Rare (NES Driver)

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Released 1987-08-??
Programmers Chris Stamper, Mark Betteridge
Language 6502 Assembly
Formats Unknown

Rare (NES Driver) is an unofficial name of the sound driver used in all of Rare's NES game. It was one of the most popular sound drivers on the NES, being used in almost 50 games. According to David Wise, it was first programmed by Rare's founder Chris Stamper and later programmed by Mark Betteridge. It isn't exactly clear when Mark worked on the driver, but his first credit is in Cobra Triangle, so he can be assumed as a sound programmer.

David Wise was the only person to compose music in the driver, but others used the driver for sound effects. To compose music for the NES, he had to write the music in 6502 assembly machine code. To do this, Wise would have to write with hexadecimal numbers. In an interview, David Wise elaborated how it worked:

The way it worked, I would use HEX numbers (16 numbers, 0-F) writing in one number for the pitch of the note and one for the length. For example “81,08”– where 81 would be a low c on the keyboard, followed by a length of 8 units. We had certain codes and routines which enabled us to do pitch bends, etc. From memory I think there were two variable pulse waves, a triangle wave and a noise channel for creating the sound tracks/FX. There was also a way to play back very crude samples, but we never had the luxury of that much memory.

Release History

The driver was used in all regions; North America, Europe, and Japan. The first game to use the driver was Slalom, released in 1987. The last game to use the driver was Battletoads Double Dragon, released as late as 1993.


The chip outputs to the RP2A03 and RP20A7 sound chips. On the RP2A07, the music plays at the same speed, but is played a half-step lower than the RP2A03.

The driver is one of the few to take advantage of the DPCM channel, but only in rare instances. It was used in Pin-Bot for sound effects, and was used in the Battletoads games, and makes its most notable appearance as the pause music to Battletoads.


Released Title Sample
1987-08-?? Slalom (NES)
1987-12-?? Wizards and Warriors (NES) (伝説の既視エルロンド)
1988-??-?? California Games (NES)
1988-02-?? R.C. Pro-Am (NES)
1988-09-?? Jeopardy! (NES)
1988-09-?? Wheel of Fortune (NES)
1988-11-?? Anticipation (NES)
1989-??-?? Cabal (NES)
1989-??-?? John Elway's Quarterback (NES)
1989-??-?? WWF Wrestlemania (NES)
1989-01-?? Sesame Street 123 (NES)
1989-02-?? Taboo: The Sixth Sense (NES)
1989-03-?? Marble Madness (NES)
1989-07-?? Cobra Triangle (NES)
1989-07-?? Sesame Street ABC (NES)
1989-08-?? Jordan vs. Bird: One on One (NES)
1989-09-?? Hollywood Squares (NES)
1989-09-?? Who Framed Roger Rabbit (NES)
1989-10-?? Jeopardy!: Junior Edition (NES)
1989-10-?? Wheel of Fortune: Junior Edition (NES)
1989-12-?? Ironsword: Wizards and Warriors II (NES)
1989-12-?? Silent Service (NES)
1990-??-?? Arch Rivals: A Basket Brawl! (NES)
1990-03-?? Wheel of Fortune: Family Edition (NES)
1990-04-?? Double Dare (NES)
1990-04-?? Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Super Off-Road (NES)
1990-04-?? Pinbot (NES)
1990-06-?? Captain Skyhawk (NES)
1990-06-?? Jeopardy!: 25th Anniversary Edition (NES)
1990-07-?? Snake Rattle N Roll (NES)
1990-08-?? NARC (NES)
1990-08-?? Time Lord (NES)
1990-09-?? Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warship (NES)
1990-10-?? A Nightmare on Elm Street (NES)
1990-10-?? Super Glove Ball (NES)
1990-11-?? WWF Wrestlemania Challenge (NES) (WWFレッスルマニアチャレンジ プロレスゲーム)
1990-12-?? Digger T. Rock: The Legend of the Lost City (NES)
1991-06-?? Battletoads (NES) (バトルトード)
1991-07-?? High Speed (NES)
1991-10-?? Pirates! (NES)
1991-11-?? Sesame Street 123 ABC (NES)
1992-01-?? Beetlejuice (NES)
1992-03-?? Wizards and Warriors III - Kuros: Visions of Power (NES)
1992-08-?? Danny Sullivan's Indy Heat (NES)
1992-12-?? R.C. Pro-Am II (NES)
1993-??-?? Battletoads in Ragnarok's World (GB)
1993-??-?? Snake Rattle n Roll (GEN)
1993-08-?? Battletoads and Double Dragon (NES)


Frequency Registers

B-5 = 38
A#5 = 3B
A-5 = 3F
G#5 = 42
G-5 = 46
F#5 = 4B
F-5 = 4F
E-5 = 54
D#5 = 59
D-5 = 5E
C#5 = 64
C-5 = 6A
B-4 = 70
A#4 = 77
A-4 = 7E
G#4 = 86
G-4 = 8E
F#4 = 96
F-4 = 9F
E-4 = A9
D#4 = B3
D-4 = BD
C#4 = C9
C-4 = D5
B-3 = E2
A#3 = EF
A-3 = FD
G#3 = 10C
G-3 = 11C
F#3 = 12D
F-3 = 13F
E-3 = 152
D#3 = 167
D-3 = 17C
C#3 = 193
C-3 = 1AB
B-2 = 1C4
A#2 = 1DF
A-2 = 1FC
G#2 = 21A
G-2 = 23A
F#2 = 25C
F-2 = 280
E-2 = 2A6
D#2 = 2CE
D-2 = 2F9
C#2 = 326
C-2 = 356
B-1 = 389
A#1 = 3BF
A-1 = 3F8
G#1 = 435
G-1 = 475
F#1 = 4B8
F-1 = 501
E-1 = 54E
D#1 = 59E
D-1 = 5F4
C#1 = 64D
C-1 = 6AE