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FC Mobile Portable NES review
Have you ever thought of the day when you would finally be able to play a game of Gradius, Super Mario Bros, Ice Climber, or Castlevania on the go?

Well, with custom firmware an emulators, this has been possible for several years on various handhelds. But I'm not talking about that....

I'm talking about taking REAL Nintendo Game Paks and playing them on the go.

Feast your eyes on this...

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Nintendo Portable 1 by cpd2005, on Flickr

This is the "FC Mobile" handheld game system, first released in 2008 by a company called "Hyperkin". This is not the first Famiclone portable. Some of the previous portable Famiclones were the PocketFami, the Game Theory Admiral, and the legendary GameAxe, but those were primarily designed to play Japanese Famicom carts, and you had to use a flimsy adapter to play US NES carts. The FC Mobile is made for US NES carts from the get go.

I got this off eBay recently. It is nearly brand new. The seller listed it as "new", but a more accurate description would be "used, but barely". The console came complete in it's box with plastic holder. All that came with it were two instruction manuals in different languages and an unused AV out cable. The build quality is very good overall, as it doesn't feel like the plastic will crack as you pull out a cart. The console uses 3 AA batteries, and you can use the included AV Out cable to play the games on your TV! The only thing that was an issue is the LCD bezel and it's thin plastic protector film. I'm not sure if it's due to age, but the protector film was a pain to remove. It was on so tight that it caused the LCD bezel to break free from the casing. Luckily, I was able to put it back on using a small drop of super glue, and all is well.

The system has a 2.5 inch LCD screen, and the games look fairly good on such a small display. The colors are vibrant for the most part, save for some yellow colors which appear more dull than on a TV set. There is one built in speaker that sounds decent on full volume, as well as an AV Out port and a headphone port.

While the system is fairly nice overall, there are some issues regarding the controls. First off, the D-Pad is much like a PlayStation D-Pad, and all four directions can be pushed down simultaneously. This has different effects in different games; in SMB, Mario stops moving, and in other games, your character will either move a certain direction or duck. Another issue is the A and B button placement. As you can see in the photos, the layout is reversed. (Normal NES control is B, A). In games that don't use the SMB control setup, it works fine, but if you try playing SMB with this sort of setup, it's actually quite difficult when coupled with the problematic D-pad.

Now, the D-Pad isn't bad. The response varies depending on the game, as every NES game has a different sense of control. Games like "Dragon Spirit", "Gradius", "TMNT", and simple games like "Pinball" and "Ice Climber" have good control. It appears that only SMB is problematic with this D-pad.

Another issue is the cart slot. NES carts go in just fine, and have a solid physical connection. However, the contacts on the cart need to be clean, or close to clean as possible. Otherwise, a small movement to the unit may cause your game to either crash or the graphics will become distorted. If the cart connections are indeed clean, the game remains stable even if you shake the unit (similar to say, going over a bumpy road in a car)

Finally, the accuracy of the Nintendo-on-a-chip. It's the typical NOAC, with slightly different sound from a real console. The majority of my game carts work fine, but with two exceptions. "Castlevania III" doesn't work at all, and there is an even stranger problem with "Zelda II." The game starts up fine, but when you get to the save file menu, some of the graphics are corrupted. Try to play one of your games, and the game will either freeze upon appearing in the palace, or Link will fall through the floor and die. "Zelda II" works fine on my other clones.

My verdict? Despite it's flaws, the FC Mobile is actually very decent. Sure, playing SMB is an issue, but I only got the FC Mobile to play simple games like "Pinball", or shoot 'em ups while on the go. It's rather neat being able to play a Nintendo game while waiting at a doctors office, or sitting in a car, or anywhere else where you can play them without issue.

PS: I am aware of an upgraded model of the FC Mobile, simply called the "FC Mobile II", but I chose the first model because it was cheaper and it looks nicer in my opinion.
I love foxes, especially the one in my avatar.
Seems like a 'swell thing to go for. Although the fact that you're playing on a handheld with a ROM cart jutting out of it looked kinda' awkward if you ask me.
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huckleberrypie Wrote:Seems like a 'swell thing to go for. Although the fact that you're playing on a handheld with a ROM cart jutting out of it looked kinda' awkward if you ask me.

Well, it looks that way at first glance, and so far, no one has asked me about it when I was playing my games while riding on the college bus.

But I haven't had the chance to use it while in a public area, say a doctors office.

I will say that once you get used to it, the big game cartridge sticking out the back doesn't feel so awkward anymore.
I love foxes, especially the one in my avatar.
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