Nintendo Entertainment System

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The North American NES.

The Nintendo Entertainment System, first released in Japan as the Family Computer, is a third-generation video game console created by Nintendo. It was first released on 1983-07-15 in Japan as the Famicom, saw a test release in New York on 1985-10-18 and Los Angeles in February 1986, then a US nationwide release on 1986-09-27. The system uses a Ricoh 2A03 processor which is a modified MOS 6502 with an integrated audio processing unit (APU), and a custom picture processing unit (PPU). The PPU allows for smooth scrolling, something that was rare in video games of the day and really added to the playability of the system. The system was followed up by the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. At its end of life, the console was redesigned as a top-loader without a lockout chip called the NES-101.


The first NES game I ever saw was a VS. System arcade version of Super Mario Bros. (around 1986-1987), but I first saw the home console around 1987 at my baby sitter's house. They played Karate Champ, Super Mario Bros., and I think, Popeye. As I watched them play, I was really looking forward to a turn on it, but the older boy in my baby sitter's family kept playing non-stop. Finally, when he said he'd had enough and would let someone else play, someone in my baby sitter's family put their hand on the NES console and said that it had gotten too hot and might become damaged, so they unplugged it and I never got to play. I already didn't like the baby sitters, but I remember feeling especially cheated because of that. I never did play on their console because my mother stopped using them as a baby sitter shortly after that.

Back around 1988, my brother and I pooled our paper route money to buy the Action Set which came with the Zapper, two controllers, and a Super Mario Bros. / Duck Hunt dual cart. I still have the system, though it barely works now due to the poor design. It has become one of my favorite video game platforms ever made. We later got the NES Advantage, a friend of mine had the NES Max, and my cousins had the Power Pad. For awhile we had a Game Genie, and I also remember borrowing a Game Action Replay for a short time. The NES was certainly the most formative console for me, and I spent a lot of time designing my own games on paper that I was sure I would one-day make for it.

I own an Action Set complete in box with all the manuals, paperwork, and styrofoam. I also own two other original model NESes. Both are working, though one has severe case damage.


See all NES Games.

Initial Games

The NES was released in a variety of packages throughout its life. The 1985 Deluxe Set included Gyromite and Duck Hunt. The 1987 Basic Set could be purchased with or without Super Mario Bros. The 1988 Action Set came with a dual cart of Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. The 1989 Power Set included a triple cart of Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt, and World Class Track Meet. The 1990 Sports Set included a dual cart of Super Spike V'Ball and Nintendo World Cup. The 1992 Challenge Set included Super Mario Bros. 3. The 1993 new design Control Deck could be purchased without a game or with a triple cart of Super Mario Bros., Tetris, and Nintendo World Cup.

The following games were available at the console's launch: 10-Yard Fight, Baseball, Clu Clu Land, Duck Hunt, Excitebike, Golf, Gyromite, Hogan's Alley, Ice Climber, Kung Fu, Pinball, Soccer, Stack-Up, Super Mario Bros., Tennis, Wild Gunman, Wrecking Crew


These are the NES games that are important to me:




  • A lot of really great games were released on the platform.
  • The controllers, though not the most comfortable to hold, were very tough and could survive a lot of abuse.
  • The system's PPU (picture processing unit) was designed very well and provided some of the best graphic abilities of the day. Most other systems were seeing rough scrolling in 8-bit chunks, but the NES could scroll smoothly. Later hardware advances allowed 8-way smooth scrolling.
  • The APU (audio processing unit) built into the CPU was was the best audio for a home console at the time. While it featured the typical 3 pulse wave/1 noise channel structure, Nintendo engineers wisely changed one of the pulse waves into a triangle wave giving it a more robust sound. They also added a DPCM channel for digital sound effects, voice, and even sample-based music.
  • Allowing cartridges to include extra chips for additional functionality was a fantastic idea which greatly extended the life of the platform.
  • Nintendo of America wisely created an official magazine to help direct buyers toward the best games.


  • Despite Nintendo's strong control over the platform, far too many horrible games were made for the system, which led to the market becoming over-saturated with crappy games.
  • The available color palette of the PPU is pretty awful.
  • The system is not very ascetically pleasing to look at.
  • In order to eliminate competition, Nintendo prevented those developers who initially released their games on the NES from releasing them on any other console.


  • The spring-loaded toaster design had an engineering problem, and it was amplified by the lock-out chip. This caused most systems to begin experiencing problems after only a couple months and keep getting worse over time. Nintendo not only refused to fix them, but completely denied responsibility for their error.





Fan Art


NES Works - Advanced Video System.
NES Works - NES.
NES Works - Launch.
NES Works - Fandom.
NES Works - Region locking.
Did You Know Gaming?
Boundary Break.
Fitting a game into 40 KB.
8-Bit Guy - NES clones.
NESHacker - Lockout chip explained.



This is a list of my top 20 favorite games published on the NES.

  1. Super Mario Bros. 3
  2. The Legend of Zelda
  3. Bionic Commando
  4. Mega Man II
  5. Super Mario Bros.
  6. Metroid
  7. Super Mario Bros. 2
  8. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!
  9. Super C
  10. Contra
  11. Final Fantasy
  12. River City Ransom
  13. Blaster Master
  14. Mega Man III
  15. Life Force
  16. Guerilla War
  17. Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
  18. Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  19. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  20. Kirby's Adventure


This is a list of my top ten favorite game companies that developed or published games on the NES.

  1. Nintendo
  2. Capcom
  3. Konami
  4. Technos
  5. Sunsoft
  6. Kemco
  7. Enix
  8. Square
  9. Tecmo
  10. FCI

See Also


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