Difference between revisions of "Nintendo Entertainment System"

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| The chip had a 16-bit channel so it would sound like SNES music. The chip wasn't endorsed or licensed by Nintendo. This was the only expansion chip used in America.
| The chip had a 16-bit channel so it would sound like SNES music. The chip wasn't endorsed or licensed by Nintendo. This was the only expansion chip used in America.
| [[FME7]]
| [[5B]]
| [[Sunsoft]]
| [[Sunsoft]]
| Features three extra square channels. It was only used in [[Gimmick (NES)]].
| Features three extra square channels. It was only used in [[Gimmick! (FC)]].
| [[MMC5]]  
| [[MMC5]]  

Revision as of 23:53, 21 January 2014

[[Image:Platform - {{{Icon}}}.png|32x32px]]
Nintendo Entertainment System
Released: 1983
Developer: Nintendo
Type: {{{Type}}}
[[Category: {{{Type}}} Based Platforms]]

The Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, is an 8-bit videogame console of the third-generation of home videogame systems, most popular in Japan and the USA. The console used a Ricoh RP2A03 for a CPU which contained a modified MOS Technology 6502 processor. The RP2A03 also contained the console's default programmable sound generator. There are special versions of the CPU for NTSC and PAL regions.



A complete boxed Famicom unit.

Nintendo released the console as the Famicom (family computer) in Japan on July 15, 1983. It uses the Ricoh RP2A03 chip for both its CPU and audio capabilities.

Famicom Disk System

The Disk System add on.

On February 21, 1986, Nintendo released the Famicom Disk System (FDS) add-on which used diskettes instead of cartridges. This unit has slightly enhanced graphics and an extra sound channel. Players can also save their data on the disks. The FDS uses an RP2C33 for an additional audio channel.


Released in Japan as the Famicom Box, the M82 was a console developed by Nintendo and released in stores that could hold up to 12 physical NES games at the same time and use 5 controller ports. The Japanese version could hold up to 15 games but they were built into the console, rather than there being physical cartridges.

Nintendo Entertainment System

The NES Action Set.

The United States released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) on October 18, 1985. Minor hardware changes were added to prevent pirating, but a full cosmetic overhaul was made, giving the USA system a very different look. This style of the console became the standard design for later regions like Canada (released in February of 1986), Europe (September 1, 1986), Australia (1987), Brazil and South Korea. On October 15, 1993, Nintendo produced a second generation version of the NES with a redesigned console and controllers. NTSC consoles use an RP2A03 processor as the main CPU and default audio chip, while PAL consoles use the RP2A07.

Family BASIC

The Family BASIC was a development kit for the Famicom which was developed by Nintendo in association with Hudson Soft and Sharp Corporation. Potential users could develop their own games and put it on the cartridge the development system came with.


The PlayChoice-10 arcade cabinet.

The PlayChoice-10 is a dual-screen arcade system that ran hardware nearly identical to the NES. It was released to market the more popular NES games in arcades and advertise them to potential buyers. Each machine had ten slots, each slot could have a special PlayChoice-10 game cartridge inserted into it. Instead of buying lives, players bought play time, and could switch between the ten games and play until their time ran out. For the most part, the PlayChoice-10 games are identical to the home game, but occasionally the developers would make modifications to the game, sometimes even the music. The PlayChoice-10 used the RP2A03 processor for sound.

Vs. System

A Vs. System arcade cabinet.

The Vs. System is similar to the PlayChoice-10 system, in that it allowed slightly-altered NES games to be to be played as arcade games. The Vs. System differed by allowing two players to play head-to-head in some of the more popular games. Also, the system took a more traditional approach so players bought lives, not time. Because of this, Vs. System games had to be altered a bit more than the PlayChoice-10 games. The Vs. System used the RP2A03 processor for sound.

Sound & Music

Every version of the NES used the RP2A03 for it's main CPU which had an integrated programmable sound generator (PSG) designed by Yukio Kaneoka. The PAL versions of the NES used the RR2A07 which was the same chip only with a PAL clock rate. The PSG in the RP2A03 contains two pulse wave channels with four different waveforms, a triangle channel use mostly for bass and percussion, a noise channel usually used for percussion, and a DPCM channel which would play digital samples at a low bitrate. The use of the DPCM channel was limited in early games because samples took so much cartridge space. Several expansion chips were made for the NES. These were added to the game boards of the NES cartridges. Below is a complete list of all the audio chips found in the various NES consoles and game cartridges.




228 Active Enterprises The chip had a 16-bit channel so it would sound like SNES music. The chip wasn't endorsed or licensed by Nintendo. This was the only expansion chip used in America.
5B Sunsoft Features three extra square channels. It was only used in Gimmick! (FC).
MMC5 Nintendo The Memory Management Controller 5 added two extra square channels.
N163 Namco Contains 8 wavetable synthesis channels. Most players do not properly emulate the chip, raising the notes an octave higher.
RP2A07 (PAL)
Ricoh This is the original built-in audio chip for the NES. It has 2 pulse waves, a triangle wave, a noise channel, and a DPCM channel. The only difference between the two chips is that the NTSC version ran at 60 Hz while the PAL version ran at 50 Hz.
RP2C33 Ricoh Included on the Famicom Disk System. Adds a 32-volume wavetable synthesis sound.
VRC6 Konami Virtual ROM Controller 6 adds two additional pulse waves and a sawtooth wave. It was only used in Akumajou Densetsu, Madara, and Esper Dream II.
VRC7 Konami Virtual ROM Controller 7 adds six channels of FM synthesis due to a Yamaha YM2413 chip. Unfortunately, only one game utilized the audio capabilities of this chip, Langrage Point (NES).


In the earliest days of the NES, most composers were either expected to learn 6502 assembly and write their own audio driver for the RP2A03 or use an audio driver developed by a programmer and feed audio input in a custom Music Macro Language. Because of this, many of the first composers were also competent computer programmers. In the later years, developers had written utilities that converted MIDI music into instructions the audio chip could process. This conversion method was especially popular for US and European development companies. Many low-budget game companies either couldn't afford to hire professional musicians or couldn't find anyone capable of composing in such a limited medium. Because of this, a lot of sub-standard music was made by programmers.

Recently, special audio trackers have been created that either emulate the sound of the NES, or properly function on the original audio hardware. For example, Nerdtracker and Famitracker are designed to be compatible with the specific chips found in the NES, and music composed in them can be put directly into an NES ROM.