17 September 2019

Reviews: FC-POCKETGAME

Hello everyone!
Today it's going to be a pretty quick review of one Famiclone that I have in my collection.

And that is... this.
This Famiclone doesn't have any brand name on it, but it can be found under the title "FC-POCKETGAME" on websites, like TaoBao, eBay or Aliexpress, so we'll go with this name for the console. And it says that thing on the manual.

The main idea for this console is being able to play Famicom games on the go, which sounds like a pretty cool thing to do.
And in fact, it's good, especially, if you need to do a quick test of certain cartridges that you have in collection.

This console came with an AV cable and a little sheet of paper.

AV cable for FC-POCKETGAME


Unfortunately that AV cable stopped working (or the slot of AV out), so one reason I can't make this review as interesting as the TriStar one - no way to connect it to TV at the moment of writing this post.


We'll go over the front part.
It has the D-pad, which was separated into 4 buttons, so you can perform some movements that you wouldn't be able to do on official controllers, like UP+DOWN or LEFT+RIGHT, which causes random effects depending on games.
There is a little screen in the center, where all the gaming process would show up. And then you have B and A buttons, along with Turbo B and Turbo A.
On the top left, you get the Reset button and Select. And on the top right you have Start and LED that tells you if the console is powered on.
There is also a little speaker on the bottom right, where the sounds would come off.

The back part looks nothing too special, it's got five screw places in order to get this whole thing apart. And also at the bottom, there is a place for...
...4 xAAA batteries. Yes.
With that, you don't need to use a power adapter in order to get this thing running. In fact, my package didn't even come with it, so the choice for powering FC-POCKETGAME on was quite obvious.

You can use the power adapter, but it's 5V and Center Pin Positive, and the slot for power adapter is much smaller, than the regular ones, used on official Nintendo Famicom, for example.
On the right, you get the port for AV out. It uses 1,5mm jack, and not your standard 3,5mm. So keep that in mind, if needed to find the AV cable for this thing.

In the middle, you have the cartridge slot. It takes 60-pin Famicom cartridges by default, but if so desired, you can use a converter for playing NES games here too.

Now, the bottom part.
On the left, you get the volume adjustment control, and on the right, you have the 3,5mm jack for headphones and the power switch.
There is nothing too interesting on both sides.

You can't plug in the second controller or use any accesories with it either for NES or Famicom, since this Famiclone system wasn't intended for such use. The main intention on it is for 1-player only game on the go.


I kind of like this console version for the fact that it uses the color scheme, similar to original Famicom console from 1983. This is a really nice touch.
But there exists FC-POCKETGAME consoles with other colors. ;)

It has the multicart, built into it. But the games on it aren't quite as interesting, as these are modern Chinese knock-offs by NiceCode, that possibly wouldn't really worth your time... At least for this review, so we'll skip them for now.

So, plugging in the cartridges and getting them off is really simple, and there's no need to put a lot of force on them, unless it's the cartridge for Famicom of a certain type.
But the TV GAME CARTRIDGE carts are really easy to insert and take out.
As an example of such text - 21-in-1.
I can't really make a video, due to the technical difficulties, as I mentioned earlier.
But the console plays games at NTSC speed. The picture looks okay, even considering that on the small screen, it might not look too hot.

The sound doesn't have reversed duty cycles problem, like on many other Famiclones, but unfortunately it's distorted, and certain audio channels, depending on the game, will work very badly and will glitch out.
For example, games like Kyatto Ninden Teyandee, will sound awful.
Here's the video of another Famiclone that has the problem that I described here.

Keep in mind that it's a PAL system, but the same sound issue is presented on FC-POCKETGAME too.
Same problem with Felix the Cat as well, which is unfortunate.

Another cartridge to test out - Rockman, Whirlwind Manu copy with LF57. It works perfectly fine here. Obviously, no copyrights to expect here, since it's a pirate version.



But besides the pirate singlecarts and early multicarts, like 21-in-1, this console also plays modern multicarts, like 150-in-1 Real Game or 400-in-1 Real Game just fine.
I tested 150-in-1 Real Game, and there were no graphical glitches on the menu or in games.
400-in-1 Real Game also worked well here.
All games started up fine.

And so, how about official Famicom cartridges?
Here's Paaman - Enban wo Torikaese, running on this thing. It works perfectly fine here, no glitches or anything like that.
I tested other Famicom cartridges that I have in my collection, and most of them worked here.

However, if you want to try out games that use expansion audio...

...you might be pretty much out of luck. Akumajou Densetsu didn't even boot on my FC-POCKETGAME, so trying out to play it here and listen to the music is out of question.


Same thing for my Gimmick reproduction cartridge. It won't boot up here too, or do anything interesting to look at.
And in case you are wondering, EverDrive N8 doesn't boot here too. I already tested it, and this Famiclone doesn't play it.

Trying out some really good multicarts from 1990s... Like "Gold Cassette Series 8-in-1, A010"
It works perfectly fine, which is kind of to be expected. 8 good games, like Rush'n Attack, Rainbow Islands, 1944 (1943), Nekketsu Kouha Kunio Kun, Legendary Wings, Castlevania, Makaimura and Terra Cresta.

And let's see how it looks on TV, when plugged in with AV cable...

I probably should have tried this not only on TV, but also on capture device... Too bad I didn't have one nearby me, so this is the best you are going to see today.

Overall, this is a pretty basic modern Famiclone with the Nintendo-on-a-chip technology.

For what it was intented for, it does a pretty decent job.
However, the problem with certain games, where the sound starts screwing up badly, really occures here, and depending on the games which you want to play, this can be good or bad thing.
For me personally, it's a bad thing, because Felix the Cat has the music problem running on FC-POCKETGAME, and it's one of my favourite games of all time for NES.



