I love the idea behind this kit – a tiny bare-bones Famiclone all ready to install wherever your imagination and the included screws take you – tucked away inside a retro game case, disguised as a toaster, to the back of your dog’s collar – anywhere you can make it fit.
It comes with absolutely everything you need to get going too – the Famiclone itself works straight out the box with no assembly required (not that using any console looking as naked as the day it was born is a great idea) and with two decent-enough controllers, a power supply and composite AV cables (sadly no better output’s available) you’re not forced to spend any extra money to get the console up and running.
When I started unpacking this little Columbus Circle the aim was to write a jokey little blog post about me being too lazy and inept to use this to its full potential – that I’d superglue it to a bit of wood I found in the garage and call my DIY Famiclone complete. The problem was when I turned it on I realised that the FamiTsuku doesn’t have any potential.
An idiot I may be, but I’m not quite the sort of idiot who buys a 3000¥ Famiclone and expects it to function as well as a Famicom Titler - but I was hoping for something that worked at least as well as my dinky little portable Famiclone – so something a bit temperamental that didn’t work with any games even slightly out of the ordinary, but anything that did load up would work well. Just a little something for a bit of big-screen Nintendo fun. Nope, not even close!
It took a few goes to get my trusty Kirby cart seated correctly (not a problem unique to the FamiTsuku) and then… MY EARS!
A brief detour before we go any further - I do own and enjoy a Blaze/AtMark portable Mega Drive, even though the sound’s slightly off. The iconic tinkle made when Sonic collects a ring isn’t quite right, and Columns block-dropping effect doesn’t hit the mark the way it does on genuine hardware. These differences are noticeable to those familiar with the originals, but hardly an affront to humanity and something a newcomer would have to listen out for to notice. The sound on the FamiTsuku is not slightly off. The noises expelled from this device are the sort of thing you’d hear in a horror movie just before blood starts dripping out a demonic Famicom’s cart slot and the sleeping owner’s strangled by possessed controller cables. It’s not an issue only for the picky retro gamer, or something you could eventually learn to live with - it’s like listening to Beethoven played by an orchestra of clown car horns.
Graphics suffer a similar issue too, with a strange artifacting present on tile edges that’s not the result of simple composite cable fuzz – the image quality itself is actually surprisingly clear, and if it hadn’t been for these other insurmountable problems I’d have been happy to use this on my modern TV. For the record I did check all my cable connections and the cart itself several times, and just for once I can say with some certainty ‘It’s not me, it’s you’ – this device is either faulty (although nothing jumps out at me as being anything other than as intended) or simply badly designed.
Then I suppose we’re on to the quality of the hardware itself - all giant globs of hot glue, brittle-looking ribbon cables, and a power LED that’s connected to the PCB with little more than hopes and fairy wishes. Turns out you’re not putting this thing inside a box of your own making to show off your creativity and love for the format, you’re doing it because anything less will see this fragile thing broken within a week.
There is a small silver lining here and that is at least now I don’t have to worry spending any time in the garage collecting an assortment of cuts and grazes while I go about creating a fancy box for this thing, because the only place it deserves to go is in the bin. I don’t like being negative but I feel the FamiTsuku is a complete waste of time and money, and I wish I’d saved my cash for an AV Famicom instead.