Article: “Nintendo 64 Controller” Famiclone Systems: The Super Joy III and Power Joy Pirate Consoles

This is an improved, rewritten upgrade of a post I wrote in 2012 when I got the Power Joy system described below.  These things are pretty interesting pirate game units, and it’s cool to have a few of them. 🙂


In Asia, unlicensed pirate clones of consoles were popular from the early days of the industry. Pirate Famicom (NES) consoles and games were particularly popular; there are a huge number of them out there if you look! China and Taiwan particularly have very weak enforcement of intellectual property laws, so companies like Nintendo couldn’t do much to stop the pirates. Pirate products were much harder to find in places like the US though, because here it is much easier to shut down pirates. However, in the early ’00s, a few companies tried to release pirate Famicom clone systems in the US despite their obvious illegality. These systems were widely sold, particularly in stalls in malls across the country. They use Nintendo 64 controller-shaped handhelds as the console, because by that point a NES could be emulated on a single chip, a style often called a “NES-on-a-chip” system. I presume the N64 controller was chosen as a design for these US models because of the system’s popularity here.

Perhaps inspiring these N64-alike Famicom clones was Jakks Pacific. Also in the early ’00s, for a little while plug-in systems gained popularity. These are videogame systems which don’t require separate games, but just plug in to a television via the composite jacks, usually with only red and white plugs for only mono audio. Often they have batteries instead of a power supply. Jakks Pacific was the most successful at this. They made legitimate products, mostly licensed re-releases of old Activision games for the Atari 2600 and such, along with new games as well. Though the fad later faded, for a few years Jakks Pacific plugin systems were everywhere.

These “N64” Famiclones were released during this period, and probably were meant to build on the plug-ins’ popularity. I do remember seeing a stall in the Maine Mall selling at least one of the “N64” Famiclone systems, which seemed interesting but obviously illegal. I was wondering how they could do that… and then Nintendo answered the question shortly afterwards, when they got some “N64” Famiclone distributors arrested in 2004, seizing tens of thousands of unsold systems as well. With those arrests this kind of blatant pirate-system sales in the US stopped. So yeah, that answered my question. For details see the links section below, I’m not going to cover the whole history here. Many systems sold before that though, so these shouldn’t be too hard to find. I have two of these systems which I got for cheap several years ago. Both do have a Famicom cartridge port, but also have built-in games. They can run on batteries, just like those Jakks Pacific systems, but one also came with an AC adapter.


The first “N64 Controller” Famiclone I got is called the Super Joy III. This is the N64-controller Famiclone that was the most widely distributed in the US in the early 2000s, and actually seems to have released after the Power Joy below. This is also the system that Nintendo cracked down on. This system came with just the controller/system and a light gun that plugs in to it, for light-gun games. I got it for a few bucks used. The system looks like an N64 controller, but a third-rate pirate one. It has the usual three-prong design, though you don’t actually use the middle prong. While there is an “analog stick” in the middle, it doesn’t actually move or work, you use the d-pad on the left prong to play. On the right, the controls on both systems are laid out similarly: the A and B buttons are on the N64’s C buttons (lower for regular, upper for turbo); Start and Select are on A and B on the N64; and the N64 Start button is Reset. Power is a switch on the side. It works, though it doesn’t feel great. This system feels cheap and bad, and I don’t like that the joystick is fake. Super Joy III systems apparently come in a variety of colors, thoug the guns all look similar. The link below shows several different colors of Super Joy III systems.

For power, the Super Joy III requires AA batteries. There is an AC adapter for the system, but sadly I don’t have it. The batteries go in a removable box that goes into where the controller pak port would be in an N64 controller. I think this works well, putting batteries in the most natural place for them in this controller style. The battery box is annoying, though, as it’s far too hard to open! I wish you could just put the batteries in the end of the controller, but no, you’ve got to try to pry apart this box every time you have to change them. Not good. This really is a flaw because of how much of a pain getting that battery box apart is.

For accessories, the only one I have is that light gun. It plugs in to a port on the back of the console and looks like a small pistol. It’s a very average light gun, and like all light guns will only work with a non-HD CRT screen. It’s nice to have the gun though, otherwise you can’t play light-gun games. Unfortunately I don’t have a second controller for the Super Joy III, but my Power Joy did come with the second controller, and both should work fine with either system, or other Famiclones that use this style of Atari/Sega 9-pin ports. The Super Joy light gun plugs into this port as well, so you can’t use it on a regular NES, or anything else other than compatible Famiclones. From looking at pictures, the Super Joy III’s second controller looks sort of like a 6-button Genesis controller and says “Power Player” on it.

For games, the Super Joy III has some games built in to the system, and though this was not really advertised it also has a fully functional Famicom game port. You can’t plug NES carts into the cartridge port ports unless you have a FC-to-NES adapter, and real Famicom games may or may not work — the port is there, but again most Power Joy and Super Joy III systems have things blocking parts of the port that don’t allow all Famicom games to connect. I wouldn’t want to use these things as a Famicom anyway, so this doesn’t bother me too much, but it is poor design. You were mostly supposed to play this system with the built-in games, though. It’s effectively a pirate Famicom multicart built in to the system that plays if no cart is inserted, and it’s interesting; this system was my first experience with such things. It’s one of those multicarts with lots and lots of “different” games that aren’t any different at all… that is to say, lots of padding. It claims “76,000 games in one!” but of course that is a lie, there are maybe 1/1000th that many games at most. These multicarts often claim to have “thousands” of games, but only have maybe a few dozen, and the rest are repeats of the same ones over and over. Heh. Also the names are often changed in teh list, but the actual games here are just as they originally were, excepting only games which are actually just a single level of another title. There are a fair number of games to play on the cart, though, plenty for many hours of fun. Note that different irevisions of the Super Joy have different numbers of games and some different actual games built in; see the links below for more, I only have one of these myself.

The system is flimsy and not built well; compared to the below Power Joy, this system definitely feels cheaper. That battery box also is a real pain, and is required because I don’t have the AC adapter. Ugh. Overall, I don’t use either of these systems much, but in the rare case I do want to play one of them, it’s going to be the Power Joy. It’s not only that I have it complete, it’s also a better package with more to offer. Still, if you see a Super Joy III for very cheap, with the gun, pick it up. It’s an amusing thing to have.

POWER JOY: The System

I got a complete-in-box Power Joy Famiclone for $5 several years ago. Compared to the Super Joy III, this one is more complete, and better too. It’s cool to have the box, instructions with complete game list with descriptions and controls, and accessories — a second controller, AC adapter, and 84-in-1 Famicom multicart as well. The system looked unused, as though it wasn’t sealed, there were plastic baggies around the parts, and everything was wrapped in plastic ties. Huh. The Power Joy aparently only comes in white, but it looks nice so that’s fine with me.

Anyway, the thing is another pirate Famiclone, of course. The thing has an interesting design, though — while it also uses an N64-controller design, uniquely they decided to integrate the light gun into the controller. Yes, this is a system, controller, and light gun all in one! It’s kind of neat. There is this clear plastic cone that contains a sensor protruding out of the controller. You point it at the screen for gun games. It actually works, though of course as always only will work on non-HD CRTs. And of course just like the Super Joy III, the Power Joy has a Famicom cartridge port on the bottom as well, for playing games not built into the system.The system has decent Famicom emulation, but I’m sure there are games it won’t work with. You can’t even plug all of the Famicom games I have into this system; because of a small port with some plastic pieces right on the edges, larger carts or carts with the wrong-shaped corners won’t fit. Famiclones have a fairly standard list of games that won’t work with them that you can find on the internet, and I’m sure both of these have those same limitations, but because I do not have a Famicom-to-NES adapter I can’t test them with NES games. Really though, again I didn’t get these things to play other games on, so I don’t mind — but if you were planning on doing that, do keep in mind that it may or may not work, depending on the cart and game.

