How to Tell if a Copy of Gyromite has a Famicom Adapter in it

November 14th, 2005 by Benj Edwards

Famicom Converter in GyromiteIt's not a myth if it's true. Yes, Mario, there might be a Famicom to NES adapter in your copy of Gyromite. In fact, there might be an adapter in other early NES games, but so far, Gyromite is the only game cart I have personally found adapters in. Recently Jake at 8-Bit Joystick was bustin' on the well-known NES fan fact that there are NES to Famicom converter boards in some early NES games. Well, I'm here to try to set that straight. For the record, I've bought eight copies of Gyromite in my life, and two of them had Famicom converters in them (25% rate so far). I'm not going to speculate on the absolute ratio of Famicom to non-Famicom Gyromites out there, or even why the adapters are in there in the first place. Instead, here's a quick guide to show you how to determine if any copy has one of these hidden treasures inside.

Method #1: Label Variations

Gyromite CartsI've noticed that there is a small difference on the labels of my two copies of Gyromite with Famicom adapters in them (henceforth to be called FA Gyromites) and the ones without adapters (henceforth to be called regular Gyromites). The difference is subtle but noticeable if you can compare the two, or if you have a really good eye for color. Take a look at the picture on the right. Click on it and load the full-sized image. Notice the "Robot Series" logo on the cartridge on the right (the FA Gyromite copy has a piece of tape on it so I know which is which).

Gyromite Label ComparisonThe color of the purple in the FA Gyromite is a different hue than the regular Gyromite on the left. The two FA Gyromites I have have less red in the Robot Series color, making for a softer, deeper "grape" color, whereas the regular Gyromites have more of a "plum" color to them, with more red in the label. Also, the black background in the regular Gyromites is of a lighter, more washed-out looking color than the deeper black in the FA Gyromites. Also to the right is an up-close comparison of the two labels. Note the difference in red content in the half-toning pattern and the difference in the surrounding black background.

I can't promise that this color difference will hold true for all copies of Gyromite, but my two copies of FA Gyromite and five copies of regular Gyromite all follow the same color differences described above, so I thought I'd mention it.

Update: Shortly after writing this article, I noticed another difference between FA Gyromite and regular Gyromite labels. On the label spine where it says Gyromite in purple, my FA Gyromites have a tiny "TM" trademark symbol after the title. All of my Gyromites that don't have TM symbols are regular Gyromites, indicating that they changed the label later in the production run. But this is where it gets slightly complicated: I do have one regular Gyromite with a TM symbol, so the TM is not a guaranteed indicator that it's a FA Gyromite. But I'm willing to bet a lot that if it a Gyromite cart doesn't have a TM on the spine, you can rule a FA out — it's a regular Gyromite. Further experience will be necessary to make sure this is completely true, but I think it's almost assured. And before you start complaining that I'm wrong, make sure you're looking at the label spine (the edge of the cartridge opposite the connector), not the main label face.

Method #2: Center of Gravity

Gyromite Cart in HandThis is the least scientific test of the bunch, unless you want to go to the trouble of precisely balancing the cart on a specific pivot point. In lieu of such complicated measures, you can use your hand. Pick up a copy of Gyromite and hold it in your hand like the picture on the right. If the center of gravity is more towards the middle of the cartridge than toward the connector (and the weight is spread out a little more evenly), then it's likely that you have a FA Gyromite in your hand. You'll see why in a minute.

Method #3: Weight

Regular Gyromite WeighedThis test is my favorite of the bunch, because you can quantitatively tell if your Gyromite has an adapter without opening it up. If you happen to have a scale that can read in ounces, you'll find that a regular Gyromite cartridge weights about 3.5 ounces, and a FA Gyromite weighs about 4.5 ounces. The extra ounce comes from the converter hardware inside, which you'll see in a minute. I tested my other early NES games and they all weighed 3.5 ounces, telling me they don't have adapters inside. Also worth noting: I just realized that the pictures of FA game carts (one is Gyromite, one is Hogan's Alley) on this page and this page have full-size DIP ROM Chips on the boards instead of glob-tops like mine (which you'll see in a minute). That would definitely make a copy of FA Gyromite with DIP chips heavier than 4.5 ounces.

