Finding The Best NES Clone or Official Console For You

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I received a friendly email the other day asking what NES clone I would recommend. While I have talked about all of the major players in the past, I haven’t actually owned any myself, nor had I done enough research to give a reliable answer. Also, I thought it would be nice if I produced a detailed article to present to him and share with future shoppers instead of a quick response. Below, you will find the results of my research of both NES clones and Nintendo’s two official console releases. I’ve tried to summarize all my findings in an easy to digest manner and everything is pulled from a variety of reviews and conversations about each machine. If you would like to add your own experiences, feel free to use the comments section below.

Generation NEX

Messiah Generation NEXPrice: $71 including shipping

Advantages:

  • Sleek design with original NES style in mind
  • Dual-slot design – plays both NES and Famicom carts
  • Decent customer service from US-based company
  • Newer machine
  • Solid Contruction
  • Slim design
  • Will play some carts that NES won’t like those Hong Kong mulit-carts
  • Works with official NES accessories

Disadvantages:

Full Reviews:

Where to Buy:

Who This Is For:
If you want a modern machine from a US-based company that has a style worth showing off, the Generation NEX may be for you. You will have to pay a bit more money for those benefits, but you may think it’s worth it. You must be willing to make some sacrifices in terms of glitches and compatibility, since this is a clone.

Yobo Neo FamiYobo Neo Fami

Price: $20 including shipping

Advantages:

  • Excellent Value
  • Newer machine
  • Solid Contruction
  • Small and light
  • Slick design in multiple colors
  • Will play some carts that NES won’t like those Hong Kong mulit-carts
  • Supports all US NES accessories
  • AV output is crisp and clean, no static
  • Stock controllers include slow and turbo buttons

Disadvantages:

  • Has the same graphical and sound glitches as other NES clones (essentially the same as the FC Twin below)
  • NES audio quality may be lower than Generation NEX
  • Suffers from particularly serious slowdown issues evident in stressful games such as Kirby’s Adventure
  • Some NES games won’t work (Bandit Kings of Ancient China, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, Gauntlet, Dragon Warrior II, L’Empereur, and Rad Racer II.)
  • No Famicom support
  • Customer support may be sub-par

Full Reviews:

Where to Buy:

Who This Is For:
If you want the absolute cheapest way to play real NES games on your TV with the least amount of hunting around, picking a Yobo machine is a solid selection for you. Sure, in a few ways you get what you pay for, but if your expectations aren’t too high, this might do the trick for you.

FC Twin

Yobo FC TwinPrice: $25 – $40 including shipping

Advantages:

  • Excellent Value
  • Plays both NES and SNES games
  • Excellent SNES playback
  • Newer machine
  • Solid Contruction
  • Small and light
  • Multiple colors available
  • Will play some carts that NES won’t like those Hong Kong mulit-carts
  • Comes with 2 SNES-style controllers of respectible quality

Disadvantages:

  • Only supports SNES accessories (No Duck Hunt for you)
  • NES support isn’t as good as the SNES emulation
  • Has the same graphical and sound glitches as other NES clones (essentially the same NES playback as the standard Yobo clone)
  • NES color palette is significantly off on certain games. The Legend of Zelda is hard to play due to glitchy map. (compare video quality)
  • NES audio quality may be lower than Generation NEX
  • Suffers from particularly serious slowdown issues evident in stressful games such as Kirby’s Adventure
  • No SNES S-video support
  • Has had reports of machines dying after a few weeks
  • Some NES games won’t work (Bandit Kings of Ancient China, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, Gauntlet, Dragon Warrior II, L’Empereur, and Rad Racer II.)
  • Some SNES games won’t work (BatterUP, Street Fighter Alpha 2, Star Ocean, and Kirby Super Star)
  • No Famicom support
  • Customer support may be sub-par

Full Reviews:

Where to Buy:

Who This Is For:
If you want to save space and cable mess by having and NES and SNES in one machine, this may be for you. This machine is also good for cheapskates as it is much cheaper than the Generation NEX or buying both an NES and SNES. Not recommended for HDTV owners as a real SNES at least has S-Video support. You’ll also need to accept some graphical and sound compromises for NES gameplay in addition to giving up games that require NES accessories like the Zapper and Power Pad.

NESNES Model 1

Price: $40 – $50 including shipping

Advantages:

Disadvantages:

  • It’s getting harder to hunt one down in decent condition
  • Finding a good deal on one can be difficult as well.
  • The machine is about 20 years old and won’t live forever.
  • Isn’t huge, but is larger than the clones

Where to Buy:

Who This Is For:
If you want the absolute best NES compatibility, nostolgic style, but are willing to put up with hunting down a machine in good condition, the original system is for you. Just beware of it’s mechanical imperfections.

NES Model 2

NES 2

Price: $50 – $60 including shipping

Advantages:

  • Great compatibility
  • A quirky piece of Nintendo collectables
  • Lifespan is pretty good (so far)
  • Less prone to gunky internals than original NES
  • Easier to swap cartridges than original NES

Disadvantages:

  • RF-output only and picture quality isn’t as good as original NES
  • Game Genie needs an adapter to work correctly
  • Can be a challenge to find
  • Relatively pricey
  • The machine is about 20 years old and won’t live forever.

Where to Buy:

Who This Is For:
If you want perfect game compatibility, but would like a slimmer package and lower failure rate, the Model 2 NES might fit you well. This is definately not the machine for you if you want to hook it up to a larger HDTV however due to the RF-only output.


36 Comments

Jindo Fox says:

You guys should update this page with some of the more recent clones. I just got last year’s Retro Duo, which plays SNES and NES games but with better compatibility than the FC Twin. There’s also a new Yobo 3-in-1 NES/SNES/Genesis system that looks to be worth a look.

racketboy says:

Yeah, I probably should update this. I’ll add it to my todo list now 🙂

fattyArbuckle says:

Why hasn’t anyone mentioned the Retro Duo yet? I’ve heard good things in comparisin to the Yobo Twin.. Anyone have any input on it?

alex says:

my fc3 broke and i dont know what to do
its not much of a big deal i do own a sega,nes, and snes but i payed good money for it any help?

Turtle says:

Retro Duo needs to make this list, hands down best clone!

Sean says:

To whom this may concern. I bought a Generation NEX
System. I cannot get to the official list of games it
does not play. I know they said 21 games. What are the
21 games so I do not end up buting them for my daughter.
Please help

Thanks
Sean

john says:

The nes clones suck, they don’t play all games and they are usually the mario games. someone at the market was selling a nes, an fc duo and a few more for ridiculous prices. They were dodgy because the adapters were ripped on the outside the consoles were melted and when I asked him he said he had them for a few weeks and that is what happened.

john says:

I mean it was a nex not a nes sorry

john says:

the retro duo is junk it is like the fc twin.

Patrick says:

I tried out the Retron 3 at the local Game store…it’s the only clone that I would buy.

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