Difference between revisions of "Nintendo Entertainment System"

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A sound chip manufactured by Namco. It is also referred to as the 'N163'. The 'N' in N106 stands for Namco. It contained 8 wavetable synthesis channels.
A sound chip manufactured by Namco. It is also referred to as the 'N163'. The 'N' in N106 stands for Namco. It contained 8 wavetable synthesis channels. Most players do not properly emulate the chip, raising the notes an octave higher.

Revision as of 12:07, 21 November 2012

[[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.

At the time, there wasn't a whole lot to work with for programming. The NES uses the MOS Technology 6502 assembly language for programming like other computers at the time (Apple II, Commodore 64). You had to find a certain way to program certain things.



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.


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.


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.

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.

Famicom Disk System

The Famicom Disk System was an addon for the Japanese Famicom which used floppy disks instead of cartridges and had slightly enhanced graphics and an extra sound channel. Players could also save their data on the disks.


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 2A03 contained two pulse wave channels with four different waves, a triangle channel for the bass or drums, and the noise channel used for drums and a DPCM channel which would play digital samples at a lower bitrate. The DPCM channel wasn't used much in games because the samples had a monopoly on cartridge space.


Back then, most composers had to write their music either in hex code or assembly. In other words, music had to be programmed, rather than putting MIDI files in the game, plus, multiple MIDI files were usually too big to fit on an NES cartridge. In the later years, U.S. developers would usually hire professional musicians to compose MIDI files and the programmers would write a conversion tool that converted MIDI commands to NES music commands. Sometimes, the programmer would have to create the audio driver, but sometimes, if the composer(s) knew 6502 assembly, they would be able to create the audio driver by themselves. Sometimes, programmers had to compose audio for the games because there were no local musicians around or they didn't have the luxury of hiring them, or the musicians in the area did not want to compose music to video games.

Later, Nerdtracker was created which was a tracker that could create NES music. Then Famitracker was created and then Music Macro Language.

Famicom Expansion Sound Chips

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. It is also referred to as the 'N163'. The 'N' in N106 stands for Namco. It contained 8 wavetable synthesis channels. Most players do not properly emulate the chip, raising the notes an octave higher.


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.