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Take that Super Nintendo on the road

By: 4 January 2011 2 Comments

Yes, just think about it — the ability to take all those classic Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) games on the road and play them whenever the mood strikes.

There would be no more wires and no more being tethered to a television set when you wanted to revisit the fun-filled library that was abundant on the SNES. That’s all very possible — for the most part — thanks to a dandy little system called the Yobo FC-16 Go.

The FC-16 Go is one of those Chinese knockoffs that have hit the market lately and purport to play carts from classic systems. The FC-16 is more than a bit unique because it is portable and comes in with a built-in, rechargeable battery and 3.5″ color display, The unit is quite large, of course, as it had to be made big enough to accommodate a big old Super Nintendo cartridge. The unit boasts a “clamshell design” which makes it a little smaller and protects the screen from being scratched, but even when folded the FC-16 is about as thick as two SNES carts and as wide as about 1.5 of them.

Don’t let the size fool you, however. The FC-16 is very comfortable to hold and use and the clamshell design means it’s easy to position the screen into whatever position is most comfortable for you. Surprisingly, the built-in directional pad and action buttons feel quite good, even though they’re not as precise and comfortable as a stock SNES controller. The system even features the shoulder buttons that are essential and those are easy to find and use while playing, too.

The first editions of this system featured a directional pad that was — from most accounts — less than desirable and mono sound. The new unit has the redesigned D-pad and stereo sound. Oh, and it’s got a built-in headphone jack that will make sure you don’t deserve those around you (the headphones included with the unit are the expected cheap pieces of junk).

So, it’s portable, has stereo sound, is comfortable to use and does handle those SNES graphics and sound very well. Sadly, this machine isn’t perfect in that there are some problems with emulation. While most games work very well, there are just some that do not (click here for a list of those “trouble games”). The FC-16’s big brother — the FC Twin — has those same emulation problems. Yobo, apparently, just can’t come up with a way to emulate SNES games as well as the competing Retro Duo Twin Video Game System. The Retro Duo Twin, however, isn’t portable.

How do I know the Retro Duo Twin emulates SNES games better? I own both that system and the FC-16 Go. The Yobo system won’t handle the fantastic Kirby’s Dream Land 3, whereas the Retro Duo Twin has no problem with it. Apparently, there are some other top-notch titles that the Yobo can’t deal with that run well on the Retro Duo (see the aforementioned list to figure out which titles the FC-16 Go can’t play).

That said, the FC-16 Go is a very capable system that doubles as a “tradition” console. The system comes with a cord to hook it up through the RCA ports on a television set and even includes two wireless remotes. That’s right — a friend can join in on the fun with this. The wireless controllers are roughly the same size and shape as the standard SNES controller, but it a bit lighter and just doesn’t “feel” as solid when it comes to precision movement in games. The controllers aren’t bad at all, but there is a problem with the non-wired setup — what do you do if a controller breaks? Obviously, you’ll have to get a new one from Yobo and who knows how long that company will support the machine or be in business?

As for construction, this system is more than sturdy enough to survive the rough life that portables go through and Yobo gets bonus points for the clamshell design that protects the screen and controls. The case is a several large hunks of plastic, but at least the system feels sturdy and the fit and finish is surprisingly good for a new system that only costs around $60.

In the final analysis, the fact this doesn’t handle a few great titles is disappointing, but the FC-16 Go is a great little gadget for any SNES fan. When you throw in the low price tag, the whole package is very appealing.

Stay tuned — more reviews to come in the “retrogaming” category here at First Arkansas News.

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email = Ethan@FirstArkansasNews.net.

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