Sunday, April 13, 2008

NES Buyer's Guide for those wanting to relive Nintendo's golden boy (DTM Blog Entry #828))

It's probably not too evident (or maybe it is) to some people, but I enjoy the old retro video games from the 1980s-90s moreso than I do the current next-gen ones. They're simple, fun to play, and focus more on being great games than being pretty ones with lots of extraneous features. Suffice it to say I'd rather pay fifty bucks for a copy of Super Mario All-Stars than I would playing the latest FPS game focused on aliens trying to take over the universe and an online component I almost never use. And ever since I picked up the FC Twin console back in October 2007, I've been on the retro-kick for the most part. To think I almost forked five hundred bucks for a Wii, a classic controller, and some Wii points just to play the much-vaunted Virtual Console. Woo - just what I needed in my life, a motion-sensored remote control to swing around like an idiot and pray to God I don't let go or the strap breaks so that the stupid thing smashes into my TV or someone's nutsack.

Actually, now that I think about it, a Wiimote flying into someone's balls would make for an interesting video - perhaps we can get the idiots over at to film it for us. Any one of the interns could play the role of Hans Moleman and the Wiimote can play the role of the football. But I digress.

When the chances of Nintendo actually making a product worthy of reliving the NES days and using the cartridges we gamers already have are skimmer than skimmed milk, we head towards the black market where Chinese companies have developed new consoles designed for the sole purpose of playing these older games. Now, with patents on the NES supposedly expired, these consoles are available for purchase in North America, either online or through specialty retro gaming stores. Heck, even my local video stores started selling these things. Just great.

But wait just a minute there, King. What do we know about these clones? Why should I pick one up when I could play the games on my original Nintendo? Why don't I just pick up another original Nintendo from a flea market and pray to God it still works? Why don't I just open 'er up and fix it using some parts off the Internet? Why don't I just turn my Nintendo into a PC? That might serve some purpose.

Well, these are all valid questions when it comes to shopping around for an NES console - be it original or cloned - and certainly I'll be providing my own thoughts on the matter some day, but let me direct you to some place where some of these questions can be answered.

First off, someone actually did turn his Nintendo into a PC and even shows us stupid people how to do the same. Unfortunately, the author of this fantastic process passed away some months ago. Another great mind taken before his time. My thoughts are with you, man.

As for the other thing... well some time ago, a guy went out and bought a couple clone consoles, including Yobo's FC console and Messiah's Generation NEX console. After playing with them, he did this 11-page piece which compares the various consoles with the original. This is a good piece to check out if you want to get in (or back in) the NES era of greatness and want to bust out your old games. While it seems somewhat outdated - it doesn't mention any of the current 2-in-1 clones such as the FC Twin or Retro Duo systems that featured improved NES cloning chips - it is still a good look at some of the more popular NES clones as well as the two official NES models released by Nintendo, pointing out the various pros and cons of each choice. At the end of the day, however, the right system depends on you and what you're looking for. This helps a bit, but what you decide to do is your choice.

Click here for the document. It's a good read even if you're not looking to shop for ancient technology.

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