The FC Twin - In-depth review
Dual NES/SNES action!
Hello all. This is my first article, and to start off, I would like to write up a nice in-depth review of a "Famiclone" game console I got for Christmas. First, a little history.
For those of you who don't know, a "Famiclone" is a portmanteau of Famicom and Clone. A Famiclone is...well... a clone of the Famicom, known in the USA and Europe as the Nintendo Entertainment System. These cloned systems largely come from China and sold by independent stores and online. They have been made for quite some time, even during the glory days of the NES. At first, they were mainly sold on the grey market. Its been in recent years however that more and more clones are starting to show up in game stores and flea markets, largely due to the patents on the NES expiring. Recent Famiclones utilize a NES-on-a-chip (NOAC) which combines the entire workings of the NES into a single chip. Many NOAC's aren't perfect. Colors can be off, and the sound can sound totally different than official hardware. NOAC's are improving, which I will mention later on in the review.
Many of you know about the "FC Game Console" which is reviewed in another article here on RJ. This was my first Famiclone console. The "Last Stop CD Shop" in Sioux Falls, SD was where I bought it. The NOAC in this unit has sound that is a bit off, but its not really noticeable, nor did it bother me. It did reintroduce me to NES classics such as Super Mario Bros. and Gyruss. That was in the summer of 2006.
Fast forward to Christmas of 2007. The "FC Game Console's" successor (as I put it), the FC Twin was on my list. And, I got it! The FC Twin is a Famiclone that can play both NES and Super NES games in one unit.
The first picture is the box that the unit comes in, and the second picture is the console itself. I got the Pearl White/Purple colored unit. There are two other color variations available; Silver/Black, and Charcoal Black/Silver. The system is styled after the official Super NES model 2, and is very small and lightweight. The plastic is sturdy and doesn't feel cheap at all to me. On the rear of the unit is the DC input jack and the standard composite audio video jacks. (RCA Red/White/Yellow). The unit comes supplied with an AC adapter and video cables.
Here is what the console looks like with games inserted into the slots, and you can clearly tell what game goes where. The games Im going to feature are "Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island" and "Gyruss."
The power button is very handy. It switches between Off, "16-Bit" (SNES), and "8-Bit" (NES). The second picture features one of the controllers that comes with the console. (you get two controllers just in case you invite your friends over for some Mario Bros!) The controllers are made out of good quality plastic, and the controls are responsive, though the D-pad has minor direction issues. Its really not that bad, at least to me. I'm thankful that the controllers aren't made out of the low quality plastic that other clones are made out of.
In Super NES mode, the controllers perform the way they should, and the buttons (Y,B,X,A) are mapped out correctly. In NES mode, Y is the B button, B is the A button, X is turbo B, and A is Turbo A. The console is compatible with most official SNES controllers and accessories as they use the same plug. However, you can't use NES peripherals such as the Zapper. That means no Duck Hunt or Hogan's Alley. That isn't too big a deal for me.
The big question is, how does the SNES portion work? Game carts can be inserted and removed very easily, yet the games make good contact with the pin connectors. Game compatibility has been nearly flawless so far. "Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island" works without problems. The A/V quality is excellent. The picture is colorful and sharp. SMW2 is one of the few games that uses the Super FX 2 co-processor, and all of the animations and special effects appear as they should. The sound and music are spot on with a real Super NES on every game I have tried so far. The only minor issue I noticed happens during the title screen of "Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose." as seen below. (screencapped directly from my FC Twin) Other than that, the game plays like it should with no further problems.
The SNES portion isn't a SNES-on-a-chip. There is actually a multi-chip motherboard inside the unit. I don't know if it was reversed engineered from a real SNES or not, but they did a good job nonetheless. As for the NES portion....
...its a typical NOAC circuit, but this particular FC Twin has sound that is nearly spot on with a real NES. My particular unit is the newer model FC Twin that had a "jewel" with the Yobo Gameware logo behind the cartridge slot (which I took off because the jewel wasn't sticking very well), and I have read that the earlier FC Twin units without the jewel (or any Yobo branding whatsoever) had an NOAC that was basically the same as the "FC Game Console". The newer jewel units suggest that NOAC's are improving, but they still aren't perfect in all areas, mainly with game compatibility. Nearly all NES games will work, but a small number won't. Games that I own all run without any problems, even Tengen games. The colors are accurate along with the aforementioned sound. AV quality is also colorful and sharp. The carts go in tight, and some, especially Tengen, games can take some effort to remove. The games make good contact with the pins because of this.
One game I couldn't get to work on my older FC Game Console was "Rolling Thunder", and it works great on the jeweled FC Twins. Some games that won't work on this system are "Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse", "Rad Racer II" and "Gauntlet" (official and Tengen). As stated above, Zapper games are useless as well.
One more thing I should mention. When I originally got the FC Twin at Christmas, I got the Charcoal Black/Silver unit with the jewel. I had to exchange it about two weeks later as the SNES side crapped out. Don't let this discourage you. I have had my replacement unit since January, and it still works great, NES and SNES. I think I just got a bad unit.
Overall, the FC Twin is a great system for retro gamers who don't mind the few quirks that exist in this system. Its also a great space saver too.