Friday, May 22, 2015

Why I Hate Clones

There has been a lot of hoopla recently about Cyber Gadget's Retro Freak System, a new clone system coming out in Japan that promises (through various Frankenstein-ish adapters) to play a total of eleven retro video game systems. The systems include:

  1. Famicom
  2. Super Famicom
  3. Super Nintendo Entertainment System
  4. Game Boy
  5. Game Boy Color
  6. Game Boy Advance
  7. Mega Drive
  8. Genesis
  9. PC Engine
  10. TurboGrafx-16
  11. PC Engine SuperGrafx
If this list seems too good to be true, that's because it probably is. Clone systems, generally speaking, suck. Think back to the classic Michael Keaton movie Multiplicity, clones are never perfect. Video game clones tend to either have screwed up sound, slightly off colors, slightly distorted graphics, or they have compatibility issues with certain games. Don't believe me? Check out the butchered sound in the video I took below:

Jackal has never sounded worse. 

Now some people are probably arguing that clone systems provide the ability to play your classic games on a newer flat panel TV. Again, to truly play a classic console on a flat panel TV and get as close to the original picture quality that a CRT provides, you would need a decent upscaler such as the Framemeister. If you want to take it a step further, you can mod your classic systems to have RGB or Scart output. This gets to be very costly, but will solve the issue of playing a retro console on a modern TV. 

Personally, I prefer to use an old CRT TV. This allows me to hook up the original consoles and get the picture quality that I remember as a kid. 

Moral of the story, avoid clone systems. Don't fall for their false promises of being able to play picture perfect classic games through an HDMI cable on your big flatscreen TV. Think about it, how can they provide all this at a price point that is generally less than $200? Decent upscalers are at least twice that price. You're much better off picking up an old CRT TV on the cheap, purchasing a decent upscaler, and/or modding your classic gaming system. This will ensure you are getting the correct colors, images, and sounds. Plus you can be sure that every game will work on your system. 

1 comment:

  1. Good article, I hate clone systems too. I've found the reason retro consoles look crap on modern TV's is less to do with the TV's native resolution and more to do with it's physical size get a sub 30 inch screen and they look much better. Another good compromise on the tv front is get an old standard def TFT TV if you don't have the room for hulking CRT.