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Return 5 vs. Clone


vw57drvr
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I guess what I am really trying to ask, is why isn't anyone making clones of old consoles? I have quite a few vintage consoles, and most work, but I just don't have the space to keep them out and ready to play. Thats why the Retron 5 is VERY tempting for me. But why are there no real clones? The Retron is emulating by dumping the cart on the fly. Is it a legality issue to keep someone from making a copy of an original NES? Are the chips just not available? I suppose the cost would still be high, but it would sure be nice to have a new piece of hardware that ran games like they were meant to be. I am always afraid that I may pull out an old console and realize that humidity killed it, or it just died of old age.

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I have never seen a "new" NES, SNES, etc. Just wondering why there is no device that has the same hardware as the original console. Maybe the connections modified for new TV's to make them easier to switch out and play. Or combine multiple systems in one machine. Like the Retron 5 but without using emulation. Im not looking at the "made in China" stuff. I try not to buy any of that.

Edited by vw57drvr
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It's really a matter of cost saving.

 

The first NES clones, were, well, clones, with the same motherboard layout, the same chips, or cloned chips (for the specialized hardware like the NES PPU) or just chips with the required specs (cheaper RAM chips with the same properties, just not of the same brand).

There is no legal issues as the Famicom doesn't have any built-in BIOs that would be copyrighted (and if there was, this isn't the biggest issue) and any industrial brevet fall after 20 years.

 

That might sound crazy but today, finding 2Ko RAM chips isn't necessary cheaper than a 2Go RAM chip.

Finding a Ricoh CPU like in the NES isn't a matter of cost either.

 

Simply put, most ot the parts that are into our old lovely consoles are simply no longer made. So the clone makers have to rely on different techniques to make system that behave like it.

ASIC and FPGA can mimic any kind of chip, and have even been used into old machines (the early models of Amstrad CPC have a special "Gate Array" chip, that was replaced later by an ASIC chip that behaved like the Gate Array).

Given the capacities of those chips today, you can have the CPU, PPU, RAM and everything on a single chip, hence the "NOAC" (NES On A Chip) clones.

Those behave like a real Famicom. The reason why they doesn't work with all games is that they lack some external parts and/or wiring to the connector.

But technically, they are "real".

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I have read about the NOAC, but apparently its hit and miss also. There have been no clones to my knowledge that work well. Colors wrong, sound terrible, or the carts don't work at all. That isn't a real good alternative. At least for the real enthusiasts. I guess my terminology may be misleading, but I don't consider NOAC a clone. Take the early days of Atari for example. There were chip for chip clones that worked well. I know it was much easier then since the actual chips were plentiful.

Edited by vw57drvr
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A FPGA/NOAC clone will be only as good as what you feed it.

 

Wrong colors : Those clones are made in China where the standard is PAL. Nintendo used a color palette derived from the NSTC space color rather than using a RGB based palette like most other systems.

It's not an excuse, just a likely explanation.

It's alos possible that they use composite converters of poor quality that doesn't give a good picture. Same for sound.

It's possible to make good NOAC. Or to make shitty ones.

Also, some Chinese game companies expanded the NES capabilities to add more colors. Those usually works only with their carts, but not wuth NES/FC carts, but technically they are still NES clones.

 

For good NES clones, you wanna look at the early Micro Genius/Dendy consoles from the early 90's.

Edited by CatPix
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The second reply asked what your needs are.

 

I've not had the greatest experience with clones, and after a couple of problematic issues with their older products, I've not really considered something like a Retron 5. I also don't have most of my carts anymore, so it would be a considerable investment to get back into it, not to mention that I do not live in a large house. Then there was the fact that they used emulators without permission.

 

If all you want to do is play some of the more popular nintendo games, maybe you should see if the Wii VC fills your needs. If you only have HDMI to work with, you can usually find a used Wii U system. I have the WII U for Nintendo games, the Genesis collection for the PS3, and a bunch of arcade compilations. All legal and fits within my computer space. Yes, I will miss out on things, but there is more than enough there with the Wii VC than I could possibly play.

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I thought my needs were sort of in the first post. I don't have the space to keep all vintage consoles ready to play. Plus keeping up with all the different connections. If there were good clones, then I wouldn't be worried about keeping them in nice condition. Especially if the clone consisted of multiple consoles in one. I know that's a stretch. Just wondering why no one has really done it. Aside from the emulators. So I'd like to play random games without dragging out the old console. And play it reliably. Somehow emulators take away a little something. Especially if you want the family to play without messing around with stuff.

Edited by vw57drvr
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The hit-and-miss nature of NES clones (and clone systems in general) is why I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Kevtris finalizes his Zimba 3000 FPGA multi-console system and puts it out to market. I've never put money on any Kickstarter project before, but I will definately do it for the Zimba.

 

Of course, it may not turn out to be the absolutely perfect clone console that everyone is hoping for (I'm worried about general USB controller compatibility, for one thing) but from the videos Kevtris posted, it's clear that all his FPGA cores run accurately, which is the major selling point for me, together with SD card support, which means I will be able to play all the games without having to buy the carts if I don't want to.

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I thought my needs were sort of in the first post. I don't have the space to keep all vintage consoles ready to play. Plus keeping up with all the different connections. If there were good clones, then I wouldn't be worried about keeping them in nice condition. Especially if the clone consisted of multiple consoles in one. I know that's a stretch. Just wondering why no one has really done it. Aside from the emulators. So I'd like to play random games without dragging out the old console. And play it reliably. Somehow emulators take away a little something. Especially if you want the family to play without messing around with stuff.

