Tuesday, March 21

PolyStation, the console that ruined the dreams of a generation

Children’s biggest fears are the dark, the monster in the closet, and opening a present that turns out to be a PolyStation. At least for those born between the end of the 80s and the beginning of the 90s. There was no greater misfortune than a family member with little knowledge of video games who had to take care of the Christmas present, because there the chances that some unscrupulous dependent foisted on them increased. PolyStation making them believe that they were taking the console that all children dream of.

The hard years of PolyStation are over. The rise of the video game on mobile phones and tablets Gone is the need to find cheap alternatives for home entertainment. What happened to those disastrous consoles that seemed to be who they never were? What were they really like? Who was behind them? Why did they ruin so many childhoods?

The PolyStation, on video

What was the PolyStation capable of? How did it work inside? Was its build quality in line with what the “brand” was supposed to? Let’s see it in action.

PlayStation outside, NES inside

Although we know them mainly by the “brand” PolyStation, there are plenty of clone consoles with different names but quite similar architectures. The reason is that inside, all those clones were practically the same: they worked with a cartridge like the NES ones, although due to their design they seemed to contain a disc player. For example, in this photo we can see on the left a PolyStation that mimics the design of the original PlayStation. On the right, another one that imitates the design of the PS One, of the same generation but smaller.

Anyone would tell at first glance that they work with compact discs, like the consoles that they appeared to be. Not really. Another photo of the same PolyStation on the left, with the cartridge slot showing.

Polystation Nes Clone

A curiosity: most of the original NES cartridges also worked on these consoles. With a somewhat poorer graphic level than in the original console, but they worked. Another “advantage” of these consoles was that they could run both European and Japanese cartridges.

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The reason for the existence of the PolyStation itself -and clones in general-, as well as its operation through cartridges, is found in the birth of the NOAC (NES on a Chip), a technology that appeared in the early 1990s that allowed the NES motherboard to be reduced to a tiny and fairly affordable chip.



The arrival of the NOACs allowed not only anyone to make their own variant of the NES, but also to make it in any design they wanted: the spatial limitations of the original motherboard were gone. The only problem then was the illegality to distribute famiclones, as they began to be called making a play on words with Famicom, the name by which the NES was known in China, the result of the union of Family Computer.

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A) Yes, making famiclones was always illegal for a matter of patents and intellectual property rights. Guess who got up to it? Bingo! China saw the birth of several small companies that dedicated themselves to manufacturing them with the idea of ​​selling them, mainly, in economically underdeveloped countries to sell original consoles en masse, but with enough development to have televisions in the vast majority of homes. This explains why several Latin American countries saw a boom in these video game consoles.


Another basic requirement for the sale of famiclones in foreign markets was that they be countries that are as lax as possible with respect to intellectual property and patent laws. In the absence of total freedom of movement to sell these consoles, they resorted to limiting their trade to small surfaces, leaving out franchises and department stores. And now that you’re manufacturing cheaply and skipping Nintendo’s patents… why not save on your own designs and make them with Sony designs? And so it happened: the PlayStation gave image and name to most of the new creations… the PolyStation. There were other consoles that were also “inspiration” for these clones, here we can see a few.


One of the most popular companies to launch into the production of famiclones was GLK, acronym for Gold Leopard King. It was the one that even launched games like this soccer one. Attention to the penalty shot system:

This console also arrived in Spain, and with a stellar translation. “Gold Leopard King” mutated, like a Kafian cockroach, into “King of Leopard”. To hell with the gold. It arrived on Iberian soil with the slogan “New Computer Type” (without the ‘t’), and a vital maxim printed on the box: “Study and entertain, entertain and study.” For its design, they did not hesitate to put all the meat on the grill as far as WordArt resources are concerned.


Somewhat later, with the passage from the 90s to the 2000s, Rey de Leopardo threw the house out the window and went from the GLK-2012 model to the GLK-1239. Don’t let the apparently inferior name be misleading: it was clearly superior. It had a more ergonomic keyboard, they corrected the absence of the ‘t’ in the word “computer” and the slogan was improved: “Study and entertain, entertain and study”. And as if that were not enough, they included the photos of Raúl, Totti and Jeremies to try to sell more with the Euro 2000 campaign.


a trillion games

The PolyStation and company used to display commercial slogans on their boxes that made their purchase more attractive: “99 games in one”, when not “999 games in one” or directly and without hesitation “999,999 games in one”. As soon as you liked 20% of the titles, you already had to play until the day of your retirement. Of course, there was a catch.

