O PolyStation marked the lives of many children born between the 1980s and 1990s, but not always in a positive way. The first version of the video game had a shell that resembled Sony’s PlayStation, including a possible CD player. Inside, an 8-bit console was hidden that was an “unauthorized” copy of the Nintendo.

To the children’s disappointment, the appearance of the PS One, which had 32 bits, with a much lower price made parents mistakenly buy the PolyStation as if it were a last generation console.

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The box even imitated the PlayStation font and even had images of the Sega Saturn, PS One and Nintendo 64 on the back. The packaging still promised stereo sound, even if only mono was available. Not only did the audio disappoint, the graphics quality was much lower than the original games.

In general, the finish of the device was produced with plastic and very poorly made. The controller mimicked the PS1’s design, which already offered 14 buttons, but some keys were just decoration. And to make matters worse, the wires were short and fragile, which forced players to get too close to the screen and hindered the game experience a little.

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Despite the pranks, the NES clone was a lot of people’s first video game and it was missed. In particular, because the console was much more accessible. Furthermore, the Nintendinho cartridges, European or Japanese, worked perfectly on the pirate device, which guaranteed the fun of the kids.

What year was PolyStation released?

(Source: Wikimedia Commons/CaptainMurphy/Playback)Source: Wikimedia Commons/CaptainMurphy/Playback

The PolyStation was launched in 1997, but only became popular among Brazilians in 2000. In the same year, the PlayStation 2 was launched in Japan and the United States, but it would take almost 10 years to reach Brazil. At the time, PC games were still rare and The Sims, a kind of preview of the metaverse, was a worldwide phenomenon.

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The technology that allowed the rise of the pirate console, however, emerged in the early 1990s. The development of the NES on a chip (NOAC) allowed the Nintendo motherboard, called the Famicom in China, to be reduced to a very small and affordable size.

With plenty of internal space, the design of the “unofficial” devices could imitate any other video game. This enabled the emergence of a series of famiclones, as pirated consoles were known.

Who manufactured the PolyStation?

It is not known exactly who created and manufactured the PolyStation. What is certain is that the clone was produced in China and violated Sony and Nintendo patents. The pirate console arrived illegally in countries in South America, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Europe and Oceania. The video game arrived in Brazil via Ciudad del Este, in Paraguay.

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Trader Ali Ahmad Zaioum, a Lebanese naturalized Paraguayan, even patented the brand and design of the console to extort other sellers of the famiclone. However, he was accused by the Paraguayan court of falsifying documents and information in order to obtain registration with the country’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

How much did the PolyStation cost?

The price was the PolyStation’s main attraction. The console cost R$99.99 in 2001, while its “competitors” like the Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation were sold, respectively, for R$659 and R$900 when they were launched.

The pirate video game could even be found in stores for R$ 1.99. These establishments were very popular for selling all kinds of products imported from China and were synonymous with cheap shopping.

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This does not mean, however, that the copy of Nintendo disguised as PS1 could be purchased by anyone. At the time, the minimum wage was no more than R$180 and the unemployment rate in Brazil during the early 21st century easily surpassed the 10% mark.

What are the PolyStation games?

(Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Boule De Feu.com/Playback)Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Boule De Feu.com/Playback

Besides the price, another big attraction of the PolyStation was the number of games offered. Some were already installed on the console. The sensation, however, was the yellow cartridges sold for R$ 5 that promised an almost infinite amount of games. Promises of “99 games in one” were not rare, when not “999 games in one” or even “999,999 games in one”.

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But, like everything else on the pirated console, it was all a hoax. In practice, the cartridge did not have more than 20 games copied from Nintendo or Konami, including some arcades. The total number was only completed by a series of very similar games with few changes.

Interestingly, the less famous NES titles gained a certain notoriety from their bootlegged sibling. However, many of Nintendo’s most popular console games were very hard to find on PolyStation cartridges.

In memory of the first version of the video game, SnowField Shot, a DuckHunt hack, could be played; TwinBee, a spaceship game released in 1985; Macross, known in Brazil as Guerra nas Galáxias; Baseball, copied from the NES game of the same name; Road Fighter, a traffic race; Jewerly, a puzzle reminiscent of Tetris; between others.

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On tapes, the options were much greater and it is almost impossible to make a complete survey of the games offered. Worth mentioning are Adventure Island, Battle City, Circus Charlie, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Hyper Olympic (known in Japan as Track & Field).

The evolution of the PolyStation

(Source: Flickr/Thomas Backa/ReproductionSource: Flickr/Thomas Backa/Reproduction

The success of the console was such that the clone did not stop with its first version. The PolyStation 2 was imitated by the second PlayStation and was perhaps the best of them all. There have been many pirated editions of the video game, some with a famicon cartridge, some with Xbox controllers, and even some with a gun. Inside, however, the console was the same 8-bit copy.

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The PolyStation 2’s big differential, however, was a built-in LCD screen (which barely worked), but promised to dispense with the need for a TV. The video game was powered by two AA batteries, which made it a true portable console. The video game case even had a compartment to store the controllers on the back, as well as USB ports (fake, of course).

The sequence continued with the PolyStation 3, released even before the PlayStation 3, and with the PolyStations 4 and 5. However, they did not present great innovations in the design and continued using the 8-bit platform, even when most videogames operate in 128 bit.

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Did you miss PolyStation?

If you had a PolyStation and want to miss the console, you can get the video game even cheaper than when it was at its peak. Currently, the console can be found on the internet for prices starting at R$ 30. Cartridges, controls and other accessories are also offered on e-commerce platforms.

But before buying the rarity, make sure the device is still working to avoid falling (again) for the prank. Unless your nostalgia also includes the feeling of disappointment when opening the video game box.