Sunday, May 12, 2013


 Thats right its a BIG ONE ! We are here to discuss, reminiscence, and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the NINTENDO FAMICOM !! On July 15th 1983 the Japanese counterpart to the NES was released and the world was never the same. Lets start this off with a look at a short video of the  first time I got to touch/own a Nintendo Family Computer....

In 1983 just after the US video game crash Japanese toy company Nintendo decided to get into the home console market. The company had great success in 1980 with its first video game venture the portable Game & Watch series created by Gunpei Yokoi who is most known for another of his creations the Game Boy, I would just like to mention his best invention the cross shaped directional pad that can now be found on all systems since Game & Watch.

My Original from when I was a kid
And it still works perfectly today.

When the Family Computer was released only a hand full of games were available for it, but they were some of Nintendo's best Arcade titles at the time like Donkey Kong , Original Mario Bros. and Popeye which was the pack-in game. Nintendo was taking the "Form is superior to Mass " route in an attempt to avoid Atari's biggest mistake releasing large quantities of low quality un-checked games which caused the US Game Crash. To ensure this high quality the company placed strict licensing restrictions on developers. Licensing costs were high to say the least and licensees were only allowed to release a certain (low) number of games per year to ensure the highest quality. Think about it.. more time spent developing a game,and if you only had a few releases a year you needed to recoup your money spent on development and nintendo licensing. And with this the Famicom was an instant success, long lines and shipments selling out as soon as they were unloaded was a regular sight. Japan was suddenly hooked everyone from school kids to bussiness men. Many legendary game designers started playing games on the Famicom and also started their careers developing for it. Names such as Shigeru Miyamoto (Super mario Bros, Zelda ...even more) and Hideo Kojima (Metal Gear series, Snatcher). 

I love my Fami

Simplicity at its best
The system was still SO popular in to the 90's Nintendo was very reluctant to release its successor the Super Famicom, but did so due to the pressure of its rivals releasing new hardware. Regardless of this the Famicom stayed popular with consumers so it was remodeled for its 10 year anniversary and we got the AV Famicom and NES AV in N.America. The redesign cut down on costs to keep production and profits up, and incorporated an AV output to TVs hence the name AV Famicom. Software "officially" stopped in the 90's with the last game being Adventure Island 4 released in Japan on June 24 1994. Hardware production continued on the Famicom long after the US NES, and Nintendo halted Famicom manufacturing in 2003 which also ended their repair support on its system and accessories. This was not due to sales as leading up to its 20th Anniversary demand was steady with adults wanting to relive their childhood memories and start the dawn of retro-gaming.

AV Famicom, not mine sadly
The Famicom is a Multi-Landmark system from the D-pad & start and select buttons, to the Microphone in the second controller that allowed you to talk down prices in Kid Icarus, and kill sound sensitive enemies in Zelda (yup US was Denied ), and lets not forget the Famicom even had a add-on making it the first console to go "ONLINE" ( YUP! Denied again USA ). A special qwerty keyboard kit with manual was available to run "BASIC" the main programing language of home computer/game developers of the time. Dont forget the 3D headgear (sorry SONY) and lets not even touch the Famicom Floppy disk drive till it gets its own article Verysoon...

Family BASIC
3D Head Gear

Modem setup

If theres any doubt that nintendo kept its promise of "high quality" games just look at the many series that started on the platform Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, Metroid, Ninja Gaiden, Super Mario Bros, Zelda, Metal Gear and the list goes on ...

Differences between the Famicom and the N.American Nintendo Entertainment System are many and very purposeful. The visual difference is instantly noticeable and for good reason. It was believed that American buyers (parents) would not shell out large amounts of money for an electronic device that looked very much like a toy. This was the reason the NES looked like a VCR in style. This approach was later used by other companies bringing consoles over to the west, also adding unnecessary plastic because bigger was better in the 80s (NOT). The next thing one might notice is the controllers are hardwired to the console and as previously mentioned the 2nd player has a mic in it. The small port in front was used for many items most commonly extra controllers like the NES Advantage, Zapper or R.O.B. An eject lever sits center atop the system to push the carts out from this top-loading system which did not suffer as much from the misalignment of pin connectors like the front loading spring loaded NES. The Famicom DID suffer from MANY pirate cartridges and systems which were known as "Famiclones" this was  later stopped on the NES by a lockout device. We will do separate Famiclone and pirate articles later.

Hey Fatty !

SMB3 NES-    -SMB 1Famicom
It should be mentioned that leading up to July Nintendo's Wii-U virtual store is selling classic titles each month for 30 cents so be sure to grab select classics while you can. Well you don't need me to tell you the Massive footprint Nintendo leaves on our culture today or that more web sites are dedicated to the Famicom/Nes then any other console. Video Games in general are called Famicom by some generations in Japan today. Thanks for celebrating this anniversary countdown with us and be sure to check back for more Special articles detailing the Famicom's legacy as we get closer to that BIG day in July. 

See yah soon ..... game on!

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