For controls, the Power Joy has the usual three-prong design, but unlike the Super Joy III it actually has a real stick in the center and not just a fake knob of plastic. The center handle is comfortable as you expect from a N64-style controller. There is a button where the ‘Z’ button is on an N64 controller that is the light guns’ trigger. This works great, integrating the gun into the controller was a good idea. For normal games, the layout is very similar to the Super Joy III, but with two changes.  First, this time the stick actually works, and second, the power button is in the middle along with Reset, instead of on the side.  You have your usual N64-controller-knockoff design, with Start and Select in the A and B button locations, and the Famicom’s A and B buttons on the C buttons. The lower pair are the normal buttons, and the upper pair for turbo. And no, they aren’t any bigger than C buttons. Heck, the Power Joy even leaves the C button arrows on them, no other labels! It works, but bigger buttons for the main action buttons might have been nice. Oh well.

Though the Power Joy does have a working joystick, the stick is digital and not analog. Of course NES games do not support analog control so that is the only way it could be, but for playing digital-control games, a d-pad is usually better than an analog stick…. Usually. Either way on that, though, giving you the option is better than the Super Joy III’s fake plastic “stick” that doesn’t actually move. And you mgiht want to use the stick even though they are usually worse than d-pads, because the d-pad on the Power Joys actual control goes) stick. This is good, because the d-pad isn’t particularly good; though I expected to use the pad, while playing this system I soon found myself mostly using the stick. It only works okay, but it’s still better than the d-pad. As for the buttons, they are small but do work. As I said earlier the center prong works well as a light gun. I can’t hit much of anything at any distance, but that’s just because i am terrible at hititng anything with light guns even if they are accurate, so I don’t know if it’s actually worse than a NES Zapper; it’s probably fine. Again the controller/gun hybrid design is cool, works well, and looks better than you’d think — this doesn’t look super cheap, and feels like it has better construction than, for instance, the Super Joy III.

The system came with a controller for player two. It plugs in to a 9-pin Atari/Sega-style port on the first controller. The second controller has a different button orientation, design and d-pad from the main one, but it works fine. It looks like the original-style Playstation controller, with d-pad on the left, buttons on the right, and no analog sticks. It has hand-grips just like the PS1 did. It’s nice to have it, and as I said it works iwth the Super Joy III as well. I like the N64 controller more than the PS1 one of course so I’d rather use the main system anyway, but this is great to have.

The battery compartment is far better designed in the Power Joy too — you just open the flap and put batteries in. However, the Power Joy uses only AAA batteries, not AAs like the Super Joy III, so it gets worse battery life. Of course, the thing came with the AC adapter in the box, so I don’t care much about that because I can just use AC power, which is great. I don’t think the Super Joy III came with an AC adapter, even if I did have that complete, so this system is better in that respect for sure.

POWER JOY: The Games

As for games, the Power Joy has ten built-in games and a Famicom multicart. The Power Joy has only ten built in games, far fewer than the Super Joy III’s internal multicart, but they are really interesting because they are actually semi-original. These games are modified versions of NES games. Yes, interestingly, the ten built in games aren’t just straight rom dumps — they’ve got redone graphics or gameplay in all ten of them. The gameplay is the same in most cases (Tengen Tetris was significantly altered, but the others are the same), but the graphics are different, which is quite unexpected. Seeing these ten games is probably the most interesting thing about the Power Joy, and you can’t play them elsewhere unless they also exist in pirate Famicom cartridges because they are built in to the system. Of the games, two pairs of three are light-gun games to work with the gun. They are modes from Duck Hunt and Hogan’s Alley, split up into three separate “games” for each titles so as to pad the game total I assume. The graphical changes make them worth a look; the gameplay didn’t change, but the visuals have. The other four games, which don’t use the light gun, are actually different, full titles. They are modified versions of real NES/FC games, but these are even more changed than the “six” light-gun games.

