Been meaning to post something on this subject for a little while but have been busy with other, less interesting pursuits. Recently I’ve been getting rather into Japanese Nintendo games, particularly Famicom and Super Famicom. Now, not owning a Famicom console you think would be a problem, however many converters and ‘Famiclones’ are available.
The first of which I got my hands on Christmas last year.
This is the Tri-Star (also known as Super 8) converter for Super Nintendo. It allows you to not only play Super Nintendo and NES games but also Famicom games. It’s fairly easy to hook up and straight forward to use, simply stick a SNES game in the front slot and either a NES or Famicom game in the appropriate slot (a flap covers the 8-bit slot not in use). The 8-bit side of the system works well, being a top loader it’s actually more reliable then the standard NES (due to the problems caused by the VCR style cartridge slot) although the screen can sometimes display vertical lines when brighter colours are on screen, not a big deal as this problem is also present on the later NES 2 top loader console. I’ve read online somewhere that you can modify the console quite easily to fix this.
Although it is a great add on for the SNES, giving gamers 3 different consoles in one package… this thing isn’t cheap, especially seeing as this is the rare PAL version. They usually go for around £50-60 (although I’ve seen some go for cheaper). For £60 you could most likely import a Famicom from Japan with some games, or even pick one up from a collector in your own country. But then again as a collector myself it’s a cool thing to own and it will tide me over till I get a real Famicom.
We’ll come back to Famicom, for now lets move on to the Super Famicom (Japan’s SNES).
Although the SFC cartridges are the same exact shape as the PAL SNES cartidges unfortunately the games are not compatible due to the regional lock-out chip in every SNES.
With the use of a region converter you can get around this for most games, the later ones (from around 1994 onward) however have a different method of locking the games (50/60hz incopatibility). Simply put the game you want to play in the front slot and put a PAL region game in the back slot. It uses the region chip from the PAL game to overide the region lockout chip inside the console. Like I mentioned before however, some games will not work due to a 50/60hz lockout used on later games (like my copy of Dragon Ball Z Super Butoden 3).
This little convertor has helped me start a little SFC game collection, including this beast of a game…
…shame I don’t read Japanese… maybe I should learn.
So, after buying my first Famicom cart ‘Dr Mario’ for a reasonable price on the bay I was getting stuck right into using the Tri-Star and planned on buying more FC games. While looking around the study for a hole punch (to hang up my Official Nintendo Calender) I came across something I’d not seen for a while buried under PlayStation controllers and a nest of leads.
A TV game system bought from Argos years ago, this thing has some classic games built in, Joust, Yie Ar Kung-Fu, Adventure Island, it even looks like a Famic… wait a minute…
… the cartridge isn’t attached… which means…
“So there was a Famiclone in the house all this time and I didn’t know about it??!”. This thing is soo weightless and cheap feeling… the controls are quite awful aswell but they work well enough and have turbo buttons too. The input for the control looks like a Sega Mega Drive/Atari style input however I haven’t tried using any other controls with it thus far. Needless to say a modest Famicom collection followed shortly after this discovery.
More on this later as I am expecting a couple more games to come over from Japan within the next couple weeks.
Thanks for reading.