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Useful Notes / Dendy

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One of the best and one of the weirdest things piracy could ever create, Dendy brought joy to thousands of Russian kids during The '90s and was the console that spawned the first generation of console gamers in Russia. At first, Dendy looks pretty much like your regular bootleg Nintendo Entertainment System clone, but to Russian gamers, it was so much more. It indeed had almost the same fate as NES, just on a less epic scale. Despite being completely unlicensed by Nintendo (although the short-lived publisher of the console, Steepler Ltd., imported Nintendo's consoles legally as well), it boasted many achievements: Millions of sold Famiclones and peripherals, a really huge network with its own brand shops, its own magazine (a la Nintendo Power), a TV show (think Starcade or X-Play) and millions of obsessed fans.


The Russian counterpart to Nintendo Power began its life as Video-Ace: Dendy and, design-wise, was pretty bland. However, its publisher Video-Ace had some experience publishing a few movie magazines and a PC games magazine, and the design was soon upgraded. Some of the articles were translated from Joystiq, again thanks to the publishers' connections. Unlike most of its contemporaries, Video-Ace Dendy concentrated more on movies, treating video games more like "interactive entertainment", and didn't have annoying ads. Later, however, when the Sega Genesis first debuted, the Fun Club section rose in popularity and became a name known to Russian gamers as The Great Dragon.

As a bootleg console, the Dendy's library is made up of a large number of bootleg games of dubious or even non-existent quality. The system is also capable of playing legitimate Famicom carts due its nature as a clone console. Actual games did make it over via piracy, though they were frequently altered; this occasionally tripped Copy Protection and sometimes made games Unwinnable. While this lack of quality control would have stifled any bootleg in a traditional market, most kids who owned a Dendy didn't have any frame of reference to realize what they actually had, plus there wasn't much competition anyway.


Steepler's bankruptcy caused the Dendy magazine to split into two publications. One became The Great Dragon, while the second carried on the name of the TV show Dendy: The New Reality. The latter lasted only four issues, while its older brother underwent a 10-year evolution from inheriting the format of Video-Ace Dendy with some really reasonable add-ons to a magazine with loads of info on JRPGs, next-gen consoles and anime, while still retaining the stuff that was loved before (8-bit and 16-bit sections, mainly). And that all was until 2003, when the magazine folded due to lack of funds. A revival was announced but seems to have encountered Development Hell.

Kinaman created a feature-length documentary about the ramifications of Dendy's bootleg nature on Russian gaming culture at the time.

Several bits of the TV show dedicated to this famiclone, Dendy: The New Reality, may be watched here, subbed in English, or, if you're really interested (or maybe just happened to be born in the post-Soviet era), you may watch it from beginning to end in its original language here.

Not to be confused with the adorable little intellect from OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes.

The clone itself, as well as related hardware and cartridges, contain examples:

  • Brand Name Takeover: The popularity of the Dendy resulted in all Famiclones being called that by Russians, regardless if whether or not it was actually sold under that name. Meanwhile in Poland, the imported Famiclones were called Pegasus, after this particular model sold there.
  • Covers Always Lie: No, really. Always. Sonic the Hedgehog slapped on the cartridge cover of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers? Chip 'n Dale with its actual cover, but renamed to Grand Combat? Serious Sam from Serious Sam: The Second Encounter on the cart of Super Contra 7? And those are but three examples!
    • If a multicart states to have 9999 games or more, then not only the cover will be misleading, but the menu, too. Plus, some of the games slapped on the sticker may not appear on the actual cartridge at all.
    • Perfectly lampshaded by Kinaman in The Curse of the Grey Elephant, as well as Dendy Chronicles #7.
  • Follow the Leader and Shoddy Knockoff Product: Not only to the actual Famicom, but to many other Famiclones, not to mention the licensed consoles of the latter generations.
    • Dendy wasn't the first famiclone to pop up on the market, and it's not the first to swipe the Famicom's original design, either.
    • To make matters worse, some models had built-in gamepads, complete with no Select and Start buttons on the second gamepad, akin to the original Famicom.
    • To make matters even worse, Dendy itself had clones of its own, not manufactured by the now defunct Steepler. And even while those were being advertised as the consoles with better graphics and sound, they weren't really different from other famiclones (though it had completely nothing to do with the actual Steepler's clone).
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: A lot of the cartridge labels, if they were done sober or otherwise, were certainly sloppy and trippy, often using artwork that is completely unrelated to the game and often just looks like a load of random images that have been cobbled together for no particular reason. Case in point, the ones presented in Dendy Chronicles #8.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Actually, nobody knows what led to Steepler disappearing, although the man behind the company is now listed as a vice-president of Tenzor, who supposedly manufactured Dendys... Or, at least its parts. Some people think it's because of the high price of imported Nintendo products. Some say that it's due to sales network Lamport simply betraying their "parents", but we may never know what exactly happened...