So, instead of reversed duty cycles sound problem that's presented on some other Famiclones, we have a distorted music, depending on different games you want to play.

At least, with this Famiclone running on NTSC, you don't get problems like you had with TriStar, such as the darker picture in Eurocom Entertainment Software games, green tilt on SuperGame pirate backports, or Prince of Persia glitching up during gameplay (but its one of those games, that won't play nicely here in terms of music).

As you can see here, Lion King works perfectly fine here. On certain PAL Famiclones, due to color code specifics, the red color would turn into green, and it would look pretty ugly here.



 Further on, I tested out some PCBs, which were earlier for sale, and they get inserted into cartridge slot just fine, and get taken out easily too.
Unless, these are those tiny PCBs, where you need a "sloppy system" to get working, in order to take them out - either use another PCB and grab the edges, or use an empty cartridge case and insert that PCB there first.
These four game screenshots shown off together - this is actually a reset-based 4-in-1 multicart.
Earlier I only had a bare PCB of it before in a wrong cartridge case, but then I purchased it with its original label and everything, and sold the PCB later on.

These 4-in-1 reset based multicarts with early games are pretty interesting to take a look at, especially when you get them for cheap :D



So, this is a decent Famicom clone for a quick test of cartridges that you recently purchased or you are going to sell/trade...
But for gaming, it really depends on the game.
Certain NES/Famicom titles might have a really huge problem with sound. And others, like you've seen earlier, just won't start up.


Choose wisely, if you really want to get a portable Famiclone, and give it a second thought if this thing would be good enough to you. ;)
Stay tuned for more "Reviews" and hopefully better and longer ones, with videos and everything.
See you soon!

(C) AlexSRMD Productions (2019)

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3 September 2019

Reviews: Entertainment Computer System (NES Clone)

Our today's review is pretty interesting, so sit back, read and enjoy!

Today's subject for review is one of earliest clone systems of Nintendo Entertainment System / Nintendo Family Computer, which holds the title "Entertainment Computer System".



As far as I can tell, these clones were made in late 80s-early 90s, and were sold mostly in countries, where you could easily find bootleg NES carts on the market, with 72 pin. The 60 pin carts were much more common to find, and so the Famiclones with 60 pin cartridge slot, but this today's thing is possibly one of the better known early NES clones to be found that can play 72-pin NES carts by default.

Entertainment Computer System was produced by a company, called NASA.
This console really looks similar to original NES unit, however if both are compared by size, you can see that our clone system is much smaller.

My console didn't come with any box or manuals - it only had two controllers and the power adapter. But I could find how the box looked like for this clone system.


The box looked pretty nice. It features the main unit, two controllers and some robot that holds a light gun, which presumably looks similar to NES Zapper, but obviously without the brand name on it.

And, interesting thing is that there existed a few other variations of this clone system.
For example, here's "Entertainment Computer System" console, looking similar to my version, except it's all black.


And also it came in different packaging.


Here's the console itself. The version of the box even has the NASA logo on the unit, pictured here. And as it seems, the game shown on the right side is F-1 Hero for Famicom.

Also, Entertainment Computer System was also re-released under the title "Computer Video Game" and not only it has the slot for 72-pin NES cartridges, it also had the regular 60-pin Famicom cartridge slot on the top!
It looks really similar to our console from the overall design to the color scheme, but this time, it features a little tray here on the top for Famicom cartridges.
That's actually quite cool! Because, with this console, you wouldn't need to get a converter to play Famicom games. And we will get to this important thing soon.



And here's how the box would look like for this console. As you can see here, besides the main unit, it also has two controllers, which are now completely different and don't copy the design of regular NES controllers. You can also see the light gun, which resembles NES Zapper once again. And there you have the cartridge.

Now let's go over my console and see it in more details!
As you can see, it really feels like a smaller version of NES, but if looking closely, a few things are different about it.
And we'll go over these changes.


The most obvious change from original NES console is the placement of controller ports and Power/Reset buttons.
As you remember, Power & Reset buttons were placed on the left, and now they are on the right. The controller ports were originally placed on the right and they were vertical - now they changed their placement to the left side, and they are horizontal.
And with that, it brings us one problem - you can't use NES Four Score on here, which requires two controller ports to be placed next to each other and those being vertically positioned.



The cartridge slot is on its usual place - cartridges go inside, but they don't fully go there - the little part of the cartridge sticks out of the slot.
Now, one little neat thing about Entertainment Computer System is that it has the eject button, so you can take out NES cartridges easier, without the need to pull them off manually.


Looking at the right side, you get your regular slots of AV, one for video and one for audio. But also, you have the slot for 3.5mm jack, and you can plug in your headphones here and listen to the 8 bit music! That's quite a cool feature, to be honest with you!
However it really depends on the headphones, if you can change the volume on them easily or not. If not, then you'll hear the full volume music (very, very loud!) and this might give you some headache.
But, alternatively, you can use 3,5mm to AV cable, which will convert the audio signal to two channels, and with that you get the sound coming from channels, and not just one. It's not a real stereo, since NES was designed to have mono sound only, so this is sort of double mono.



On the back side, you get the RF slot and the power adapter slot.
Now, I've heard that it uses the same adapter as the PAL NES one, BUT don't take my words here as an advice, because I am not really sure, and I am not responsible for the fact, if you use a different power supply on this thing and burn it by accident.
My power adapter looks like this.



I am not sure if you'll get something out of it. But one thing I know for sure - DO NOT use the regular power supply from Famicom, otherwise, you get your console toasted.

Here's how the bottom part of the console looks.


It says the actual console's title, as well as power adapter specifications that are required to get this powered on. Also it lets us know that it's 259945th unit, so apparently back then it was one of the more popular NES clones to buy. And then finally it says that it's made in Taiwan.
But I still have some confusion about the power supply required for it.
If you have this NES clone and tested the necessary power supply, please let me know what exact one will work with this console, in the comments! :)

Let's see the controllers.


