Gotta Love That Fresh "AV Famicom Smell"

February 23rd, 2006 by Benj Edwards

David the postman woke me up at the crack of dawn this morning (…11:00 AM…) with a special package delivery, shipped express from Japan. I quickly signed for it and dove into the box with earnest. Out popped a like-new condition AV Family Computer (Famicom) console with two "dog bone" control pads, one A/V cable, an AC Adapter, and 18 games! Yes; I was quite excited. But of course, people don't just randomly ship like-new AV Famicoms to your doorstep. Nope — it takes some form of coercion (hopefully peaceful, like money) to get that to happen. I'll admit: I bought it off of eBay, and perhaps paid a tad too much for it, but I am very happy with my purchase. During the whole Generation NEX fiasco, many VC&G readers were talking about how much the AV Famicom rocks. And after playing with it some today, I would have to second that emotion.

What rocks about it? Well, call me a weirdo, but I really love the fact that it has a standard Nintendo multi-AV socket on the back (hence the "AV" in "AV Famicom"). For your info, the cable that plugs into this type of socket is pictured on the left. There's no RF-out here (the top-loading American NES has RF-out only) — just pure composite goodness. Yeah; I am quite aware (and happy) that the original NES has RCA audio and video outputs, but the standard AV jack on the AV Famicom means that I can have all four generations of Nintendo console units (Famicom, SNES, N64, and GC) sitting next to each other, and if I get tired of playing one console, I can simply unplug the AV cable from the unit and plug it into the back of another. Also, there's the obvious reason that the video quality from a composite video output is superior to RF any day of the week. So that's the video part. What else? Well, it plays Famicom games, and it plays them very well. It came with an AC adapter that works in US power outlets. And it has…get this…detachable controllers.

The original Famicom had built-in controllers. What's more, the AV Famicom uses US NES-style controller ports, so you can use all your favorite NES control pads with the unit. I'm not sure if the light gun would work in port #2 though: the original Famicom's light gun plugged into a special DB-15 accessory port on the front of the unit, and the AV Famicom replicates this port on the right-hand side, so I'm not sure if the AV's port #2 wired to work properly with a US light gun. But I can't talk about AV Famicom controller ports without mentioning the SNES pad-influenced "dog bone" controllers, which people either really love or…don't really care. I'm a big fan of the original rectangular NES pads and don't find them uncomfortable, so the dog bones tend to say in the closet. However, the AV Famicom iteself will be spared from the closet and instead will hold a special place in my entertainment center for years to come. If you have the cash and are serious about playing Famicom games on the real hardware, there's no doubt about it: you should get an AV Famicom.



27 Responses to “Gotta Love That Fresh "AV Famicom Smell"”

  1. Brian Says:

    RedWolf, a few questions. Is this an officially branded Nintendo product? I don't remember them releasing a famicom shaped this way in Japan, and the controller is undranded, but odds are I'm misremembering. Also, as a corrolary to the first question, if it isn't Nintendo branded does it use the NesOnAChip? Thanks.

  2. RedWolf Says:

    Brian: yes, it's an officially branded Nintendo product. It's the Japanese equivalent of the NES model 2 that was released in the US about the same time (1993 or so). The main differences between the NES 2 and the AV Famicom are: 1) NES 2 plays NES carts, AV Famicom plays Famicom carts, 2) the top of the NES 2 where you plug in the cartridge is rounded, whereas in the AV Famicom it is flat to accommodate the Famicom Disk System adapter, 3) the AV Famicom has AV plug video only, NES 2 has RF-out video only, and 4) the NES 2 lacks the 15-pin accessory port that the AV Famicom has on its right side (the port was never on any US hardware).

    As far as the NES-On-A-Chip goes: definitely not. The term "NES-On-A-Chip" typically refers to inferior clone hardware (with a reduced Famicom chipset put onto mostly one chip instead of many) that's pumped out on the Asian black market by the millions so that cheap and plentiful Famicom clones can be made. That doesn't mean that Nintendo didn't reduce the chipset on this model, though — in fact, they likely did combine a few chips to save money, as it seems to me that both the second gen Famicom and NESes (especially the NES) were cost-saving machines (the NES 2 retailed for $50 new, if I recall correctly). So they slimmed everything down to save money and did some design improvements along the way.

  3. MegaKitsune Says:

    Heh, I bet this spanks the NEX, huh… ^_^

  4. brian Says:

    Thanks RedWolf for the clarification. This thing is much more attractive to me now that I know it's official and not an NOAC clone. I have two toploading NES's, and because of the graphics clarity I usually actually play through a pristine original version because of the RCA video.

