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A new Nintendo System?
Nintendo announced a lowcost-videogamesystem for China in September 2003 freaks
from all over the world wondered what type of hardware they planned to release.
The very first rumours expected sort of a 'GameCube Light' but on TGS 2003, a
few weeks later, Nintendo stated that they will release a system to distribute
localized classic SNES and N64-Games in China on 21st November 2003.
Name of that videogamesystem is 'IQue Player' (roughly translated: God's Toy)
strategy is quiete simple, they want to sell lowcost hardware and cheap games
to the chinese whose economy is going very well over the last years. More and
more chinese people earn good money and want to spend it, still, they dont earn
as much as the usal worker in western countries. Thats why the idea is to sell
a affordable hardware and classic games. The Games can be transfered to an IQue
flashcart in a lot of stores in the big cities in China where they only cost around
$6 per download. By using a digitally signature they lock a flashcart to the bought
unit. That fact, together with the ridiciolous low prices on the game downloads
is Nintendo's strategy to prevent people copying the games. If you think about
it, its a good idea to offer games for download at only 10% of the usal price.
Its about to be prooved though, that this distribution channel is being accepted
by the chinese people.
We ordered the System from import gamers first choice
store, Lik-Sang.com. They sell two versions of the system which differ in the
content on the bundled flashcart. In the Bundle priced $99 you would receive the
full games Dr. Mario and Mario64 as well as 3 trial editions of Zelda: Ocarina
of Time, Wave Race and Starfox64. Bundle #2 costs $119 and features the full versions
of all 5 games. The games are the good old Nintendo64-Versions but in chinese
Why would this IQue Player be of interest to western gamers?
combines some very neat features on a very small space. Actually the complete
system is integrated in the controller unit, this means. there is the reader for
the bundled 64Megabyte-flashcart, a multi I/O-port for video/audio and a USB-connector,
probably supposed for linking-capability. All you have to do, is to connect the
device directly to the TV-Set. Technically its an advanced Nintendo64-System which
is capable to hardware-emulate SNES-Games too. However, don't cheer too early.
Before we can call this a portable V64/SWC with integrated N64/SNES there is going
to be some hacking required by someone.
Let's take a look first at everything
and speculate afterwards about possibilities some people might already thought
about including a few starting points.
When ordering at Lik-Sang.com,
you get a package with the following:
- IQue Player
- 64Megabyte Flashcart
with the pre-stored games
(differs depending on the type of bundle you have
- Power Supply
- chinese instruction manual
(we have a scanned
version of that manual on Dextrose)
- one AV/Sound-cable
(incl a neat power
- four scratchcards you would use to download new games in
Funny thing is, that the controller pretty much looks like a
Dreamcast-controller rather than a N64-controller. One also notices that the former
Z-Trigger has moved from the bottom of a N64-Controller to lower left side of
the IQue Player beneath the shoulder button. The flashcart is being inserted in
the slot at the frontside of the IQue while the AV/Sound-Cable is being connected
to the backside where it doesnt disturb the gaming experience at all. Above the
Multi I/O-Connector there is small USB-Connector. The rest of the button layout
has been transfered from the N64 and extended by a on/off-button which is also
being used to reset games and exit to the main menu of the IQue Player.
connecting the IQue to the TV-Set, you will notice that all menus are in (simplified)
chinese language. Its not a big problem though, since there are only two menu
options. First one leads to the content of the inserted flashcart and lists all
games including a picture to each title while the other option takes you to the
memorymanager for the savegames. The Savegames are stored on the Flashcard by
If you select a game, it is being loaded into the IQue Memory. This
takes around 15-30 seconds depending on the game you play.
We have included
some screen grabs to demonstrate the menus as well as the loading of games. However,
Nintendo confirmed that the IQue Player's Operating System is upgradable, so we
speculate that there is a possibility to update the Firmware sooner or later to
include additional features and translations. The bundled games are all the original
Nintendo64-Versions but in chinese language, so, there is not really much to talk
Inside the IQue
The Player, as stated before,
is based on N64 Hardware and assembled on very small place using nano technology
on a single chip. It should have 8MB Videoram, but we are not 100% sure. But if
Nintendo want to release classic N64-games which made use of the former 4MB-ExpansionPack
like Donkey Kong 64, they better have upgraded the IQue-Videoram to 8MB. Together
with HunterX we have checked the Pin-Layout of the Multi I/O-Port usign a voltmeter:
1 ... + power (input)
2 ... + power (input)
5 ... audio left
6 ... audio right ground
7 ... video ground
10 ... - power (input)
... audio left ground
14 ... audio right signal
15 ... video signal
is no real clue whether there is a RGB-Mod possible, for now, we can only see
the composite signal. The signal is NTSC by the way, so make sure your TV-Set
All in all a nice console in a controller that brings back
old memories ;-)
And last but not least, if you want one for christmas -
you may want to check Lik-Sang.com.
Cheers Actraiser & Hartec ! :-)