They look really similar to standard NES controller, although they have a different front sticker, and they have the turbo buttons added to them, which is really handy for some games that require the constant button mashing.


The buttons have almost the same good feel as if you used the regular NES/Famicom controller - the quality is almost on par with official deal.
The D-pad, Select, Start, regular B and A buttons feel really good, and the controller feel really nice in your hands. Since I purchased this console, I've been playing NES/Famicom games with these controllers instead of dogbone ones that I have with AV Famicom. Don't get me wrong, they are also really good, but the fact that these pirate ones have turbo buttons really make it easier to play a lot of games.



And in fact, since this console uses 7-pin plug, you can use the official NES controller on it. Or you can take these awesome bootleg controllers and plug them to your NES or AV Famicom, and they'll work fine there. I tested them before on my AV Famicom - no problems there, everything worked brilliantly.


I don't have the real NES controller for comparison, but as a random comparison, I will throw in the Famiclone controller from Dendy Junior TXC Corp. version and also Hudson's Joycard.


You can pretty much see that they are pretty similar and no any changes have been made with the placement of D-Pad, Select&Start, B&A buttons. It's the same good-old scheme used in official controllers and some third-party controllers, like the one by Hudson Soft and also in early Famiclone controllers too.


Now, I didn't have the cartridge that found come with this console, but I have a suspicision that the "Entertainment Computer System - Contra 168-in-1 Function 16" cartridge that I purchased earlier, could have been sold with this NES clone.
If that's so, than it's really awesome as this cartridge contains quite a few good titles to start the 8-bit adventure, such as Contra, Super Mario Bros, Tetris, Bomberman, Mario Bros, Popeye, Donkey Kong, Hogan's Alley, Duck Hunt, Wild Gunman, Pinball, F-1 Race, Urban Champion, Galaxian and so on.
It was also released in Famicom format, which I have in my collection as well, besides the 72-pin version.



And yes, it can play official NES cartridges as well, since it uses 72-pin cartridge slot.
Here's the Super Mario Bros. 3 NES cart as a demonstration.


With that, you can perfectly see that console is just slightly bigger than the cartridge itself, and when it's inserted into the slot, it looks pretty funny...




...as the cartridge sticks out a bit. But that's the furthest it can get into the cartridge slot, and it works perfectly fine...




















So, I guess it's now a good time to look at the insides of our Entertainment Computer System console.
A few problems appeared with taking apart this unit, mostly due to my stupidity, as I accidentally damaged one of the tabs that held the whole thing in place.
But trust me, it's all fine and I'll fix it sooner or later. As for now, we'll take a look at what this console offers us.

As this is one of the earliest NES clones, you wouldn't really expect to see Nintendo-on-a-chip technology here.


This looks really nice inside. It's pretty much the full hardware clone with big PCB and a lot of chips and capacitors inside.
The PCB that has components such as AV, 3.5mm jack, power jack and RF is a separate one and its held by the ribbon cable, that's soldered between the main PCB and this one.
Another PCB that has the power button and reset button, along with LED is another separate one, hold with ribbon cable once again.







If you look at the main PCB and the cartridge slot, it's actually made the way you have to insert the cartridges horizontally, like VHS - the same way with original NES console.

With this, I should mention that some versions of Entertainment Computer System actually have different versions of cartridge slot inside. They would all have 72-pin slot by default, and then there might either be the soldered multicart inside, or the 60-pin slot below.

And finally, as for the insides, I shall show you the final thing: and that's how the cartridge holds in place and how the eject button works.
Basically, you have the metal thingy held to the top part, and once you push the eject button, it pushes to the side of cartridge, and it gets pushed off.


And you also get the plastic thing on the place, where cartridge would be holding. In fact, I would actually unscrew it and take it out of my console, and there is a reason for that, which I will talk about.


Overall, the build quality is really solid on this console, and the insides.

We've looked at the insides. So let's see how this console actually performs and runs games.
Now, I should mention one thing before we go on testing it out. I am a Famicom pirate cartridges collector and I own a bit more 500-600 cartridges in my possession, and this includes not only singlecarts from 80s-90s era, but also multicarts, and there are very few later carts.
I also own quite a few official Famicom cartridges as well, about 100 of them as well.
And as for NES cartridges, I don't own that many cartridges... So this raises the problem: how can I test out the games on Entertainment Computer System?


Now, before I got this console in my hands, which was in January 2019, I ordered two 60-to-72 pin converters from eBay at the end of December 2018, one of them was literally a NES cartridge case with a little adapter inside, and the other one being a proper adapter, where you'd just insert the Famicom cartridge and then put it into your NES.


So, this is the first adapter that I got.
It literally looks like the NES cartridge case, but with a converter inside. And besides that, I also got a few screws and a screwdriver to get everything set up if I want to put a Famicom PCB inside and use it as a regular NES cart.

The label that you see here is a custom one, that I made myself.
Not only that, but I also decided to write the Remarks sign on the back, with the same text and everything as it would be back on older Famicom pirate carts. Yes, I really love Remarks cartridges, as you might already tell just by looking at my blog's background.

The PCB that you see there is actually 64-in-1 Supervision multicart, which I happened to have lying around, so I decided to put it there.
Of course, if you use this method to play Famicom carts, you'd need to take them adapt and put bare PCBs here and then put two parts of cartridge case together.















Or, ultimately, you can just take out this converter and use it with regular Famicom carts and you don't have to take them apart at all.
Good thing with this adapter is that it has a chip that would co-op with 10NES chip, found on original Toaster NES.
Of course, our Entertainment Computer System wouldn't have this madness, since it's a pirate console already, but that's a good feature that this converter has it, and so with clean 72-pin cartridge slot and clean contacts on this adapter, the games will load up fine.


