Famicom Disk System
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The Family Computer Disk System (initials: FDS) is a peripheral for the Nintendo Famicom released in 1986 only in Japan, which has its own library of floppy disk-based games.
Why It Rocks
- Reasonable price of ¥15,000 (US$80).
- You can choose to power the system either with 6 "C" batteries, or by plugging it with a power adapter that's sold separately. The system even surprisingly lasted quite a while with the batteries.
- Players could publish their high scores on some FDS games online.
- Many Nintendo franchises had made their debut on the disk system such as The Legend of Zelda.
- The adapter that you insert into the Famicom to connect the FDS to it has extra RAM for program and graphical data. It also contains a special processor that controls the disk drive and has an additional audio channel, which allowed for better music and sound effects in the games, similar to the FM sound chip found on the Japanese Master System consoles. Compare the music on disks to the music on cartridges with this link.
- Booting the system up greets you with an amazing startup sequence.
- The disks still had cons compared to the cartridges. They were more prone to becoming useless, mostly by collecting dust and fingerprints, and they also take more time to load sequences.
- The system itself also had reliability issues. Like the rubber drive belts that would spin the disks which would break over time. Worse, all of the parts of the FDS were proprietary, so getting replacement hardware for it is difficult.
- Only months after the FDS was released, developers already took some of the advantages of the disks for their cartridges. For example, Capcom released a game called Ghosts'n Goblins on a 128 KB cartridge, which is the maximum storage FDS disks could hold.
- Piracy was rampant. Developers could modify the 'Nintendo' logo on pirated floppy disks, which not only could get them to play on the FDS, but also avoided copyright issues, which in turn allowed the disks to be sold in stores.
- Nintendo got plans to release their games only on the FDS in Japan. However, they still ported some of them to cartridges for their western releases, some of them being obviously more inferior to the FDS versions due to worse sounds, for example.
- Nintendo had plans to release the Famicom Disk System in the United States of America by the end of 1986, but it never happened.