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Satoshi Matrix

The best Famiclone ever: Innovation TriStar/Super 8 Video Review

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Hey guys, haven't been around much lately but wanted to share with you guys my latest project.

 

To celebrate 800 subscribers on youtube, I've gone and made my most extensive review of a Famiclone ever.

 

Come learn all there is to know about Innovation's TriStar/Super 8, released in 1995 for the SNES - a device that lets you play NES and Famicom games right on your SNES. Watch as it outpreforms every other Famiclone in existence.

 

Edited by Satoshi Matrix
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That's hilarious you chose to post this today, as I just ordered a Super 8 this afternoon. I'm hoping it'll work with the Famicom Disk System, as other clone do.

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That's hilarious you chose to post this today, as I just ordered a Super 8 this afternoon. I'm hoping it'll work with the Famicom Disk System, as other clone do.

 

Where did you order it from? People have been asking me where to get it but I really don't know since I've owned mine for several years.

 

I didn't test it with the FDS (I HATE the FDS because its extremely unreliable) but given that it plays every Famicom game I own including Akumajou Densetsu and Lagrange Point, I would think there is a very high probability that it works with the standalone Famicom Disk System flawlessly and can produce the FDS expansion audio.

 

The only game I've had issues with on my Super 8 is Battletoads stage 2 as per every other Famiclone. It's also too bad the Powerpak doesn't work with it, but that's a give-in with Famiclones.

 

I got mine just a couple weeks ago, haven't even tried it yet !

 

Make sure you solder in a 470μF cap (along with a 0.1μF 104 if you want to have the same results I did) unless you don't mind major jailbars in NES games. Also while you have it open, check all traces to make sure yours doesn't have a deliberate break in the latch line like mine does. If it does, Super FX games like Star Fox will be unplayable until you bridge that connection with either a wire or a glop of solder.

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Make sure you solder in a 470μF cap (along with a 0.1μF 104 if you want to have the same results I did) unless you don't mind major jailbars in NES games. Also while you have it open, check all traces to make sure yours doesn't have a deliberate break in the latch line like mine does. If it does, Super FX games like Star Fox will be unplayable until you bridge that connection with either a wire or a glop of solder.

 

Well I am not the most technically capable person around, I think a Saturn Modchip was about the limit of my capability. I will try to follow your suggestions. What do you mean though by "along with?" are their two spots on the board to solder two caps or am I misunderstanding something? Is there a clear guide or instructions somewhere available, do you plan on making / posting a guide?

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There are two outstanding issues with a stock Super 8

 

Jailbars in NES games - similar to the RF output of a stock NES-101 "toploader". You can clean these up (but not get rid of them entirely) by soldering a capacitor of over 300μF and at least 6v in the empty spot for a capacitor on the Super 8 motherboard. Make sure you get the polarity right. I then soldered in a .1μF cap in parallel along the same solder joints, but you don't need to do that if you are satisfied with the results from the big cap alone.

 

Super FX/Super GameBoy/SA-1 compatibility - Some Super 8's including mine has a deliberate break in the latch connection which causes Super FX games not to output video and the Super GameBoy to run at 1/100th normal speed. You need to check over the board to see if this is the case with your Super 8 as well. If it is then you need to bridge the gap with a soldered wire or just solder.

 

I haven't made a tutorial, but I suppose I can. Since mine is already done, I need "before" images. If you can take high res glare free images of your Super 8 mobo and send them to me I can write up a tutorial on how to fix these two issues.

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I haven't made a tutorial, but I suppose I can. Since mine is already done, I need "before" images. If you can take high res glare free images of your Super 8 mobo and send them to me I can write up a tutorial on how to fix these two issues.

 

I can definitely do that. It won't be until late August though, as we're just finishing up a reno and should be finally moving back in to our house shortly. Once we're settled in (I should have received the Super 8 by then), I'll crack it open and take pics. I'm sure a guide will be very helpful to others who get one.

 

I will probably leave it stock, since I buy these clone systems for the oddity they are. It's those quirks I actually enjoy when playing around with them.

 

Now if I can finally find a NASA NES clone. I've been looking for one for at least 6 years now. The closet I came was a PAL version, but I specifically want a NTSC unit.

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Actually my last post was directed to OldSchoolRetroGamer, but sure, if you wanna take pics too I can add them.

 

Thanks but yeah if goldenegg can supply you with the pictures that would be great as I might not have the time for a while and he probably has better means to do a proper job supplying such pictures !

