Hackaday Prize 2022: An Eastern Bloc NES Clone

If Nintendo is known for anything outside of their characters and admittedly top-notch video games, it’s being merciless to fans when it comes to using their intellectual property. They take legal action against people just for showing non-Nintendo hardware emulating games of theirs, and have even attempted to shut down the competitive scene for games like Super Smash Bros. To get away from the prying eyes of the Nintendo legal team extreme measures need to be taken — like building your Nintendo console clone behind the Iron Curtain.

[Marek Więcek] grew up in just such a place, so the only way to play Famicom (a.k.a NES) games was to use a clone system like this one circulating in the Eastern Bloc at the time called the Pegasus which could get the job done with some tinkering. [Marek] recently came across CPU and GPU chips from this clone console and got to work building his own. Using perf board and wire he was able to test the chips and confirm they functioned properly, but had a problem with the video memory that took him a while to track down and fix.

After that, he has essentially a fully-functional Famicom that can play any cartridge around. While we hope that living in Eastern Europe still puts him far enough away to avoid getting hassled by Nintendo, we can never be too sure. Unless, of course, you use this device which lets you emulate SNES games legally.

8 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize 2022: An Eastern Bloc NES Clone

  1. If these are the same chips that were used in the Dendy and other NES clones of the time, it’s worth mentioning that while it can play nearly every Famicom cartridge around, it can’t necessarily do it well. Some of the N2A03 (CPU+APU) clone chips have the duty-cycle selections for 25% and 75% on the pulse-wave channels swapped, and similarly some of the PPU clone chips have a faulty implementation of color-emphasis bits.

  2. >behind the Iron Curtain

    No. Communism cracked in Poland in early 1989 with party allowing round table talks with opposition, by August we had first non communist Prime Minister, and year later first non communist President in first free elections since Soviet occupation in 1945. Pegasus was sold in Poland from 1991 onward. Main reason it was possible to import and sell Pegasus was fall of Iron Curtain.

    1. Yes. I think that one thing needs to be clarified. Pegasus appeared on Polish market after the fall of communism, but our social and economic reality was still hugely shaped by the previous system. General economic condition of society was not that great, so huge American or Asian companies weren’t interested in investing here. Also before 1994 copyright law in Poland was outdated and consisted legal loopholes allowing distribution od pirated software and unlicensed hardware. So for some time Nintendo clones and games were distributed in electronic stores and even after that it was easy to buy them on market places.
      This is subtle difference between “communist” and “postcomunist” country, that could be easilly overlooked by someone from the West. Iron Curtain was gone, Eastern Bloc fell, but we were far away from being “typical western country”.

  3. We had these clones in Romania as well. They were called “Terminator”. Used to play them in the mid 90s period.
    At the beginning of 90s we also had a Atari 2600 clone that was called “Rambo”.

    1. Same here, in Poland. Terminator was newer, cheaper and clearly cheaply made. Shoddy cables and plastic looked like disposable. There was no soldered IC-s, just one black blob, chip-on-board. Compared to Terminator, Pegasus was a premium console. Fun Fact – there was also a Game Boy and a Mega Drive clones sold under Pegasus brand.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.