Interesting video documentary about a rare bootleg multicart

Started by tonev, July 07, 2022, 11:48:44 am

Previous topic - Next topic


I found a interesting video from a YouTuber about the JY SMW multicart.
Her videos are interesting and well made. She even gives a little history about famiclones.
I am back everyone :)


I'm going to watch it when I get home but I already know that I'm not going to like this video ;)

I'll post my critique in a few hours, stay tuned.
Family Bits - Check Progress Below!


Right, so I just finished watching the video and I found it almost painful to sit through. It was exactly what I feared, namely a poorly researched Western-centric video looking to tell the story that people want to hear for the sake of collecting likes, subscribers, hits, etc. That was it, period.

1. At the beginning of the video, the author states that her video is not clickbait, but that's exactly what it is. Did that JY multicart actually sell for $5000 on ebay, or was it just listed for $5000? There's a huge difference between those points.

2. In the video, the author immediately states that the first Famiclones were made by TXC. That's totally incorrect, the Micro Genius brand was originally from Tajen, also there were plenty of Famiclones before that time. As the author states, "TXC was the first documented company to successfully make a Famicom hardware clone..." Yeah, that's 100% incorrect.

3. The author later mentions the sound issues with clones yet references an article relating to modern-made NES clone hardware. While many clones do have hardware issues, including sound issues, the thing about modern NES clones is a totally different beast.

4. "But why would anyone buy a Famiclone instead of a regular "no Micro Genius bullshit" NES console?
I really despise this sort of thing, as it's just taking a cheap swing at unauthorized game clones for the sake of being "cool" or for likes. Micro Genius machines are sort of the Cadilac of Famiclones, and the build quality is really high on the vast majority of that line. Then again, the same can be said for many of the old 80s / pre-NOAC Famiclones.

Interestingly enough, the author then also briefly mentions something called "designer" clones, I think she said, such as Brian's modern NES clone. Funny how we take cheap shots at the Taiwanese-made clones, but the modern American-built hobbyist clones are seen as "designer".

The author mentions price as the secondary reason for people turning to the clones, and distribution being first and foremost. I would argue the reverse. Unbeknownst to many, the NES was officially released in Poland. Taiwan had the Famicom, and while the official machines I imagine sold quite poorly, there's still a decent amount of official Japanese cartridges to be seen with the official import stickers. From my understanding, people bought the clones because back then a large portion of the people couldn't afford the real items.

In places like Russia that never had official game distribution, sure distribution would be the primary reason, but in a lot of regions it was actually the secondary reason, and this often gets lost amongst people.

5. Some other lovely quotes when she talks about clones and multicartridges:

About clones:
"And they all had the same shitty build quality."

About multicarts:
"multicarts made using the cheapest plastic known to mankind"

Well these quotes are once again made for the sake of trying to be entertaining / trendy, or for the sake of being prejudiced / biased. I personally own hundreds of Taiwanese-made Famiclone consoles, and I also was just last night scanning and playing through dozens of Famicom multicarts, for the next installment of my Famicom book series, Family Bits. The build quality in both cases is great, with the quality becoming inferior only towards the late 90s, before nosediving in the 2000s when Taiwan stopped producing stuff and companies in mainland China started doing everything. So her comments are just so biased and ignorant, it's like me saying that guavas taste life buffalo shit because I don't like the taste of apples.

6. The video author states, "The pirate market was the fucking wild west, everyone was stealing stuff from each other"

Again, just spouting off a bunch of western-centric nonsense.

7. "Hacking other people's games and selling them as your own was just the norm here"

I personally believe the situation to be much more multi-faceted and complicated than what the statement above suggests

8. When the author starts talking about JY Company, she states, "Jy Company...really wanted to act like a serious business [compared to other Taiwanese software studios / manufacturers]".

Again, like point 7, it is clear that the author has little knowledge about the workings of the country or the society, and similarly, possibly little experience when it comes to businesses in general, especially with small start-ups.

9. Moving onto point nine, the author makes a statement about "Sachen...another bootlegging company"

Um what? They were an unauthorized company that made a vast library of original games. A few of the games are derivative, a few borrow or steal IP, but then again Kevin Hanley made an unauthorized Frogger port for the NES, and it is considered "homebrew" and Brian Parker made a 2022 unauthorized Mario / Grinch game for Christmas, and it would be considered "homebrew" or "indie" by most. Yet Sachen is labeled as "bootleg", yet perhaps 1% of their output used stolen assets? WTF? Don't try to tell me that it's not because they are Taiwanese...

10. The author then invites Nick Robinson to read off the story to Sachen's Jurassic Boy 2 game. To me, as the guy was reading off the story in awkward English, it just felt like it was to make fun of the game. Well let's see the author write a short story in Chinese? I mean, even her English, was definitely less than perfect. Personally, I think making fun of people for writing "Chinglish" is lame and disrespectful.