But then we get to another adapter, which I purchased later on, and while it doesn't have a chip that would work with 10NES chip on original console, it actually is in its own little case, as you can see.
It says where the FC Game goes and which side goes into NES console (although, they misspelled the word "consle", oh well...).
There is even a little instruction on the back, but they got it wrong with saying what part for Famicom games is the back one, because, just like with 95% of any Famicom to NES adapter, the game cartridges have to be connected backwards, so the label should be facing away from you. That's how this is all designed, and if you get it wrong, you may damage the cartridge and get nothing, but a black screen on your TV.





















However, this converter works very well, and although for my first test videos I used the one from orange cartridge case, I started using this black one more often, once I got it in my hands.
You can see that I tested Chip'n Dale Rescue Rangers 2, the pirate cart, and it loaded up just fine.

Also, I have the pretty crappy, but somewhat uncommon version of a hack - Super Bros 9, the Adventure Island 2 hack.
We all know that that Hudson's Adventure Island 2 was hacked to have Mario as a main character, and that hack would be called "Super Mario World 9". But that's not the only version to be found - turns out that there also exists this one.








If you are interested to see this hack in action, me and my comrade, SuperBrain1997, made a video on it a few years ago. It has the Russian commentary, so if you don't understand it, just look at the footage of the game itself. ;)


Ok, that was a bit of off-topic. Now let's get back to the discussion of our NES clone.
As you can see, the majority of cartridges with 60-to-72 pin converter would fit and run on Entertainment Computer System. I even tested out my EverDrive N8 on here - it works very well. And it really came in handy, when I wanted to check how it runs certain types of games.


But how about some of the more unusual cartridges? Like TV GAME CARTRIDGE bootlegs? Or Jaleco big cartridges, the designs of which were later used by pirates for their TVG carts?


As you can see, we have a little problem here.
Remember me telling you about my intension on unscrewing the plastic thingy inside the cartridge case? Well, it prevents me from being able to insert these unusual types of cartridges into console, unless I take off the top part.
So yeah, this is not really a good thing. But I guess, if you attempt these types of carts on real NES, you wouldn't go very far there as well.

It might sound crazy, but I actually found a way on how to make these carts run on Entertainment Computer System.
You basically need two 60-to-72 pin converters and one 72-to-60 pin converter.


You stick then altogether, and there you go! The cartridges actually run. Here's the 12-in-1 multicart for example, with the same TVG cartridge case.


But this way is actually pretty dumb, as it may lead to certain risk. If one of the adapters get damaged, or at least one of its pins, then the whole construction would get doomed.
You also need to make sure that you don't accidentally bump into the cartridge if you attempt to power off/on the console or reset it. Changing the controllers during that would possibly be an incredibly bad idea, as the cartridge just gets in a way.


This might look funny, but it's not something I would really recommend doing for everyday gaming.

Now, we get to the most interesting thing: the compatibility of the console and how it plays and runs games in general.
One thing that I haven't mentioned earlier, but you might have noticed it just by looking at the insides and the used chips there - is that this console is actually an NTSC hardware, but with forced PAL speed.
So, when you start up the console, it would work in PAL signal, but it's not a native PAL hardware as on PAL NES.
Would it be a good alternative to PAL NES? It runs games at PAL speed, it has no region lock and it would play almost every game you throw into it, and it can use regular NES controllers.
There are also some really good PAL NES exclusives, like Asterix or Smurfs.

Well... we'll find it out soon!

Now, as I said earlier, I got the 60-to-72 pin converter in order to test out the majority of cartridges from my collection and see the compatibility in its full glory.


Super Mario Bros.
So, this is an unusual singlecart that is basically a hacked version, where you can choose any world you want from Worlds 1 to 8 and beyond, which includes infamous World 9, A, B, C, and also Minus World, and the strange sprite worlds.
Besides that, you get the ! blocks changed to random Chinese symbols, which I am not sure what they mean at all.
But funny thing is that the title screen remained unchanged, as well as the Nintendo copyright.

As for Famiclone stuff, the picture looks pretty decent. It has the vertical lines problem, which is kind of common for Famiclones. But, if we listen to the sound, it's got the reversed duty cycles problem. And with that, the music sounds differently and not the same way as many of you know it.

The game runs at PAL speed, and so the games, designed for NTSC hardware, will run slower than intended.


Super Mario Bros. 3
Another pirate cartridge from my collection that I am testing out. This is SMB3, a pirated hack that has the title screen changed as well as 5 lives given at the beginning and the really handy cheat added, that allows you to choose any item you want.
And on pretty much all pirate carts with SMB3, there would be Japanese version of a game, and not the North American one, as, I guess, it was a much easier version to import for chinese pirates to re-release on their carts.

So, just like Super Mario Bros., the music sounds completely different in comparison to the official console. Same thing with video stuff - vertical lines are present, but other than that, video looks pretty good.
Same thing with the speed - the game runs a bit slower.

Since the majority of games that I test are the NTSC versions, and the music changes are quite obvious as I've already shown these two videos of SMB1 and SMB3 running, I won't be writing about them once again.
And instead, we'll just go ahead and see how other games play on Entertainment Computer System.


Next, I picked up the Supervision 76-in-1 multicart in order to test out some earlier Famicom/NES titles.
The game played here are as follow:
Pinball, Excitebike, Mario Bros., Choujin Yousai Macross, Donkey Kong 3, F-1 Race, Road Fighter, Battle City, Bomberman, Galaga, Nuts & Milk, Lode Runner, Lunar Ball, Balloon Fight, Binary Land, Donkey Kong, Clu Clu Land, Ninja Hattori-kun, Obake no Q-tarou: WanWan Panic, Wrecking Crew, Arkanoid, Tengen's Tetris.
So, 22 games were tested in total from this cartridge, and that's why the video is about one hour long.
But I am definitely sure that they all were worth testing.
I have two versions of this Supervision 76-in-1 multicart, one being in TV GAME CARTRIDGE case and the other being in standard cartridge case and in box, so I chose the latter one for the test without the need to take apart the console.


