japanese gameshow Game Center CX.

Overall

Good

  • Continues the Megaman terdition of excellent play control, graphics, audio and gameplay
  • Password system is streamlined from Megaman 3’s.
  • Some original concepts such as falling ceilings introduced here that make the game more exciting
  • More legendary Megaman music. Megaman 4 has some of my favorite chiptunes of all time, particularly the Cassock Citadel theme.
  • Relatively common and cheap to find in the wild

Bad

  • The balancing of the Mega Buster isn’t quite right just yet.
  • Some of the robot masters this time are incredibly dumb. Dustman anyone?
  • Rush Jet isn’t nearly as useful here as it was in Megaman 3
  • More useless Megaman weapons: Skull Barrier and Rain Flush
  • By and large the most forgettable of the six games on the NES.
  • The game can be beaten easily by seasoned Megaman players, but has the least replay value of all six NES titles.

Conclusion

Megaman 3 is where many stopped playing Megaman games, and it’s a true shame. Megaman 4 features everything that made the third game so excellent yet it starts a deja vu feeling a little too strong for its own good. The game is worth playing on its own merits, but as a Megaman game on the NES, it is perhaps the weakest of the bunch.

Data

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System, Famicom, (ported to: Gamecube/PS2/Xbox/Wii)

Genre: Action Platformer

Release Date: January 1992

Developer: Capcom

Publisher: Capcom

Also from the developer: Megaman 2, Bionic Commando, Darkwing Duck, etc

Game Length: ~90 minutes

ESRB: N/A, but would be E

Buy/Skip: Buy

VS Super Mario Bros. Review (NES)

Posted in NES, Retro Gaming, Reviews on November 16, 2010 by satoshimatrix

Retrozone strikes again in a Super way

Only just a few weeks ago, Retrozone released VS Super Mario Bros. for sale for the first time ever, converted over from the Play-Choice 10 arcade structure to the hardware found in the home consumer Nintendo Entertainment System.

Effectively the world’s first SMB ROM hack, VS Super Mario Bros. is a peice of Nintendo history that can finally be brought to the NES and experienced by thousands of gamers who long for the days where they might be able to find this cabinet in their local arcade.

With the release, the questions mount: What is this game? Is it any good? Is it worth the price? When are you going to get around to video reviews!? Read on for almost all of the answers!

Story

Due to being a negligent Italian plumber who loves mushrooms a little too much, the Mushroom Princess and seven of her Toad aids have been kidnapped by a reptile named Koopa in charge of an army of mushrooms and turtles. Now our hero Mario (or his brother Luigi) must traverse 32 levels in search of the missing princess.

Graphics

VS Super Mario Bros. looks exactly like the NES version of Super Mario Bros. The conversion from the arcade’s RGB color pallet to the NES’s pallet seems to have toned down the red hues. Mario seems much darker now, but other than that, the game looks identical to the regular SMB.

Audio

Classic stuff. VS Super Mario Bros. also shares all it’s audio with the original NES version, so expect all of Koji Kondo’s legendary work well represented here. Added from the NES version is a nice remix of the overworld theme that plays during the Name Entry screen and High Score sequence.

Gameplay

VS Super Mario Bros. shares it’s gameplay from Super Mario Bros. on the NES. Expect to run, jump, destroy bricks, collect coins, jump on enemies, collect Mushrooms and Fire Flowers, go through warp pipes, climb vines, save Toads and eventually, free the Princess.

Control

D-pad: Move left/right
B: Fire Fire Flower Fireball (try saying that three times fast) or hold to run
A: Jump
Select: Hold down along with Start to add a credit
Start: Hold down along with Select to add a credit

VS Super Mario Bros. controls exactly as you would expect with perfect functionality. Keep in mind that since this is a direct port of the arcade version, there is no way to pause the game, which is a major bummer. Consider this a true throwback to retro gaming demands!

Frustration

Super Mario Bros. isn’t an easy game to finish as it is, but VS Super Mario Bros. is even harder. Expect fewer mushrooms, coins, more enemies and pitfalls and fewer opportunists to make mistakes. It’s still not nearly as challenging as Super Mario Bros. 2 (Japanese version) but hey, don’t expect a cakewalk, even if you can easily breeze through Super Mario Bros. already.

