Friday, July 27, 2012

1012 - Vintage NES Clone Review from 2008: Yobo Factor 5 Clone System

A vintage 2008 review from the old DTM Webstation days talking about the old Yobo Factor 5 clone system. I figured that I had this laying around somewhere and here it is. Also included is a picture of said console. Suffice it to say; the console isn't around any more.

Yobo's Factor 5 is considered to be a follow-up to the FC Game Console, their previous NES clone effort. Not much has been said about the Factor 5, except for the fact that it includes a special cart with five additional games and also includes a light gun which looks like a real pistol, except it rattles and doesn't work... well, at least mine doesn't, but no matter. Deciding to be brave (and also because I had twenty dollars to waste on frivolous purchases), I picked one up and thus am only the second person to review this console (the first was Video Games Central, a gaming store). A week after playing the console, I have it tucked away in a drawer as an afterthought.

THE GOOD: The one thing noticeable about the Factor 5 is how small and light the whole thing is. Chances are it might even be smaller than Yobo's FC Game Console release, but I can't say for sure. Other than that, it has a nice little design that makes it a little more aesthetically pleasing than the the FC Console's plain box design, even if the color scheme is almost embarrassing. What I do like about the Factor 5 are the controllers. Quite simply, they seem a little fragile (and probably are), but these are some comfortable controllers and fairly responsive as well. While I don't care for the button layout, it works at least and the turbo buttons are within reach if you need them, so good stuff there. There's also a slow button, but any gamer worth their salt knows that slow buttons are almost always useless. Besides that, not too shabby. Of course, you could always use original NES controllers if you'd like... a good thing for those with functional Zappers.

THE BAD: For some reason or another, the included cartridge doesn't seem to work - always a good sign when the included cartridge designed specifically for the console doesn't even work. It could be my copy not functioning, as I've seen a video demonstrating the five games themselves - fairly generic looking things as far as I could tell - so we'll let it pass. As for the console itself, to quote a funny YouTube doctor from the UK, it feels light, cheap, and plasticky. It almost seems like the whole thing was stuck together with some hot glue and you get the feeling that it's going to snap at any minute every time you pull out the cartridge. I'm not joking either; people tend complain about how hard it is to pull out NES games from the FC Twin's slot, but I never had a problem with it and once you find the right way of doing it, it's not much of a hassle. But this seems to take the effort of three Supermen to remove the bloody cartridge and the whole thing feels really fragile. A quick look inside the machine through the cartridge slot (and thus requiring no real effort to pull the thing apart) shows that there's nothing in it: just a connector and some strips for external connections such as controller ports or A/V slots. Nothing more, nothing less. Everything looks glued together. Again, always a good sign.

So the hardware itself... basically, it's a NES-on-a-chip. Specifically the older model with imperfect sound emulation and extremely bright colors. It seems that for whatever reason, Yobo decided not to utilize the updated NOAC model featured on the FC Twin (the one with near-perfect sound emulation) and utilize the old one from their previous clone console. Another pet peeve is wire length; much like the FC Twin, the included controllers and AC adaptor have notoriously short wires, so have a couple extension cords handy and try searching for authentic controllers especially if you want to sit as far away from your TV screen as possible.

OVERALL: Generally speaking, there's a good reason there hasn't been any word on the Factor 5 console. Anyone expecting to find an updated version of Yobo's FC Console will be sorely disappointed, as it is simply the same inferior NOAC technology only with a new name and fancier look. Unlike the FC Twin console which has been known to update its NOAC incrementally as later models are built, the plain vanilla Yobo FC hasn't changed much. On the one hand, you can nab it for a cheap price, use vintage NES controllers - something you couldn't do on the Twin or even the Retro Duo without some fancy work - and even comes with a cartridge full of games (if you can get the damn thing to work). On the other hand, the sound emulation is pretty poor, the colors are somewhat brighter or a bit off, and removing the cartridges are a chore and a half.

Having said that and having spent half the review bitching about the console's flaws, the Factor 5 is a good purchase if you can find it real cheap and it's enough to hold you over until you can find good working hardware, but if you already have an NES clone, a 2-in-1 system like the Twin or Duo, or even a genuine NES system that still works, then you don't need this... unless you REALLY want the bonus cartridge and hope you get a copy that actually works.

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