Having been on the internet for some time now, I’ve heard of a myriad of game consoles. Of course, most people heard of the more famous ones (the main Nintendo home consoles and their handhelds, Sony’s Playstation line of consoles, Sega and their venture in the hardware market in the 90s and early 2000s, etc.) Those who dig a little deeper will start finding more obscure consoles. Sure, Nintendo’s Virtual Boy and the Sega Nomad are examples of game systems that fall short of success. This is not what we are talking about today, however.
During a recent visit from my mother, she found a grab bag full of goodies for my son while browsing the internet. Included in the stuff she got for my son was a Game Boy-looking device that caught her eye. She thought to herself, “I bet Sergie would like this!” Thus, when she presented the presents she got for my son, she summons the game device in question. It took me a moment to register what I was looking at; then I realized what she gave me.
While I doubt this is the official name for this device, I’m sure there is nothing official about it. The Big Screen SUP Mini Display is a minuscule device promising four hundred games packed in. The console fits in pockets and boasts a HUGE 3-inch display! Without further ado: does the Big Screen SUP leave a big impression?
Firstly, what is more curious than this device’s name is its origins. I tried finding some information as to who made it. It’s evident from the box that it originated from China, but it seldom explains anything else. That said, searching for “Big Screen SUP” will turn up results showing products of a similar idea. Even before turning the game on, I am in tears over the box’s content. It comes with an AV cable to connect the device to the television, the system itself, a pitifully short charging cable, a hilarious instruction manual, and what looks like a knockoff of a Famicom (the Japanese NES) controller.
The AV cable has two connectors: yellow and red. Traditional AV cables have an extra white connector to offer stereo sound. That means the Big Screen SUP can only play sound through one audio channel (also called mono sound). This would be impressive if this were 1987. Since the device has a lithium-ion battery, it tells me it is relatively recent (at most a decade ago), making the prospect of mono sound hilarious. If that wasn’t bad enough, I can’t even plug the thing into my TV since the TVs we have do not offer an AV output. Not that I would want to anyway, since the cable is only 6 inches (15.25 centimeters) long. If I did succeed in plugging it into my TV, I would have to play it with my face glued to the screen.
The controller that came with the Big Screen SUP is atrocious. On the surface, it looks like a Famicom controller with extra buttons, but the controls are so stiff that it feels like I need to bend the controller for the inputs to register. I believe the controller is here so that the player can use it to play on the TV. Since that isn’t possible with my current TVs, the controller’s purpose is also moot.
The Big Screen SUP unit is where I will give some credit. The buttons feel adequate, and the build quality won’t disintegrate with a mere thought. Of course, it too suffers from annoying flaws, the biggest of which is with the directional pad. Trying to press “Up” or “Down” without tripping the “Left” or “Right” buttons is nigh impossible. Often I find myself going diagonal where I wanted to go straight.
Whew, that was already a lot, and we haven’t gotten to the games yet. Oh, but don’t worry, dear reader. I have a lot to say about them too!
Let’s start with the game selection. The Big Screen SUP has a whopping four hundred games to choose from! “Wow!” One might think when they see the big “400 in 1” title after selecting their preferred language, that is a lot of games! Four hundred games would be a lot… if there were actually four hundred games. However, the makers of the Big Screen SUP put roughly sixty or so individual games but either repeated them through the list or made a particular level selectable.
Now at this point, one might be asking: “What kind of games are on this thing?” Why bootleg Famicom/NES games, of course! This is what I wanted to see the most with this system once I found out what exactly I had in my hands, as these tend to have a bizarre list of seldom-known games outside of Asia or strange reskins of previously existing NES games. Let’s take a look at a few stand-out titles from the Big Screen SUP, shall we?
- Super Mario Bros.
Not a strange title by any means, but I played this first to get a benchmark for what kind of quality I should be expecting from the Big Screen SUP. In terms of gameplay, it’s Super Mario Bros. From the moment I pressed start, however, I noticed something strange. The music and sound effects for the game sound much faster than in the official version. I find it odd that, other than a slight color change (which I attribute to the Big Screen SUP’s screen), the game plays exactly like its NES original. Not an auspicious start for the Big Screen SUP.
Another classic I wanted to try as a benchmark: when I chose Contra, it gave me a list of weapons to start the game off. I selected the Spreader (the best weapon in the game). I soon chose another game since it was just Contra with no oddities, but made worse by the directional pad.
- Super Mario 14
Yeah, Super Mario 14 on the NES, my favorite Mario game! Ok, there was no Super Mario 14 on the NES. This is where I knew we were going to get some weird stuff. The game played well and made me curious about the original. It turns out Super Mario 14 is a bootlegged reskin of Kaiketsu Yanchamaru 3: Taiketsu! Zouringen, a third game in the Kid Niki series the West never got. I never played the other Kid Niki games, but this one wasn’t bad. It was hard to look at since Mario’s head was on somebody else’s shoulders.
- Chip and Dale 3
This is another game that caught my eye when I saw it on the selection screen. Chip and Dale (also an option in the Big Screen SUP) was a decent NES game. This one, however, is a hack of Heavy Barrel, meaning it gave Chip (or Dale, the graphics make it hard to tell) a mission to blow up a military base as the first level. I thought that was funny enough, but I lost my marbles when I saw a giant chipmunk gunning down armed soldiers. This was the kind of weirdness I hoped to find in the Big Screen SUP.
- Pika Chu
Before I dive into the contents of this one, I would like to issue a challenge to my readers: What kind of game do you think Pika Chu is?
I bet no one guessed this one, but here we go. Pika Chu is the strangest version of Tetris I’ve played. The only thing that makes it Pikachu related is his awkwardly rendered pixilated face in the middle of the screen. The game itself struggles to keep itself together, as clearing lines leaves a block or two behind, at least at first. The rogue block eventually leaves. Before it disappears, however, I can’t even confirm if it is active, as sometimes I can drop pieces on it, while other times it will go right through. After a while, the game crashed, so it isn’t even a stable version of whatever this is.
The last game I wanted to showcase is the strangest on the list. Dear readers, I give you: Bird Week.
Bird Week is a game where the player takes control of a bird and flies around. Flies around doing what, my readers are more likely asking? That is an excellent question, one that I cannot answer. I had no clue what was bad, what was good, what I needed to do, what anything was, or even if I could lose or win! What’s more, the controls made no sense. Since I was losing altitude (which, in my initial impression, I thought was a bad thing), I pressed buttons to fly up. After a while, I found the fly button but had to mash it to ascend. When I hit the floor due to exasperation and confusion, nothing happened! The game kept going! That’s when I decided I had enough.
The Big Screen SUP was one of the strangest pieces of hardware that came to my possession. I felt like I completed a right of passage by reviewing this thing. I saw similar products reviewed on Youtube. I’m glad I got the chance to explore the bizarre world of bootleg NES games through knockoff hardware. I enjoyed my time with the Big Screen SUP, but in an ironic sense. In terms of quality, this device has none. I would not recommend anyone spend money on the Big Screen SUP.