Nintendo Entertainment System

From Video Game Music Preservation Foundation Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
[[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. It was most popular in Japan and the USA. While the NES was released in several different countries with various designs and changes, the audio chip remained the same for each incarnation.



Nintendo released the console as the Famicom (family computer) in Japan on July 15, 1983. On February 21, 1986, Nintendo released the Famicom Disk System (FDS) add-on which used diskettes instead of cartridges.


The United States release of the Nintendo Entertainment System was 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. On October 15, 1993, Nintendo produced a second generation version of the NES with a redesigned console and controllers.

Famicom Disk System


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 the arcade 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.

Vs. System

The Vs. System is similar to the PlayChoice-10 system, in that it allowed home NES games to be slightly altered 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.

Sound & Music

The American NES and Japanese Famicom both used the Ricoh 2A03 (RP2A03) while the PAL versions of the NES used the Ricoh 2A07 (RP2A07) which plays music & sounds slower since it has a slower processor. The Famicom later came out with the Famicom Disk System which had an extra channel that supported wavetable synthesis.

The following chips were used in the various incarnations of the NES:


A chip by 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.


A sound chip from Sunsoft. It featured three extra square channels. It was only used in Gimmick (NES).


The MMC5 (Memory Management Controller 5) was a sound chip by Nintendo that contained two extra square channels.


A sound chip manufactured by Namco. One notable game the chip is used in is Rolling Thunder (NES). The 'N' in N106 stands for Namco. It contained 6 wavetable synthesis channels.


More commonly known as the 'FDS Channel', the RP2C33 was an extra channel by Nintendo from the Famicom Disk System that used one 32-volume wavetable synthesis sound. The chip was mostly only seen in Nintendo game remakes such as Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Kid Icarus and Super Mario Bros.


A sound chip by Konami. The VRC stands for Virtual ROM Controller.


A chip released by Konami that had two additional Rectangle waves and a Sawtooth wave. It was only used in Akumajou Densetsu, Madara, and Esper Dream II.


A sound chip that contained six channels of FM synthesis. Unfortunately, only one game used this chip, Langrage Point. The chip was manufactured by Yamaha.


After the amazing success in Japan and the USA, Nintendo began releasing the NES in other countries using the American design. The NES was released in Canada in February, 1986, Europe on September 1, 1986, and in Australia in 1987.