In 1986 Sharp produced their own version of the Nintendo Entertainment System for the Japanese gaming market with an official license from Nintendo. What they came up with was a new version of the console combining the Famicom and Famicom Disk System together in one neat package. They called it the Sharp Twin Famicom, it came in three different colour configurations and it has some advantages over Nintendo's own original hardware.
Sharp was able to add convenience for Nintendo fans in Japan by making it so that gamers no longer had to deal with the Famicom Disk System's RAM adapter. The RAM adapter is quite large and plugs into the Famicom's cartridge port to connect the two systems together. Consumers would have to plug or unplug the adapter when switching between cartridges and disks. The Sharp Twin Famicom also only requires one AC adapter to function. The original Famicom Disk System required its own power cord or the use of 6 C size batteries.
Just like the original Famicom there are two controllers that are hardwired to the console and the controller cables are as short as ever. On the Sharp Twin Famicom the controllers sit neatly in a tray at the rear of the console. The controller configuration is the same as the original Famicom, with player 2's controller featuring a microphone in lieu of Start and Select buttons, but they have a very cool visual design. I really like the red directional pad and the giant 1 and 2 labels are awesome. My console is the black/red version but the Sharp Twin Famicom also came in a black/blue/green colour configuration as well as a completely red colour configuration.
The console does not allow for both the disk drive and the cartridge slot to be used at once. There is a switch below the cartridge slot that allows you to switch between cartridge mode and disk mode before you boot up the console. flipping the switch up to disk mode locks the cartridge slot doors closed. Next to the mode switch is an eject button similar to the one found on the Super Famicom or the SNES in North America. Pressing it causes the cartridge in the slot to pop straight out with ease. The Twin Famicom also features the same expansion ports as the original Famicom and Famicom Disk System so you can still use external controllers such as a light gun.
The Sharp Twin Famicom has one final advantage over Nintendo's original hardware and it is a big one. The original Famicom only provided RF audio/video output. Many gamers today know that this is the worst possible audio/video output available. The Sharp Twin Famicom however offers composite video and mono audio output over standard RCA connectors. While composite is far from the best analog video output, it is a huge step up from RF and looks way better when viewed on a CRT television. There is also an 8-pin DIN connector on the back of the Twin Famicom as well for RF output. When I first saw this I was very excited thinking that it may be for RGB output, but unfortunately this is not the case. Nintendo did eventually release a Famicom of their own with composite audio/video output which became known in the West as the AV Famicom, but this didn't happen until 1993, well after the Super Famicom was out.
Overall the Sharp Twin Famicom is a neat piece of gaming technology that can offer some advantages over the original Famicom hardware but I still find that I like the original better. Today, the Sharp Twin Famicom suffers from the same issue that the original Famicom Disk System does in that the drive belts in these systems have long since dried out and rotted away. It is simply impossible to find any Famicom disk drive with the original belt in working condition. If you plan on buying either an original Famicom Disk System or a Sharp Twin Famicom, make sure it has had the belt replaced or order a replacement belt. I changed the belt in my original Famicom Disk Drive and I can say from experience that it is no easy task.