    Keep up the great work. I love your writing. (And willingness to spend money on things so I can get the cream of the crop)

  5. brian Says:

    Argh now you have me coveting this auction… http://cgi.ebay.com/NES-Famicom-Top-loader-AV-and-Disk-system-with-Games_W0QQitemZ8261026153QQcategoryZ62054QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    I've wanted an FDS for awhile too, so this would be an economical way to get both…

  6. RedWolf Says:

    MegaKitsune: yep, it spanks the NEX hard — there's really no comparison between the real thing and a cheap imitation. :)

    Thanks for the kind words, Brian. That auction looks cool.. considering it's already in the US and the FDS comes with it (and especially if the FDS works), it's not a bad price at all. Buy that from Japan and you'll pay ~$50 shipping. AV Famicoms go for ~$70, and FDSes — well, I'm not sure, but they ain't cheap. So go for it!

    Either that or get one of these:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/RARE-Twin-Famicom-famicom-disk-system-12games_W0QQitemZ8261810780QQcategoryZ4315QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    I have one but still need to replace the belt. If it were working properly, it would kick ass though. :)

  7. Shash Says:

    You make stuff I know absolutely nothing about seem as simple as making arroz con leche.

  8. RedWolf Says:

    Why thank you, Shash. :)

  9. Vinicius Silva Says:

    I have a old Famicom (Classic model from 1983 that uses a RF-out) and I can't get it working in my Brazilian TV. I'm thinking about buy an AV Famicom.

  10. Danny Says:

    Does the AV famicom have true Stereo like in some NES emulators

  11. RedWolf Says:

    No, it's all mono, just like the NES. As far as I know, all games for the NES and Famicom are natively monural. But of course, I can't completely speak for the wacky Japanese (gotta love 'em). :P For all I know, there's some obscure famicom peripheral out there for quadraphonic sound. :)

    The stereo effect created by some emulators with NES games is made by arbitrarily separating the 4-5 (forgot how many) "voices" or sound channels within the NES into two sets of channels (Left and Right) for stereo, with a different set of voices for each speaker. Someone more knowledgeable about the inner working of NES sound synthesis could probably describe it to you better, but that's the gist of it.

  12. otakuapocalypse.com » Transform And Roll Out!! Says:

    […] Since i’m not owning a famicom to play this game yet, i’m going to get myself one of those AV Famicom console. I am so relieved to have bought this game and ease my mind. I feel like such a dork though ;P […]

  13. johney Says:

    DAMMED it,s not fair why the japanese poeples are allway,s the lucky? more games more accessoires will release for there super/famicom etc,, than in anny other country, and also they making contineuing games for it will in other countrie,s the the 8 bit era is ended sothat they will never contineuing making games for it.
    also worse is nintendo dit never release the toploader nes in europe and they were really foolish to remove the a/v and 15 pin port from it,
    ,m really ingree about that. puh silly nintendo!!!!!!!!!
    ,m really,really jammous on japan.
    we eurean and american people,s have to do it with a economic and limetid power snes/nes console will there consoles are unlimetid why ninetendo why?????????????????????????????????????

  14. johney Says:

    dit i mention that i was ingreed on nintendo and that i call them silly?? well i take this words back in my case.
    but i dit critictize nintendo for menny reasons.but never mind.
    to get stereo effect,s out of your nes/nes2 use pseudo steroe or more interresting dsp sound engine with differrent effect mode,s like cave,hall,church,badroom,or allmost natural arena,living etc,, this to simulate echo effect,s for example you walking in a cave in supermariobros 1 ,then select cave mode you will be very setisfied.
    to get a/v out of your nes 2 just connect it to a vcr magned schielded cable,s recommanded, and if your tv/vcr has builtin digital studio picture controle like philips,than you are the lucky and get the best possible quality out of your rf console.

  15. Santiago Says:

    Hey RedWolf, and congrats for your new AV Famicom. In my infance I had one, and enjoyed it infinitely. Now, im looking for ways to play its games again. I found an emulator for Famicom/Nes that seems to work, but obviously yet unfortunately I do not remember the games in AV Famicom to be able to search for their corresponding ROMS. Would you be nice and give me some of the names? Do you remember a game in which you were a tank and had to defend a stone eagle? If you know, please…PLEASE let me know the name. Thanks, and again Congrats!

  16. RedWolf Says:

    Santiago,

    There's a pretty good list of NES (US Famicom) games here, along with some details and screenshots:

    http://www.mobygames.com/browse/games/nes/

    There are probably hundreds of other sites that list NES/Famicom games with screenshots and even reviews, so just do a search on Google and I'm sure you'll find plenty of stuff.

    As far as emulators go, my favorite NES emulator at the moment (for Windows) is FCEU. You can download it here:

    http://www.vintagecomputing.com/wp-content/files/emulators/fceu-0.98.12.win.zip

    I'm not sure about the tank/stone eagle game, but I bet if you searched for it enough on Google, you'd find it. Good luck!

  17. johney Says:

    i own a nes 2 toploader but the limitations are drammaticely compared to the a/v famicom.
    first of all there,s no a/v out 2 the straps on screen are vissible 3 there,s no expension port 4 there,s no external sound input.etc,,
    ieven after modding the console the straps on screen are in average more vissible ,to solve the problem using one extra capacitor wich make the screen strap free ieven with a rf cable.
    lets also hope that there,s a way to mod the nes 2 to get the 2 ext sound input ,in a smmular way like the #1 nes.
    if so than i will be happy with my nes 2 but i have to find out where i can mod my console.or else ,m stack with it a b&white picture with no sound on my pal tv +no extra sound for famicom games.
    but alltrough i do more like the nes toploader model than the a/v famicom model cuzz the a/v famicom is flat will the nes toploader have,s great rounded edge to accomodate the catride.

  18. johney Says:

    i dit mention manny reviews, ago that when you connect the nes 2 trough a vcr ,that you will get video out,but it is just worthless becousse the quality will be more worse and there,s no way too make rid off those straps on screen ,ieven not if your tv/vcr has a noise filter.
    it,s just not more than a good idea wich suks.
    and you also can,t enjoy the extra sound channels from famicom games.
    i recommand just mod it to solve all those problems(shame nintendo)
    and the us/uk castlevania 3 it,s sound infirior so how about a upgrader for it (wich includes all soundchannels from the jap version)wich you put together with the us/uk cv3 in the famicom/modded nes to enjoy that great sound wich looks like cd quality.
    just in a simmular way like sega dit upgrading sonic1/2 by putting those games on top of sonic3 to get more levels more energy etc,,

  19. johney Says:

    the nes/famicom sound is mono ,but in practic it can provide stereosound,but you have to moddifie the console to unlock stereo sound,it,s possible cuzz the dac converter will seperate each channel left&richt,i think nintendo dit this too avoid picking up noise, for it when process,once the process is done, it will be mixed into mono,
    but by tapping the sound before the mixing is done you can get true stereo,and i have a nes stereo emulater. ,m very impressive cuzz games looks more lively with more variable and spacefull sound.
    so when digitelize each mono music sound,it is in theory possible to convert them in true stereo when seperating each channel from each other as much you want to even create dolby surround wow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. johannes Says:

    i own the a/v famicom and ,m setisfied with it.
    however duo it,s too licht weigth it, feels so cheap,and the cables from each controller are just to short,inserting famicom games is a big problem cuzz, you have to feel precicely if you put it richt in place and those games does,nt also slide easy into it,so you have to becairfull with it annytime you insert or remove a cartride, or you will probebely break iy down.
    my famoicom wich i have bought from the net has knockoffs around the edge but are not noticeble.
    despites the nes 2 limitations, i do like it,s hicher weigth,s and the fact that the catride port has rounded edge to accomodate the nes catrides, nor inserting cartrides reqiures also precesion too,but it slides much easier in it, and the controllers has much longer cables.
    non of the systems can generate stereo but it is possible to do that, cuzz when connecting the nes etc,, to the $1000 soundgear system, it can create true stereo by digitelize and seperating each sound frequention from eachother.
    dsp engine wich have manny echo effect,s like cave,chuch,hall etc,,including pseudo stereo can simulate stereo effect,s it,s not real stereo but steel impressive too,

  21. johannes Says:

    as i,ve mentioned, i have the famicom with akaumadjou densitsu,i dit claimed that the sound from the famicom is to soft in comparision with akumadjou densitsu,s builtin vrc6 chip,but if i will ever find a equipment wich can amplifier the soft sound channels untill they match the loudest sound,or visa versa, then ,m 100% happy.
    i can allready amplifier the bass sound to eliminate noise .
    my goal is to hear all soundchannels clear.
    i also have equipment wich can improve the video signal using gamma correction and noise filter
    overall ,m generaly happy with my av famicom.

  22. marcial Says:

    hi :)
    i want to buy one AV FAMICOM but dont have any AV cable or AC cable in the shop. Can you say me the specs of the AC cable? for search one. Thanks! :)

  23. Benj Edwards Says:

    Marcial,

    See this article for info on the AV Famicom AV cable:

    http://www.vintagecomputing.com/index.php/archives/342

  24. marcial Says:

    hi !
    i´m only see information about the DC cable and the AV cable of the Sharp Twin Famicom , i buy yet one AV FAMICOM like you! i wanna know if the AV cable are the same of the SNES, or the SUPER FAMICOM, and the DC cable what specs? it´s work the same of the Sharp Twin Famicom? please i need a answers about this details :) Thanks!

  25. Benj Edwards Says:

    Marcial,

    I already answered your question. See two comments up with the link.

  26. Reyesh Says:

    Does anyone know when i can get a good NES-to-Famicom Converter? I want to buy an AV Famicom and be able to play all my nes games on it.

  27. johney Says:

    regarding to my previouse commands, i,ve discovered that you could reduce those ugly straps & noise from the nes2,by using the spatial noise filter!!??(found in samsung tv,s) wich blurs the picture,the edges will look a bit softer but you could try sharpening the picture,and you could use a ntsc vcr to convert rf back to rca for your pal tv,and a pro ntsc to pal converter,once your pal tv does NOT accept ntsc.

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