The Kensington One Station AKA FC 3000 Digital Crystal Panel otherwise known as the One Station Elite (pictured on left) is one of the most recent Famiclones that uses it’s own proprietary cartridges. A Famiclone is a system that plays original 8 bit NES or Famicom games. The One Station Elite is very similar to the Original One Station, which has been featured here previously, in functionality but with a few small differences that stretch the definition of the word elite. I’ve lauded the original One Station several times for the quality of its screen and its good feeling controls. It is by no means the best system on the market but is generally done right with a few quirks. The Elite takes a step backwards in almost all ways.
First of all the system’s design is less cool looking than the original. The One Station is a bit similar to the Gameboy Micro in design. It is slightly flared on the ends and has a cool looking face design that is reminiscent of the removable faceplates that are available for the Gameboy Micro. Besides the fact that the original One Station’s cart protrude out of the system, the system looks like a well designed hip little system. The Elite on the other hand is a bit like a compacted Xbox controller. It is bland and ugly with rather tacky Kensington and FC 3000 logos. The FC 3000 logo in particular looks like something that might be included in a commercial for an after-school cartoon lineup commercial. This is no big deal as the functionality is much more important than the form. None the less, it is the first of many strikes against the system.
The screen is identical in size but a little bit brighter than the original. The original One Station’s colors seem much richer than the Elite but this might have to do with the brightness. The Elite also appears to be much more pixilated than the original. When compared to vintage systems the Elite screen is quite decent however when compared to the very similar original One Station the system falls flat. When compared to contemporary systems such as the NDS or PSP the screen leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not terrible; it’s just not as good as the original which makes the Elite’s name a bit of a misnomer.
Next the controls. They suck. The + pad feels stiff and pressing down is very iffy. Already difficult games like Contra become a struggle when trying to duck in time to dodge bullets. Games as hard as Contra do not need to be any harder. Fortunately the version of Contra included on one of the carts has a menu option to start the game with the Konami code in effect. Unfortunately you’ll waste half of your extra lives to the shoddy down button. Beyond that the buttons which are slanted at an odd angle are labeled Square, Circle, Triangle Triangle up and to the Left, and Triangle Triangle up and to the Left a second time. That’s right: there are 2 buttons labeled with a pair of triangles pointing up and to the left. I have no idea what is up with this iconogram. It looks like the icon for fast forward but at the completely wrong angle. On an audio device it would mean rewind pitched up at ¼ speed? Also why are there two of them? Maybe the designers ran out of ideas. Here is an idea jackass, how about X and triangle buttons. You are already ripping off other systems, just go the extra few inches and label your buttons in a way that makes sense! The buttons feel much better then the + pad and the silly labeling is totally forgivable but in light of other issues it is a sign of a lack of care designing the system. If the controls were better the other negatives would be much easier to overlook.
The only thing that might be elite about the Elite and presumably the source of its eliteness is the fact that it has a slightly different library. While the majority of the games found on the Elite can also be found on the original One Station there are a few “gems” that are not available on the original, like “Pocket Amethyst” and “Sonic”. These games are quite likely other games that have been reskinned or modded. I have no idea what the games were before they were reskinned but “Pocket Amethyst” is a Pokemon themed side scroller featuring Pikachu and “Sonic” is a disappointing Sonic the Hedgehog clone that lacks the speed or game-play needed for a Sonic game. I could tear on these games for being the crapfests that they are however they are far too fascinating. “Pocket Amethyst” has enemies that don’t look like any Pokemon I have ever seen. The only attack appears to be an electric attack that hits all the enemies on screen. Hold down the jump button and Pikachu jumps repeatedly. The level design is of the run to the right variety. The game is down right difficult but this is mainly due to the sketchy controls. Never the less it is interesting to see what someone did with little care for the license but knowing it was a quick way to some cash. At least I assume that the motivation was money. It could very well have been a fan mod that the cart manufacturers managed to find online. It’s possible that it is an homage to “Pokemon Amethyst” which is a fan made Pokemon game. The games are more like riddles then games.
Elite game carts are a bit easier to find then the original which is one of the few advantages of the system. All my complaints aside, as a curiosity it is a worthwhile system with a price tag that is low enough to pick up on a whim. However, if you can find the games you want for the similarly priced and featured original, it is far superior.
Screen: 7/10 Screen is plenty bright and the same size as the Regular One Station but looks to be a lower resolution.
Sound: 8/10 Has one speaker that does the job.
Controls: 6/10 Plus pad does not register down very well and the 4 buttons are angled at a funny angle. The controller does not feel good.
Availability: 8/10 Easy to find new online thru Deal Extreme.
Price: 10/10 .Can be found starting at $28.50 and a 99 in one cart can be bought as low as $3.92.
Library: 7/10 Lacks many of the big hitters of the NES library but has some excellent games such as Ninja Gaiden 2, Tiny Toons, Super Contra, Arkanoid, Excite Bike, Mappy, Super Mario, Dig Dug, and Donkey Kong. Plus tons of games that are absolute crap will be included on any cart you choose to buy.
Overall: 7/10 The shoddy controls and just slightly sub par screen make for a second rate system. When compared to the original One Station the One Station Elite falls short. The only advantages are that the carts fit fully inside the unit and that the carts for the Elite generally feature a larger number of games. In general the One Station carts have six or seven good games and 28 games that you will never play. The One Station Elite carts, on the other hand, in general have six or seven good games and 88 games you will never play.