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FC Mobile USA!

I went on at some length a couple weeks ago about portable Famiclones, comparing and contrasting the various units available. Famiclones are pretty cool but also are pretty useless to a US consumer because people in the US play NES games not Famicom games. Famicom is for the Japanese, not God-fearing Americans. Americans don’t play Famicom. Unless, of course, they are some sort of hentai-loving, Japan-obsessed, commie-freak-weirdo-fanboy! Real Americans are all like, “Go back to Tokyo before I bludgeon you to death with an Xbox controller!” I personally have a weakness for Asics and cartoons that feature anatomically correct raccoons, which makes me a borderline Japanophile. Additionally, my half-brother is half Japanese which I figure makes me at least ¼ Japanese.

I received my NES version of the FC Mobile in the mail this last week. The unit is effing awesome. Admittedly, the awesomeness is boosted by the fact that FC Mobile is the only easily available option for playing NES games off carts in mobile form. Thank you the Chinese for thinking of the West and fixing the FC Mobile to play NES games. One thing that a western consumer will want to make sure of before the purchase an FC Mobile is that they are in fact getting a NES unit. The Chinese originally thought that it would be enough to just release a Famicom version of the FC Mobile. That’s just crazy, the Chinese! Fortunately they realized the folly of not releasing an NES capable FC Mobile. Buyer Beware: there are FC Mobile on the market that play Famicom games. Fortunately it appears that units noted online as being NES capable are indeed the NES versions of the FC Mobile.

The US version has a couple small differences from the original FC Mobile that are mostly cosmetic. While the original FC Mobile came in black, the US version comes in either white and red or black and silver. I am a bit stumped about why they did not release it in gray and dark gray to match the original NES. Another small detail is the company name “Hyperkin” replacing the “FC Mobile” text which is printed under the screen on the original FC Mobile. I have been unable to determine if Hyperkin is a new company that has bought FC Mobile or if it is considered more western then the FC Mobile branding. Hyperkin sounds like the brand name of something from the 80s which might be intentional. If the unit changed color based upon the skin temperature of the user then the branding, design, and functionality of the unit would hang together perfectly.

The less superficial differences are few. The slot on top is wider and the 60-pin Famicom connector has been replaced by a bigger, better, more American 72-pin NES connector. The one unfortunate design flaw that the NES version has that the Famicom version does not is that the A and B buttons have been switched so that they are backwards. DAMN YOU HYPERKIN! Really though, this is by no means a crippling defect. Damning people for relatively small slights just seems like the right thing to do…you know, as an American. It is curious that the buttons were switched. Perhaps the buttons of the Famicom are in an opposite configuration of the NES and switching the buttons was needed to make the unit possible with as few hardware changes as possible? Unfortunately the reset button was not moved.

I was a bit concerned with how far the cartridges stick out of the unit and tried a shake test by inserting Super Mario Bros. 3 and shaking the unit rapidly. Surprisingly the cart did not unseat. There is something really cool about having the cartridge art right in front of you while playing the games. Even a crap fest like Renegade is somewhat palatable when you can view the rocking box art.

As with the Famicom version, the screen is not the best but is bright with no noticeable ghosting. The resolution of the screen is a bit poor but does not negatively affect gameplay. There is a headphone jack as well as an A/V out jack that allow you to play on your Tee-Vee or with headphones. The controls feel responsive and fairly true to the classic NES controller.

Now back to GTA IV Super Mario Bros. 3

Scores:

Screen: 7/10 Decent brightness and no ghosting however the resolution is low and screen quality is generally low.

Sound: 8/10 Has two speakers that sounds decent except at high volume, has a headphone jack. Classic 8 bit sound.

Controls: 8/10 Controls feel right. Would get 10/10 if the A and B buttons were in the correct configuration.

Availability: 9 Still available new online.

Price: 9/10 Still can be found online for under $40.

Library: 10/10 Plays NES games. Probably has some incompatibility issues but have yet to encounter any.

Overall: 9/10 About as small as a handheld that plays NES carts could be. Games tested run at full speed with no problems. Takes three AA batteries and even though the instructions say not to use rechargeable batteries they seem to work fine. Score would be lower except that the unit is the best commercial way to portably play NES games off carts.

10 comments:

  1. Will it play Castlevania 3?

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  2. I don't have a copy handy. Anyone else know if the unit has any incompatabilitys? If I get my paws on a copy I'll reply here.

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  3. I have had a FC Mobile now for a few weeks and I have just found out that it does not have stereo like it says on the box. It only has one speaker inside the unit.
    It is a great little system to play those NES games. I have only found a few that it will not play but I do not know why. It may be the pins worn on the carts. I have a hard time with my copy of Abadox playing on the original NES and it will not play on this system. I have one game that the colors are not right on the screen but plays perfect with the TV-out.

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  4. Ordered the NES Castlevania 3 off E-Bay. Should have an answer to your specific question soon Anonymous from May 12. I noticed that if my batteries are low the system will frequently boot games with the wrong colors. Powering on and off sometimes 'fixes' the problem.

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  5. I may have some games you can try. I'd have to ask my bro and I can't give them to you, but it'd be a way of seeing which ones work? Anatomically correct racoons. Very humorous.

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  6. My newly arrived copy of Castlevania III won't play on any of my Famiclones so it could be a dead cart or it could be the case that NOAC cannot handle Castlevania. :( Whatever the case it does not look promising.

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  7. Hey Anonymous from may 12, I do already have a Castlevania 3 cartridge and FC mobile. I just making sure it's not my cartridge that is bad. Also to note for those who don't know, the Castlevania 3 cartridge has a expansion chip in it and most Clones won't play it for that reason. Also I haven't been able to get Dragon warrior or star tropics to work either.

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  8. I just got my FC Mobile last week. While I really like it, there are a couple of things I wish could be fixed. First the buttons being switched are a pain for games like Super Mario and MT Punch Out. Also, I was hoping you wouldn't have to blow in and tinker with the cartridges to get them to work like in the old days. Also, the color on Super Mario isn't that great. I really like it, but there are some frustrations. I was thinking about opening the console to switch the buttons, has anyone tried this?

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  9. "I was thinking about opening the console to switch the buttons, has anyone tried this?"

    If you do this you should let me know how it works out and how difficult it is.

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  10. a guy at the end of this post claims to have done it relatively easily

    http://technabob.com/blog/2008/04/27/fc-mobile-portable-plays-original-nes-carts/

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