It was true that the cartridges that contained the games used to offer several in one. The question was what differentiated them from each other. Often just the name (‘Bomberman 08’, ‘Bomberman 12’, ‘Bomberman 58’…), or the color palette used. We could play twenty-five different ‘Super Mario Bros’ that were actually identical, but it changed the color of Mario’s clothes or the color of the sky on the home screen. This is how games were added until they were able to promise eternal entertainment. Error 404: honestidad not found.


It wasn’t the only lie in the box. It was also usually indicated that it had stereo sound, but if the NES itself was already simply mono, the clones were more of the same: they had a single audio jack. Sometimes some deceptions, induced confusions and jumps to the bullfight of corporate ethics were directly mixed that directly caused nonsense such as the mixture of Nintendo and PlayStation logos. Why just confuse unsuspecting consumers with one brand when they could with two? In this photo, deadly quad combo: Namco + Nintendo + PlayStation + stereo sound.



Since most famiclones were hollow inside, since the NOAC and circuitry took up very little space, freedom when designing formats was very high. The casing imitated much more complex consoles or with a disc player, but in this case it was pure ornament.

Polystation 1 Inside

Interior of a PolyStation.

If the PlayStation designs were cloned, it was for the simple reason that it was the most popular console at the time, but as we have seen before, it was not only the Sony console that was usurped. In fact, it was the one that most popularized the product, but there were already some even before. The chronological order is like this.

  • First generation. NES / Famicom clones.
  • Second generation. SNES and Megadrive became the most popular consoles on the market, and therefore, the most used to create clones.
  • Third generation. The turning point, the beginning of the copies of the PlayStation, both the original and the One, more stylized and smaller. Here occurred the boom of production.
  • Fourth generation: New formats were created that imitated even portable consoles or media players, which used an emulator to run the NES ROM games. They were inserted into the device via USB.

Within the world of famiclones, we must make a nuance: Sharp released a model licensed by Nintendo. It was him Twin Famicom, which only reached Japan. It had some advantages, such as the possibility of inserting a 3.5″ floppy -some games only appeared in this format-, the fifteen-pin connectors for the controls that the Famicom had but not the NES, or a microphone in one of the controls.

This microphone was used for a few games, such as the Japanese version of ‘The Legend of Zelda‘, where we could kill enemies by yelling or blowing at him. It had no voice recognition, it only detected variations in the number of decibels, so it really didn’t matter what I did, whether yelling or throwing chairs on the floor would achieve the same effect. The incorporation of the microphone did not come for free: in exchange, it ran out of buttons Select ni Start. In this photo you can see both the Twin Famicom itself and the second controller without those buttons.

P Txt

Today the Twin Famicom can be found between 150 and 200 euros on eBay. The PolyStation, possibly due to its nature of a mere cheap copy, are not even for sale on this platform. A search with its name only returns results for RAM boards In AliBaba no luck either. The years of the PolyStation continued, and they were never satisfied with imitating the first PlayStation. The first was followed by the second, with a similar design, and then came the third, this time unfolded in the usual style, and also in a very strange portable version… with a desktop console format.

Video Game Polystation 2 Games 2 Controls E 1 Pistol 1250 Mlb4740376287 072013 F

Polystation 3 New E Sealed Mlb F 4540065544 062013 1


It was not something ephemeral

The worrying thing about the continuity of these consoles is that if they continued to arrive on the market, renewing themselves with each new generation and iteration, it is because commercially it worked put the deformed Sony or PlayStation logos on it. The forgery that didn’t even make an effort not to look like a forgery worked. The PolyStation was, despite everything, the most stable of all copies of famous game consoles.

Another unknown that surrounds the PolyStation is if these consoles were sold in video game stores, and if their designs and brands could cause them problems with Sony or Nintendo. The answer is simple: they took advantage of a small legal loophole and the very concept that these consoles had of themselves. Arriving at customs, they crossed them like simple toys. At best, as generic electronic gaming machines. Never as consoles registered with that name, as a group of lawyers points out to us. This allowed them to reach bazaars in the middle of the peninsula.

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Today, the presence of PolyStation, at least in Spain, is practically non-existent. Some possible causes are the overcrowding of video game consoles, something that has made it much easier to detect them as plagiarism, or the arrival of the smartphone and tablet, something that has turned children’s entertainment towards these devices. The cheap consoles that connect to the TV are not only unnecessary, but also a nuisance: they take up a TV, something that tablets do not.