Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Family Game Famiclone

I am always on the hunt for Famiclones, and when I see one that I don't already have I tend to obsess over it. A few months back that's exactly what happened, and after persuaded someone to buy it for my birthday it finally arrived. I tore open the box to reveal a beautiful grey Family Game Famiclone, in the Famicom style housing, in great shape.


I was dying to test it out, so I wasted no time digging out my box of Famicom games, pirates and multi-carts. After hooking everything up I pulled the player 1 controller out of its slot on the console, grasped it firmly in my grubby paws and flipped the power switch. Perfect! Its working like a charm, I'm so excited to finally have a working Famiclone that looks this close to a genuine Famicom.


After playing with it for a little while I noticed that the colors weren't right, which confused me as I was under the delusion that this was a discreet Famiclone with cloned CPU and PPU chips, giving it the proper color palette and sound response. I wasn't worried too much because I was still enjoying my experience with the console. The AV output was a bit wavy as well, which wasn't a huge deal, but it still is something I'll have to take a closer look at.


Shortly after that I wanted to switch from AV and check out what the RF picture may look like, just out of curiosity, so I pulled out the AV cables and plugged in my NES RF adapter. The picture was absolutely horrible, I mean beyond playable, with bands in the background that far exceed that of the NES top loader. But what did I see between the static lines and wavy screen? The colors were absolutely perfect and 100% correct. My mind was blown, I was confused.

Maybe I could clean up the plugs and freshen up the picture, yeah that should to the trick. Nope. Well what if I did a search on my TV, to see if it could pick up the correct broadcasting for the Famiclone's RF signal. Nope, strike 2! Well that's fine, I don't need RF anyway, it looks much better through the AV outs, albeit with the incorrect color palette and wavy screen.


After playing Bases Loaded (Moero!! Pro Yakyuu) I did notice the console was tapping into the extra audio channel that my Dreamstation did, so at least I was getting the extra sounds. But in the pursuit of better knowledge on how to fix the AV output I decided to change the TV I was using and see if that made a difference in the video quality, and surprisingly it did, but in a very weird way! On the second TV I immediately noticed the RF signal was perfectly fine, with correct colors, but the AV was completely unusable. After trying a channel search on it, which changed nothing, I decided I would just have to use the console through AV on my main TV and deal with it.

To further my understanding I opened the system up to check the solder joints in the AV section, when I was greeted by something I have never seen before. Is that... is that a concealed NOAC? I have no clue what I'm looking at, but it was solitary, nothing else populating the board for miles, so this had to be the brains of the operation.


As soon as I saw this Famiclone I obsessed over it partially because I had seen another blogger (133mhz) write two articles on one that looked exactly like this one. 133mhz wrote up (Part 1 and Part 2) about cleaning and restoring a Famiclone, as well as how to swap out the cloned CPU and PPU for the original Nintendo chips, essentially making the Famiclone 100% a Famicom. My thoughts were to get my hands on a clone just like his and, sometime down the road, swap out the chips and have a Famicom with AV out, but seeing what I see now that's impossible. Even though they are identical outside they are far from the same on the inside, but that still doesn't concern me, as this is my first, properly functioning, Famiclone that looks like a Famicom.

Putting the technical issues aside, I originally had reservations about how the controller had the cable coming out of the top, instead of the sides. After playing with the console for a while, I feel this was a wise choice as this is what I'm more familiar with from the NES as well as almost all of my Famiclone controllers.


With the cable placement out of mind, I did find a few things that are slight concerns, but nothing more than slight. The Button layout is very close to one of my favorite third party NES controllers, so I'm familiar with that layout, but the edge of the buttons are much more rigid and come to an edge, instead of a smooth round off, which is just a bit weird. Also the D-pad is a complete 360 circle, which I sometimes find doesn't allow for accurate movement, instead pushing down to duck causes me to go off to the right a little.

Besides the concealed NOAC not allowing me to swap it out for real Nintendo chips, I'm perfectly ok with this system. The controllers are comfortable, the system works and offers the extra audio channel, which is all I really want in a Famiclone anyway. I feel I can sort out the video quality issue at some point, making this an extremely awesome little Famiclone, but until that I can completely enjoy it just the way it is, and I do!

5 comments:

  1. I want also a famiclone that looks like a famicom but they are a bit expensive because it resembles a famicom.

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    1. Try mercadolibre.com.mx you may be able to find a deal on there.

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  2. I have a Family Game famiclone like this one. But mine doesn't use a NESOAC chip, it uses all the computer chips that are in a normal Famicom. Also the D-Pads are a little different. I have some pictures here.

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    1. That is early clone version. And the last version is only one shit.

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  3. I've got one that's very similar to this one, internally. Presumably, it predates the modern ASIC/glop-top designs. It's like there's a protoboard with pins mounted to the top, and the CPU/PPU is just mounted on the bottom, then the entire assembly is just turned upside down and slotted in like some kind of ghetto x86. It also suggests that possibly one COULD install an original CPU/PPU combo but you'd need to figure out which pins go where and build an adaptor board.

    It's rather unnecessary though. The clone design seems to be quite accurate, even supporting expansion audio on my copy of Rolling Thunder.

    Other differences include a pair of 15-pin joypad ports on the front of the system, and no hardwired controllers. The pair of controllers I got with it appear identical to the pictures here aside from the 15 pin plug, and oddly both of them are marked "I", so there's no second controller with microphone support.

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