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NES Famicom (console)


  1. Specifications
  2. Competition
  3. Tools
  4. See also
This console is known under two, nearly equally well-known editions:
Nintendo Entertainment System is the 8bit console we all love. It's square, gray shell taught us the joys of plastic. The NES was released in 1985 in North America, Europe, Australia and Brazil after the popularity of Nintendo's Famicom (see below) in Japan. Nintendo claims it sold 61.9 million copies worldwide. Not only did it rejuvenate America's love for video games but it also set the standard for user interface (D-pad style controller and platform games) and business model incorporating third party software developers.

The Famicom or Family Computer was released in July of 1983 in Japan as well as most of Asia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Singapore. In South Korea is was known as the Comboy, where it was marketed by Hyundai Electronics. The popularity of the Famicom in Japan eventually brought about the North American-European release of the NES (see....above!). Nintendo had success with arcade games in the early 1980’s which lead to plans of a cartridge based console system, designed by Masayuki Uemura. The Famicom was sold with the Arcade classics Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. and Popeye. In the beginning the Famicom had some trouble gaining popularity due to a bad chipset but the product was recalled and with a new motherboard. By the end of 1984 it was the best selling game console in Japan.


The NES NTSC PAPU (pseudo audio processing unit) '2A03' was made by Ricoh. See the article on 2a03 about in depth info on its capabilities.

The Famicom had two additional cartridge pins to for external sound enhancements, from the Famicom’s Disk System, by rerouting traces in the NES expansion slot you would effectively be able to add expansion sound to the NES.

In the PAL edition the 2a07 soundchip is used.

A mapper is an integrated circuit inside of a cartridge that allows for more sophisticated operations to be performed on the Famicom/NES, including memory management and additional sound. A mapper would be chosen depending on the size, needs and/or resources, or none at all as was the case with Super Mario Bros.

Mappers that offered/expressed additional sound functionality were found only in Japanese cartridges, mainly because they easily implemented because of the Famicom's pin configuration on cartridges. In other regions, the pins for additional sound are found on the rarely used expansion port located on the bottom of the original console (top-loaders omit this expansion port).

These chips were manufactured by Konami, Namco, and even Nintendo themselves. The Famicom Disk System (FDS) from Nintendo, which plugged into the cartridge slot, was different in that it contained a dedicated chip, the 2C33, that added a pseudo-FM channel to the Famicom.

Many programs that spin out NSFs allow for multiple mappers to be used at once (mainly MCKs at the time of writing). However, it must be noted that implementing multiple mappers on a cart would be a difficult (or perhaps impossible) task. Only one mapper was used at a time on a cart as there was no need to be so insane. In addition, using the FDS sound expansion already creates a challenge with using multiple chips at once because there is no longer a small board to tackle, but a machine.


NES/Famicom is used in the following formats:
- nsf
- nsfplus
- nsf_classic
- famitracker
- 0cc-FamiTracker
- Deflemask
- ntrq
- wildchip
- allgear
- sample


See tools mentioned at the formats.

See also

- 2a03 (soundchip)
- nsf (format)
- nsfplus (format)
- famitracker (format)