Sunday, July 21, 2013

Power Games aka Penguin Famiclone

The Power Games Famiclone, aka the Penguin Famiclone, was one that I had seen a handful of times while doing research on Famiclones in general. Possibly the most extreme, and adorable, variant of all Famiclones, the system is housed within a simple Penguin shaped shell. The Power Games "Penguin" was a Famiclone I have wanted since the time I first saw it, but I never knew where, or if, I would ever run across one.
While the local Goodwill shelves are no stranger to the likes of the Super Joy III or the Power Joy controller based Famiclones, as far as I've seen they have been devoid of anything console based. I've learned that sometimes you need to trust your gut and just walk into a store, worst case scenario you had a little exercise and didn't pay them a dime! The other day that feeling struck me as I walked into a local Goodwill, where I eventually saw a boxed Power Games system sitting on a shelf.
As per (Goodwill) usual the box was open and everything was haphazardly thrown inside, yet I could see the Penguin was there, along with a lot of wires, so I decided to plunk down the $3.99 asking price and take a chance that it was complete. Once I got the thing outside and into the car, lucky for me, everything was inside the box and seemed as if it had only been played a handful of times, if that, and tossed straight back into the box. Sadly the Penguin's foot was broken off and the included multi-cart was busted open as well, but thats nothing a quick spot of hot glue hasn't remedied.. so far!
The box art is just as bland as any other box art you'll find across any other Chinese system, but there was a gold sticker on the front proudly proclaiming "108IN 1", so I was super curious to get this thing plugged in and thoroughly checked out! Once everything was plugged up and ready to go the first thing I noticed was how ominous the system looks with its beady little red eyes giving you the cold stare down. Secondly I noticed that there actually were 108 games built into the system itself and not coming from the cartridge, as I originally thought.

Most of the 108 built in games are unique with very few repeats/variations of the same game. The pirates did quite a good job with title screens and making slight changes to original games, enough to make the pirated version fun yet different, some are actually really fun but most of the games are just complete and utter junk! Games such as Desert Storm (Contra clone) and Overspeed Racing ( Rad Racer with a dash of Spy Hunter) are fun games that were simply redone, while games such as Assart, are completely new to me, but still fun to play.

The Power Games is unique in design but it isn't very practical, strictly using wireless controllers and not even offering the option for wired controllers, but it does give the light gun its very own port on the side. Player 1 has a completely wireless (via infrared) controller, while player 2 plugs into the first controller and both signals are sent from controller 1. The finicky nature of infrared is on full display as I'll often find myself not pointing the controller correctly and end up losing a life, but the worst part of this so called wireless controller is the way its eats batteries!
The controller designs, despite being infrared, are the standard Famiclone style of Playstation ripoffs, comfortable and merely functional, sort of. One of my main complaints about Famiclone controllers has been that they simply can't seem to get the layout of B and A correct, which is the case with the Power Games controllers. I have found controllers that manage to get it right, but since the Power Games system uses proprietary controllers without the option of using other controllers you're pretty well stuck with this fact.
After all was said and done I thought the saving grace came down to the included multi-cart, boy was I wrong. I had to take the broken cartridge apart and put the board into the Power Games manually, which took me a while to figure out which way to even put the thing into the system as it doesn't have angled edges around the cartridge slot. After putting the bare board into the system the right way I heard the extremely familiar jingle of the 12000 in 1 menu of a couple of my Super Joy III units.
From the wireless controllers that are minimally problematic, yet problematic just the same, to the limited handful of built in games that are entertaining, the Power Games turns from a practical Famiclone into more of an occasional conversation piece. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I own the Power Games system, but I have other Famiclones that work better and offer the option of correctly mapped controllers. That means this poor Penguin is most likely doomed to spend most of his days in the closet.