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"Hi. I'm Nintendo, and I kick ass."
The Angry Video Game Nerd acting as the voice of the NES
Nintendo Entertainment System

Nintendo-NES 360

Manufacturer
Type
Video game console
Generation
Third generation
Release date
July 15, 1983
(Japan)
October 18, 1985
(North America)
September 1, 1986
(Europe)
1987
(Europe/Australia)
1993
(Brazil)
Retail availability
1983-2003
Discontinued
August 14, 1995
(North America)
September 2003
(Japan)
Units sold
Worldwide: 61.91 million
Media
ROM cartridge ("Game Pak")
CPU
Ricoh 2A03 8-bit processor (MOS Technology 6502 core)
Successor

The Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, is the first video game console released in America by Nintendo. The console, known originally as the Family Computer (or Famicom) was released on July 15, 1983 in Japan and in North America (as NES) on October 18, 1985. It was known for its large library of both officially-licensed and unlicensed games, and starting off many popular video game franchises. The Nerd plays many games on it and owns both the original model and the top-loading model, as well as a household toaster modified to play NES games called the "Nintoaster".

Design flaws

When Nintendo released the NES in the US, the design styling was deliberately different from that of other game consoles. Nintendo wanted to distinguish its product from those of competitors and to avoid the generally poor reputation that game consoles had acquired following the video game crash of 1983. One result of this philosophy was to disguise the cartridge slot design as a front-loading zero insertion force (ZIF) cartridge socket, designed to resemble the front-loading mechanism of a VCR. The newly designed connector worked quite well when both the connector and the cartridges were clean and the pins on the connector were new. Unfortunately, the ZIF connector was not truly zero insertion force. When a user inserted the cartridge into the NES, the force of pressing the cartridge down and into place bent the contact pins slightly, as well as pressing the cartridge’s ROM board back into the cartridge itself. Frequent insertion and removal of cartridges caused the pins to wear out from repeated usage over the years and the ZIF design proved more prone to interference by dirt and dust than an industry-standard card edge connector. These design issues were not alleviated by Nintendo’s choice of materials; the console slot nickel connector springs would wear due to design and the game cartridge copper connectors were also prone to tarnishing.

Hardware clones

A thriving market of unlicensed NES hardware clones emerged during the heyday of the console's popularity. Initially, such clones were popular in markets where Nintendo never issued a legitimate version of the console. In particular, the Dendy (Russian: Де́нди), an unlicensed hardware clone produced in Taiwan and sold in the former Soviet Union, emerged as the most popular video game console of its time in that setting and it enjoyed a degree of fame roughly equivalent to that experienced by the NES/Famicom in North America and Japan. A Famicom clone was marketed in Argentina under the name of "Family Game", resembling the original hardware design. The Micro Genius (Simplified Chinese: 小天才) was marketed in Southeast Asia as an alternative to the Famicom; Samurai was the popular PAL alternative to the NES; and in Central Europe, especially Poland, the Pegasus was available. Samurai was also available in India in early 90s which was the first instance of console gaming in India.

The unlicensed clone market has flourished following Nintendo's discontinuation of the NES. Some of the more exotic of these resulting systems have gone beyond the functionality of the original hardware and have included variations such as a portable system with a color LCD (e.g. PocketFami). Others have been produced with certain specialized markets in mind, such as an NES clone that functions as a rather primitive personal computer, which includes a keyboard and basic word processing software. These unauthorized clones have been helped by the invention of the so-called NES-on-a-chip.

As was the case with unlicensed software titles, Nintendo has typically gone to the courts to prohibit the manufacture and sale of unlicensed cloned hardware. Many of the clone vendors have included built-in copies of licensed Nintendo software, which constitutes copyright infringement in most countries.

Although most hardware clones were not produced under license by Nintendo, certain companies were granted licenses to produce NES-compatible devices. The Sharp Corporation produced at least two such clones: the Twin Famicom and the SHARP 19SC111 television. The Twin Famicom was compatible with both Famicom cartridges and Famicom Disk System disks. It was available in two colors (red and black) and used hardwired controllers (as did the original Famicom), but it featured a different case design. The SHARP 19SC111 television was a television which included a built-in Famicom. A similar licensing deal was reached with Hyundai Electronics, who licensed the system under the name Comboy in the South Korean market. This deal with Hyundai was made necessary because of the South Korean government's wide ban on all Japanese "cultural products", which remained in effect until 1998 and ensured that the only way Japanese products could legally enter the South Korean market was through licensing to a third-party (non-Japanese) distributor (see also Japan–Korea disputes).

In-house NES games (made directly by Nintendo) reviewed by the Nerd

Licensed NES games reviewed by the Nerd

Unlicensed NES games reviewed by the Nerd

Famicom Japan-only games reviewed by the Nerd

Top-loader

"Well, we got another game on the NES, and we're gonna play it in the Top-loader. Yeah, we're being pretty fancy today."
—The Nerd about the Top-loader
The Top-loader (NES-101) is a NES model, launched in 1993.
Top-Loader

Trivia

  • The Nerd prefers review NES games. It's like his "safe zone"
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