Next up, we get one of Disney Capcom classics, obviously based off the TV Show! It's, of course, Darkwing Duck.
"Let's Get Dangerous!" (C)
Two stages were played from this game. It works quite well, even considering the features of Entertainment Computer System with the picture, sound and speed.
But that's definitely the speed that many of us from Russia and other ex-USSR countries played this game at.

By the time I recorded the gameplay footage, I had this game only in TV GAME CARTRIDGE case, so I needed to take it apart and remove the top part, so I could insert the cartridge into console and play it.


After I tested the original Bomberman game, it's time to take a look at its sequel, released in 1991.
When we start up the game, the logo of Bomberman II appears slightly faster than it should be, and therefore the title screen theme starts playing, before the explosion tune stops.
This happens on pretty much all PAL Famiclones, where I tested this game. And I tried both the official Famicom cartridge and the pirate TV GAME CARTRIDGE cart - same result here and there.

For full test of this game, I decided to enter the passwords for later stages, just so you could hear how the BGMs sound different here. And besides that, we also check the Battle Mode, which has another theme.

Other than this weird behaviour of title screen logo, this game runs pretty well on this Famiclone.
And again, since it was TVG cartridge, I needed to take adapt the console to insert it.

As for Bomberman II found on pirate cartridges, you'd always come across the Japanese version, which only has the difference with Battle Mode up to 3 players and the copyright string that just says Hudson Soft. Although, on some pirate carts, copyright get taken off, obviously. But on mine, it clearly said Hudson Soft there.


One of my favourite game series on NES/Famicom, and that's Hudson's Adventure Island, otherwise known as Takahashi Meijin no Bouken Jima in Japan.
I am trying out the pirate singlecart of Adventure Island II, and it contains the North American version, although, it has the copyrights taken off.
Really awesome game in the series, and much easier one to play than the first one.

This pirate cart that I launched on the console turned out to be not quite as easy to come by as I would have thought. From what I've seen, you'd come across mostly the North American version - the Japanese version was on later pirate carts from end 90s-early 2000s.
There also exists a hack of this game, called Super Mario World 9, where Master Takahashi is replaced with Mario, and you are given 9 extra lives at the beginning.

As for the game running on our Famiclone, some of the BGM sound slightly odd, like the stage end theme, or the ending theme, where you get an extra sound towards the end of these tunes.
If played on NTSC hardware, everything would sound correctly, but here these two themes, from what I've noticed, sound a bit unusual. And that's the thing you'd see on PAL Famiclones in general.


Next up on our list is FC Genjin or Bonk's Adventure - a rather uncommon NES/Famicom game, originally released on PC-Engine.
I am checking the pirate cartridge with A-B1 ID label. No copyrights in-game, but this is no TMNT3 or Bucky O'Hare, where the copyrights would really matter on gameplay process (remember the anti-piracy protection on these two games?)

Interestingly enough, the reversed duty cycles problem is not a huge threat on this game, as the music sounds almost the same as with proper sound playback from original console. So, that's something kind of "unique" for our review today!


Next on our list is a problematic game for most of PAL Famiclones - Felix the Cat.
On clone systems the picture would get way too dark, that you'd need to raise the brightness.

Since this is one of the earlier clone systems, the video actually looks decent and doesn't get too dark.

The other games that have this problem are the ones by Eurocom Entertainment Software, like Jungle Book, James Bond Jr., Lethal Weapon, etc..


Next game for test is Hudson's Adventure Island 3, and it's the Japanese version. Interestingly, you wouldn't get the North American version on older bootlegs, and it would always be the Famicom release, either the original version without copyrights, or the hacked version that would have the Continue option at the start and 2 of each items to select before starting the level.

The cartridge that I have here is the original version with the removal of Hudson Soft logo in copyright string.

Basically, it works here the same way as the second game, so I don't really have anything new to say here.


But then we jump to the test of official Famicom cartridge, and it's Akumajou Densetsu, the Japanese version of Castlevania III.
And... Nope, you don't get any VRC6 here!
My guess is that since this clone system was originally intended for the use with NES cartridges, pirates didn't bother with making a mod on their cartridge slot to run expansion sound chip audio.

I tried this game with both of my converters, and they both give me the same result - the game works, but no expansion audio is played.

Kind of disappointing, but I expected it from this clone system.


Now, we are back to pirate carts testing.
Next up - Prince of Rosia... err... I meant Prince of Persia, of course.
A pretty decent port from personal computer to home video game system - the NES, in our case.

With later Famiclones that are not a full hardware clone, but the NOAC chips like UM6561AF-2, this game will simply lag like crazy and won't really work that well.

But, as we can perfectly see here, the game plays nicely and there are no lags or game crashing, that would prevent it from working correctly.
So, Prince of Persia is playable on here, and can be beaten from beginning till the end just fine.


Now we have Chip to Dale no Daisakusen, also known as Chip'n Dale Rescue Rangers.
I picked my "Grand Combat" cartridge for test, which has the original label from Famicom boxart and the copyrights changed to the message "Good Luck Gin Shin".
It works fine here, just like Darkwing Duck that I showed you earlier.


Another great classic game to test out, that's based of the TV Show - Tiny Toon Adventures.
I picked the NT ID cartridge for this one, as it has a pretty funny text at the copyright screen as well as title screen is slightly different - mostly the color palette is screwed up.
But that's the so-called "feature" of NT Tiny Toon cartridge, and not this console, just to let you know.
This pirate cart also gives you 9 extra lives.

Works pretty well, considering the features of the console that I listed earlier.


The game, based of the anima/manga on the very famous cat-like robot in Japan - Doraemon, or Small Dingdong or Din Do Happy.
I changed the things there, and instead of checking the official cartridge, I decided to see how the pirate singlecart works here. It's the A-B1 ID cart, and it has the Din Do Happy title.
The copyrights didn't get changed here, so it plays like the official deal.

This game works a bit weird on later PAL Famiclones, that use NOAC hardware - and that's that the glitchy screen may appear upon booting, and you need to reset the console in order to get the title screen working. The game may also crash randomly during demo screens.

But no such problems on Entertainment Computer System, so that's another problematic game for Famiclones down!


And now, I decided to take a look at one of Rockman games. I am sure that for many of you Rockman 2 would be the most familiar part in the series, so I decided to throw it in, and play some of it.
Works alright. Obviously slower than original deal, and with sound problem, but nothing really major that would prevent the game from working and beating it from beginning to the end.

I think that for this test, three stages (Metal Man, Quick Man, Air Man) would be more than enough.


I combine these two videos together as this is basically one cartridge that I put for the test, before selling it later to my friend in his collection, as I don't have a keyboard Famiclone. And I don't have plans for it yet.
Educational Computer 2000... Argh, that title screen music...
Obviously, considering that it was meant for keyboard Famiclones, none of keyboard apps would work here, no matter how hard you try.
And the mouse cursor keeps scrolling to the top left for no apparent reason whatsoever. On some Famiclone systems it would just stay at the center until you move it with D-Pad. But here, it just "flies" to the corner, and it becomes harder to control the menus in this cartridge as well, let alone some separate apps, like Solitaire.

But at least DDR clones work fine here, and you can press arrows here with 2nd player controller - the 1st player controller won't do the job.


Next, we have Super Contra, but it's not just the second game in Contra NES series - it's 24-in-1 variation, where you can the choose the weapon to start with, which stage to start from, and to start with 30 lives.
And it's the Japanese version of the game, which you'd find on any pirate cart at that time.

It works quite well, no problems here. And the cartridge itself that I tested here is an excellent one.
For the record, it's another A-B1 series cartridge, which has the label from Contra III: The Alien Wars.


Next up - the singlecart of Jackal.
The title screen is screwed up and copyrights were removed as well.


Next up, Aladdin by SuperGame.
This is another troublesome game for PAL Famiclones.
Due to different color coding for NTSC and PAL systems, during the process of convertion, the "red" color turned to "green", and so on certain clones the picture might look worse than on other Famiclones.
You can see green background in the cutscene of Iago and Jafar. On NTSC hardware, it would be red instead.
The gameplay itself also has a bit of green, but the picture isn't half bad. There are far worse examples that I've seen on Famiclones like Dendy Classic or Dendy Junior, you can trust me on that.


The Lion King by SuperGame was also put for the test, because of the aforementioned problem.
The picture looks okay here, and the green color tilt appears only on the title screen and on second to last stage. On other stages, there is no such trouble, as you can see by the gameplay.


Another game put for the test is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project.
The cartridge that we got here, is actually the proper North American one with copyrights and everything. And since this is one of the games that has the anti-piracy protection, when copyrights are altered, it will lead to the immortal Shredder.

The game works alright, as expected, so nothing unusual to see here.


Jungle Book by Eurocom Entertainment Software / Virgin Interactive Entertainment.
This is one of those games I mentioned earlier, that don't play nicely on certain PAL Famiclones, with the picture getting too dark.
But, as we can see here with Jungle Book and as we saw earlier with Felix the Cat, the picture is alright, and you don't need to make the brightness higher to see anything.


So, this is one of the moments, where I needed to hook up my EverDrive N8 to test out certain games I don't have in collection.
And Arumana no Kiseki for Famicom is definitely one them. In fact, if you attempt to use a real FDS with Entertainment Computer System, it might give you some problems trying to hook it up, because of the cartridge slot being placed horizontal and you insert games inside, like VHS tape on VHS  players.

My EverDrive N8 is able to play expansion soundchip, if the console is capable of outputting it.
We already saw Akumajou Densetsu running on this NES clone. Did it output VRC6? No.
Then what about FDS music? Same thing - nothing. You can only hear the regular NES hardware music here. It doesn't sound too bad, but without FDS, it just doesn't sound right.


Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu.
Trying out the pirate singlecart that contains the North American version inside. It's actually not a common thing, because Japanese version would be somewhat easier to get among bootlegs, as it was more widespread.
However, there is no real difference between those two versions, other than the title screen.


Lagrange Point next.
Remember me talking about this console not being able to output the expansion audio?
Well, the results for this one will speak for themselves.

Now, one interesting thing to talk about.
You see, this is a NES clone, which is able to play 72-pin carts, and doesn't have any region lock, so you can insert PAL NES games inside, and they'll work.
But is it really a good idea to do so? And would this NES clone be a good replacement console for PAL NES?

Take a look at the earlier videos once again, and notice how the games that we played earlier were all NTSC ones, and even though they were playing slower at PAL speed, they worked mostly fine without any trouble.

How about testing out some PAL NES games then?


This is Beauty and the Beast, released in 1994 only in Europe.
And this already brings us to a "good" start - due to the fact that this game was optimised to be played on PAL NES only, you start bumping into problems upon gameplay.

The crazy shaking screen, glitchy HUD, and not being able to see where you are going.

And yeah, the music plays at the speed you'd expect it to be running, however the sound pitch is way higher than it should be, so the music sounds kind of weird here.