FA Gyromite WeighedI also weighed a later NES game (Kirby's Adventure) and found that it weighed about 4.5 ounces as well. Does this mean Kirby's Adventure has an adapter inside? No — it has a bigger board to make room for a battery and likely heftier ROM chips since it's a bigger game (in KB terms). So keep that in mind if you're planning on doing a hand weight test in a store. Pick up a copy of Gyromite and compare its weight to another early NES game (like Pro-Wrestling, but not Zelda, which is also heavier because of its battery). If it feels slightly heavier, then you've probably got a FA Gyromite in your hand.

Method #4: Open the Cartridge

Gyromites UniteUnlike Jake and Ben Heckendorn, I actually have an array of screwdrivers on hand, arranged nicely in a toolbox. :) There will be no smashing/ripping open NES cartridges today. All it takes is a small flat-blade screwdriver to open your Gyromite cart. All Gyromite carts have at least five screws (unlike the later three-screw NES carts), but if you have a FA Gyromite, you'll be surprised to learn that it actually has seven screws in total! In the picture on the right, I have two copies of Gyromite open. The one on the top is the regular Gyromite, and the one on the bottom is the FA Gyromite. Notice how the adapter/game assembly is screwed down to two posts inside the cart. Ah-ha — so that's what whose posts are for! If you unscrew the adapter assembly, you'll notice that it's in three pieces. There's the top board, which is the Famicom board with the ROM data on it, then there's the 60-pin pass-through connector, and then there's the bottom adapter board. Here are some more pictures:

FA Gyromite Boards

The FA Gyromite assembly up close.
Regular Gyromite Board

The regular Gyromite board up close.
FA Gyromite Boards Reverse

The other side of the FA Gyromite assembly.
Regular Gyromite Board Reverse

The other side of the regular Gyromite board.
FA Gyromite Assembly Apart

The FA Gyromite assembly in three pieces.

Some Notes on Using Your New Famicom Adapter

I did some simple testing using the FA Gyromite ROM board and the adapter itself. First of all, I plugged a Famicom cart, Zippy Race into the FA Gyromite's adapter and tried it in a top-loading NES. It worked perfectly. Then I put the FA Gyromite ROM board (the Famicom part only) into a Famicom, and no surprise, it played perfectly as well. It is very important to make sure the board/cartridges are facing the right way when you use them in a NES. The front of the Famicom cartridge should be facing opposite the front of the adapter (the side with the IC on it). Then, the front of the adapter must be facing either up (on a front-loader), or forward (on a top-loader). Also, you'll have to flip the 60-pin connector on the adapter around so a Famicom cart will fit on it, and you might even have to trim a bit of the black plastic off the sides so it fits correctly. You might be able to chop off the top of a standard NES cart and screw the adapter into it, as it was in the Gyromite cart, so that you don't have to handle an unprotected PC board all the time and you can use the same adapter with different Famicom games. Also, the mountability of the adapter in an NES cartridge case brings about the possibility of making a permanently converted Famicom game. That is, you could disassemble your Famicom cart, take out the ROM board, mount it in a NES cart case (ala FA Gyromite), and screw it back up. Then you've got a sturdy Famicom game ready to play any time that you want on your regular NES! Whether the adapter works perfectly with later Famicom games is unknown by me. You'll just have to test that yourself.



43 Responses to “How to Tell if a Copy of Gyromite has a Famicom Adapter in it”

  1. Jake of 8bitjoystick.com Says:

    That is good to know. I found another copy of Gyromite and I found my set of jewelers screw drivers so I'll have to open it up the nice way and find out of it has that precious adapter. My current interest in Famicom games was peaked by a new Seattle store called Pink Godzilla games that has a wide selection of Famicom games so there is a whole selection of 8bit games that I have never played before.

  2. RedWolf Says:

    That's awesome, Jake. I wish I had a store like that around here (that sold Famicom carts), but alas — all the good game stores nearby have gone the way of the dodo.

    By the way, EB Games sells copies of Gyromite for $2 a piece (not a bad price). I bought four Gyromites not too long ago from there, and one of them had an adapter in it.

    http://www.ebgames.com/ebx/product/194516.asp

    Buy as many as they have in stock and try your luck! :) By the way, if someone buys out all their stock, the link probably won't work, but check back later to see if they get more in.