11. Regarding Mickey| Mania 7 - "This would be impressive for any NES game, especially one made by pirates with basically no budget"

Again, the author is being very presumptuous. Yes, I'd reckon that the developers of these games likely didn't have large budgets, but the thing that is lost amongst many people is that these were professionals in development studios with real jobs. It's generally not the "get rich quick from laziness" sort of scenario that many people tend to romanticize in their minds.

12. More awkward and somewhat deceptive sequencing: Mentioned how C&E got sued by Nintendo, after talking about C&E's NSFW games, yet they actually got sued due to making copier devices.

13. The author keeps referring to the "incomplete" standalone version of the game as the "beta" version of the game. I get tired of this designation, it's like calling Castlevania 64 the beta version of the game, since the sequel is basically what the first one was supposed to be. Again, it's being misleading, especially when the standalone Mario was packaged and sold as "Volume 1".

14. Going back to budgets, the author mentions about the stage select on the full SMW game. She states, "They had no budget for batteries in those bootlegs so..."

Well damn it, isn't it strange how I have some Zelda no Densetsu bootlegs from launch that have batteries. Same with the bootlegs of the notorious KOEI games, Pokemon GB bootlegs, etc etc etc. Cost might have been a reason, but considering the large prevalence of batteries in other games before this release, I just wouldn't be so certain.

15. Then to wrap things up, the author states this:

"You could buy an original but I don't recommend it, just buy a repro, it's a bootleg cart okay please don't spend your money like that".

So her argument is essentially that it's okay to steal someone else's work, since it uses stolen IP.

To me, this falls into the category of when shitty people were stealing English fan translations of JRPGs and making "repros", selling them online for $$$. Yes, as unauthorized translations, of course the translators don't have a leg to stand on, but stealing someone else's hard work just makes you a shitty person overall.

Finally, the shit cherry on top of this great turd of a video:

And while bootlegs are usually the butt of jokes online, I think that remakes like this one really show how big this industry was and how far a motivated team can go, thanks to hard work, dedication, time and blatant IP infringement.

The author just takes one more dump on the games and items being made in Taiwan, attempting to wrap it up in a back-handed compliment.

Yeah, this video sucks. It is 35 minutes of wrong information and poorly researched "facts" blended in with a healthy dose of prejudice against ethnic Chinese people. No thanks.

The only good thing I guess was that I used to own one of the carts showcased in the video ;)

Family Bits - Check Progress Below!


Am I being too critical on the above video and its contents? Honestly, I think not. I will explain myself and my stance further, as I hope that eventually others will follow suit and eventually demand a higher level of quality or standards when writing about these types of games and game machines.

On the lowest level one might argue "Oh fcgamer, you've been in Taiwan for too long and it has clouded your thoughts, you are the one with the prejudice towards these games." Perhaps this is true to some extent, but I beg to differ. Let's consider a few points:

1. Historically, gamers / collectors referred to games made by companies such as Color Dreams, Camerica, American Video Entertainment, Active Enterprise, Tengen etc as unlicensed games. Yet Sachen is always referred to as "pirate" or "bootleg".

This strikes me as quite odd, since (a) Color Dreams and American Video Entertainment both published games developed by Sachen, and (b) Tengen actually had a game with infringing IP (Tetris), and they also were using an infringing lockout chip, from my understanding. As far as I know, Sachen's long list of mahjong and Chinese chess games were original.

2. When talking about Youtube / gaming word collocations, the word that pairs with "bootleg" is almost always "shit". It's always about getting cheap laughs based on spelling mistakes, "Chinglish", poor game controls, etc. Yet for the most part, the faults are blown out of proportion just for laughs.

3. Build quality is almost always hyped up to be on the level of garbage, but aside from the modern crap coming from China, the vast majority of the Taiwan-made stuff is solid and of near 1:1 quality.

4. People don't understand the culture, or the context, yet they make big generalizations that are bogus to explain things, often leading to false, western-centric misinterpretations.

5. This ties back to the first point, but even one of the grading companies released a guide which uses the word "repro" when referring to the modern games that hobbyists dubbed "repros". They're equally as infringing as some of the Taiwanese games with infringing IP (and as an aside, a lot of the Taiwanese "pirate" games are completely original, so perfectly legal...), but only the games coming from Taiwan are considered as pirate or bootleg. Same situation with the homebrew/indie stuff.

There's just an inherent bias in the west that leads people to believe something like Taiwan / China / Hong Kong = counterfeit = low quality = bootleg = pirate = shit. In so many cases though, it's simply not true at all, and if the item was made by hobbyists or made by an American / Euro company or whatever, friendlier terminology would be applied.

So let's stop being racist or prejudiced, when referring to the games use more neutral terms with less baggage, such as "unauthorized", "unlicensed", or "counterfeit" (the last one when referring to a 1:1 copy of the original Super Mario Bros. or something). The gaming history on this side of the world is so much more significant than just a few cheap internet laughs and biased false info.
Family Bits - Check Progress Below!