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

  1. All Hail The New Flesh says:

    I do have one problem with Yobo, for some reason that thing smells terrible, it smells like cheap melted plastic, not sure it happens to anyone else but w/e. Its just the smell just gives me a headache.

  2. will says:

    I think I will get the NEX or the regular NES. I’ve used Yobo products before but just their accessories. I just bought a Sega Saturn thought so I will have to wait a bit to buy the console. Thanks for the article.

  3. kevinski says:

    The AC adapter for the FC Twin is a piece of crap. My roommate has that thing.

  4. garsh says:

    Just a day or two ago I read that there was actually a version of the NES Model 2 that DID retain A/V output, with the caveat being that it’s hard to make sure you’re getting one from Ebay.

  5. RadarScope1 says:

    I can’t understand why anyone would by a Famiclone. No way any of those clones can compete with the real thing. A model 1 NES isn’t that hard to come by. You won’t score one as cheap as a Genesis or even a Saturn, but the games themselves are cheap and easy to find. If you have one with a replaced 72 pin connector, it’s perfect. Plus, like Racketboy says, the thing just looks iconic. There’s no mistaking that sweet piece of hardware sitting by the TV. People come over and freak out and want to play it, even if they’re not “gamers.” Even the official model 2 NES doesn’t have that going for it.

  6. SaurianOverlord says:

    RadarScope1: I want a NEX, but for only one reason: Famicom. $70 is a lot cheaper than any Famicom system I’ve seen on eBay, and I’ve never seen one anywhere else. There are also a number of Asian “knock-off” models that look very much like the original, but are cheap junk; they’re hard to distinguish in pictures on eBay. I’ll always keep an NES (I have several) next to the TV, but until I can afford to add an official (genuine) Famicom to my collection, I’d like to have a NEX for import action.

  7. SaurianOverlord says:

    BTW, I thought the NES 2 was AV-only. I guess I was wrong.

    However, wasn’t the similar Japanese model called “Famicom AV” for that reason? Or am I thinking of something else?

  8. racketboy says:

    You’re kinda right about the Famicom AV part, except for I think they stripped out the AV part :)

  9. RadarScope1 says:

    Yeah the jp model 2 is the “AV Famicom” and it has the composite connections. They stripped it out for the US version for dumb reason. Yet another reason I have no interest in getting a top-loading NES. Overrated and overpriced!

  10. JediJonL says:

    One NES clone that I was curious about that didn’t make the list is the Blaze Retrocon (http://www.superufo.com/pp/p_news_content.asp?news_id=50). Just wondering if anyone has any experience with this particular one. Thanks.

  11. will spires says:

    There is an article about the retrocon at this link http://www.nintendobaby.com/?p=157 the reviewer says it isn’t compatible with the controllers. Can someone confirm that.

  12. SovietSniper says:

    PLEASE HELP!!!
    about 6 months ago i bought a chinese VCD player brand ‘OMIYA 3060′ (VERY cheap… 30 bucks). Actually, it didnt play vcds very well, but apart from that it had radio, a microphone for karaoke, a lens cleaner disc, and guess what? two nes-style gamepads and a gun. it also had a disc called Game Nes 300, which had… guess what??? yes, you are right. 300 classic nes games. when u insert the disc in the player appears a menu where u can scroll from different folders and select bad named games like 1943.nes pacman.nes and castle1.nes …… ;). i opened the disc in my pc and expected to find some unknown format, but guess what? it had standard windows folders, and standard roms. the problem is that when i try to open the games in some emulator it says ‘wrong format’ or things like that, but the rom sizes are similar to my good nes roms. but my biggest problem is that i want to rename all those roms using some tool like GoodNES goodsets and it also doesnt want to recognize them. i tried lots of tools, but dont have any success in renaming those roms… what could be wrong, their header, their checksum, or what?