Oh... I see the confusion. What I was getting at and what I thought theloon was asking is what do you want to play....

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Nes. Snes. Genesis. Sms. TG16. I have all these consoles. What a pain to get out and hook up. Then have to put them away or my wife will kill me. Haha. The wii virtual console was a good idea but now they have moved on to the wii u. I attempted a mame machine but that takes more fiddling than I want to do.

Edited by vw57drvr
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Have you tried PSP? 1000 and some older 2000 can have permanent CFW and can be used to run emulator. Later 2000 and 3000 needs slightly different soft mod, run to enable CFW every time the system's powered off.

 

Emulator won't do 100% of all games (many oddball NES ROMs for example) and some may look a bit off. But for most parts I can play just about anything up to SNES, Genesis, and GBA era games.

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What the above poster said if handhelds are your interest. Also, theres a whole bunch of gaming tablets with attached hand controls avalible now for cheap.

 

There is also reproduction controllers for almost all systems with USB connector that can be used for emulator gaming and for some consoles, also converters between the Wii and Wii U to older controllers that makes it possible to play VC with original controllers which makes for easy, compact and reliable retro gaming while still quite cheap.

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The hit-and-miss nature of NES clones (and clone systems in general) is why I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Kevtris finalizes his Zimba 3000 FPGA multi-console system and puts it out to market. I've never put money on any Kickstarter project before, but I will definately do it for the Zimba.

 

Of course, it may not turn out to be the absolutely perfect clone console that everyone is hoping for (I'm worried about general USB controller compatibility, for one thing) but from the videos Kevtris posted, it's clear that all his FPGA cores run accurately, which is the major selling point for me, together with SD card support, which means I will be able to play all the games without having to buy the carts if I don't want to.

This is my hope.

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I do have a PSP 1000 that I run emulators on, but I want my family to enjoy Super MB's with me on the TV. I have ran emulators on a lot of things, including my WII. It actually does a decent job so far on what I have tested. Obviously it isn't very powerful for newer games. Like the handful of arcades I would like to play. The problem with the Wii is finding a controller to do NES games well. The Wii remote would be good, except for the stupid trigger button on the bottom that I hit constantly.lol.

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The Wii classic controller should do?

 

800px-Wii-Classic-Controller-White.jpg

 

It does have 4 shoulders buttons so even emulation of the PS1 should do.

 

I was to mention the GameCube pad, but some games on the stick wouldn't be nice, and the only issue with the GC controller being that joke of a directional cross, it might not be a perfect match for emulation...

Edited by CatPix
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For what it's worth, I've had an excellent experience with the RetroN 5. Its ONLY failing as far as I'm concerned is its inability to run ROMs off flash carts or by other means (at least easily). Unless you want to invest in all original hardware and some way to make them look good on a modern display (which I also do), I'd see no reason not to get a RetroN 5 since it does exactly what your goal is to do, and that's minimize space (except of course for needing space for all of the cartridges for the various systems it supports).

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Looks like they offer a 1 year warranty. Certainly take up less space and easy to hide when not in use. Even with original controllers attached. Which I assume I will have to do considering all of the reviews of the included game pads.

 

On a side note, its funny how our eyes play tricks on us. Spell correct got me on the topic title. That should be Retron vs Clone. I haven't even noticed until now.

Edited by vw57drvr
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For what it's worth, I've had an excellent experience with the RetroN 5. Its ONLY failing as far as I'm concerned is its inability to run ROMs off flash carts or by other means (at least easily). Unless you want to invest in all original hardware and some way to make them look good on a modern display (which I also do), I'd see no reason not to get a RetroN 5 since it does exactly what your goal is to do, and that's minimize space (except of course for needing space for all of the cartridges for the various systems it supports).

It's worth a look if you still have your cartridges (which I don't) and find the VC offerings don't met your needs. There is the option of using the original controllers.

 

The turn off for me was past experience with clones and the expensive involved in re-buying the games I once had.... though I don't think all things Nintendo will command those high prices forever.

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Looks like they offer a 1 year warranty. Certainly take up less space and easy to hide when not in use. Even with original controllers attached. Which I assume I will have to do considering all of the reviews of the included game pads.

 

On a side note, its funny how our eyes play tricks on us. Spell correct got me on the topic title. That should be Retron vs Clone. I haven't even noticed until now.

 

The included game pad (singular), is pretty jarring at first, and I really didn't like it. It, however, did grow on me. I won't call it great, but it is functional enough for most games once you get used to it. I only plug in the original controllers (with extension cables for extra distance) when I REALLY set aside time to play it. Otherwise, for more casual usage, I just use one of the two Bluetooth controllers (I bought a second one).

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We will not sell the Retron 5 at our store, we tried selling 5 and all 5 got returned. We have had nothing but problems with this system, and add to that the crazy firmware update procedure and the terrible playing with filters for every game for 10 minutes to get a game to look similar bit not the same as an original. Ugh. The controller was made for people with lego or robot hands and felt super boxy. I think however the nails in the coffin for me were the games that work prefectly everyone every time in a real system or even clone only worked like 50% on the retron 5. The other was the copying of the game to ram every time you play a game and the game saves to the ram to be copied back to the cart later. We found it to be too complicated for the average family, but would be a good fit for someone who tinkers and has lots of time and patience when they want to play a game.

 

I realize there are people who love the system and I am glad they had good experiences but for us it has been a sub standard experience.

 

Of course these are just my opinions and I share them respectfully.

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