Sure enough, the Super Joy Fun Stick Player Mech Game Player Game had a "NES on a Chip" in it. Later on I tested it and found it only drew 50mA of power to run. That's pretty low, a hacked-up Atari 2600 is usually 250-300mA. The next step was to change its 60-pin Japanese Famicom connector to the 72 pin American NES, so I could use domestic cartridges. To keep the portable unit small I couldn't simply use an adapter (such as you need with the Game Axe) because it would add length to the cartridge area. Therefore, I elected to build my own adapter using a 72 pin card edge connector and wiring it directly to the board of the pirate NES.
My research taught me the differences between a Famicom and a NES cartridge slot. The NES has all the same pinouts as the Famicom plus about 14 extras. 4 of those are used for the NES to access the "Lockout" chip on the game cartridge. (the Famicom did not need a Lockout chip to run) The other 10 or so allow the cartridge direct access to the Mystery Expansion Port on the bottom of the NES.
Nintendo must have given up the ghost with their expansion port, for if you look at later model NES carts, the pins that go to that port aren't even on the cartridges!
Once I had the adapter wired, I tried it out. Of course it didn't work, so I had to find a way to test my connections. I needed a Famicom game that went through an adapter, then into my adapter, then into the Famicom clone board. Not wanting to spend much on an authentic fake adapter import, I turned to the next best thing!
Smashed-open Gyromite cartridges! Yes, it's true. Inside some of the VERY oldest NES cartridges is the Famicom ROM PCB of the game, which goes into a Famicom-to-NES converter, and then the standard NES connector. I don't know if Nintendo was trying to use excess Famicom inventory when they made their jump to the States, but it's a great way to find adapters now!
(Look for specially UN-marked cartridges of old games like Gyromite, Stack-Um, Hogan's Alley or Excitebike. Compare the weight of the cart with another NES cart laying on the shelf, say, Deadly Towers. If the old NES cart feels heavier / off-balance, there's a good chance it contains an adapter! Smash it open and enjoy!)
Using my new super-adapter I realized I had two wires switched around. Ahem. I fixed it and VIOLA! The thing ran! I was running regular old plain jane NES carts on this whacked-out import fake Famicom thing! The problem was so simple, I could justify the 2 bucks I spent on the Gyromite cartridge. Now only if the ROBOT had a use...
But there was trouble in paradise. Even though the unit itself was working, I could not get the controller to work. My plan was to use the guts of a standard NES pad in my portable. Even though I had found the correct pins to connect a NES pad to the Famicom, it wasn't working! I tried variation after variation, beer after beer, but it just wouldn't take the gamepad signals!
The original Super Joy Fun Stick Player Mech Game Player Game had its own built-in joypad (complete with backwards A & B buttons). I wondered if a regular NES pad would even work at all with this thing. Heartbroken and in despair (well not that bad but it makes for good prose) I once again let the project rest while I worked on other things...