Technical Information

Release Date
8/1/1985

History
Following the "video game crash" of the early 80s, the Nintendo Entertainment System was the system that resuscitated a moribund industry. The hardware was based on the Family Computer (Famicom) which had proved a success in Japan. For the North American release, Nintendo wisely avoided being perceived as just another doomed video game console. The toploading Famicom was remodeled to be frontloading, looking more like a VCR than a game system. Nintendo's original release also included the Zapper light gun and ROB robot, bolstering its claims of being a true "entertainment system."

Needless to say, the system was a huge hit. To this day many older people still refer to all video game systems as "Nintendos," a testament to its overwhelming ubiquity in the mid to late 80s and into the early 90s. Gamers were enthralled by the huge library of available software and the quality of the games. The last licensed game, Wario's Woods, was released in 1994.

Versions

There are 2 American versions of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) hardware. The first version is the boxy white and gray version that most people are used to seeing.

The second version of the hardware came out in 1993 for $49. This version was only available for a year. The second version of the system is extremely rare, usually selling for over $100 on-line. Both versions are pictured below.

It's interesting to note that several "pirated" versions of the NES exist. These pirated versions of the system play NES games (or, as the case may be, Famicom games). However, these pirate systems were not produced by Nintendo, and are illegal to import - in fact, they may be illegal in their countries of origin. There are several pirate systems out there, including 2 portable versions. Batteries on the portable NES pirate systems generally last about an hour to an hour and a half.

Specifications

Processor: Custom Motorola 6502
Speed: 1.79 Mhz
RAM: 2 KB
VRAM: 2KB
Graphics Resolution: 256x240
Color Palette: 52 Colors
Colors On-Screen, Simultaneously: 16

Top Games
Top Games Label
  • Legend of Zelda
  • Kid Icarus
  • Metroid
  • Contra
  • Dragon Warrior
  • Mega Man 2
  • Castlevania
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Gradius
  • 1943
  • Bubble Bobble