History of video games/Platforms/Nintendo Entertainment System

History edit

Development edit

Famicom Development edit

The Famicom, and by extension the Nintendo Entertainment System, was proceeded by the Color TV-Game Series. Development was lead by noted engineer Masayuki Uemura,[1][2] who was asked to develop a new more competitive and advanced home gaming system by Nintendo President Hiroshi Yamauchi during a phone call to the Uemura house.[3] This was part of a larger strategy in which Hiroshi Yamauchi decided to reinvest profits from the Color TV Game and Game and watch systems into further game products.[4]

Plans for the system originally called for a 16-bit CPU but a more economical 8-bit CPU was chosen.[5][6] Nintendo was able to further optimize the cost of the CPU by placing a very large bulk order with Ricoh,[7] who had an underutilized factory at the time.[8] This technical choice had an additional unexpected effect of attracting developer Satoru Iwata to the system, who would later become a key developer at Nintendo, and later serve as its president.[9]

NES Development edit

The Nintendo Advanced Video System, a prototype for the NES

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.[10]

Designer Lance Barr was charged with refining the design of the NES to make it appealing to American audiences while keeping costs low,[11] ultimately creating an iconic design.

Nintendo would attempt to make an user avatar system for the console, but this would ultimately be scrapped and shelved until the release of Miis on the Nintendo Wii decades later.[12][13]

Launch edit

The first NES sold in the United States on display at the Nintendo World Store
Now you're Playing with Power!
—NES Slogan, [14]

The Family Computer (Famicom) was released in Japan on July 15, 1983 at a cost of 14,800 yen.[4][15] Nintendo later released the similar Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to international markets. The NES saw its American release in 1985, and European release in 1986.[16][15] In the United States the NES was a dominant player in the market,[17] 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.[18][19] Fearing the word "Nintendo" might become a generic trademark, Nintendo promoted the word "Game Console" instead.[20]

Internationally the NES received significant challenges from the Sega Master System particularly in South America and Europe.[17]

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.[21]

Seal of Quality edit

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.[17] 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.[17] These policies were a cause of friction between some developers and Nintendo.[22]

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.[23] This inspired other companies to make their own bypass, though methods that used a charge pump or negative voltage spike could damage the system.[23][24]

Smash hit edit

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.[25][26] 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.[26] The 1989 television show Captain N was used to promote Nintendo products.[27]

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.[28]

International Adoption edit

Some regions such as India saw officially licensed versions of the NES released under other names.[29][30][31]

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.[32] This later led to an official partnership between Dendy and Nintendo.[32][33]

NES 101 edit

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.[34]

Legacy edit

61.91 million NES and Famicom consoles were sold.[35][36]

The Nintendo Entertainment System and the Famicom was succeeded by the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super Famicom.

Nintendo stopped producing new NES units in 1995, new Famicom systems in 2003, and stopped repairing Famicom systems in 2007.[17]

Technology edit

Compute edit

The NES CPU was a reduced feature version of the MOS 6502, a Rioch 2A03.[37] The CPU was clocked at 1.789773Mhz in NTSC regions, and at 1.773447Mhz in PAL regions.[37]

The NES had two kilobytes of RAM and two kilobytes of video RAM.[37][38]

Graphics edit

The NES had a Rioch 2C02 Picture Processing Unit (PPU) for graphical output, supporting up to 52 colors and 64 sprites.[37] The PPU was clocked at 5.37 megahertz.[39] The PPU had 256 bytes of memory located directly on chip, which was known as Object Attribute Memory.[39] The PPU had a number of limitations on what it could do simultaniously, notably limiting sprites to use only 3 colors at a time, with an additional transparency color.[39][40] However, clever programmers and artists often found ways to lean into or even subvert these limitations through guile and wit. 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

The Nintendo Entertainment System had 2 pulse wave channels, 1 triangle wave channel, 1 noise channel, and 1 DPCM channel.[37] 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.[41] A number of different additional audio chips were used in Famicom cartridges.[42]

Controllers edit

NES Hands Free Controller edit

Nintendo of America developed a hands free controller for disabled gamers, among the earliest of it's kind.[43] A chin mounted joystick and breath tube served as input.[43] The controller was chest mounted and weighed 2.5 pounds (1.1 kg).[44] A prototype was tested at the Children's Orthopedic Hospital in Seattle, Washington,[44] near where Nintendo of America was headquartered.

Notable Games edit

The retro section of a shop in Akihabara, selling Famicom cartridges in 2015.

1983 edit

Mario Bros. edit

A recreation of the arcade game.

Read more about Mario Bros. on Wikipedia.

1984 edit

1985 edit

Super Mario Bros edit

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.[45]

Read more about Super Mario Bros 1 on Wikipedia.

Wrecking Crew edit

An early Mario puzzle-platformer.

Read more about Wrecking Crew on Wikipedia.

