History of video games/Platforms/Nintendo Entertainment System
History[edit | edit source]
Development[edit | edit source]
The Famicom, and by extension the Nintendo Entertainment System, was proceeded by the Color TV-Game Series.
Following a decision by Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi to reinvest profits from the Color TV Game and Game and watch systems into further game products, the Famicom was released in Japan on July 15, 1983 at a cost of 14,800 yen. Plans for the system originally called for a 16-bit CPU but a more economical 8-bit CPU was chosen. Nintendo was able to further optimize the cost of the CPU by placing a very large bulk order with Ricoh.
In 1983 Nintendo approached Atari about releasing their console in the USA, and agreed on it until a misunderstanding at CES 1983 sunk the deal.
Designer Lance Barr was charged with refining the design of the NES to make it appealing to American audiences while keeping costs low, ultimately creating an iconic design.
Launch[edit | edit source]
Now you're Playing with Power!—NES Slogan, 
In 1983 Nintendo released the Family Computer (Famicom) in Japan. They later released the similar Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to international markets. The NES saw its American release in 1985, and European release in 1986. In the United States the NES was a dominant player in the market, and was so popular that it began to alter how people discussed gaming, with many people using the word "Nintendo" to describe video games in general for a time, even those not made by Nintendo. Fearing the word "Nintendo" might become a generic trademark, Nintendo promoted the word "Game Console" instead.
1983 also saw the launch of the Sharp Game Television (Also known as the Sharp Nintendo Television or as the Sharp C1 NES TV) which integrated a Famicom with a 19 inch TV costing 145,000 yen or a 14 inch TV that cost 93,000 yen.
Seal of Quality[edit | edit source]
To avoid negative associations with video game consoles following the video game crash of 1983, Nintendo used careful wording in its marketing to brand the NES as an "Entertainment" system, rather then a game console. To avoid a repeat of the poor quality games that caused the crash, Nintendo required licensed developers to limit game releases to two a year, as well as to censor overt depictions of gore and other sensitive subjects. These policies were a cause of friction between some developers and Nintendo.
Later on in the system life, an Atari subsidiary would break the lockout protection used to enforce Nintendo's licensing, though this resulted in legal challenges. This inspired other companies to make their own bypass, though methods that used a charge pump or negative voltage spike could damage the system.
Smash hit[edit | edit source]
The NES had a limited United States of America launch in New York City and Los Angeles October 15th, 1985, with a nationwide release a year later. These first markets were picked to see if the NES could survive in difficult markets, and retailers were persuaded to carry the system by only needing to pay for systems sold, with unsold stock being fully returnable. The 1989 television show Captain N was used to promote Nintendo products.
The Famicom Tiler was jointly launched by Nintendo and Sharp in 1989 at a cost of 43,000 yen, and added video editing features and S-Video to improve screen captures for media outlets.
International Adoption[edit | edit source]
Other clones were unlicensed, like the Dendy console, made in Taiwan for the newly accessible Russian market where it was legal due to a lack of Intellectual property laws at the time. This later led to an official partnership between Dendy and Nintendo.
NES 101[edit | edit source]
In 1993 the NES 101, a cost reduced version of the NES was released, removing the composite output and lowering the price to $49.99.
Legacy[edit | edit source]
Nintendo stopped producing new NES units in 1995, new Famicom systems in 2003, and stopped repairing Famicom systems in 2007.
Technology[edit | edit source]
Compute[edit | edit source]
Graphics[edit | edit source]
The NES had a Rioch 2C02 Picture Processing Unit for graphical output, supporting up to 52 colors and 64 sprites. The PPU of the NES was quite capable for it's time, and gave the system a graphical edge over much of it's competition.
Audio[edit | edit source]
Chiptune music designed to be similar to typical music on the NES.
|Problems listening to this file? See media help.|
The Nintendo Entertainment System had 2 pulse wave channels, 1 triangle wave channel, 1 noise channel, and 1 DPCM channel. Games for the Famicom often featured much better audio then on the Nintendo Entertainment System, as the Famicom has additional pins for cartridge based sound chips. A number of different additional audio chips were used in Famicom cartridges.
Controllers[edit | edit source]
NES Hands Free Controller[edit | edit source]
Nintendo of America developed a hands free controller for disabled gamers, among the earliest of it's kind. A chin mounted joystick and breath tube served as input. The controller was chest mounted and weighed 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg). A prototype was tested at the Children's Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle, Washington, near where Nintendo of America was headquartered.
Notable Games[edit | edit source]
|Dates are for the earliest release on the Famicom or NES. International releases often occurred one or two years later.|
1983[edit | edit source]
Mario Bros.[edit | edit source]
A recreation of the arcade game.