  3. Jake of 8bitjoystick.com Says:

    On November 1st they are launching a new version of http://www.pinkgodzillagames.com/ so people outside of Seattle can shop there.

    Well I don't really need a FA Gyromite adaptor now that I got my Generation NEX. It will not replace both my top down NES but it does play my Famicom games quite well.

    What I need to do is to sit down with my freind and play some Gyromite. I used to play it as a 2 person game insted of screwing around with ROB.

  4. Guy Says:

    The NEX's compatibility with Famicom games is even worse than for NES games due to the incorrect wiring of the cart connector.

  5. Jake of 8bitjoystick.com Says:

    Really Guy then why does it play all nine of my Famicom games correctly?

  6. Jay Battle Says:

    Quick question.. are there any good, reputable sites online that you can get an actual Famicom system from? I'm trying to get my systems collection going, and really want one of those.. thanks

  7. RedWolf Says:

    That is a good question, Jay. I wish I knew — I'd buy one myself. I have four Famicom clones and a Sharp Twin Famicom (officially licensed Famicom with disk system built-in), but I'd love to have a regular, ordinary, official Nintendo Famicom too. If you figure it out, let me know! The best I know of so far is to look on Ebay, probably for something under $50-$60, and only buy from somebody with a really good feedback rating (and a lot of transaction history).

  8. Jake of 8bitjoystick.com Says:

    I don't meen to constantly pimp Pink Godzilla Games but they test their old hardware and they stock several models of Famicom systems. They have the Classic famicom as well as the AV Famicom. The Classic Famicom is pretty hard to get to hook up to a US TV.

  9. J Anderson Says:

    If you want a Famicom AV, try this seller- sasami@mrg.biglobe.ne.jp
    He may still have some left, though expect to pay about $120 at least. He doesn't supply the AV cables or power cord, though, as the system retailed in Japan without them. He sells them effectively brand new and complete. But it has the standard Nintendo multi-out and will use a Gamecube AV cord. As for power, the SNES AC adaptor was the right voltage, you can always wire up an adaptaplug cord to one, or buy Radio Shack's SNES cord, which has an adaptaplug end. In other words, a Famicom AV is pricey.

    Out of about 20 Gyromite carts I looked through, only one had a converter. And if you're very good with a hobby knife, you can actually make a case for your converter by scoring at the plastic until it breaks. You can even swipe the black hand grip off a Game Genie.

  10. RedWolf Says:

    I didn't know that the AV Famicom used the same standard multi-out as the Gamecube. That's awesome. It really makes me want one now, because it's really easy to switch it between the SNES, N64, and Gamecube as it is — and if I could add a NES (with a converter on the AV Famicom) to that list, it would be incredible.

    Do you guys think I should set up a discussion forum on this site, or is comment discussion good enough?

  11. SkyWay1985 Says:

    buying a famicom AV for 120 bux is retarted.they still sellin all over japan
    for 6000 yen, that's less than 58 bux US. the japanese people that sell them online think they are slick, they charge you double what it is retail + rediculously hihg shipping. Ebay is your best bet for scoring one cheap, i bought one off of there form a guy in taiwan for 50 bux, +25 shipping BRAND NEW. but i have yet too hook it up as i like my original famicom just fine! that's enough with my rant. i suggest you shell out for an original famicom, they are awesome. they work on channel 96 if you use the RF, and if you get a model that doesn't have the FF logo on the front , you can convert it to AV if it bugs you. also get a famicom disk system. they rock to no end, and have some awesome games never released state side! such games as otocky, whcih is by the same person who made that weird electroplanktin game that everyone's been talkin' bout. o yea you forgot to say the one most definate way to identify a converter cart. that is to look at the copper pins, if it has a little strip at the bottom that faces to the left or to the rite, but not straight dwn, and it's and early 1985-86 release game, such as tennis, wildgunman, hogans alley, duck hunt and so on. it will most likely have a converter. and the reason they used converters instead of just making whole other boards was becasue it was cheaper to take leftover fami boards and manufactuer a converter with the lockout chip built in, basically it saved them costs, and godbless nintendo for doing so, casue now we have tons of converters to use the Fami goodness on our NES' YAY!

