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Thread: NES solutions for a 9-year old

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    Strawberry (Level 2) Compute's Avatar
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    Default NES solutions for a 9-year old

    So get this,

    My 9-year old niece has recently become obsessed with Angry Video Game Nerd. Her parents don't seem to mind the language, so whatever I guess. Anyway, she's saving up to buy her own NES. She's already expressed interest in having a "toaster" model, but may accept a famiclone. As of now, she's raised $32 of her own money. I need some feedback on some scenarios:

    1) Purchase a used toaster, maybe have to replace the 72pin connector or a cap or something. I only worry as my toaster needs some work, and I'd hate to go through all the trouble (and spend her money) to get a turd. Can I count on it to be reliable?

    2) Purchase a famiclone. I know some dork out there has a problem with how it renders the magic shot sound in legacy of the wizard or whatever, but would a 9-year old notice? Would I be in bigger trouble as far as reliability goes? If I find one with NES ports, I have a few extra controllers so that is not a problem. Furthermore, is there one famiclone that's "better" than others?

    3) Make an emulator pack with usb NES controller or controller adaptor. Again, the emul-haters will be out on this one, but it would give her access to the whole library. This one is an easy win, but I think she would value the tangibility of the carts more so I don't like this one as much.

    Your thoughts and ideas are appreciated. I really haven't looked much at prices for stuff, but locally an NES runs in the $40-60 range. Famiclones cost as much as they do anywhere. Thanks!
    See my latest arcade repair at the Holodeck 2 Arcade Repair Blog: http://holodeck2arcade.blogspot.com

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    Yeah, Im gonna be biased and say go with Nestopia and spend the money on a GOOD NES usb controller or read up on how to make a real one end with a usb connector.

    You should tell her though not to try and emulate newer systems, theres no emulators for PSP, 3DS, 360 and PS3.
    Last edited by IHatedSega; 12-24-2012 at 08:04 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by IHatedSega View Post
    Yeah, Im gonna be biased and say go with Nestopia and spend the money on a GOOD NES usb controller or read up on how to make a real one end with a usb connector.

    You should tell her though not to try and emulate newer systems, theres no emulators for PSP, 3DS, 360 and PS3.
    I think you mean Vita, because there is a PSP emulator. Possibly 2.

    As for the topic, that's a tough call. If she's watching his videos, does that mean she expects the console/cartridges like he has?

    I suppose in the end, you could try the emulation thing, and if she's disappointed by it, eventually try to get her the real deal.

    Also, he reviews god awful games, what exactly are her expectations?

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    Cherry (Level 1) Jack_Burton_BYOAC's Avatar
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    Don't use Nestopia. She won't find any value in, or appreciate any of the games if she has access to a thousand at once. Make her have to work for it.

    I think a front-loader with a new connector would be best. In my experience the clone systems aren't any easier to get games to play than a refurbished front-loader.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) CRTGAMER's Avatar
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    Test the NES before buying
    This will confirm if it works. Get a Toaster for the originality and complete compatibility of all the NES carts. If the contacts has problems with games you can bend each contact slightly with a pin. Replacement connectors tend to be too tight and wipe out the "ZIFF" capability compared to the factory connector.
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    Strawberry (Level 2) Ro-J's Avatar
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    Don't make the mistake of trying to improve on what she wants, she'll ultimately become disappointed.

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    Will you be helping her with this setup?

    The reason I'm asking is sure a real NES (1st or 2nd) model would be nice, the NES-2 style rarely doesn't pull up a game which may help but goes for a little more like $60 without the new style controllers unless you get a little lucky. That said, if you're helping I can think of two good choices. You could go the emulator route, not so much on the PC, but if she has a GBA already you could setup PocketNES for her which works fantastic and requires no added steps to load/save games with a battery.

    Another choice, but this would require more time due to needing more cash, get the girl a retrousb.com NES PowerPak. That thing can load up basically any NES game except for MMC5 titles(Castlevania 3 works though), Famicom, and Famicom Disk System games. The menu maybe boring and simple to look at, but at her age I"m sure she can read through the directories and pick a game to use. The only other problem is the saving/loading on it kind of sucks and it's a pirate device in the ends being used that way.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) Compute's Avatar
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    The only reason I thought of the emulator route would be that I already have the ROMs, and usb adapters are relatively easy to find. It would be a simple matter to set that up on their family computer. Emulation would also let her experience the system with minimal investment. But she has expressed interest in actually owning hardware.

    Unless somebody can convince me that a famiclone is "good enough" I guess I'll hold out for a toaster or load an emulator onto the family pc. I guess I could always ask her opinion, huh?
    See my latest arcade repair at the Holodeck 2 Arcade Repair Blog: http://holodeck2arcade.blogspot.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by CRTGAMER View Post
    Test the NES before buying and wipe out the "ZIFF" capability compared to the factory connector.
    What is "ZIFF"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flam View Post
    What is "ZIFF"?
    Zero Insertion Force

    no idea what the extra F is for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Compute View Post
    The only reason I thought of the emulator route would be that I already have the ROMs, and usb adapters are relatively easy to find. It would be a simple matter to set that up on their family computer. Emulation would also let her experience the system with minimal investment. But she has expressed interest in actually owning hardware.

    Unless somebody can convince me that a famiclone is "good enough" I guess I'll hold out for a toaster or load an emulator onto the family pc. I guess I could always ask her opinion, huh?
    If you set up an emulator you might as well not even go to the trouble. I'm one of the biggest defenders and proponents of emulation you'll find, but I can guarantee you without a shadow of a doubt she'll get bored and want to do something else within 30 minutes if it's just the family pc with some ROMS on it.

    The systems, the controllers, the cartridges would be HERS. That's what would keep her attention and make it mean something. They're toys after all.

