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Weird PC Engine Clones:

UFO Super Game
16-Bit Power PlayGalaxy

There's a fair amount of dissent when it comes to the best looking console extant. Some would argue the Xbox is the ugliest, while I'd suggest the PS2 is the least attractive. Similarly the best looking console is also the subject of some disagreement. I think you'll be hard pressed to beat the PC Engine personally. One thing's for certain however. This ain't it:

These two monstrosities are creations of China's game pirates, back before they had any self respect or skills. They're ugly, they're barely functional, and they're both wildly different internally.

Upon opening, the first thing you'll notice is that they're not clean and well made like your normal NEC-made PC Engine. Unlike the Korean Vistar they didn't use original parts. No legitimate PC Engines were harmed in the creation of these things, oh no. The UFO Super Game has three chips which may or may not be relabelled chips stolen from NEC's assembly line. They're the right size with the right pin count, and appear at cursory glance to be connected in the same way. The Galaxy, however, has all new socketed chips. It's also less compatible than the UFO, with serious sound glitches, where the UFO has perfect sound.

Both systems appear to be PAL, or PAL-M, or... something. Both feature the same outputs: Audio, Video, RF. Neither offers stereo sound or RGB. The UFO has a switch (hidden inside, of course) for 50- or 60-Hertz operation. I think - the speed of music playback changes. I can't quite say for sure what they're outputting video-wise, I got conflicting results on my hardware. Using an XRGB-2 on my VGA monitor both systems ran fine at 50Hz. The UFO output no video at 60Hz. The Galaxy worked fine on my little RGB/Video monitor, where the UFO was stable only at 60Hz, rolling at 50Hz. Neither displayed in colour on the monitor, which is very strange - the XRGB isn't known for being PAL compatible. I'm not sure what's going on here, not at all.

The sound on the Galaxy is not right - it has a volume problem, where some channels/voices are very muted, and sometimes they stop entirely while other sounds carry on. The UFO, with its apparently cloned chips, has no trouble.

The UFO has a hardwired controller and a port for player two where the Galaxy had a hardwired controller in the P2 position - it's been removed in this case - and no second port. Both systems have holes in the PCB for a pad socket to be installed, if one were so inclined. The controller that is/was attached is, as you might expect, complete ass. There's auto fire and, on the base, slow motion. No awards will be won here.

Both systems, strangely, feature a second cartidge port. It's not your standard PCE cart slot, it's something rather different. I have two games with these, Golf and Legendary Axe. Both carts are poorly made and, when opened, reveal a PCB that really looks like it shouldn't work. You get what you pay for, kids, and these systems must have been nearly free. Appalling, really. The second port isn't connected to anything strange, it's just a re-shaped HuCard - I can't imagine these were cheaper to produce...

Oh yeah, the Galaxy has a tiny red power LED under the powerswitch, it's kinda revealed through the transparent switch when on. The Galaxy has no light.

So what's the deal? Why are they identical outside, but radically different inside? They're fucking bizarre, honestly. Lots of consoles had clones - the MegaDrive and NES are well known for it, in fact. It's quite unusual to see PC Engine clones but clearly they do exist, and they're curious indeed.

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The Shuttle was ugly. This thing makes it look like a work of art, really.

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The inside of the Galaxy is mostly used. All the main chips are socketed, and they're definitely not the same size or shape as the originals.

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The UFO has a sub PCB (bottom) with the 3 Hudson clone chips on it. Underneath this is the RAM, and to its right you'll note the 50/60Hz switch.

If you know anything else about this system, please email me!