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After much struggle I finally managed to get to hold a GameAxe in my hands. It all started years ago when I received a picture from an old Asian magazine which had this ad for a handheld Famicom, similar to a GameGear/Nomad. Unfortunately the scan was so bad that I couldnt make out the name of this new handheld, but I later discovered that it was called GameAxe. Why I say new? well even earlier, back in 1994 in a copy of Super Gamer magazine they reviewed something called a TopGuy, which by the way was my first experience ever with Famicom stuff and pirate Famicom/NES stuff.

Anyway, back in late 1999 two friends of mine, Joona Pöhö (Toot) and Elementl1, sent me a message about with a link to this taiwanese site he had seen in a Asian Playstation commercial. They had checked out the site and noticed a picture of the GameAxe on their "products" page.

I ofcourse tried to contact the company behind the site, Legend Technology or better known as Redant, wanting to buy some of their GameAxe consoles. They replied quite fast the first time giving me the price of each unit and asked how many I wanted, with a minimum of 100. We each sent a few mails to eachother but it then seemed as Redant lost interest when I only wanted to buy 10 or so units, and I dont blame them.

So I thought my chances of getting a GameAxe were slim until they started to pop up all over the net back in January 2000, and is now probably the most sold Famicom clone outside of Asia.

The GameAxe is packed nicely in a green'ish box with "GameAxe Color" written on it, making use of the Gameboy "Color" logo. On the front there's a picture of the GameAxe running the Playstation Toomba (Toombi), now thats impressive. Well on each of the sides there are real Famicom games displayed, such as Ninja, Snow Bros, Donkey Kong 3 and some Japanese board game. On the back of the box it clearly states that this piece of junk, erh, incredible invention provides, and I quote... "Clear picture, and best quality", cant be all that bad then, cant it?

Below the nice red headline they've written all sorts of crap like you can use the unit both indoor and outdoor and I quote again "The perfect design that no other company ever done is light-weighted and convenient. It breaks your limitation for playing it". Well I dont know what they compared the unit to, but if there's something it isnt then its light-weighted, but the nice Nomad design, erh Redant created design, really is nice and the controls and buttons on the unit arent cheapo stuff either, it's actually better than most pirate controllers.

The LCD screen is backlit, which the Gameboy Color sure couldve used too. But unfortunately the screen is quite blurry, but not a lot worse than the GameGear and just like the GameGear the contrast (brightness) of the screen can be changed making some games look quite good, however it does have problems with some games, such as Super Mario Bros where you almost cant see the the 1 or 2 player option on the title screen, the koopa-troopas almost dissapear too, leaving only their green shell to be seen.

However most HongKong originals such as the ported Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat 3, Somari and so on runs quite well, Mortal Kombat 3 impressed me quite a bit since its been almost unplayable on a real NES/Famicom it was very playable and had clear crispy graphics on the GameAxe. Another funny thing from the back of the GameAxe box is that they clearly states that they're selling Famicom software, where most of it probably is illegal and being non-HK originals.

Inside the box is, to everyones surprise, a GameAxe(!) and a manual in Japanese only, explaining all the functions of the GameAxe, there's actually quite a few buttons on the unit. The cartridge sits on top of the GameAxe and doesnt go down the back like in a Gameboy, GameGear etc. Left of the game slot is the power button and on the other side of the slot is an extension thingy which is used to connect the GameAxe to a TV, using the same kinda of plug as the European/Japanses verison of the Sega Megadrive2, although this cable is not included in the package and the megadrive cable cant be used, but as far as I can see the Japanese text in the manual says something about the Japanese MD2 cable, so maybe it will work.

On each side of the unit is a Joystick port, using the same type as the old C64 and Amiga 500 did, actually most Famicom clones use it too. So I plugged one of these Playstation type joypads, which came with a PSX look-alike Famicom clone from Nikita (another pirate company), into the unit and it worked great. I also tried connecting a couple of pirate zappers and it does register the shots, but I believe the screen is too small to play Zapper games.

Another test the GameAxe passed was a Famicom Disk System being connected to the unit. Most Famicom clones arent compatible with the FDS, but the GameAxe runs it just as great as the real Famicom, and keep in mind that the Famicom Disk System is portable too, so you can bring your FDS hookup anywhere, YES! But just like the first Super Mario Bros game, the GameAxe also has problems with the white color in the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros 2.

Bandai's Datach (Joint Rom System) which is a barcode thingy created for the Famicom, a bit similar to Camerica/Codemaster's Aladdin Deck Enhancer, it ran the Barcode DragonballZ perfectly.

With a converter you can play NES games on the GameAxe too, but I have not yet been able to get one of these, so I cannot comment on the quality of it, but I seriously doubt that there would be any problems, but I would like to test some of the European NES carts which wont run on a NTSC (American) NES to see if the GameAxe does that job great aswell.

On the front side of the unit is, to no surprise i hope, the LCD screen and a D-pad as well as an A and B button which also are presented in the so-called Turbo version which comes in handy when you play shoot-em-ups or Track & Field. A START and SELECT button is available too. Below the LCD screen is two buttons, a RESET button and another button which turns off the LCD screen, which is used when the unit is connected to a TV.

At the bottom of the unit is a contrast (brightness) and a volume button as well as a plug for ear phones. I better mention too that the unit has a "AV IN" on one of the sides which means that it can be used as a monitor for a videocamera or something. The backside contains space for batteries, it uses 6 x AA batteries and will suck the juice out of them in no time, I havent timed this and dont wanna bother, just buy a lot of cheapo batteries or use a power adaptor when you're using it at home. The backside also contains a label with the GameAxe model no. (878) and a serial id, mine is 99004685, which I believe makes it GameAxe unit number 4685.

The speaker in the unit is quite good, and loud and the LCD screen isnt as bad as many people claim. The glass (plastic) infront of the LCD gets scratched quite easy, so if you want to keep your GameAxe in perfect condition I suggest that you dont remove the film which covers the screen when you get it, but that also blurs the screen quite a lot, or you simply just store your GameAxe in the box and dont let it lie on the floor or throw it around a lot.

My conclusion of the GameAxe must be that its absolutely brilliant, when it comes to Famicom pirate stuff, and I believe I'm qualified to say it (heh). The screen could be better ofcourse and I did wish it didnt suck the juice out of batteries that fast, but hey we're talking about an 11 year old invention here, yes the GameAxe was made in 1989 and relaunched, unmodified, in 1998/99. Its compatible with a lot of accessories, what suprised me the most was the Famicom Disk System compatibility, I own 8 or so Famicom clones and none of them are happy about running FDS games.

The price is from US$88 - 100 which isnt bad at all, I'll be picking up my second unit soon just to have an unused one in case this one blows up, or whatever. I've seen a lot of crap about the GameAxe on the net, like how bad quality it is and that many units have stopped working, well treat the unit with respect, dont do to it what you'd do to your original NES or Joypad, the quality is far from the same, but the GameAxe will work for many years if you take good care of it.

Where to purchase a GameAxe:

  • Golden Shop HongKong (US$88 + shipping) *** highly recommended seller ***
  • LikSang (US$95 + shipping, unit includes NES->FC adaptor)

    I bought my GameAxe from Golden Shop, run by a guy called Ronald. The unit was shipped the same day he received the money and when I received it a week later it was wrapped in foam inside the shipping box, so there wasnt a scratch on the GameAxe's box, great!

    Order one of these babies now :)

    UPDATE 6TH JULY 2000

    Thanks to Manu Pärssinen and a NES-to-Famicom adaptor I am now able to play NES carts on my GameAxe. The adaptor is made by NASA, the pirate company that is, and works quite well. I've tested a lot of European carts on the system and it seems like Asterix, flickers like mad when you enter the stages, and High Speed (PAL version), which stalls after the titlescreen, as well as a lot of other PAL carts wont work 100% when bing run by the GameAxe. Ufouria and runs like a dream though and one of the games which runs the best, with colors and all, is Street Gangs, aka River City Ransom, the text is readable and the colors arent screwed up like in some other games, even the picture is quite clear.

    PAL Games tested (works unless stated otherwise):

    3in1: SMB, Tetris, Nintendo Worldcup
    Asterix (flickering levels, you cant see a thing!)
    Aussie Rules Footy
    Bad Dudes Vs. Dragon Ninja
    Corvette ZR-1 (bad flickering + cant see own car when not in lead)
    Disney's Aladdin (Stalls after the titlescreen)
    Disney's BEauty and the Beast (bad flickering)
    Formula 1 Sensation
    High Speed (stalls after the titlescreen)
    Konami Hyper Soccer
    Lion King (V. bad flickering)
    Mario & Yoshi
    Monster in my Pocket
    New Ghostbusters 2
    Noah's Ark
    Over Horizon
    Prince Valiant
    Road Fighter
    Street Gangs
    Super Turrican (cant see your shots)

    Click here for a scan of the GameAxe with a converter and NES cart attached.

    In case anyone wonders what kind of power supply I'm using for my GameAxe, no I'm not using batteries. Its a power adaptor from another clone and it has the following specs: DV9V 850MA (+)-(O-(-). Dont use anything lower or higher than this, it might damage the GameAxe, using one with a higher voltage and more MA atleast.

    Also, I'll be posting schematics for how to make a GameAxe-to-TV cable soon, but I need to make one first and will hopefully be buying the parts next week.