THANKS! and thanks goldenegg.

Edited by OldSchoolRetroGamer

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I can definitely do that. It won't be until late August though, as we're just finishing up a reno and should be finally moving back in to our house shortly. Once we're settled in (I should have received the Super 8 by then), I'll crack it open and take pics. I'm sure a guide will be very helpful to others who get one.

 

I will probably leave it stock, since I buy these clone systems for the oddity they are. It's those quirks I actually enjoy when playing around with them.

 

Now if I can finally find a NASA NES clone. I've been looking for one for at least 6 years now. The closet I came was a PAL version, but I specifically want a NTSC unit.

 

Please do so !!!!! :thumbsup:

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I really enjoyed the review, but I'm having a hard time figuring out how this is the "best" famiclone ever. It's the best in terms of compatibility, no doubt... but you glossed over some things I would consider to be major flaws. I wouldn't like the way the buttons were mapped, for one. Anything other than A=A and B=B would be a big detraction for me. Also, doing major surgery to get decent video output is a big negative (though, at least it can be fixed). Biggest complaint of all, IMO, is that it's functionally not much different than having an NES and a SNES, since the Super 8 adds so much extra hardware, compared to a RetroDuo or Retro N3.

 

I really admire the initiative in making this video though. Super great job on your part. =)

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Anything other than A=A and B=B would be a big detraction for me. Also, doing major surgery to get decent video output is a big negative (though, at least it can be fixed). Biggest complaint of all, IMO, is that it's functionally not much different than having an NES and a SNES, since the Super 8 adds so much extra hardware, compared to a RetroDuo or Retro N3.

 

On the first point about the button mapping, I think that most people prefer the Y and B set up for B and A on the RetroDuo and the Super 8 because those are the two dominate buttons used in many SNES classics such as Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, Megaman X and so on. In addition, the shape of the human thumb naturally confirms to the layout of the Y and B buttons. That being said, both controllers use the same control chip, and thus adapters can be made to convert NES controllers onto the SNES which would allow you to play all your NES games on the Super 8 with an actual NES controller. If you're interested, I can make one for you for the cost of materials plus a small commission fee. PM me if you are interested.

 

Also, doing major surgery to get decent video output is a big negative.

 

Adding a single capacitor into a slot that already is in place for one is what you would call "major surgery?" Hell, even the RetroDuo audio dampener mod is more extensive than that! Also, it isn't absolutely necessary, if you can tolerate vertical lines through your NES games like the NES-101 toploader's RF connection produces.

 

Biggest complaint of all, IMO, is that it's functionally not much different than having an NES and a SNES, since the Super 8 adds so much extra hardware, compared to a RetroDuo or Retro N3.

 

I'm stumped what you mean. "So much extra hardware"? If you mean its somewhat bulky, then I suppose that's true, but it's really just a large cartridge that sits atop the Super Famicom. The Super 8 doesn't require it's own power or it's own video. You use the same composite video cable your SNES would use natively. I don't understand your comparison of it to the RetroDuo or especially RetroN3. The Super 8 narrowly beats out the RetroDuo in the footrace, but it leaves the RetorN3 far in its dust. The Super 8 is the best Famiclone ever because of its performance and brilliant compatibility. This is a NOAC afterall from 1995, and yet it outperforms NOACs nearly 20 years newer.

 

Price: Overblown.

 

Are you saying the Super 8 is too expensive? If you check ebay, you can find some sellers that have brand new old stock of them for around $40. Add in shipping, and that's actually a very typical price for a clone system, and that's for BAD clone systems like the RetorN3. For one as good as this, the price is extremely reasonable.

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Anything other than A=A and B=B would be a big detraction for me. Also, doing major surgery to get decent video output is a big negative (though, at least it can be fixed). Biggest complaint of all, IMO, is that it's functionally not much different than having an NES and a SNES, since the Super 8 adds so much extra hardware, compared to a RetroDuo or Retro N3.

 

On the first point about the button mapping, I think that most people prefer the Y and B set up for B and A on the RetroDuo and the Super 8 because those are the two dominate buttons used in many SNES classics such as Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, Megaman X and so on. In addition, the shape of the human thumb naturally confirms to the layout of the Y and B buttons. That being said, both controllers use the same control chip, and thus adapters can be made to convert NES controllers onto the SNES which would allow you to play all your NES games on the Super 8 with an actual NES controller. If you're interested, I can make one for you for the cost of materials plus a small commission fee. PM me if you are interested.

