Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Visiting a Famiclone Factory in 1993.

Well, I didn't, but the Korean magazine Game World paid a visit to the Hard- & Software developer Golden Bell, actually to take a look at their debut (and only) Famicom game Jang Dujin Baduk Gyosil: Immunpyeon.

Golden Bell, however, also happened to be the producer of a Famicom clone console called Joymax. The company took pride in the fact that , other than the CPU and GPU, they manufactured all remaining parts in-house. So, whereas the magazine couldn't present any screenshots for the game yet, they instead took a look around at the Golden Bell factory. I bet all of you were dying to see a real life 90's Famiclone production line.

It may surprise or even shock the average western gamer nowadays that "pirate" companies like Golden Bell could operate so openly and even appear in magazines. It's important not to forget, though, that in most parts of the world game consoles weren't viewed as the untouchable brands first Atari and later (and more effectively) Nintendo forced upon us in the US and western Europe. They rather held the status of a common standard, very much like VHS or Betamax in the video sector (I guess Sega was Betamax, then). Hell, the more successful clones even had their own TV commercials.

(TV spot for an unrelated Famiclone by Haitai, the Supercom.)

Golden Bell also had female employees, but they were merely assigned with cleaning and testing the freshly assembled consoles.

The big shots at the company: President Yu Yunshik (left) and Oh Hyunse.

According to the article, the Joymax was then already being exported to Singapore, these guys were discussing further deals with importers in Austria and Sweden. So if you ever stumble upon a clone console with a shell like this, it's probably hailing from Korea:

(Source: Game World 5/1993, page 108/109)


  1. One of my favourite entries that I've seen, well done Derboo.

    You're right about the common standard thing. In South Africa there was a Famicom clone branded with the Reggies logo and insignia - Reggies being the domestic equivalent of Toys R Us in SA. There were also TV adverts for it. So I can imagine it happening quite openly in many countries.

  2. In Brazil, there's one particularly famous clone called Dynavision. I believe it is sold to this day. The manufacturer also deals with telephones, besides clones. It was a very cheap way to play NES at a point, and it also came with a zapper, duck hunt AND a cart packed full of games (You know, that 100-on-1 carts). Great Article!

  3. Nice, I still hold grudges against Nintendo for creating exclusive wars. :D

    great article! :)

  4. I am surprised by how small the console appears to be. It looks like the system is the size of the controller and the cables are extremely short.

    Anyway, thank you for the article. It's unfathomable to think that someone would try to go to a current-gen clone factory today. That magazine article is truly one-of-a-kind.

  5. If they're talking about CPUs and GPUs, then that means it's not a NES-on-a-Chip, right? It's an honest to goodness, solidly built early generation clone. Amazing they made it fit like that.

    I have a real fondness for the first gen Famicom clones. They were pretty sturdily built. Today they're flimsy, ugly, and have incompatibility problems.

  6. Nice find!

    The factory and, more so, the clothing and hairstyles of the employees make these photos quite captivating. Especially the guy in the second photo who is testing the system. That shirt/jacket And the president of the company in the second to last photo with his leather jacket half zipped up. Brings me back. If this had been a Canadian Famiclone factory (if such a thing had ever existed) the only difference would have been the looming omni-presence of mullets on every head, including the female workers.

  7. Very cool stuff. I love to see real info about famiclones.

  8. Dang, the Joymax is tiny! If there was such a thing as an official NES slim, that could very well be it.