REVIEW: FC Twin - Console plays NES & SuperNES
In the video gaming wilderness, Nintendo's roots run deepest. 1985's 8-bit NES system yielded thousands of games, and 1991's 16-bit successor was no slouch at some 750 titles. Until the recent release of Nintendo's Wii, the only way to play these older titles was to either buy a re-release for your newer game system, or keep the old hardware around. I'm an old hardware guy myself, but that tends to take up a lot of space.
Flash forward to today. Retro gaming enthusiasts are still playing those great old Nintendo games, but console hardware can be hard to find, and frequently kind of finicky. Enter Yobo's new FC Twin. You may remember the name Yobo from a review we ran a while back about their Neo-Fami NES clone. Now they've returned with a two slotted machine that can play both NES & SNES games in one unit! The nice folks at Pandora's Cube sent us one to test out, so here we go...
I've been getting more interested in SNES because for some reason the games have been really plentiful at the thrift store lately. I'd even scored a yellowed console that still works, and I've been enjoying the 16-bit games that I missed the first time around. I really like the extra graphical oomph that SNES titles have over their 8 bit brethren. Sure, it's not super-realistic 3D, but the larger color palette allows for more artistic and stylized graphics overall.
The FC Twin looks pretty much as good as first-party equipment, bearing quite a resemblance to the SNES mini console. It comes in several finishes - ours is silver - and has a very simple design. Pop your NES or SNES game into the appropriate slot, click the switch to "8-bit" or "16-bit" and you're ready to go. The controllers are identical to their SNES counterparts, right down to the connector that plugs into the unit. That means that you can use any of your favorite SNES controllers with FC Twin.
The back of the unit has composite video output as well as stereo sound. Stereo is important to a lot of SNES games. Of course when you plug in a NES game, you won't get true stereo, but the FC Twin does output the sound to both of the speakers in your television.
The concern with clone systems is how well they emulate the original. The NES side of things is the same as last year's NeoFami - some colors are off from their NES originals, but from my tests game play was the same. SNES games were identical to their Nintendo hardware counterparts.
Sound is notoriously difficult to get just right in emulation. Here again, the NES side isn't perfect but the SNES side shines. It has to do with how the music is stored on the cart. By its nature SNES music is stored as waveforms on the cart, relying less on the playback hardware for signature sounds.
I was unable to find any compatibility problems with any of my SNES cartridges. Even those games that have extra graphical hardware inside the cart worked flawlessly. I also tried out some SNES controllers, and all worked fine. The included controllers performed just as well as Nintendo originals, so I think that I'll stick with those - after all, they match the silver finish of the system!
I do wish that the console had S-video output. This would not increase resolution, but it would make the colors more vibrant. I've got a nice television that my other game systems take advantage of, it would be wonderful to juice up some of my classic carts with better color than ever. The original SNES supported S-video output, and I imagine that it must be possible to get the NES side to play nice too.
I'd also like a more positive switch. If you're not careful, it's easy to click past "16-bit" to "8-bit" and then you're left wondering why your SNES games don't work. Fortunately there are helpful LED power lights to guide the way, but I'd still like to see the switch improved upon.
Okay, I'm fully admitting that this next request is a bit frivolous, but would also be great if the console had at least one classic NES controller connector. Not only could the player use the classic NES controller, but also the Zapper gun for Duck Hunt. It just wouldn't be the same hunting those little duckies with the SNES Super Scope bazooka.
All in all Yobo has done a great job on the FC Twin. I wish that they'd make the tweaks necessary on the NES side to appease gamers who want 100% accuracy, but for most gamers it's just fun to get back to those classics. On the SNES side, I have no complaints (except that I'm not very good at Super Mario RPG, but that's my problem...). The quality of the video and audio is solid, and the build quality throughout is very good.
The FC Twin is a great value (and space savings) over buying separate NES & SNES consoles. It's a great system if you've already got a nice collection of older Nintendo games (I just saw piles of SNES games at a local gaming store starting at only $2!), but don't want the hassle of several much larger units lying around. It would also make a great gift for anyone just getting into retro gaming.