 

Point taken. It wouldn't be a dealbreaker, as you've said that adapters could resolve this issue. It's similar to the layout of my FC Mobile II, and I adapt to that.

 

Also, doing major surgery to get decent video output is a big negative.

 

Adding a single capacitor into a slot that already is in place for one is what you would call "major surgery?" Hell, even the RetroDuo audio dampener mod is more extensive than that! Also, it isn't absolutely necessary, if you can tolerate vertical lines through your NES games like the NES-101 toploader's RF connection produces.

 

Oh, I'd do it... just actually having to do so is a negative mark for me.

 

 

Biggest complaint of all, IMO, is that it's functionally not much different than having an NES and a SNES, since the Super 8 adds so much extra hardware, compared to a RetroDuo or Retro N3.

 

I'm stumped what you mean. "So much extra hardware"? If you mean its somewhat bulky, then I suppose that's true, but it's really just a large cartridge that sits atop the Super Famicom. The Super 8 doesn't require it's own power or it's own video.

 

Not only is it bulky, but it's kind of defeating the purpose of having a clone, IMO. I'd buy a clone because it would be a convenient alternative to having the real thing. Since you already need a SNES to make this work, you've already obtained one original console... why not just go for two? Having said that, I realize that this device was aimed at a very different market than today's retrogamers. Back when this was new, the ideal customer would be someone who just upgraded to a SNES, but still wanted a way to play NES games without buying a still-kinda-expensive NES. Today, the idea is more about eliminating the need for multiple systems, or saving shelf space. So you're right, it's really not fair to compare it to the newer clones... but since you're calling it the best famiclone ever, I felt like trying to make at least some comparisons of my own.

 

That said, I had no idea this thing was as compatible as it was! I totally have a new respect for the Super 8, and if I'm ever needing to add NES functionality to a SNES, I'd totally go that route. I'm actually impressed at how versatile that little gadget is. :-)

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Still, some games, like Battletoads, do not function correctly on a Super 8/Tristar as the start and select buttons on controller 2 will not work on NES games. This is because it is technically a clone of the Japanese Famicom, rather than the American NES, and the Famicom did not originally have start and select buttons on controller 2. That is why some games are unplayable in multiplayer. Also, this means that the sound chips are slightly different, just like the Famicom and NES, so NES-only sounds such as voice synthesis don't work either.

 

Is this true about the Super 8

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That, to me, sounds like a MASSIVE load of BS. Start and Select not working at all on Player 2's controller just doesn't sound right whatsoever. Someone tell me if swapping out the Player 2 controller on a Famicom for one with Start and Select buttons would mean those buttons don't work at all.

 

As for the audio hardware being different, that's complete BS. Both the Famicom and NES share the exact same audio hardware, however, the Super 8 doesn't perfectly reproduce the audio out of the 2A03. It's like modern NOACs with correct duty cycles: some of the square waves are off and the DPCM is both too quiet and COMPLETELY screwed up. DPCM does work, though. I don't know where the idea that the Super 8 doesn't have DPCM came from, but that's BS.

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The clone is based on the Famicom, and the Famicom doesn't have the signals to begin with for Player 2 Start and Select. They simply do not exist. Instead, the signal is for the Microphone, which is unused by the Super 8.

 

Battletoads, like on every other clone, crashes on stage 2.

 

The Super 8 does produce DPCM.

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Well, the more important mod you want to do is add in the capacitor to reduce jailbars, but this one is pretty simple too. As far as I am aware, there are at least three revisions of the Super 8, and I would doubt they all require the same fixes.

 

Just do a visual check and add solder to the pins that have physical disconnects. Make sure you don't add solder too low or else it will interfere with the connection to the system, and you don't want that at any cost. Be smart about it, and also be careful. From the looks of it, you could easily damage or even break the pin connector. It wasn't designed to be accessed by the end-user.

 

Keep in mind that it is often the case where you're better off removing the Super 8 when you're just playing SNES or SFC games.

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I got it today, I need the mod to play SGB and Super FX Games

 

Seems like the SNES Mini going to tip over with it lol,

 

Also I don't want to keep on removing it...

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Well it's designed for the Super Famicom/Euro SNES shape. The boxy US and SuFami Jr designs will make it unstable. Go to a hardware store and get rubber feet for the bottom and make it as level as possible.

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