Famicom, NES..Famicom, a revolutionairy console, known in the USA by the name of Nintendo Entertainment System. Now, considering this is a website about video games (video game website about video games) you probably know all about Famicom, and you've seen or played some of its 8-bit titles. Even so, a little background info is needed. So, the original Famicom came out in 1983 in Japan, and then in 1985 in the USA, Europe and the rest of the world where it was known as the Nintendo Entertainment System, NES in short. As I said, you probably know this. What you may not know though, is the history of the NES clones. Countless bootleg duplicates of the system, that included hacked versions of the original games.
..or Pegasus?When I was little, I always thought my console was an original Nintendo console. Well, I was a bit too young to know what I know now, or even what I knew some years back, when I used the internet to get the scoop on the Nintendo consoles. So I type in "Nintendo consoles", and look through their systems. Wait, no Pegasus on that list? Yes, Pegasus. You see, here in Poland, NES was REALLY REALLY rare, so nobody had one. Instead all kids had a Pegasus- a clone of the Famicom system from Taiwan, nobody knew, and most don't know even TODAY, what was/is a NES.
Now, I don't know what the hell you had in your house, but for me the mighty Pegasus was an original Nintendo Entertainment System. It wasn't cheap, either! What was really peculiar for me even back then (with my tiny brain of a seven year old) was that the cartriges had 400 games on them. Well, okay, that's like a mix tape sort of thing, I get it. What was weird, is that there were about 60 games on that cartridge (which was still plenty) and after the 60th, they started to repeat. Why? Well, the 2nd Contra had double the lives. What? Yeah. The 3rd Contra had a powered up version of your gun as your default gun. And my favourite Contra had infinite lives.
I suspect there was nothing like that on the original Nintendo console, but I may be wrong. The weird thing is, people still buy Pegasus consoles here in Poland. They think of it as a rare item, and some buy it because of nostalgia. It's a weird situation, and I really don't want to enlighten them, ruining their childhood memories. Don't get me wrong, it's not like our experience with the console is based on its originality, but I felt somewhat betrayed when I learned that my first console was a crappy duplicate.
Countless ClonesYou think the Pegasus was the only NES clone? Or maybe you've seen a few brandless vids (coined by Jeff) consoles on sale at a crappy kids store, or in a back alley, sold by a creepy looking guy with a weird accent and waxed moustache.. no? Well, either way, there were many more, and here are my favourite ones:
Arcade Station and Arcade Action
There were countless console duplicates sold in the USA as well as Europe, China and Japan, but these little fuckers are the worst. You see, My dad bought me a NES that looked somewhat like SNES (that's Pegasus for ya) but he still KNEW it was an 8-bit console. In fact Pegasus was advertised on TV. These consoles though looked like N64s! A parent that's not into gaming would buy this piece of shit diguised as the cutting edge Nintendo console. The very next day the guy in the back alley would be gone with the money. Awesome.
This bastard looked like Playstation. It even had a similar logo. But it was EVEN WORSE than Arcade Station/Action, cause it was sold as a console that can read CD's, but when you've opened the disc tray- there was a cartridge slot instead of a laser. Classy. The funny thing is, Polystations are STILL IN SALE. Three years ago I've seen a brand new Polystation being sold on a local market. Holy shit.
As you can see these two clones were used to fool the parents into buying something that's ten years old. There were ones resembling Sega systems too, like Sega Master System or Sega Mega Drive, it didn't matter though, cause under the hood, they were all Famicom clones. Beautiful. But there were better ones out there.. Pegasus, as I mentioned before, was a really good one. And apparently, so was Dendy- a popular Russian NES duplicate.
The End..?I just mentioned a few, but there are about 100 (or even more) NES clones in existence. Can you imagine Xbox360, Wii or PS3 clones being created in Russia today? I guess those days are over. But don't be sad. I'm sure somewhere, someone is just about to sell a Polystation console to a naive parent.
Pictures used from Wikipedia.
Links to check out:
Edit: There's an awesome list of NES clones here: