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Famicom
ファミコン

15 July 1983


 
 
When looking back at the game consoles of yesteryear, only one stands out as the genuine innovator, the turning point that changed video games from technical fad into a social phenomenon.
Nintendo's Family Computer (or 'Famicom' for short) arrived on the scene at an interesting time - the videogame industry's massive boom of the late 70s - early 80s had slowed down to a steady pace, and the market and its consumers were settling down into a comfortable balance between arcade games and home computers.
Nintendo's machine was not only a marvel of design, it was also very powerful for its time - it dwarfed the SG-1000 and all of its competitors for a number of years.
Its eventual release in the US (Oct 1985) and Europe (Sep 1986) as the 'Nintendo Entertainment System' ('NES') saw the machine literaly conquer the world.
 




 



 

Nintendo had previously enjoyed early success as a manufacturer of playing cards and handheld LCD games. Their 'Game & Watch' range had been steady sellers since 1980, but it was the phenomenal success of their arcade output that saw them turn into major players: Donkey Kong (1981), Donkey Kong Jr. (1982) and Mario Bros. (1983) were all massive worldwide hits for the company, so it was no surprise that they decided to release a videogame console of their own, capable of replicating all of their arcade games at home.
The plan was a dead cert: the Family Computer launched in Japan on the 15th of July 1983, and it became an instant hit. At 14,800 yen the machine was affordable by everyone; and the three launch titles (Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. and Popeye) were of an amazing standard for their time, almost identical to their arcade counterparts. And not just that, every title responded perfectly thanks to the Famicom's revolutionary new form of input, the control pad (left).
Instead of clumsy and fragile joysticks, the Famicom included controllers based directly on their 'Game & Watch' range, featuring two distinct action buttons, as well as two small 'Select' and 'Start' buttons. This was an enormous leap forwards in terms of input and control: gone were the days of awkward joystick wiggling and single buttons - now delicate control was possible through detailed and precise button presses.
 

 

Donkey Kong (15 July 1983)
 

Popeye (15 July 1983)
 

Mario Bros. (9 Sep 1983)
 
 

Gun (18 Feb 1984)
 

Wild Gunman (18 Feb 1984)
 

Duck Hunt (21 Apr 1984)
 
 


Keyboard (21 June 1984)


Robot (26 July 1985)

 

Following the initial success of the machine, Nintendo tapped into their experience in the toy market and released a flurry of accessories. First came the Famicom 'Gun', a simple and straightforward plastic revolver, available alongside a dedicated Holster, and the excellent Wild Gunman. Two further gun games (Duck Hunt and Hogan's Alley) rapidly followed, marking the debut of the light gun as an essential console accessory.
Less essential was the Famicom BASIC, a valiant attempt at seizing a section of the home computer market. Sold alongside a dedicated keyboard and data cassette recorder, Nintendo's BASIC was just that: very basic. But the peripheral did well nonetheless, attracting a small public of amateur coders and programmers eager to try out their skills on a easy-to-use setup.
Last but not least came the Family Computer Robot, an inventive and eye-catching gizmo that ultimately served next to no real purpose whatsoever, but did a very fine job in pretending it did. The two robot compatible games, Stack-Up and Gyromite, involved the robot opening and closing doors for the player's character to walk through. Nothing special really, but full marks all around in the novelty stakes.
Without a doubt, the main pull of the Famicom remained its software: right from the outset, Nintendo had set out to produce and release only high-class games, thus avoiding the problems that plagued the previous industry leader, Atari.

 


 
 


Disk System (21 Feb 1986)


Disk Writer

 

