A hardware clone is a system that is intended to play games from a console that has had its patents expire. These third-party manufacturers try to essentially emulate the classic consoles. The features of hardware clones will vary wildly from one to the next.
There are some that will only accept third-party controllers, which can be a pain when you are trying to fully recreate the retro-gaming experience. There are others that will support the original controllers. Game compatibility is one of the biggest problems facing clones today. As hard as the manufacturers have tried, there hasn’t been a perfect clone in the market. Most use a system-on-a-chip design that have flaws in one area or another.
There are a multitude of advantages to purchasing a clone. For one, classic systems sometimes came with design flaws, such as the notorious front-loading 72-pin connector for the original NES. Clones have been able to create better, longer-lasting connectors that won’t wear out so easily. This means no more huffing and puffing just to get a game to start.
Another advantage is that most console clones don’t have region lockouts that prevent you from playing imported games. For example, some NES clones will support Japanese Famicom cartridges, even though they used a different 60-pin connector. This opens up a much larger game library, because now you can play games that were never released in your region.
If you’ve ever tried to look up prices on a classic console in working order, you’ll find them to be prohibitively expensive. This is where the affordable clones offer a clear solution. If you want to polish off or build a new collection of classic games, but don’t want to break the bank in doing so, hardware clones are the only option. With support for the original peripherals and a much larger library of games, the choice is clear.