Begun the Clone War has, at least as far as Nintendo is concerned. It was inevitable. The internet exploded when the NES Classic Edition, its games, and its features were announced, sparking a demand that Nintendo never really intended to satisfy. It was inevitable that others would take advantage to ride on that demand whether Nintendo intended to deliver or not. With a little engineering know-how, it would be simple for bootleggers to re-engineer or even completely re-do the NES Classic Edition for a slice of the profits. That is what’s happening now. Fake NES Classic Edition units are now appearing on eBay and Alibaba at a cost far less than the ridiculous markups scalpers are asking for this rare machine.
Amazing that a little machine with ancient games would spark such a demand but the impact of nostalgia can sometimes be unpredictable. Right now, there is a whole industry of third-party re-engineered G1 Transformers figures targeted at the same 30-40+ year-old demographic as the NES Classic Edition. These figures are beautifully engineered to look exactly like they appeared in the Generation 1 cartoon series on the scale of the Transformers Masterpiece MP-10 Optimus Prime, transformable and fully articulated; just as the NES Classic Edition was made to look exactly like the original. The same has been done with the NES Classic Edition. Bootleggers have made machines operate slightly differently but look very much like the original and could me mistaken as such by consumers who wouldn’t know better.
Leave it to the Chinese to create mock-ups of the NES Classic to take advantage of the void left by Nintendo. Much hope for the NES Classic is now lost after Nintendo announced the SNES Classic Edition coming this September as whatever limited production capacity they have would be dedicated to creating the new console. Buyers hoping disappointed not to get the original might settle for this instead at least for the sake of a little nostalgia and something cheap yet entertaining for their kids to play with. Hopefully the build quality wouldn’t be just as cheap. What’s worrying is that some sleazy characters might take further advantage of this breach of Nintendo’s draconian copyrights and sell these units as originals. But buyers who know what they’re looking for by including the keywords fake, clone or bootleg should be able to get these a bit cheaper.
It should be relatively easy to create these units as some people have hacked the NES Classic Mini less than a month of its release by adding more games. With all the Raspberry Pi clones floating around, porting Nintendo’s software or something like it shouldn’t take much effort and as for the other components, Nintendo bootlegs have been going around China since forever. Duplicating the shell shouldn’t be a problem either and bootleggers can get away with a little change in the logo just like in the old days of the Famicom when bootleg Konami cartridges would be sold under the Kaiser brand.
Speaking of the Famicom, bootlegs of the Famicom Mini have been going around within a month of its release. It looks the same but the software is entirely different sporting the same bootleg games that have been around since the late 90s in order to take advantage of the market Nintendo revitalized. I’ve been seeing them in various online stores and cost as little as 20$. Of course, there’s nothing like the originals in terms of build quality and the features and shortcomings Nintendo built in.
Reports say that the clone NES Classic units operate without much fault and that should be enough for most people. The unit itself looks spot on but the rear ports are different. There is a standard A/C jack for power and mini-HDMI port instead of the standard HDMI. What’s better is that the clones have two controllers included instead of one and are slightly larger than the original. The controller ports are the same ancient ports earlier Nintendo knockoffs have been using. What’s more is that there are a lot more games available, 500 of them but mostly ROM hacks.
Thanks to Nintendo, I might just give these clones a shot. I am however giving Nintendo the benefit of the doubt when it comes to producing more of the SNES Classic Edition and grab that later on and proudly wave that original flag.
Check out this link for a more in-depth look.