To be absolutely honest, we didn’t have high hopes for the FC Family Pocket, a portable NES or Famicom (FC) game console. In fact, we had no expectations at all. After all, there are countless similarly cheap products out there that are just a pure waste of your money even though they cost very little. However, we are glad to be pleasantly surprised by this portable retro gaming console. Continue reading to find out why.
The FC Family Pocket has a form factor similar to a Nintendo Gameboy. An LCD screen fills up the top half while a D-pad, 7 control buttons and the speaker fills up the other half. Build wise, it does look rather cheap and holding it in your hands further confirms this fact as it feels light and hollow.
The device is powered by what seems to be a 600 mAh Li-ion battery that is commonly used for classic Nokia phones. There is a micro-USB port and a RCA AV-out port at the top of the console. Both the charging cable and the AV cable are included. We are happy that they did not decide to skimp on these accessories. Also included is a 3.5 mm headphone jack at the bottom and a volume control on the side.
Fortunately, this is one of the occasions whereby we should not judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a flimsy, plastic housing. Power the FC Family Pocket on and you are greeted with a bright and colorful TFT screen. Audio is fairly loud and you should be able to listen to the audio without headphones unless the environment is really loud.
We were of course skeptical about the advertised 400 games included with the console. However, scrolling through the menu, we were pleasantly surprised with the listed game titles. This included some of the biggest NES hits like Super Mario Bros, Contra, Jackal, Ninja Gaiden 2, Double Dragon 2, Tetris, Lode Runner and Pac Man. There are some duplicates so the actual number of unique games is probably in the 300 range but that is just a minor quibble.
Tepidly, we selected the games and pressed the Start button to launched them. Lo and behold, these are the actual original and full games and not some poor copies. If you had grown up playing these games on the original NES or Famicom, these games will certainly bring a big smile to your face.
There are a whole lot of excellent games that are missing from the list of 400 games. The most glaring is that there are no RPG games in the entire list. So, no Final Fantasy, Zelda or Dragon Quest. We believe it has something to do with such games requiring battery backup to save data. This also means that your game progress cannot be saved, just like on the original console.
Other notable games that have been left out are classics like Castlevania, Metroid and Metal Gear. The other problem that we faced is that the 400 games are listed in no particular order and you need to search through the list or memorize the game number to find the game that you want.
As for actual gameplay, controls are actually quite good with both the D-pad and action buttons responding well. Besides the 2 original action buttons, there are 2 additional turbo buttons that really help with certain games as you no longer need to button mash.
While the TFT screen is certainly up to the task of playing the games, you also have the option of playing on the big screen via AV out. Once again we were pleasantly surprised as the AV out quality is actually respectable. It is actually an acceptable playing option.
The manual actually states that it is possible to connect a second USB controller via the USB port for 2-player games. Notably, the NES had some of the best 2-player games. Unfortunately, we were not able to test this as we did not have a micro-USB gamepad or a suitable adapter.
So how much does it cost for literally countless hours of nostalgic fun? How does $15 sounds to you? Yes, the FC Family Pocket is unbelievably cheap. This makes it a definite no-brainer if you are a fan of some of the best 8-bit games ever made. It also makes a fantastic gift to someone who grew up in the era and enjoyed such games.