1986 edit

The Legend of Zelda edit

The iconic 'The Legend of Zelda NES cartridge.

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.[46]

Metroid edit

Metroid is noted for being an early game with a female protagonist.[47]

Read more about Metroid on Wikipedia.

1987 edit

Final Fantasy edit

Hironobu Sakaguchi was a developer on the original Final Fantasy, seen here at Tokyo Game Show 2006.

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.[48]

Many elements of Final Fantasy appear to be inspired by Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.[49][50]

Read more about Final Fantasy I on Wikipedia.

Metal Gear edit

Early popular stealth game.

The NES port of Metal Gear was made without the involvement of Hideo Kojima, who disliked the NES version.[51]

Read more about Metal Gear on Wikipedia.

1988 edit

Famicom Detective Club The Missing Heir Volumes 1 and 2 edit

Yoshio Sakamoto, a key figure in the development a number of games for the platform, including Metroid, Kid Icarus, Balloon Fight, and the Famicom Detective Club.

An Japan only primeval visual novel that notably strayed from adventure game conventions to make a more story focused game.[53]

Character Ayumi Tachibana would later be considered as a Super Smash Brothers Melee character.[54][55]

Read more about the Famicom Detective Club series on Wikipedia.

1989 edit

Mother edit

The first game in the Mother series.

A documentary was produced about an unreleased prototype english cartridge.[56]

Read more about Mother on Wikipedia.

Tetris edit

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.[57][58]

Read more about Tetris on Wikipedia.

Famicom Detective Club The Girl Who Stands Behind Volumes 1 and 2 edit

The second entry in the then Japan exclusive Famicom Detective Club series.[53] Series director Yoshio Sakamoto was able to better work around system limitations to his satisfaction in this entry.[53]

Read more about the Famicom Detective Club series on Wikipedia.

1990 edit

Final Fantasy III edit

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.[59] This was done to avoid confusion at the time, though it caused some confusion later.[59]

Final Fantasy III was the first Final Fantasy series game to break a million sales.[60]

Read more about Final Fantasy III on Wikipedia.

1991 edit

1993 edit

Kirby's Adventure edit

The second game in the Kirby series. It introduced a mechanic allowing the player to copy enemy abilities,[61] 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.[62]

Read more about Kirby's Adventure on Wikipedia.

Gallery edit

Famicom edit

NES edit

NES 101 edit

AV Famicom edit

Sharp Twin Famicom edit

Other Console Variants edit

Controllers edit

Accessories edit

Games edit

Motherboards edit

Development edit

Marketing edit

Clone Consoles edit

Trivia edit

A third party company, Power 10 Inc., made a early motion controller for the NES that used mercury switches called the Hot Stik.[63]

Further reading edit

There is a WikiBook on NES programming.