Nintendo had set up a strict system of regimenting all software output via an in-house 'quality control' test. All third party developers had to submit their games for Nintendo to approve, before then having permission for anything to be released. Nintendo also took a hefty slice of the manufacturing costs and maximizing profits on the cartridges, thus affording to sell their hardware at a low cost. A very viable plan indeed... and who's to know if it would have worked or not, had the games not been, er, so unbelievably good.
Super Mario Bros. (1985) was the final turning point for the Famicom: Nintendo's extraordinary action game went on to sell millions of copies worldwide, establishing the console as the must-have item of the 80s. Sales of the machine went stellar all around the world (where it was marketed as the Nintendo 'NES') and the hugely increased user base attracted even further developers, all eager to publish for the format - and pay Nintendo's fees.
In Japan the machine would get one last accessory: the Disk System (above left) was designed as major a cost-cutting storage device that would not only offer cheaper games to the consumer, but also bypass retail costs: as well as selling Disk games, Nintendo went on to place dedicated 'Disk Writer' machines in hundreds of shopping centres and convenience stores all around Japan, allowing users to choose and pay for a title on the spot.
The format started off well, but suffered from minor hardware faults, and eventually rampant piracy from mainland Asia: bootleg disks became rife, and Nintendo eventually discontinued support of the format in 1991.

 

 

 

Punch-Out!! (21 Nov 1987)
 

Super Mario Bros. 3 (23 Oct 1988)
 

Super Mario Bros. 3 (23 Oct 1988)
 




Product ID
First Edition
Resale Edition
Title
Release
Notes
HVC-DK
15 July 1983
Action
HVC-JR
15 July 1983
Action
HVC-PP
Popeye
ポパイ
15 July 1983
Action
HVC-MJ
Mahjong
麻雀
27 Aug 1983
Table (Mahjong)
HVC-GO
Gomoku Narabe Renju
五目ならべ 連珠
27 Aug 1983
Table (Go)
HVC-MA
9 Sep 1983
Action
HVC-EN
Popeye no Eigo Asobi
ポパイの英語遊び
22 Nov 1983
Educational
HVC-BA
Baseball
ベースボール
7 Dec 1983
Sport
HVC-CA
12 Dec 1983
Educational
HVC-TE
14 Jan 1984
Sport
HVC-PN
2 Feb 1984
Table
HVC-WG
Wild Gunman
ワイルドガンマン
18 Feb 1984
Gun Shooting
HVC-DH
Duck Hunt
ダックハント
21 Apr 1984
Gun Shooting
HVC-GF
1 May 1984
Sport
HVC-HA
Hogan's Alley
12 Jun 1984
HVC-HA
Family Basic V2
21 Jun 1984
HVC-DT
Donkey Kong 3
4 Jul 1984
HVC-DD
Devil World
5 Oct 1984
HVC-FR
F1 Race
2 Nov 1984
HVC-FJ
4-Nin Uchi Mahjong
2 Nov 1984
HVC-UC
Urban Champion
14 Nov 1984
HVC-CL
Clu Clu Land
22 Nov 1984
HVC-EB
Excitebike
30 Nov 1984
HVC-BF
Baloon Fight
22 Jan 1985
HVC-IC
Ice Climber
30 Jan 1985
?
Family Basic V3
21 Feb 1985
HVC-SC
Soccer
9 Apr 1985
HVC-WR
Wrecking Crew
18 Jun 1985
HVC-SX
21 Jun 1985
HVC-SK
Stack Up
26 Jul 1985
HVC-GY
Gyromite
13 Aug 1985
HVC-SM
13 Sep 1985
HVC-MR
Mach Rider
21 Nov 1985
HVC-PT
Mike Tyson's Punch Out!!
21 Nov 1987
HVC-GT
Ginga no Sannin
15 Dec 1987
HVC-FW
Famicom Wars
12 Aug 1988
HVC-UM
23 Oct 1988
HVC-MX
27 Jul 1989
HVC-VX
Fire Emblem
Ankoku Ryu to Hikari no Tsurugi
20 Apr 1990
HVC-VU
27 Jul 1990
HVC-YT
Shin 4-nin Uchi Mahjong
Yakuman Tengoku
28 Jun 1991
HVC-UG
Mario Open Golf
20 Sep 1991
HVC-YM
Yoshi no Tamago
14 Dec 1991
HVC-YM
Fire Emblem Gaiden
14 Mar 1992
HVC-MW
14 Sep 1992
HVC-CH
Yoshi no Cookie
21 Nov 1992
HVC-KR
Hoshi no Kirby
Yume no Izumi no Monogatari
23 Mar 1993
HVC-JM
Joy Mecha Flight
21 May 1993
HVC-TS
Tetris Flash
21 Sep 1993
HVC-ZL
19 Feb 1994
HVC-WB
Wario no Mori
19 Feb 1994