Read more about Mario Bros. on Wikipedia.
1984[edit | edit source]
1985[edit | edit source]
Super Mario Bros[edit | edit source]
First version of Mario as an adventure platformer.
From here on, designers Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka, developer Toshihiko Nakago and musician Koji Kondo would typically work together as a unit on future projects, to great success.
Read more about Super Mario Bros 1 on Wikipedia.
Wrecking Crew[edit | edit source]
An early Mario puzzle-platformer.
Read more about Wrecking Crew on Wikipedia.
1986[edit | edit source]
The Legend of Zelda[edit | edit source]
The Legend of Zelda is one of the most iconic Famicom and NES games, mainly because of the expansive multimedia franchise it started. Sigeru Miyamoto was inspired to make this game by his personal experience of exploring the countryside and caves as a child.
Metroid[edit | edit source]
Metroid is noted for being an early game with a female protagonist.
Read more about Metroid on Wikipedia.
1987[edit | edit source]
- Zelda II: The Adventure of Link - 2D scroller adaptation of the Zelda format.
- Mega Man - Known as Rockman in Japanese markets.
- Rad Racer
- Nakayama Miho no Tokimeki High School
Final Fantasy[edit | edit source]
The first game in the popular RPG series.
The game was named Final Fantasy because the developers thought it would be their final game before Square went bankrupt.
Read more about Final Fantasy I on Wikipedia.
Metal Gear[edit | edit source]
Early popular stealth game.
The NES port of Metal Gear was made without the involvement of Hideo Kojima, who disliked the NES version.
Read more about Metal Gear on Wikipedia.
1988[edit | edit source]
- Super Mario Bros. 2 - Remake of the Japanese game Doki Doki Panic.
- Super Mario Bros. 3
- Mega Man 2 - The best selling Mega Man game.
- Ninja Gaiden
Famicom Detective Club The Missing Heir Volumes 1 and 2[edit | edit source]
An Japan only primeval visual novel that notably strayed from adventure game conventions to make a more story focused game.
Read more about the Famicom Detective Club series on Wikipedia.
1989[edit | edit source]
Mother[edit | edit source]
The first game in the Mother series.
A documentary was produced about an unreleased prototype english cartridge.
Read more about Mother on Wikipedia.
Tetris[edit | edit source]
Popular game from the Soviet Union, licensed to Nintendo for home consoles in the west.
In 2021 a new technique for the NES version of the game was discovered where pressure was applied to the back of the controller to allow for faster inputs, allowing world records to be broken.
Read more about Tetris on Wikipedia.
Famicom Detective Club The Girl Who Stands Behind Volumes 1 and 2[edit | edit source]
The second entry in the then Japan exclusive Famicom Detective Club series. Series director Yoshio Sakamoto was able to better work around system limitations to his satisfaction in this entry.
Read more about the Famicom Detective Club series on Wikipedia.
1990[edit | edit source]
Final Fantasy III[edit | edit source]
Not to be confused with the North American Final Fantasy III for the SNES, which was Final Fantasy VI in other regions but had its name changed in North America to avoid skipping missed releases. This was done to avoid confusion at the time, though it caused some confusion later.
Final Fantasy III was the first Final Fantasy series game to break a million sales.
Read more about Final Fantasy III on Wikipedia.
1991[edit | edit source]
1993[edit | edit source]
Kirby's Adventure[edit | edit source]
The second game in the Kirby series. It introduced a mechanic allowing the player to copy enemy abilities, becoming a series staple from there onward.
The game is considered by many to be make good use of the technical capabilities of the NES, having good graphics given the system limitations.
Read more about Kirby's Adventure on Wikipedia.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Famicom[edit | edit source]
NES[edit | edit source]
NES 101[edit | edit source]
AV Famicom[edit | edit source]
Sharp Twin Famicom[edit | edit source]
Other Console Variants[edit | edit source]
Controllers[edit | edit source]
Accessories[edit | edit source]
Games[edit | edit source]
Motherboards[edit | edit source]
Development[edit | edit source]
Marketing[edit | edit source]
Clone Consoles[edit | edit source]
Trivia[edit | edit source]
A third party company, Power 10 Inc., made a early motion controller for the NES that used mercury switches called the Hot Stik.
Further reading[edit | edit source]
There is a WikiBook on NES programming.
External Resources[edit | edit source]
- Video Game Console Library - Famicom/NES page.
- Nintendo UK Blog - Post showing design documents for the original Legend of Zelda.
References[edit | edit source]
| Parts of this page are based on materials from:
Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia.
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