So, you can't really play Beauty and the Beast this way, unless you want suffer a pain and make your eyes hurt.
While this is not really a great game to try out, it still is quite troublesome that it works this way on Entertainment Computer System.


Next up, a pretty good European NES exclusive game, Asterix.
Developed by Infogrames and released in 1993.
Well, the title screen looks alright, the storyline doesn't look too bad. But... once you hit the "Start" button and go to the main game...
You get into glitchy mess.
Now, I am playing it on my EverDrive N8 and the ROM works fine, there's nothing with it.
Imagine that you actually have Asterix for NES and wanted to try it out on a clone system, like mine.
You see this terrible picture, full of glitches, and you might think to yourself that the contacts are either dirty or damaged.
But you would be wrong. This is how Asterix for NES works on Famiclones that actually use NTSC hardware. And our clone system is no exception.

The game is simply unplayable this way, as you can really see what's going on, where the platforms are, where the holes are and everything. So you'd jump end with the Game Over screen much faster than you actually figure out what's going.
The Game Over screen music is awesome, but looking at it after trying to play through that graphical mess might actually look really sad.

So, this is another game for you that won't play here very well.


Now we get to the Smurfs game, developed by the same people.
As you try to play the first stage, you can see that everything looks okay, and the only glitchy spots are the "Stage Complete"/"Stage Start" screens, as well as two stages.
And the Asterix is all glitchy and doesn't play nicely on Famiclone hardware. Why? Because it uses all the scanlines of the PAL video refresh rate. And the Smurfs doesn't use all of them.
However, the two stages, that I briefly mentioned earlier, will certainly give you some problems trying to complete them. Those are "Act 9 - The Bridge" and Gargamel Boss Fight.
The screen shakes like crazy on Act 9 - The Bridge, a few background spots turn into black dots as well, but you can actually kind of see where to land and where the holes are, so nothing really is lost here. However, such problem might be somewhat harmful to your eyes, so be careful when you play Act 9.
As for Gargamel Boss Fight, the background turns into garbage, Gargamel's sprite is glitched up beyond belief, and it feels like that besides himself, the whole background is moving towards you.
But, thankfully, smurf himself and the board with bird and a nut don't get glitched up.

The ending screen looks a bit messy, but the text is readable.

So, Smurfs / Los Pitufos for NES is playable on NTSC hardware, including Famiclones and our Entertainment Computer System clone... to some extend.


Next up... a cheapo port of Lion King from Gameboy to NES, officially released on NES, exclusively in Europe.
Really terrible version, to begin with, as porting the game from a weaker portable 8-bit system to the home console was a bad idea - you get really dull graphics, which in comparison to the unofficial SuperGame version look just hideous.
The music is alright, I guess. It's the same as was mostly in Gameboy, which in itself was good enough, in my opinion.
But what about gameplay? The game just ends on Hakuna Matata, and we don't get the stages with adult Simba, which is disappointing, and really reminds us of some bad backports of games that were made for Famicom.

What about the game compatibility with Famiclones?
It doesn't work well... the screen shakes like crazy during gameplay, and the only way to stop it and see where you are going is to pause the game.
If you are crazy enough, like me, you can actually attempt to play Lion King like this and beat from beginning till the end. Good luck with not having our eyes hurt after that!
You can beat the game and get the ending, but I don't think that with screen "playing a bounce game" like that, it would be an easy task.


Ohh... Aladdin for NES, yes.
This one is even better. Because, when you start the game after the cutscenes with Iago and Jafar, you get... well, the answer is in the video.
Isn't it quite obvious to mention that the music for these PAL NES games is with higher sound pitch? :)


Okay, taking a little break from testing PAL NES games on Entertainment Computer System.
This video is just another example of showing that expansion sound doesn't play here.
It's Gimmick by Sunsoft, which uses 5B + AY-3-8910, and my cartridge is a reproduction one, because there is no way I'll ever be able to spend too much money on an official copy.

The game is playable here, as you can see here, it just can't output the expansion sound channels, once again. We'll get back to this game, of course, because there is another version of it that I want to show you!


How NES cartridges work here?
I decided to test out the "Contra 168-in-1 Function 16" multicart, that might have come with this console in its original package. And it also was the most popular multicart in Poland, that was sold with Pegasus Family Game consoles.
It's got an awesome Booby Kids theme playing on the main menu, and a pretty interesting animation for switching menus, selecting a game you want to play.
It's a pretty good multicart for introduction into 8-bit NES/Famicom world, as I already mentioned earlier. It claims to have 168 games on it, but in fact there are far fewer games here, but even with what we already have here, it's still really fun to spend time playing the cart, and try out the "original" versions of games, graphical hacks or the hacks, where you can change the stages, the number of lives on the start and everything else.

The games that were tested from this cartridge:
Tetris BPS, Ice Climber, Mappy, Antarctic Adventure, Warpman, Pooyan, Urban Champion, Fancy Mario (Super Mario Bros hack with glitchy scrolling), Galaxian.


And since this is a hardware clone, and not NOaC, it won't play certain types of cartridges that were designed to run on more modern hardware.
In our case, we have 150-in-1 Real Game, which I showed in the previous review of TriStar, and even covered on my blog before: http://somerussianmariodude.blogspot.ru/2014/03/he-jin-zhuang-bei-150-in-1-real-game.html
And, as you may expect, since Entertainment Computer System is a hardware-clone, the graphics are all scrambled.
The games that were attempted to be shown here: Cardcaptor Sakura (Tower of Druaga hack), Exerion, Arkanoid, B-Wings, Slalom, Quarterback, Front Line, Zanac, Elevator Action, Alpha Mission, Soccer, Fish War (Balloon Fight hack), Aladdin III (Magic Carpet 1001 hack), Contra, Super Mario World 9 (Hudson's Adventure Island II hack), Life Force.

Of course, you can't really see the games very well, but judging by the sound, you can definitely tell what games these were.
Unless you modify 150-in-1 Real Game to be played on hardware clone, and not on NOACs, you are out of luck to play it here.


Back to testing the Famicom pirate singlecarts.
Next on our list is another Disney Capcom game, based of the TV show - Duck Tales.
It's that well-known pirate cartridge with a cute little ducky near the pond - yes, you all know that cartridge.
The game works pretty well on here.


And the sequel to original Duck Tales - Duck Tales 2. The pirate singlecart with the label, taken from original cartridge. The back side has the Steepler label, and it came in a box "For Dendy", which means that this cartridge was sold in Dendy Steepler stores. It even has the copyright information saved at the beginning, which is really cool, as it kind of feels like an original deal, but in a pirate cartridge case. :)
Works well. However, I am not done with Duck Tales 2 yet, and you'll see why pretty shortly.


Besides Akumajou Densetsu, let's check the other official Famicom cartridges that I have.
This is Yoshi no Cookie, also known as Yoshi's Cookie. I have in complete-in-box, and this is a pretty awesome puzzle game. I covered the manual of this game on my blog earlier, and you can see it here: http://somerussianmariodude.blogspot.com/2014/07/famicom-game-manuals-9-yoshi-no-cookie.html

Works pretty well here too, nothing much to say.


Another one of my favourites - Dr. Mario.
And yet again, it's another game I have complete in box, and in fact, possibly my most favourite puzzle game from the childhood. :)
You can see the coverage of this game on my blog here: http://somerussianmariodude.blogspot.com/2015/01/famicom-game-manuals-14-drmario.html

Works pretty good here. Nothing much to add here. ;)


And how about Chip'n Dale Rescue Rangers 2?
It's a pirate singlecart, with the label from original deal, and with Steepler label on the back.
No copyrights on the start screen, but you get 9 extra lives.


Also, we have Tiny Toon Adventures 2.
I don't really like this game at all, but it has to be shown for the clone compatibility test. And it works okay here.

Finally, we get back to a few more PAL NES games to test out.
The ones that I showed you earlier mostly had some compatibility problems with being played on NTSC hardware. Only Smurfs works well, except for two stages, but it was mostly playable.
Let's take a look at the following games:


Yes, it's Duck Tales 2 once again.
And the European version for it. As you can hear, it plays at the correct speed, and funnily enough, at correct sound pitch on our Entertainment Computer System.
The game wasn't very well optimized to be played on PAL NES, because if played there, the sound pitch would be lower, and overall the music wouldn't sound quite as good as here.

So, this is one of the more rare cases, when it's best for PAL NES game to be played on PAL Famiclone. I beat the game this way, it's fully playable, which is really great to see.


I decided to combine these two games together, because they basically share the same problem.
Those are Battletoads & Battletoads and Double Dragon, European versions.

Upon gameplay, they actually slow down by almost a half, which makes it quite tidious and somewhat annoying to play. At least, you can beat Turbo Tunnel this way the first time.


Probotector II: Return of the Evil Forces is the next on our list.
While the sound pitch is higher than should be, it plays at normal speed. No glitching or game crashes occured, so if you so desire, you can attempt to beat this game from beginning till the end.
Even though, Bill and Lance are replaced with robots, it's still the same Super Contra that we all know and love.


The European NES exclusive.
Dropzone. The game, that's basically a clone of Defender II / Star Gate.
It works, but the HUD is slightly glitchy. It doesn't harm the gameplay though.


The European version of Kirby's Adventure.
It works quite well, even though the sound pitch is higher, but the speed is correct.
It's a bit unusual to me personally to listen to music from Kirby's Adventure this way.


Next, we have New Zealand Story, also known as Kiwikraze.
The sound pitch remained the same, as if it was played on NTSC, but the speed is correct.
So, we get kind of the same effect as with Duck Tales 2 PAL, in a way that if it's played on PAL Famiclone, the music would sound a bit more accurate with its sound pitch, and the speed would be correct.

Finally, I want to show off the "Super Mario Party" multicart, played on Entertainment Computer System.


This multicart doesn't work very well on NOaC Famiclones - and on certain hardware clone systems it may behave strangely.
In our case here, all games work fine, no unexpected game freeze on the menu screen, and no game glitching at random time.

In fact, I made a test of this multicart on my main channel, and I will talk about it later on my blog.

So there you have it!
The early NES clone system from 80s-90s, that can play NES cartridges by default, and it's capable of playing Famicom cartridges with a converter.
The build quality is really good on it, it doesn't feel cheap and nasty at all, it's almost similar to the original console by the feel.
The controllers are awesome - not only they have 7 pin connections for being able to connect them to real NES, they also have turbo buttons, which is really useful for many games that require constant button mashing. And if needed, you can use the regular NES controllers here too.
The sound is not really the greatest here - it's got the incorrect sound playback, which you can hear clearly during playing many early Famicom/NES titles, including Super Mario Bros..
Also, it doesn't output the music played from expansion sound channels, so you have no FDS, no VRC6, no VRC7, no Sunsoft 5B.
The picture is pretty decent, despite having vertical lines, that can be easily seen, if looking at clear background in the games. But good thing is that the picture doesn't get too dark in certain games that are problematic for PAL Famiclones; the green color tilt isn't quite as annoying in SuperGame ports.
It played pretty much most of my cartridges flawlessly.
It's not region locked, so you can play NES games of any region, and Famicom cartridges with a converter, but don't get your hopes on being able to play certain PAL NES titles here, because not all games will work flawlessly here.

So overall, for me personally, this is a pretty decent NES clone system for what it has. And I am really glad that I could actually purchase it at the beginning of this year.

Thank you for reading this post, and hope to see you again in my next blog posts!

(C) AlexSRMD Productions (2019)

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