Here it is - the fabled, mysterious portable NES. You've seen pictures of the Top Guy elsewhere - now find out how it really works!

The above is sort of a poor picture (do I make any other kind?). For one, the Top Guy himself is not African-American; he is actually green. Which is a shame, because I think the Top Guy would have made a great spokesman for racial equality - imagine the peoples of the world, black and white, holding hands and reconciling their difference via pirated Nintendo hardware. Alas, it is not to be, for there just aren't enough Top Guys out there to make this worthwhile. =(

Upon the initial discovery of two found in Hong Kong, most people in the NES community (me included) figured that this discovery would cause more units to seep through the cracks into the hands of collectors. However, this just hasn't happened because - as we found out when the Top Guy was opened - the units themselves are completely soldered and assembled by hand. They couldn't have made more than a few thousand units that way.

The Top Guy is a portable NES (Famicom actually, so you'll need an adapter to play NES games). Inside the box is the unit itself and an antenna attachment to let you play games on a TV set, although actually using this results in most TV sets in the vicinity of your home to suddenly display you playing some Nintendo game (which is why the FCC bans things like these, those party poopers).

Adding to the weirdness, the Top Guy actually has two power switches, both of which need to be turned on to play. One simply powers up the liquid-crystal screen, and the other turns on the Guy itself. Why they designed the system like this is beyond me, but there is very little to complain about beyond that little flaw. There are the usual buttons - Start, Select, and regular and turbo A and B, as well as a switch to toggle between using controller one and two. On the side of the unit is a Famicom expansion port, letting you plug in FC controllers and accessories.

The system itself runs perfectly and plays every game, FC and NES, that's been thrown at it. The screen is backlit and the graphics are incredibly clear with very little blurriness. The controls feel more or less all right, but sound is a problem - the Top Guy's one speaker is miniscule and starts distorting music even at low volumes, so it's best to stick to headphones.

Still, it's a very impressive unit and it's a real shame that these are nearly impossible to come by. Other portable-NES models are said to exist around Asia, so it's probably a matter of time before more discoveries are made.

Pic: |tsr