Some thoughts on bootleg Famicom carts

In Taiwan bootleg Famicom games are referred to as 「台片」, which basically means ‘Taiwanese game’. Bootlegs are such an integral part of gaming history here that there’s not much reference, if any, to them being unlicensed or ‘pirate’ games. Famicom games are simply split into two categories, these so-called Taiwanese games, and then the original Japanese games.

Micro Genius Famiclone console and stacks of bootleg games
Micro Genius Famiclone console and stacks of bootleg games

Over the last year I’ve collected quite a few Famiclone carts. All from various sources and conditions, and some in need of a clean.

Break out the cleaning alcohol and cotton wool buds
Break out the cleaning alcohol and cotton wool buds

I finally had a chance to take out the cleaning alcohol and come cotton wool buds and clean them.

Given that these are all Famiclone games, it seemed apt to test them all on my Micro Genius Famiclone console. The Micro Genius is one of many Taiwanese Famiclone consoles that were released in the 80s and 90s, and it’s actually considered a better build quality than Nintendo’s own Famicom. It really is a solid console and does feel of a higher quality.

Micro Genius and Famiclone carts

Cleaning and testing this many carts took a long time, but now I finally have some more games to play.

Micro Genius and Famiclone carts

The quality of these unlicensed games varies greatly, specifically the quality of the plastic. Generally, the carts that were released in the 80s and early 90s are higher quality.

The appeal of Famiclone carts comes from a few different aspects. There are unlicensed games that never saw an official release on the platform. These carts can sometimes be quite valuable. Other carts have great artwork, come in interesting shapes, or contain bootleg games and ROM hacks that are also sought after.

For the most part there’s no mistaking these for official games. They represent an interesting part of gaming history in Taiwan and make a great addition to a Famicom collection.