    Also, does it have to be an American system? Seems to me a Famicom might be better suited to 9 year old girls tastes.



    Cheap lots with many games are on ebay all the time.

    Ask around on the board, you might be surprised. I'm sure somebody would want to cut a deal considering where the system is going.
    Last edited by Jack_Burton_BYOAC; 12-24-2012 at 10:35 PM.

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    Toaster is too unreliable. It's a buzz kill to have cartridges consistently fail to load.

    Famicom? Hmm. I doubt those short controller cords would go over well...
    Lum fan.

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    Take her out to garage sales to find a system with games for under $30, it used to be easy to find these with games for that much. As for reliability, I must have owned over a dozen consoles and only two of them had problems. I have about 5 or 6 spare consoles now and they all work fine after cleaning them. I don't change the connectors in these.

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    I'm going to voice my support for a model 2 "toploader". Stay away from Famiclones, as there is yet one that can run every single game, or even every one of the important games (CVIII is often missed, for some reason). TopLoaders are pricier, but the price has fallen lately, and you'll certainly be happier with the loading results. The only major problem with it is that it's RF only, but that should be good enough for now until she's old enough to appreciate an AV mod.

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    Toploader seems best, and having the roms on the computer, if she wants to play a game and cant afford it, then she can play it on an emulator, just dont show her how you found it haha.

    I said there wasnt a emulator for the PSP because of how bad it is. Like the xbox emulators out there, those two systems have WAY bigger communities making emulation on them than for them. And I highly doubt there will be a good ps3 or 360 emulator before this decade is over.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gameguy View Post
    Take her out to garage sales to find a system with games for under $30, it used to be easy to find these with games for that much. As for reliability, I must have owned over a dozen consoles and only two of them had problems. I have about 5 or 6 spare consoles now and they all work fine after cleaning them. I don't change the connectors in these.
    I don't know about the OP's area, but finding a used NES at a garage sale would be pretty rare here. That stuff mostly dried up 5 or so years ago.

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    Strawberry (Level 2) Compute's Avatar
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    Garage sales here are pretty dry. They're great if I want to find beat up PS2 sports games, but not much else. I can find them on CL for $40-60, or at the game store for $50. I'm going to keep my eyes open because they do pop up on CL cheaper than that. I guess I need to try a famiclone for myself if I want to determine if it's good enough, but at that point I can hold out for a cheap toaster.
    See my latest arcade repair at the Holodeck 2 Arcade Repair Blog: http://holodeck2arcade.blogspot.com

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    Take the advice you're seeing, avoid the famiclones. Straight up to the point they're cheap Chinese pieces of shit. Flimsy housing on the system and controllers, poorly assembled more often than not. All of them use copy cat versions of the same more or less revision of the NOAC of the time and none of them do it right. The whole lot of them have a color palette that doesn't match the real NES or NES-2 style though if you're not onto it it's less noticeable. What is very clearly messed up though is the audio, the tone and pitch of them suck and your mileage varies ranging on how it can be a little off to annoying depending on the game. Furthermore, MMC5 stuff won't work so kiss Castlevania III and KOEI titles goodbye, and for the most part the other stuff does run but various games will end up with minor graphical glitching, but nothing bad enough to stop play. Depending on the designers will to be creative or accurate the controllers tend to feel less right in one way or the other.

    Rather than waste money and time testing a random assortment of turds given that we're talking about a 9 year old here, just go with the top loader. Even if you don't get the comfy rounded off controllers it had and stuck with the originals, the system is built like a tank, it just works. No wiggling the game around, no in and out with it, twisting it to an angle and other bs to make it just work when you turn it on. Also it has no lockout chip, so if something fails it's just a dirty game, not that thing being bitchy causing the games to flash on and off (and not that she'd notice, no region lock, so you could get most PAL games to work we didn't get and it's far less fussy running unlicensed US games too.)

    Perhaps explain your situation, link this thread, and put a request on the site here and see if someone on this site is a little generous and may throw you a bone on a low price for a top loader and just go that route instead of dealing with craigslist potential murders or getting pounded fighting resellers and collectors for one on ebay.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Compute View Post
    She's already expressed interest in having a "toaster" model, but may accept a famiclone.
    I say then go with a toaster. If you have to fix one up, fine, fix it up. It just sounds she's excited about the prospect of a toaster, and I can understand that (I remember how "magical" the whole ZIF thing seemed when I was 12 or so vs the way carts just plug in the top of every other cart based system ever) and would hate for her to feel disappointed at a top loader or worse clone that doesn't play things right.

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    While I wouldn't personally turn my nose up at the prospect of buying a Retro-Bit entertainment system (they run about $20) and outfitting it with 2 actual NES controllers (you said you have a few lying around) for cost and convenience...



    ULTIMATELY I think a toaster with a new set of pins is the best option overall.

    It'll probably cost a bit more in the end, but probably weighs out with the most positives.

    Like the famiclone, you get the composite A/V out on the toaster NES, and you won't have to worry about any compatibility issues.
    "And the book says: 'We may be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.'"


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    Quote Originally Posted by Compute View Post
    3) Make an emulator pack with usb NES controller or controller adaptor. Again, the emul-haters will be out on this one, but it would give her access to the whole library. This one is an easy win, but I think she would value the tangibility of the carts more so I don't like this one as much.
    The other problem with this scenario is the paradox of choice. With so many games to choose from she would likely only spend a little bit of time with a lot of games before getting bored with it rather than spending a lot of time with a few good games.
    "Game programmers are generally lazy individuals. That's right. It's true. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Since the dawn of computer games, game programmers have looked for shortcuts to coolness." Kurt Arnlund - Game programmer for Activision, Accolade...

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