FMC-ZEL
Zelda no Densetsu
aka "The Legend of Zelda"
21 Feb 1986
FMC-SMA
21 Feb 1986
FMC-MJA
Mahjong
21 Feb 1986
FMC-TEN
Tennis
21 Feb 1986
FMC-GLF
Golf
21 Feb 1986
FMC-BAS
Baseball
21 Feb 1986
FMC-SCC
Soccer
21 Feb 1986
FMC-NMJ
Nazo no Murasamejou
14 Apr 1986
FMC-SMB
3 Jun 1986
FMC-VBW
Volleyball
21 Jul 1986
FMC-MET
6 Aug 1986
FMC-PRO
ProWres
21 Oct 1986
FMC-PTM
Palutena no Kagami
aka "Kid Icarus"
19 Dec 1986
FMC-LNK
14 Jan 1987
FMC-GFJE
Golf - Japan Course
21 Feb 1987
FMC-PPN
Smash Ping Pong
30 May 1987
FMC-GFUE
Golf - U.S. Course
14 Jun 1987
FCG-DRM
10 Jul 1987
FMC-ON1
Shin Oni Ga Shima (Part 1)
4 Sep 1987
FMC-ON2
Shin Oni Ga Shima (Part 2)
30 Sep 1987
FSC-FRGE
30 Oct 1987
FMC-THSE
Nakayama Miho no
Tokimeki High School
1 Dec 1987
FMC-ICE
Ice Hockey
21 Jan 1988
FMC-DKD
Donkey Kong
8 Apr 1988
FMC-JRD
Donkey Kong Jr.
19 Jul 1988
FMC-TDRE
Famicom Grand Prix II
3D Hot Rally
14 Apr 1988
FMC-TC1
Famicom Tantei Club
Kieta Koukeisha (Part 1)
27 Apr 1988
FMC-TC2
Famicom Tantei Club
Kieta Koukeisha (Part 2)
14 Jun 1988
FMC-EBD
VS. Excitebike
9 Dec 1988
FMC-TC3
Famicom Tantei Club Part II
Ushiro ni Tatsu Shoujo (Part 1)
23 May 1989
FMC-TC4
Famicom Tantei Club Part II
Ushiro ni Tatsu Shoujo (Part 2)
30 Jun 1989
FMC-UU1
Yuu Yuu Ki (Part 1)
14 Oct 1989
FMC-UU2
Yuu Yuu Ki (Part 2)
14 Nov 1989
FMC-KMV
Knight Move
5 Jun 1990
FMC-BAG
Backgammon
7 Sep 1990
FMC-TT1
Time Twist
Rekishi no Katasume de (Part 1)
26 Jul 1991
FMC-TT2
Time Twist
Rekishi no Katasume de (Part 2)
26 Jul 1991


FAMICOM HARDWARE
HVC-001
Family Computer
15 July 1983
HVC-002
AC Adaptor
HVC-003
RF Switch
HVC-004
75/300 OHM Converter
HVC-005
Gun
18 Feb 1984
HVC-006
Gun Holster
HVC-007
Keyboard
21 June 1984
HVC-008
Data Recorder
HVC-009 - 011 Unidentified
HVC-012
Robot
HVC-013 - 020 Unidentified
HVC-021
Disk Card
HVC-022
Disk System
HVC-023
Disk System RAM Adaptor
HVC-024 Unidentified
HVC-025
Disk System AC Adaptor
HVC-026
RF Extension Cord
HVC-027
Card Cleaner
HVC-028
Card Cleaner Cartridge
HVC-029
Head Cleaner Spray
HVC-030
Head Cleaner Cartridge
HVC-031
3D System Scope
HVC-032
3D System Adaptor
HVC-033 - 049 Unidentified
HVC-050
Network System
HVC-051
Network Controller
HVC-052 Unidentified
HVC-053
Telephone Cable
HVC-054
Telephone Switch
HVC-055 - 100 Unidentified
HVC-101
Family Computer AV
1 Dec 1993
HVC-102
Family Computer AV Controller
HVC-103
Family Computer AV RF Modulator




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