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Nintendo Entertainment System

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Nintendo Entertainment System
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Now you're playing with power!
Developer: Nintendo
Release Date: Nintendo Entertainment System:
JP: July 15, 1983 (Famicom)
NA/KOR: October 18, 1985
EU: September 1, 1986
AU: July 1, 1987
BRA: 1993
NES Classic Edition:
JP/AU: November 10, 2016
NA/EU: November 11, 2016
Successor: Super Nintendo Entertainment System
Competitors: Sega Master System
Atari 7800
Generation: Third generation


The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES or just Nintendo for short) was Nintendo's first major console as well as first home console and a westernized version of the Famicom, the console was discontinued in 2003, even though its last game was released 9 years before.

In late 2016, Nintendo released the NES Classic Edition that includes 30 NES games.

Background

Due to the North American video game crash of 1983, video games were seen as a fad so Nintendo initially had trouble getting investors interested in the Famicom.

Nintendo solved this by designing it to look like a VHS player and included the R.O.B the Robot toy as well as the Light Gun. With this, they were able to get stores to sell it by marketing it as a "Robot Toy Controller" rather than a video game. The renamed NES became very popular and soon revitalized the video game industry in North America.

However, in Europe it had minor success, mostly because computers (like the Commodore 64 or ZX Spectrum) and the Sega Master System were more popular.

Hardware Specifications

  • CPU: Ricoh 2A03 (2A07 for PAL) 8-bit processor (MOS Technology 6502 core)
  • RAM: 2KB onboard
  • Media: ROM Cartridge

Why It Plays with Power

  1. Large library of games, with over 700 officially licensed games, and over 100 unlicensed games.
  2. It had near perfect arcade ports of games like Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Mario Bros., Pac-Man, Q-bert, and Galaga to name a few.
  3. The two button (not counting start, select, and the D-Pad) controller is easy to master. What can be obvious in it is that the "A" button makes you jump, while the "B" button makes you run or do some other things in many games, which is a classic.
  4. The lock-out chip and Nintendo's strict regulations helped prevent its library from being flooded with shovelware, which happened to the Atari 2600. This changed the relationship between console manufacturers and third-party software developers as well as society's view on videogames.
  5. The front-loading cartridge slot on the original model makes it easier to use it in a TV stand with other devices.
  6. The hardware limitations spawned design principles that are still influential to modern game development.
  7. Includes several accessories like the Light Gun for several games. Basically, if you wanted to play several games without even using the NES controller, you can actually use some accessories to play games on the NES.
  8. The NES was the world's very first video gaming console to feature direct RCA output so the gamers could easily hook it up to a stand-alone RCA TV, rather than hooking up to the RF TV.
  9. Lot's of case mods were made by fans, like the Nintoaster, which the Angry Video Game Nerd uses.
  10. There are many great franchises got their start because of the NES Super Mario Bros., Kunio-kun,The Legend of Zelda, Kirby's Adventure, Final Fantasy, Mega Man, Metroid, Contra, Ninja Gaiden, and Castlevania just to name a few.
  11. It saved North American gaming from the 1983 video game crash. Without it, North American gaming would have disappeared a long time ago.
  12. Thanks to it using crosshead screws, taking apart the console is very easy since crossheads are very common. This was fortunate since later Nintendo consoles (starting with the GameCube) use tri-wing screws.

Bad Qualities

  1. The cartridge slot in the original model can get damaged from inserting and removing cartridges over time. It is possible to repair or replace it though. The Top Loader model solves this issue.
  2. The original game cartridges can be expensive.
  3. The original controller's square design can make it uncomfortable to hold due to the edges poking the player's palms.
  4. Even with Nintendo's strict regulations, many shovelware and unlicensed bad games still made it into the NES.
  5. The infamous "You Cannot Beat Us" commercial that almost killed Nintendo Australia's reputation.
  6. A regular American NES (original model) cannot play European games due to the cartridge using the PAL format as oppose to the console using the NTSC format, basically region-locked, and vice versa, unless if the lockout chip was bypassed. A top loader will play anything though.
  7. A large number of NES games were never released in Europe or Australia (there were only 325 games released on PAL regions).
  8. Due to Nintendo's family-friendly policies, along with ESRB didn't exists at the time, many games were censored, sometimes in pretty stupid ways, such as renaming the Punch-Out character Vodka Drunkenski as Soda Popinski. Nintendo's first party localizations still tend to be bad even to this day.
    • Because of these policies, some very great games for the Famicom never had an official English release such as Sweet Home, Devil World, and The Portopia Serial Murder Case.
  9. Though the top loader model has improvements over the original model, it lacks an AV output and could only connect to a TV using RF, which has much inferior quality and makes the system more irrelevant or impossible to use with a modern display/TVs without an adapter/scaler and/or even the AV mods (both unofficial and official). Nintendo actually responded to complaints about this by offering customers to have the console officially modded to include AV output. Consoles with this official modification are very rare.
  10. R.O.B. was a bad and pretty much useless accessory for the system.
  11. The original's flimsy body can yellow up very quickly compared to other units.

Maintenance

The NES's infamous reset loops can be attributed to the 10NES lockout chip. As the cartridge slot's edge connector degrades, the lockout chip in the console has trouble communicating with its counterpart in the game cartridge, and when the 10NES cannot verify the authenticity of the cartridge, the 10NES puts the console into the reset loop. The lockout chip on the console can be permanently disabled by cutting pin 4; the lockout chip is labeled "CIC" (Checking Integrated Circuit) on the NES's motherboard, and pin 1 is indicated by an indent on one corner of the chip. When disconnecting pin 4, be careful not to break any other pins on the lockout chip itself or any components near the chip, as doing so can potentially brick the system.

While disabling the 10NES chip will stop the reset loop, the console may still have a solid blue screen on startup if the cartridge contacts are not making a good connection; when disabling the 10NES chip, it is a good idea to either clean and repair the existing cartridge connector or replace it outright while console is disassembled. Also, disabling the 10NES chip makes the NES region-free, allowing PAL format games to be played on an NTSC console and vice versa.

Reception

The NES is widely regarded as one of, if not, the greatest console(s) of all time and is heavily praised by retro gamers and game collectors. James Rolfe, famous for The Angry Video Game Nerd, highly values the console and owns nearly every game made for the system. Rolfe is known for owning a "Nintoaster", which is basically a fully functional NES stuffed into a toaster.

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