  12. J Anderson Says:

    Unfortunately, FDS game sellers, especially non-Japanese sellers, tend to have a habit of selling games that just don't work. Never buy untested games or systems.

    I hate RF. End of story. My TV was bought last year and simply displays RF in crap. I get the feeling TVs will drop RF inputs within 5 years.

    You also didn't say when you bought your Famicom AV… the price has gone up. recently.

    Redwolf: unless buying extra AV cables is a budgetary concern, you can always pick up a system selector box. A simple device that lets you hook up multiple systems/devices to 1 TV and select them by a button press. Radio Shack sells RCA models in either 2, 3, or 5 devices. There's some that are 3 or 4. Pelican makes 5 and 8 system boxes. These boxes typically support both AV and S-Video(though if you go one for one system, you have to do so for all on that box). Pelican's 8-system also supports RGB component, optical,a nd even a few broadband ports. I'd suggest the Pelican 8-system box if you're willing to drop the $80 on it. But the $20 5-system is good, too.

  13. RedWolf Says:

    I've been meaning to buy a good AV selector box for a while. I currently use one to switch between various audio sources for music, and it works great. It would be awesome to hook up as many systems as I could to a single TV. I have a lot, but it would be nice to at least cover the last 10 years of consoles, switchable at a whim and ready to power up and play. But how to handle the controllers and cable clutter? That's another issue all together. :) And imagine the rows of power strips you'd have to have to plug in all the wall warts.

    I'll check out the Pelican switch; thanks for the tip!

  14. M3wThr33 Says:

    It's actually easier to check. Look at the top. The notches on non-Famicom NES carts are curved. Famicom-adapted ones don't have those.

  15. RedWolf Says:

    Thanks for the comment, M3wThr33. I've looked on my Gyromite carts but can't seem to find what you're talking about. Can you describe it a little more or perhaps provide some pictures?

  16. otakuapocalypse » Blog Archive » another DIY in the famicom section Says:

    […] man, i just love this when ppl are being creative with old console hardware, or in this case software. makes me always feel so nostalgic….anyways, the geniuses over at vintagecomputing.com made an DIY Guide based on an earlier article, how to rebuild some of your favorite japanese famicom games into a NES cartridge using the gyromite import adapter. in this case it’s the cool super mario bros. 3 […]

  17. Kris Says:

    if you're looking for a famicom or disk system, I'm selling them on ebay now along with some other accesories like 3d glasses system and power glove…check 'em out

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8245077375&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMESE%3AIT&rd=1

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8245216149&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMESE%3AIT&rd=1

  18. The Hiryuu Says:

    Holy crap. The prices on that Pink Godzilla game site gave me a heart attack. $25 for the FIRST Dragon Warrior? $35 for the FIRST Bubble Bobble? God, what would they charge for the far rarer sequels? $15 for Excitebike? My collection must be worth a flipping fortune! $6 for Duck Hunt?! I paid 10 CENTS back at Funcoland!

    To cash in, or not to cash in…that is the question…

  19. RedWolf Says:

    If those prices are for original NES games and not Famicom games, then they're definitely overpriced (unless, perhaps, they're in pristine condition with boxes and manuals and everything). Check out EBgames.com first for more reasonable resale prices of used NES games.

    You've discovered the fundamental problem with the used games — and really — used anything market. In order for the company to actually turn a profit on a used game (and make it worth selling in their store), retailers have to buy the used merchandise from the customer for a pittance (or find it at a yard sale for a pittance), and then mark it up three times as much for resale. As a result, if they mark it up too high, nobody buys and they waste shelf space, which is incredibly valuable to a bricks and mortar retailer. Hence you can probably imagine why Funcoland stores recently got out of the used NES market — for the profits they were making on the carts (buying them for probably $0.50 and selling them for $3), and the incredible space the carts were taking up, they weren't worth carrying. Instead I see racks of used DVDs now in Funcoland, which are easy to get cheaply from people who are tired of a movie, and still easy to mark up for people who want the movie.

  20. Mobat Says:

    Just another method I use to tell if there is a adapter inside, is to give it a gentle squeeze. About 2″ from the bottom. You can instantly tell becuase of the solid peice of plastic inside, the cartirdge will have no give.