  13. SovietSniper says:

    BTW, somebody knows how to enter KEVINSKY.COM……. i looks for members only, but there is no way to register and enter…….. looks like VERY VIP ;)

  14. Marurun says:

    I had a NEX and had to return it. The video and audio were just too off. And the games that were listed as not working on the Yobo also don’t work on the NEX. The Messiah people used to (maybe still do) claim the NEX was not a NES-on-a-chip solution like other clones, but after many dissections by 3rd parties it’s clear it’s not really any better than the other NOAC clones save that it uses NES peripherals. Buy a real NES and repair the cartridge slot. Don’t waste your $70 on a NEX.

  15. will spires says:

    Thanks for the input. I know it sounds lazy but I don’t really want to spend a lot of time repairing the cartridge slot. I might do that during christmas break though. I already have 15 games( not including duplicates so I would like to be able to play them.

  16. All Hail The New Flesh says:

    *response to will spires*

    if you don’t want to fix the cartridge slots, go buy a NES that already has the cartridge slots fixed

    look at this item for example
    http://cgi.ebay.com/Nintendo-NES-Original-Game-System-W-Mario-Bros-72-pin_W0QQitemZ190140404590QQihZ009QQcategoryZ62054QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    sure it may cost you &78.99 but at least the shipping is free and it has a 1 year Warranty

  17. Fletch02 says:

    A potential warning to those who would buy Famiclones: When I was at a convention recently a vendor warned me that the connection pins of most Famiclones are too tight and can eventually scrap the copper of a cartridge.

    I don’t know if this necessarily true, however I do know the connection on my Generation NEX is much tighter then my old model NES.

  18. Benj Edwards says:

    Whoo! Thanks for the links, old chum. :) And great article too, as always.

  19. will spires says:

    I won an auction on ebay $27 including shipping. Here is a link to a cheap top loading one http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=300140640625&ssPageName=STRK:MEBI:IT&ih=020.

  20. Billy hannock says:

    nes/fami clones and cart damage question my answer to this is the orginal nes/fami and its top loader edition had a small metal band around the connector so your carts never actully touched the pins so the connection wasnt made copper to pin. The clones the copper and pin connect to make a much tighter connection This is not bad for the carts at all what you will wear down eventually is the 72 pin connector I have had a yobo for 5 months the carts go in and out with ease after month 1 but that also means the 72 pin connector is wearing down so eventually its your clone that will case to work but at a current 2007 price of 16.40 plus 3.99 for shipping for the yobo and the nex at 49.99 plus 10 dollars for a ship if you get 1 or 2 years out of it it was worth it and ndxt time you have to replace it a much cooler nes/fami clone will problay be out baring that nintendo doesnt decide to renew their patients which expired and has let all these clones come to be

  21. Bryan says:

    The NES connector most certainly did make pin-to-pin contact with the cartridge, otherwise it wouldn’t work. The cartridge is in most cases little more than a ROM on a board with a card edge connector. The original front-load NES had an odd ZIF-like connector so that when the cartridge was raised, the top half of the connector was raised and didn’t make contact, but when the cartridge was locked into place, there was contact. (Try taking one apart so you can see how the cartridge connector actually works. While you’re at it, get a can of tuner cleaner, pull the connector off and clean both the connector and the card edge it connects to on the board. Definitely the oddest card-edge connection I’ve ever seen, but it mostly worked.)

    I took one of my old NES’s apart and used tuner cleaner on the connector and it works like new now (though it worked with only minor effort before I cleaned it – the cartridges were more of a problem than the connector on the NES). (I was going to order a new 72-pin gold plated connector and wanted to see how easy it would be to install – in the process I discovered that I don’t really need one, at least not yet – and for as little as I actually play the NES, I may never need one.)

    As for the clones fitting too tight, it could be that the plastic on the sides of the connector is making too tight a fit and either the plastic (most likely) in the connector or the sides of the board in the cartridge are wearing down. As long as the sides of the connector don’t crack, it should be ok.

  22. 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.

  23. racketboy says:

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

  24. 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?

  25. 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?

  26. Turtle says:

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

  27. 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

  28. 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.

  29. john says:

    I mean it was a nex not a nes sorry

  30. john says:

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

  31. 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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