Now, while eight of the nine games built in to the system are just graphically-changed early Famicom games, the version of Tengen Tetris is different. The graphics are unaltered, except for one thing — the pieces are all removed and replaced with completely different shapes. There’s a single block, a two block line, the “three long with one sticking out in the middle” Tetris shape, a 5-block U, a 3-block diagonal shape (like the third one in this description but with the center block removed – and no, this is Tetris so they won’t fall down once placed above a space.), a 3-block corner piece, and that piece with the center piece removed (leaving two pieces diagonal to eachother). Yeah, it makes for a seriously weird game of Tetris. It’s not as good as regular Tetris, but it’s very cool stuff, worth a look if you can somehow play it.

The Famicom multicart is an 84-in-1 cart “PJ-008”. Apparently earlier Power Joy systems have a worse “PJ-001” multicart which has only 64 games, some of which are doubles, but I have the better one thankfully. The multicart came in the box is much more conventional, however — it’s just straight roms of 84 early Famicom games. They don’t even change the names of most of them, unlike most pirate Famicom multicarts, so stuff like Gradius, Challenger, The Goonies, Xevious, etc. is all here in its original form and name. As for the games though, these games are all from the first few years of the Famicom’s life, so expect a lot of games from 1983 to 1985 and not much from after that. Some of the games I recognize, but others I initially did not. Many of these titles are very obscure in the West. B-Wings, Exerion, Arabian, and such may be known to Japanese Famicom fans, but here they are quite obscure, as most Japan-only NES game releases sadly are. Some titles are misspelled, but most are right, and the manual and game menu both have exactly the same spellings for the misspelled titles. One great thing here is that all 84 games on the cart are entirely different, so there’s none of the padding you often see in multicarts. This is great, but a couple of games are on both the system and multicart (though with different graphics on the system of course), which is kind of annoying when only ten , or really six, games built in to the system. Why not have separate sets of games on each one? Also, the multicart has almost no lightgun games on it. The only lightgun game on the multicart is the Duck Hunt skeet mode again, which is also redrawn on the system, so there are really only two games to use with the light gun, Duck Hunt and Hogan’s Alley. If you want to do anything else with it, you’ll need to import some Japanese lightgun games. American ones presumably wouldn’t work even with a converter thanks to the different lightgun formats — Japanese light guns plug in to the Famicom accessory port, a port removed from NES consoles in favor of our guns which plug in to the controller ports, becasue the original Famicom had hard-wired controllers instead of the ports we know. While I have several dozen Famicom games now, I do not have any Famicom light-gun games yet, so I can’t test if they work with this system. I would think they would, but I don’t know for sure.

Oh, and yes, the multicart IS a normal Famicom cart. It works just fine on my NES through my Honey Bee converter. This is pretty cool! I’d owned the Honey Bee converter for several years years since finding it for like $2 at a pawnshop, but the 84-in-1 was the first Famicom cartridge I owned. There were so many NES games to get that I hadn’t yet bothered with importing. It was great to see that the Honey Bee converter works fine, once I finally had a cart to use it with.


In conclusion, it was interesting to get a few of these N64-controller Famiclone systems. They are certainly not a replacement for a real Famicom, or NES, but they’re neat things to have, and are more functional than some because they do have working controller ports, game ports to plug games into, and light guns. I also love the N64 of course, so the shape of the systems was also a definite draw; if these looked different I might well never have bought them. I’m glad I did though, particularly for the Power Joy’s 84-in-1 cart and modified built-in games. Those are pretty neat things to play. If you’re going to get one, I’d recommend the Power Joy. The Super Joy III will probably be easier to find as it sold better, and it’s newer, but its Power Joy predecessor is better-made, more interestingly designed, and actually has some interesting games built in in those modified titles on the system. If you see one for a few bucks, pick it up.

LINKS – Good Bootleg Games Wikia page on the Super Joy III. This covers the court cases and distribution, and also has pictures of the system. – Bootleg Games Wikia’s Power Joy page is shorer and has less information, but there is a picture of the unit in box. – A nice web review of the Super Joy III, with lots of pictures and text.

About Brian

Computer and video game lover
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