  21. Tangerinepiggy Says:

    Hi everybody I think the only real way to tell is weight. I now have several copies of gyromite that fit both catigories pictured on this page and still no addapter. :C

  22. Jack Jones Says:

    If yuh wanna know my real name email me, thrift_store_king@yahoo.com

    Also Excite bike also has the famicom adaptor fix, or so I hear, if you need andy marios, let me know for a trade of the FMCON and will it work with the Super Joy III portable controller. I have one I got last year and been trying to make a start at least on a portable but didn't know what it was. Thank god!, now I don't have to do all that work of wiring a regular nintendo.

    Now have any of yuh worked on cam mods yet, using a night vision scope. I'm still trying to fix my digital cam wich holds a ton of pics and then i'm going to stick on my own lenz.

    I know it's not game related but I like electronics in general.

    That Mario is so cool!, Mabey I can cram some old games in a box and make a menu to run the individual carts. Bye for now. Great day for a game hack.

  23. Jack Jones Says:

    A few years back I had some great game but, since I needed the cash I sold'em all, what dum luck. Well I stripped Mario of it's case by heating the screws out with a soildering iron tip. The heat transfers to the screws and wears out of the plastic, doesn't even look at all that bad. Then yuh take and put back regular screws if it don't have the Famicon in it, but in that day I just wanted to get rid of that fat and ugly game slot connector allready in the nintendo and I ended up soildering Super Mario 2 strait onto the end of the board and then taped it in place with electrical tape. That was tedius, but well worth the hours my brother spent playing on it, oh rats!, Just kidding. I hook up a battery pack of four duble A's, an extra switch, and, a headphone jack. I found a place on the net that claims you can have stireo but I haven't found it since then.

    Oh, what I wouldn't give for some Oreo Cookies with milk.

    Check out the projector plans on the net you can build, I don't have the room really but I built it just the same and MAN!, SHARP, CLEAR IMAGE. You can go up to 175″ and it looks great.

    I need to do a better job and the wood was cheap on hand, now let's see what I can really do in the work shop. They also give the CD and Lenzes so you can see all the pics and how this thing goes together. What yuh waiting for!, gaming fans. EBAY sells these too.

  24. waylayer Says:

    Be careful when searching for these and judging by the weight alone. There is a 3rd type of Gyromite rom that has an oversized board which has 3 chips on it instead of the usual 2. You might accidentally confuse this one with a Gyromite that has a converter, as the weight difference isn't as great.

  25. Milky B Says:

    I am absolutely thrilled to tell you, I used your visual method described above to scour ebay and find a copy of gyromite; it just came in the mail, and holy shit… it's got the adapter in it! this was possibly the funnest and maybe cheapest ebay purchase I've ever made ($4.84 with shipping!)!

    yeah, I'm psyched man. I don't have any famicom games though…. ok, back to ebay!

  26. Benj Edwards Says:

    Congrats, Milky. I'm glad the visual method worked for you. Let us know if you have any more collecting triumphs.

  27. TechRat Says:

    I just won a bunch of old NES games in a silent auction from a local Goodwill. Gyromite was one of them. I just cracked it open with a jeweler's screwdriver and….jackpot! There was a Famicom converter! Winning the auction was worth it for this alone!

    So you know, my copy has the "TM" on the side label, but the robot symbol on the front is more purple-ish like your non-FC cart, so I don't know if that's a good way of telling them apart. Still, it's not hard to open it, and you don't even need any special tools. They sell jeweler's screwdrivers at almost any dollar store.

    Now I just need to get some Famicom carts!

  28. vlame Says:

    couldn't you just look for 7 screws?

  29. Bob Bobson Says:

    No, two of them are internal, only five are on the outside.

  30. Drake Says:

    As far as I can tell, the color difference is very minimal. The best way to tell pre-cart-crack is weight and balance. After picking up Dragon Warrior 1-4 (well, Dragon Quest) via Ebay from a Japanese export store, I can vouch that the Gyromite adapter works fine with them. Now I just have to learn Japanese…

  31. Riku812 Says:

    Yes, now I can play Mother 1 on a US system

  32. SatoshiLyish Says:

    Reading this article revived my interest in the Famicom adapters. I remember reading an article about it a long time ago (maybe it was this one, not sure), and when Gamestop/EB Games still carried NES games, I browsed through them all trying to compare weights in some way. I settled on a copy of Pinball that had part of the label ripped off, and lo and behold, it had the adapter! I have two copies of Pinball and the purple lettering very well matches the comparison with the Gyromite R.O.B. label coloring..grape vs plum hue.

