Thursday, October 20, 2011

Famiclone Wars Part 1: the Famulator

Among the other things I have picked up at Omocha Souko recently have been a pile of Famiclones. Literally a pile of them. Look at that picture above. See? A pile.

Anyway, I thought I`d devote a few posts to doing mini-reviews of each of them. Famiclones are kind of an interesting sub-genre of the Famicom world. There are a ton of different ones out there, many released since Nintendo`s patent on the Famicom expired in 2003, making the technology part of the public domain.

These usually retail for between 1500 and 2500 yen at various retailers like Don Quixote and Village Vanguard. The thing I like about Famiclones is that they come in a ton of different colors, shapes, sizes and levels of commitment to not violating intellectual property rights. So there is a lot of variety out there.

I thought I`d start at the top of the pile with this Famiclone, the Famulator:
Out of the four Famiclones I have this one bears the strongest physical resemblance to the actual Famicom. The red and white colors are about the same and that belt where it says Famulator across the front looks quite similar to the one on the front of the Famicom. It even has a bit of the clear plastic starting to separate from the red plastic, which commonly happens on the real Famicom too.

In terms of size though, the Famulator is much smaller than the actual Famicom, a fact that you really notice when you put a cart into it:
I gave it a go with Space Invaders there. The controller is quite small and simple in design:
For a Famiclone though I was surprised at how good the controller was. It is quite sturdy and the buttons feel right, providing the right amount of resistance to the touch.

When I tried to remove Space Invaders after finishing though I did notice that it is quite difficult to take carts out of the thing. I had to really wrench on the thing to the point that I was worried about breaking it before I got it out. The opening you put the cart into is quite small and doesn`t allow much wiggle room which probably explains why it was so hard.

Another feature worth noting is that this Famiclone doesn`t come with any built in game software of its own, you can only play it if you put a cart in.

Anyway, this is a pretty decent Famiclone. Small, attractive and with good controllers, but without any software built in and with some cart-removal difficulties. In the next post I`ll look at the next Famiclone - the Next II.

Related Posts:
Fukuoka Famicom Shops V: Don Quixote and Village Vanguard
Mahjong Famiclone


  1. I quite like the look of this one, to tell you the truth. It kind of looks like a Famicom mated with an Atari (2600, I think), or something like that. Too bad you have to wrench games from it, though...

  2. I like it too, on appearance alone it is definitely my favorite Famiclone of the ones I have. You are right about the Atari 2600 too, shape-wise it does look like a cross between that and a Famicom!

  3. The sheer number of variations and colours of clones could turn into a seperate collecting hobby in itself!

  4. I love this one! The unit, the controller, the box... Any idea how a european like myself could get ahold of one?

  5. Oh, Famiclones. I came pretty close to buying one at Don Quixote before my friend gave me his old Famicom (I think they had the Famulator and the NEXT II there). I think I would have eventually bought a real Famicom anyway. Nothing beats playing the games on the actual console and not something fake. Though, I have to say, if I saw any of those comined Famicom/Super Famicom machines, I might seriously think about purchasing that. Also, those handheld Famiclones look kind of neat too. They always had one on display at my favorite retro game store in Akihabara. It'd be cool to play Famicom games on the train or something, I'm sure the battery life is crap though.

    Also, do a lot of these Famiclones have AV cables? That's definitely an advantage over the original, I'd say. I HATE that stupid RF switch box thing.

  6. The console is looking good, but the gamepad are terrible ugly...

  7. Superfamicomguy - yes it is. There is a regular over on Famicom World who collects them, he put a pic of his collection of Famiclones up and it really sparked my interest. So much variety!

    Johan - it is pretty cool isn`t it? I`ll probably be selling these if you are interested:)

    Nate - yes, my Don Quixote has them too (only the NEXT II). They also had one of those portable ones that ran on batteries which interested me but I passed for the same reason you did.

    The real thing is the best too. This one does have AV cables though so that is a step up over the RF switch!

    Pix3l - I agree that the controller isn`t as attractive as the real Famicom`s. For a Famiclone though I think these aren`t bad. Most Famiclones seem to have faux Playstation style controllers,which I think look really bad!

  8. Nice! I remember back in the early 00s considering tracking down a Famiclone, but always resisted as I heard some games aren't compatible or don't play accurately compared to the original hardware.

    Unfortunately this meant it took a while until I finally grabbed a console of my own, which I did earlier this year. Still have to clean the controllers and replace the pads in them (buttons/directions are wonky) and AV mod the sucker. I'm sure I'll get there eventually :)

    I'm off to read part II now...

  9. Cool, so you bought the original Famicom or a Famiclone? Hope you get it up, modded and working soon!

    There are a number of games that can`t be played on most of these Famiclones, mainly the ones that require the use of alternate controllers like the light gun.

  10. Do you mean that you'll sell some in your thread on FCWorld? I'd totally be interested in picking up a Famulator plus some $50 worth of carts, just let me know how/when to give you money! :)

  11. Chortle! I like the name of it. It sounds like it was invented for a film or something so viewers would know it's a console but also so they don't have to get permission to use the real name. :P Anyway, looks like quite a nice console, and small too! Is it smaller than a PC Engine?

  12. Johan

    Cool - I will be selling this on Famicom World, just shoot me a PM over there!


    Yeah, the name is just close enough to let people know what it is without actually using the word Famicom! Most of these famiclones display the word `FC`somewhere on their packaging for the same reason!

    I think this is a bit smaller than a PC Engine. Certainly it is lighter.

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  16. NES Longplay [534] Yuu Yuu Hakusho


  17. when are you going to reveiw the famiclones that are on the bottom of the pile at the top of this picture

  18. LOL, unfortunately when I moved a couple of years ago I had to sell those ones before I got around to doing a review of them!

  19. Cool little clone of Famicom. I am getting one soon for my Famiclone collection :)
    All Famiclones I have for now are PAL based ones, so they are a bit slower than the original one, so I wanted to get one that's NTSC :)
    It's not that I can't live with PAL or anything like that, since practically all the clones in Russia were PAL ones, and eventually I got used to that XD

  20. Yeah, it was a pretty cool little one! Interesting that they are all PAL in Russia!

    1. I picked it up like a few days ago. It took me 2 weeks to get shipped to Russia.
      Pretty cool system, very compact and small.
      The picture is not the best in the world, as there are vertical lines on the screen and the colors are a bit off, as well as the sound.
      The controllers are pretty good, but very small XD

      The only real problem is that it uses 8V DC Center Pin Positive power adapter. All my other Famiclones use 9V DC Center Pin Negative, so I'd better not confuse my power adapters XD

  21. Cool! Better be careful about the adaptors!!