Availability & Price

VS Super Mario Bros. is being sold exclusively by Retrozone for the cost of $50 USD plus shipping. The price may seem rather high, but keep in mind this is not a mapper hacked version or a Chinese pirated version of the VS arcade board. What you get for the money is a brand new NES PCB with a set of dip-switches for controlling arcade functions such as the number of coins needed to gain a life, how many lives you have and to set freeplay. The game is housed in a wonderful crystal white transparent shell to show off the beautiful new PCB. The game also comes in a brand new clear plastic Retrozone Dust Sleeve that closely mimics the original Nintendo ones, but is transparent and says Retrozone rather than Nintendo. To me, the dust sleeve itself represents Retrozone’s philosophy: It’s new tech that does nothing but remind me of the way it was. God bless you Retrozone.

Retrozone’s magic turns the original arcade cabinet into a handy NES cart!

History

VS Super Mario Bros. was released in early 1986 in arcades in both Japan and North America. Although the arcade game was extremely similar to the home console version, changes were made to make the game more challenging such as removing 1-ups and a mushroom/fire flower spawn points and added more pitfalls to early levels. As the game would progress, differences would become more and more pronounced making the game a new and difference experience than one would find at home.

In later years, VS Super Mario Bros. would be combined in “L” shaped duel arcade cabinets combined with VS. Dr. Mario. I played both arcade machines up until just a few years ago when the arcade on Young St. in Toronto closed it’s doors in 2008. For me, this was a sad end of an era as with many other games, Vs Super Mario Bros. was a game I would return to play again and again. This is just among the reasons I’m so happy to see an NES port at last.

Overall

Good

-It’s owning a piece of gaming history
-Dip switch settings make the game easier or more difficult, not to mention much more cool
-Fast arcade-style gameplay
-Great conversation piece

Bad

-Somewhat expensive at $50
-No way to pause the game
-Difficult
-Mario’s usual red hue is darker than usual

Here’s the PCB for you tech lovers out there!

Conclusion

Nintendo’s arcade days are long since past, but thanks to Retrozone, anyone who has held onto the first console Nintendo produced more than twenty years ago are rewarded for their dedication through this true labour of love. Hopefully, VS Super Mario Bros. will be only the first among many arcade conversions of other VS Nintendo titles that were released in the late 80’s. For now, celebrate Mario’s 25th Anniversary with a trip down memory lane in a game that is still just as super as Mario has ever been.

 

Data

Platform: Nintendo Entertainment System

Genre: Action Platformer

Release Date: November 2010

Developer: Nintendo R&D1

Publisher: Retrozone

Also from the developer: Battle Kid: Fortress of Peril

Game Length: ~60 minutes

ESRB: N/A, but would be E

Buy/Skip: Buy

Yobo FC-16 Go Review

Posted in Hardware, Reviews, SNES on November 16, 2010 by satoshimatrix

The world’s first Commerically available Portable SNES

For years, hobbyist gamers who are extremely handy have constructed some pretty amazing portable versions of their favorite systems. Everything from the Atari 2600 to the Dreamcast has been made portable, and amongst the most popular system people want to have in their hands is the SNES.

With a huge library of excellent , ageless games, the SNES is considered to be a system from the golden age of gaming and many people want to be able to be able to carry that with them in their lives – literally.

For the average joe like me without the mad skillz to redesign consoles of yesterday into something that can fit into my mitts, Yobo Gameware now has a solution.

First released last year, the Yobo FC-16 Go is just one of many new clones of the Super Nintendo to hit the market in the past few years, but what makes this one special is the fact that’s its portable.

Although it’s still much larger than any other handheld, it’s still more compact than any hobbyist could hope to make their own portable SNES.

Size issues aside, it all comes down to preference. How does the FC-16 measure up?

Features

The FC-16 Go comes with the following:

Yobo FC-16 Go v2 Portable Handheld Super Nintendo clone unit
Cheap earphones
2x 2.4Ghz wireless SNES clone controllers
US Mains Adapter
1300 MhA Lithium Ion Battery
3mm Headphone jack to AV Cable with stereo

You need to open the battery cover, place in the battery and charge it before use. When fully charged, the light on the system will change from red to green to indicate full power. The wireless controllers each use 2 AAA batteries that last at least 40 hours.

Design

The unit itself is well built with the design aesthetics of the original Nintendo DS as a model. The whole thing just looks like a bigger version of the DS that takes SNES cartridges instead of the tiny DS flash memory format. The unit comes in three colors black/red, silver or charcoal. I got the charcoal one. No matter what color you go with, expect a shiny glossy coat that seems to come on everything these days. Expect the system to be full of fingerprints, smuges and even scratches before too long. This kind of surface seems to just attract all the blemishes it can.

The build in controls of the system are solid for the most part. The D-pad of the second revision closely resmembles the SNES cross pattern, but is largely and slightly stiffer, but not to the point where it is a problem. Likewise, the buttons have a similar feel.

In the middle of the system is the reset button, which is a great place for it as your hands will never accidentally press it.  The system itself lacks any controller ports which is unfortunate, but nevertheless, the included 2.4Ghz wireless controllers more than make up for the loss. These are without a doubt the best controllers I’ve used with any clone console; they’re responsive, comfortable and feel solid in your hands while still being as light as you would expect.

Battery Life

The FC-16 Go is powered by a proprietary 1300MAh lithium-ion battery. The battery lasts from 2-2.5 hours per charge, typical of a unit of this size. To reduce battery consumption, it helps to use headphones rather than the internal speakers.

Compatibility

The FC-16 Go has absolutely excellent compatibility with SNES games to the point where you will hardly believe this is a clone. I personally tested well over sixty SNES titles and a few dozen Super Famicom games and all but a few worked perfectly fine with no slowdown, no graphical glitches, no audio glitches, or any other problem present in clone hardware. In fact, the AV signal is cleaner than that of my real SNES!

The only Super Nintendo title I found not to work is Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Mario RPG will not run on the clone handheld because it was designed with a CIC Lockout chip that is present in the real hardware but not in this clone.

Luckily, there is a spot in the lower right corner of on the motherboard of the FC-16 for just such a lockout chip. All one needs to do is desolder a lockout chip from any NTSC SNES game and resolder it in place in the FC-16 Go for 100% NTSC compatibility. Similarly, this can also be done for PAL SNES games using a PAL CIC Lockout chip. Keep in my putting either lockout chip means you are region locking your system to only play games from that region, so weigh that in mind if you are ever planning in importing future games. Photo curdoisy of Hellrazer of benheck.com forums. What a swell guy that Hellrazer is!

Availability and Price

The FC-16 Go is currently being sold at StoneAgegamer.com for around $60. It can also be found on ebay for around the same price. Stoneagegamer will not accept returns for systems with dead pixels, so if you buy from them, cross your fingers you’ll luck out. For once in my life, I did with mine as it’s flawless. Hurray for no dead/stuck pixels!

History

The FC-16 Go has undergone slight design changes since it was first introduced last year. The first model had a Playstation broken d-pad, just a single speaker and a cheaper screen hinge. The redesign aims to correct these issues, and does an outstanding job at it. There’s very little wrong with the current design save for the tabs that prevent Super Famciom games to fit into the handheld. Hopefully a future revision will correct this slight error.

Overall

Good

-It’s a portable SNES!
-Compatible with almost every SNES and Super Famicom game ever made
-Excellent, responsive 2.4Ghz wireless controllers
-Doubles as a small SNES console that can hook up to any TV with composite jacks
-Durable well built design

Bad

-Battery life is somewhat poor due to a low capacity battery. Perhaps it can be replaced with a higher capacity battery?
-Super glossy finish is like a magnet to fingerprints, dust and scratches. By time the FC-16 Go is 20 years old itself, chances are even a yellowed SNES will look more appealing
-Lacks controller ports for real accessories, so Mouse and Super Scope games, as well as Super Mario RPG, will not work on the handheld
-Somewhat expensive

Conclusion
The FC-16 Go does what it sets out to do and does a fairly good job. The AV hookups make it possible to serve as a total replacement for a console SNES. If you don’t already have (or sold years ago) a SNES, this is a great place to start building up a great 16-bit library. Long live the SNES.

For a video review of the material I’ve covered here, check out my youtube channel. Thanks for reading!