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The Famicom-to-NES Adapter

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Recently I've noticed something. There are many Famicom games that look interesting to me that never got released in the United States. Games like Nuts and Milk, Dig Dug, The Tower of Druaga, Devil World, and more. Obviously, being a filthy American, I can't play these games unless I emulate them. So, I'm going to go hunting for the elusive Famicom-to-NES adapter.

For those not "in the know": the early prints of certain NES launch titles contain nothing more than Famicom boards inside of an NES shell. The NES actually has more pins on its cartridges than the Famicom, so Nintendo made some official adapters for the boards. These adapters are most commonly attributed to the Robot Series games Gyromite and Stack-Up, but can be found in a few other titles as well. The most common giveaways that you have a Famicom-to-NES adapter inside your cartridge are:

  1. It's an early black-box title. Black-box titles are the ones you see parodied so often, with the black border, the pixel art, the off-skew title, and the series label. Games like Excitebike, Wrecking Crew, Duck Hunt, and Gyromite to name a few examples. The adapters are only found in the earlier examples are black box games, not games like Donkey Kong, Volleyball, or Slalom.
  2. It has 5 screws. The older NES releases have five screws on the back instead of the usual three. They also don't have a clip on the spine of the cartridge, rather a smooth surface. A five-screw game isn't a dead giveaway that your game has an adapter inside, but it certainly helps you narrow it down a bit.
  3. It weighs more than a standard NES game. A non-adapter cartridge typically weighs around 3.5 ounces, while one with it inside weighs around 4.5 ounces. A good comparison is that an adapter cart weighs about as much as two standard Atari 2600 cartridges. Not exactly, but close enough.
  4. In the case of Gyromite, the label. As mentioned previously, the black box labels have a series printed in the corner. Gyromite is part of the Robot Series, which has a purple icon. If you find a Gyromite cartridge with a deep-purple Robot Series icon on it, you almost definitely have a Famicom adapter on your hands. The lighter purple cartridge does not.

For more information, check out this link. Some things are inaccurate (I'm about 95% certain that Baseball never got an adapter inside of it as it was one of the few games at launch that was actually localized, but who knows), but you'll get the idea of it. https://theoldschoolgamevault.com/blog/articles/1053-the-elusive-nes-famicom-adapter

So yes, I'm going to go hunting. I have a few NES games that may qualify already in my pitifully small collection that I'll further investigate later. If I don't have one in there (which is most likely the case), I'll have to go out in the world looking for one. Game Trade, the store I frequent for my retro gaming fix, has a decent selection of imported Famicom games that I'll be able to enjoy should I find one. Then again, there's always the option to get a Famicom, but what's the fun in that?

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1 minute ago, RickR said:

It would be nice to find one.  The famicom is cool, but it plays on some crazy channel on USA TV's (like 92 or something) that a lot of TV's have trouble with doesn't it? 

 

Yes. I think it's channel 95.

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12 minutes ago, RickR said:

It would be nice to find one.  The famicom is cool, but it plays on some crazy channel on USA TV's (like 92 or something) that a lot of TV's have trouble with doesn't it? 

 

@RickR I went with the AV Famicom which is essentially the 1993 "Dogbone" NES with Composite AV Output. The AV Famciom uses the same AV cable as the Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64 and GameCube. It lets me play Famicom games natively without an adapter, and plugs right into the AV ports on my TV so there's no messing around with channel 95 or whatever. Plus it's compatible with the Famicom Disk System. It's a nice little unit. I made a video about it years ago, I should try to get more of this stuff back up on my newer YouTube channel.

 

1011px-Nintendo-AV-Famicom-Console-BL.jp

 

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@Justin I had no idea such a thing existed.  How cool! Does it still have the microphone on the controller?

This also makes me think a bit more about the adapter.  How would one use the adapter with a standard NES?  The cart (with adapter) would somehow have to slip into the cradle correctly and then pushed down into place.  Seems like the newer top-loader NES would be needed to make that work.  Or am I missing something?