    There's one other comparison that I noticed that may or may not have to do with anything. On the back label the FA Pinball one seems more saturated, perhaps a little redder than the non adapter Pinball, which appears more gray. Also, the FA Pinball back label is stamped with "00″ in the upper left corner, while the non adapter Pinball is stamped with "09″ (the numbers are visible when held at an angle under light). Perhaps someone can confirm these differences? (Gyromite or not)

  33. Rich Says:

    I tried some of the other tricks mentioned the ™ is on both types so thats sort of useless. Squeezing the carts to feel kind of works (no flex at all = adapter) but the easiest way to tell is using a scale. I used this method and was able to find a copy that was over 4oz which meant there was something extra inside a copy of Gyromite.

    I bought the little digital scale from harbor freight for $12 and just carried it in my pocket to game stores. Endured the puzzled game store clerks looks (looking for a certain copy that can only be determined by weight excuse) and weighed copies of excite bike, hogan's alley, and Gyromite looking for one over 4oz (4.2-4.3 or more). Some will weigh more than 3.5oz like 3.6 or even 3.8 but I don't think that is enough weight to say there an adapter because they might have added a few chips or even changed the plastic weight (I have found two identical games that weigh different just because of the plastic). Also make sure the game has 5 screws and has the Nintendo copyright in the bottom right corner. Those are the earliest production games.

    I would say the weight is the best way to be 100% sure before wasting money on a stack of Gyromite games. Thank you for this guide and the helpful information. I will be hunting for more of these illusive carts!

  34. Sweetpea Says:

    Where can I bu famicom games? I have this Super Joystick TV game and I need a cartidge to play with… it has 100 games in it but I am looking for some family computer games that has 60-pin. Anyone who knows where can I buy those games online? Kindly email me at greenapple802005@yahoo.com. THanks!

  35. rob Says:

    a store near my house sells nes games really cheap they had gyromite for 50 cents i bought all 30 copies he had and 11 of them had converters in them i also have power joy controller that came with a famicom multi cart 84 in 1 that i converted to play on my nes the cart has full versions of gradius tetris Dr Mario arkanoid and yoshis cookie and i only paid 1 dollar for it at a flea market

  36. xcursion666 Says:

    some of the unofficial games i converted have glitching problems mainly the pirate multi carts i bought i did test them on my famicom and they play fine
    so it must be the gyromite converter

  37. xcursion666 Says:

    any one know of a good rpg game for the famicom that would be worth converting i already have ff 2 and 3 plus dragonquest 2 3 and 4 converted is the first fire emblem game any good or what about radia

  38. vikingfire Says:

    i didnt close up my cartridge and make a custom label i just modified the case so i could stick my famicom carts on top so i dont need multiple converters just cut the case and leave enough room for the converter to stick out it saves u the time of converting multiple games

  39. darkwarrior1988 Says:

    i just found a converter in my copy of gyromite but it does not work the chip on the joint board (nes ten lockout chip???)has a build up of hard white crap on it (corrosion???) can that be cleaned off is there any way to use it with out this chip also could this adapter be used to convert a famicom disk system with a nes top loader i i have one with alot of games but no famicom to use it on i just bought a top loader online and was wondering if it would work

  40. vin Says:

    darkwarrior did you drop your cart in water or get it wet the white suff might hard water build up and yes you can use this converter with a famicom disk system

  41. Lucky Mesmer Says:

    Got one! Took eight tries but I got one. It does make for a good converter and Kid Dracula and Mappy are wonderful. I have a top loader NES so it's also quite easy to use.

  42. NESFan Says:

    Thanks to you, I found a converter inside my Gyromite!

  43. Heidi Says:

    Great post! However, my copy of Gyromite (NTSC) had the TM written after Gyromite on the end label, and I thought it looked like the less reddish color on the robot (however i haven't got another copy to compare with) so I opened it up hoping to find myself a converter but it was empty :(

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