External Resources edit

References edit

  1. "「ファミコン」生みの親・上村雅之さん死去 78歳|秋田魁新報電子版" (in ja). 秋田魁新報電子版. https://www.sakigake.jp/news/article/20211209OR0114/?nv=ent. 
  2. "Masayuki Uemura, Creator Of The NES And SNES, Dies At 78" (in en-us). Kotaku. https://kotaku.com/masayuki-uemura-creator-of-the-nes-and-snes-dies-at-7-1848184264. 
  3. "Iwata Asks". iwataasks.nintendo.com. https://iwataasks.nintendo.com/interviews/#/wii/mario25th/1/0. 
  4. a b Hongo, Jun (15 July 2013). "Nintendo brought arcade games into homes 30 years ago". The Japan Times. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/15/reference/nintendo-brought-arcade-games-into-homes-30-years-ago/. Retrieved 25 October 2020. 
  5. "NintendoLand - The best site for info about Nintendo's classic video games.". web.archive.org. 25 May 2009. https://web.archive.org/web/20090525223925/http://www.nintendoland.com/home2.htm?nes%2Fhistory.htm. 
  6. "NES". scf.usc.edu. Retrieved 7 December 2020.
  7. Arsenault, Dominic. Super Power, Spoony Bards, and Silverware: The Super Nintendo Entertainment System. MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-34150-9. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  8. "Iwata Asks". iwataasks.nintendo.com. https://iwataasks.nintendo.com/interviews/#/wii/mario25th/1/1. 
  9. Lane, Gavin (9 December 2021). "Masayuki Uemura, The Nintendo Engineer Who Helped Define The Modern Games Console". Nintendo Life. https://www.nintendolife.com/features/masayuki-uemura-the-nintendo-engineer-who-helped-define-the-modern-games-console. 
  10. "Feature: Remember When Atari Turned Down Nintendo And Sega?". Nintendo Life. 3 February 2020. https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2020/02/feature_remember_when_atari_turned_down_nintendo_and_sega. Retrieved 23 October 2020. 
  11. "Lance Barr Interview". nintendojo ~ a site to see. 13 February 2006. https://web.archive.org/web/20060213124455/http://www.nintendojo.com/interviews/view_item.php?1130801472. 
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  14. Koch, Cameron (21 July 2016). "Nintendo Brings Back Retro 'Now You're Playing With Power' Slogan For New NES Classic Edition Ad" (in en). Tech Times. https://www.techtimes.com/articles/170917/20160721/nintendo-brings-back-retro-now-youre-playing-with-power-slogan-for-new-nes-classic-edition-ad.htm. 
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  20. "'Genericide': When brands get too big" (in en). The Independent. 18 January 2019. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/genericide-when-brands-get-too-big-2295428.html. 
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  23. a b "That Time Atari Cracked The Nintendo Entertainment System". Hackaday. 22 October 2018. https://hackaday.com/2018/10/22/that-time-atari-cracked-the-nintendo-entertainment-system/#more-329497. Retrieved 25 October 2020. 
  24. "How Third-Party Game Devs Reverse-Engineered Their Way Onto Your Consoles (and Into Your Heart)". www.vice.com. Retrieved 28 November 2020.
  25. "The NES Was Once So Rare You Could Only Get It In Two Cities" (in en-us). Kotaku. https://kotaku.com/the-nes-was-once-so-rare-you-could-only-get-it-in-two-c-1686643953. Retrieved 27 October 2020. 
  26. a b "Oct. 18, 1985: Nintendo Entertainment System Launches" (in en-us). Wired. https://www.wired.com/2010/10/1018nintendo-nes-launches/. Retrieved 27 October 2020. 
  27. Weber, Rachel (3 March 2017). "Flashback: Nintendo's Gamer Cartoon 'Captain N: The Game Master'". Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-news/flashback-nintendo-entertains-gamers-with-captain-n-the-game-master-cartoon-124904/. 
  28. "The Nintendo Console From The 80s Made For Recording Gameplay Footage" (in en-us). Kotaku. https://kotaku.com/the-nintendo-console-from-the-80s-that-could-record-gam-1739086864. Retrieved 27 October 2020. 
  29. Patil, Siddharth (12 May 2016). "Nintendo And India :: A complicated Love Story". Gameffine. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
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  32. a b Calvin, Alex (17 December 2017). "How a counterfeit NES console opened up the Russian games market". Eurogamer. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  33. Muradov, Roman (23 October 2017). "Dendy's Dream Debased". Medium. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  34. Byford, Sam (11 July 2019). "A brief history of cutdown game consoles" (in en). The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2019/7/11/20690011/nintendo-switch-lite-game-console-redesign-xbox-playstation. Retrieved 19 October 2020. 
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  47. Tappin, Steve (5 August 2016). "30 years of Samus Aran: a feminist icon?". BBC Three. https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/39a1b88f-79dc-4602-8207-f86918afd457. 
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  49. "Dungeons & Dragons Classes Inspired The Final Fantasy Jobs". ScreenRant. 16 July 2020. Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  50. "» Discussion: Final Fantasy's D&D Origins". Retrieved 2 November 2020.
  51. "Turns Out Hideo Kojima HATES Metal Gear On the NES". Kotaku. Retrieved 8 November 2020.
  52. "Mega Man 11 Now Third Best-Selling Game In The Franchise At 1.3 Million Units Sold". NintendoSoup. 12 November 2020. https://nintendosoup.com/mega-man-11-now-third-best-selling-game-in-the-franchise-at-1-3-million-units-sold/. 
  53. a b c "Before visual novels, ’Famicom Detective Club’ writer recalls the genre’s limitations". Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/video-games/2021/05/26/famicom-detective-club-yoshio-sakamoto/. 
  54. "Famicom Detective Club: One of the first visual novel series resurrected on Switch". App Trigger. 2021-05-16. https://apptrigger.com/2021/05/16/famicom-detective-club-switch/. 
  55. Gordon, Justin (2021-05-05). "A character from Famicom Detective Club was briefly considered as a character on the roster by Masahiro Sakurai for Super Smash Bros. Melee" (in en). EventHubs. https://www.eventhubs.com/news/2021/may/05/famicom-detective-sakurai-roster-ssbm/. 
  56. Mattise, Nathan (14 March 2021). "Mother to Earth: When an NES prototype lands on eBay and inspires a documentary" (in en-us). Ars Technica. https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2021/03/mother-to-earth-when-an-nes-prototype-lands-on-ebay-and-inspires-a-documentary/. 
  57. "NES Tetris Players Are Using a Special Technique Called Rolling to Set New World Records - IGN" (in en). https://www.ign.com/articles/tetris-players-are-using-a-special-technique-called-rolling-to-set-new-world-records. 
  58. "NES Tetris Players Call It 'Rolling,' And They're Setting New World Records" (in en-us). Kotaku. https://kotaku.com/nes-tetris-players-call-it-rolling-and-theyre-setting-1846767518. 
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