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Just now, RickR said:

This also makes me think a bit more about the adapter.  How would one use the adapter with a standard NES?  The cart (with adapter) would somehow have to slip into the cradle correctly and then pushed down into place.  Seems like the newer top-loader NES would be needed to make that work.  Or am I missing something?

The top loader would certainly make things easier, that's for sure. However, there is a way to do it. I saw one of these once where it was basically the lower portion of an NES cart. Inside was an adapter, and you just attached a Famicom game to it. To pull it out, it used one of those ribbon things you see attached to collector's edition books and bibles and things as a bookmark to pull the whole mechanism out of the console. Pretty ingenious.

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11 minutes ago, HDN said:

Well, nothing to see here folks. Not a Famicom adapter in sight around here. Guess I'll have to go find one then.

You are looking for something like this, but I think console5 has been out of stock on them for awhile.

https://console5.com/store/famicom-to-nes-cartridge-converter-adapter-60-to-72-pin.html

 

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1 hour ago, CrossBow said:

You are looking for something like this, but I think console5 has been out of stock on them for awhile.

https://console5.com/store/famicom-to-nes-cartridge-converter-adapter-60-to-72-pin.html

 

Yes! Something like that is what I was describing to @RickR how it would work in the front-loader. See how it has that little ribbon thing to pull it out of the system?

Well, while we're all here let's talk about our NES collections! Also known as the collection I'm the most embarassed by. I only have 21 games for it. Why this one? I only have 24 7800 games, and I'm pretty proud of what I have there so far. I'm decently content with my 22 game N64 collection, even though most of those games are pretty crappy. I don't even really mind my eight-game Game Boy Advance collection. I don't know why I feel this collection of mine is pitiful. Perhaps its because NES collecting has always been so big and I seem to be the weirdo with only a couple of games. Not that I don't like my games, quite the contrary. I'm pretty happy with the games I do have and I think they are a lot of fun. Any self-respecting NES collector should get Lode Runner for example.

I think I should make my new year's resolution "get more NES games". I'm looking out for more black box titles, Kid Icarus, Super Marios 2 and 3, Yo! Noid, and of course the Famicom adapter.

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2 hours ago, RickR said:

@Justin I had no idea such a thing existed.  How cool! Does it still have the microphone on the controller?

Hi @RickR ☺️ The AV Famicom came with the NES "Dog Bone Controller". This was the Japanese version of the revised NES we got in the United States with the Dog Bone Controller. The only difference here is the Japanese version plays Famicom games, lacks the "hump" on the top of the system, and offers Composite AV Output instead of RF Output.

The NES "Dog Bone Controller" does not have the microphone built into it, as it was a later revision of the system late into its life looking to trim costs, but it's still a real Famicom. If you had a microphone controller with a plug on it and a Famicom game that used the microphone feature, like Legend of Zelda with the Pol's Voice, it should work fine.

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My NES collection is one of my smaller ones as well. I don't actively collect for the NES so the only games I've got are those that came with systems I picked up or that I happened upon at garage sales and the like in the past. According to Gameye, my NES collection sits at just 56 unique games. Likely pretty accurate given that I haven't added an NES game to the 'Collection' in some time now. Part of that is because the last NES item I got was a PowerPak with a large CF card provided. As a result, I have all the NES games I would want to play in one spot and actually could box up the NES games completely and put them elsewhere for storage at this point.

Even then, while I had access to an NES when they were new back in the day, I didn't play it as much as my 7800. My step brother owned the NES and he usually brought it over when he and his sister's visited every other weekend. So the first games I sought out when I did get an NES was those games that I remembered having the most fun with that we would rent on weekends. So some of those first games were the Mario games of course along with Batman. That might still be my favorite NES game is the original sunsoft Batman.

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I'm a little frustrated that I made a YouTube video about this very topic about 10 years ago that had tens of thousands of views and my YouTube account was killed for no apparent reason, no warnings no explanation. I have the video somewhere but it will take some looking. 

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Yea.  YouTube has been going through some revisions...again.  I kept getting copyright claims on a few of my videos that had no music.  That's one of the reasons why I'm revamping my channel.  I love the Famicom I got, just no games for it yet.  I like the Japanese revision of the NES better than what we got.  It just looks cuter.

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