Video-Ace Dendy and its Spiritual Successor, The Great Dragon include examples of:

  • Ascended Fanboy: Just see the Dendy: The New Reality entry below.
  • Author Appeal: Vladimir Borev, the head of Video-Ace publishing. Quote: Watching the game, playing the movie.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Some games, even if they were reviewed previously, get an in this case pointless re-review. For example: When Great Dragon was a spinoff, Dendy: The New Reality magazine reviewed Doom for SNES. Later on, when Dendy magazine officially died... Doom was reviewed. Again, for the SNES, around the time the PlayStation debuted.
  • Pirate Name Takeover: Ho Sung Pak. Who actually was the actor for Liu Kang in the first and second installments of Mortal Kombat.
  • Development Hell: The Great D is expected to be revived... And so far, it has resulted in nothing else but updates on the official website.
  • Doing It for the Art: Video-Ace Dendy and its following installments definitely had some soul put in it, inspite of the occasional mistakes.
    • For example, say you need to write a one-page review for Battle City. What you could put here, considering it's a first-generation NES game? But, naturally, one fan's review was so well-written that it included a basic premise, a description of the landscape and the ingame tanks, as well as wishing good luck to the beginner players. Of course, this may sound funny, but yes, it ACTUALLY is well-written, so now whenever it's needed to write a review on this game, the review follows a similar scheme.
  • Executive Meddling: Sadly, this is here as well, mainly in the latter era. The reason is that a Steepler wannabe, New Game, which is known for its Magistr Famiclones and having the gall to sell the initially free Sonic Megamix released a 'continuation' to The Cool Gamer, but it turned out to be nothing else than yet another 'Tips and Tricks for 9000 Games on Mega Drive' clone. Doesn't help that the exact same descriptions, as well as tips and tricks can be read out on their official website.
    • The ratings they've given to certain games also fits this trope to a T. Just for instance, how could Herzog Zwei get 4/10 while this, ehrm, thing got 6/10? And, moreover, how Ranger X would receive 4/10?! The worst thing is that the other books released afterwards seem to copy the ratings directly from there.
    • Here's their website. Don't yell if you will get a trojan on your attempt to save a page, though.
  • Fanwork Ban: Averted, for several reasons.
    • First of ALL, there is a 'Fun Club' section (it was even explained why it shouldn't be spelled as Fan Club) which accepted a huge load of fan work: Art, game story concepts, humorous psychological tests, fiction (no, not that kind), comic strips and more! And some stuff that didn't make it into Fun Club section or Art Gallery went as the tips 'n tricks pages' illustrations.
    • A bundled newspaper Dragon Plus which not only included several good (and not-so-good) outside-the-editorial articles, but also could be bought only from the editorial for a ruble each. Why so? Basically, it was allowed and needed to be resold by the loving readers who were dreaming about making money!
    • Some even made it to the editorial!
  • Otaku: Believe it or not, loads.
    • Lord Hanta was a massive one. How? In his 'alternate review' of Garfield: Caught in the Act, which was much better than its mediocre NES big brother, he was pretty angry, starting with how Nintendo Hard and annoying the game is, ending with him cursing the Garfield franchise. He also reviewed a Ranma ½ fighting game which not only was slightly better than Yie Ar Kung Fu gameplay-wise, but also got a bastardized US 'localization' named Street Combat, and had nothing bad to say about it, and even gave a detailed description of every character!
    • Wren also seems to be one.
    • Several fans who got into anime themselves or not without the help of Lord Hanta.
    • The magazine even had a small part for reviewing anime to keep the fans on their toes!
      • And even Console Wars style written discussions on which animation is better: American or Japanese.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Navi Kihcto.
  • The Stoic: The walkthroughs for NES games which were published from when Video-Ace Dendy was born and until the time when the magazine was about to collapse.
    • The Sega Genesis walkthroughs earn second place, because the walkthroughs for its games were posted even with the fade of '8-bit' part, but the games for it appeared a bit later than the magazine was created. With Fun Club being par with the Genesis section.
  • Title Drop: Inverted. The spin-off, which later became a separate magazine with the name of one of the authors. Ten seconds to guess his alias.
  • Wild Mass Guessing: Yes, the magazine even had this, on who the Great Dragon really was.
  • Spell My Name with an S: If you go with direct transliteration, it's called Video-Ass Dendy. If you aim for accurate pronunciation or are in polite company, then it's called Video-Ace Dendy. In either case, this is likely to be a mispronunciation of what is otherwise supposed to be "Video-Ace" in the original Russian.

The Dendy: The New Reality show and its follow-ups contain examples of: