Nintendo Entertainment System / Famicom (NTSC)
Nintendo Entertainment System / Famicom (NTSC)



Setname:  NES   
Year: 1985
Manufacturer: Nintendo
Status: imperfect  badworks
Type: Game Console
Clones: Dendy Classic,
Doctor PC Jr,
Famicom (NTSC),
Famicom Twin,
Famicom (w/ Disk System add-on),
Golden China TV Game,
M82 Display Unit,
Nintendo Entertainment System (PAL)
Emulation info
Overall emulation:  good   
Color emulation:  good  
Sound emulation:  good  
Graphics emulation:  imperfect  
Savestates:  supported   

Tech info
 Base hardware: (available in all slot configurations)
N2A03 ("maincpu")cpu 1789772 Hz
Speaker ("mono")audio
N2A03 APU ("nessound")audio 1789772 Hz
Screen ("screen")raster horizontal 256 x 240 @ 60.098000
Media devices
cartridge ("nes_slot") cartridge cart nes, unf, unif
Software lists

 Optional hardware: (available with specific slot configurations)

 Configure the slot options for NES:
 Slot Value

Show detailed info about 'Configurations' of this system

Draw Top/Bottom 8 Lines No
Enforce 8 Sprites/line No

Show detailed info about 'Slot Options' of this system
Slot options

NameValueCompatible device(s)
ctrl1 4score_p1p3nes_4score_p1p3
 joypad nes_joypad
ctrl2 4score_p2p4nes_4score_p2p4
 joypad nes_joypad

Romset info
This system uses no ROMs (data is contained in the optional media)


* CPU: 8bit NMOS 6502 CPU with a secondary PPU (Picture Processing Unit)
* Clock Speed: 1.7897725MHz for NTSC and 1.773447MHz for the PAL version
* Data Path width: 8-bits
* SPR-RAM: 256 Bytes
* ROM: 8k
* Video Ram: 16 Kbits
* Color Palette: 256; 16 max on screen
* Sprites: 64 (8 x 8 or 8 x 16)
* Sound: FM with 5 sound channels (4 analog, 1 digital)
* Cart Size: 64k - 4 Megabit


MESS supports two regional variations of the NES

* nes [Nintendo Entertainment System (NTSC)]
* nespal [Nintendo Entertainment System (PAL)]

Both drivers require a cart dump (in .nes format) in the "cartridge" (cart) device to run n64 emulation. You can launch emulation using, at command line

mess nes -cart "C:\pathtogame\gamename.nes"


NES controller consists of an 8-way directional pad, two action buttons (labeled A and B), a Start button and a Select button. On the main unit, a Power and a Reset buttons are present.

Known Issues

The NES driver should run most of the images currently out there with very little problem, with the exception of MMC5 mapper used by Castlevania III, Just Breed, Nobunaga's Ambitions II and others. It also doesn't yet support all the obscure one-game mappers used by many "pirate carts".

History and Trivia

Following a series of arcade game successes in the early 1980s, Nintendo decided to produce a cartridge-based console: it was called Family Computer (Famicom) and it was released in Japan in 1983 together with the conversions of some Nintendo's successful arcade games: "Donkey Kong", "Donkey Kong Jr.", and "Popeye".

The system was designed by Masayuki Uemura and it intentionally resembled a toy, with its bright red and white color scheme. It featured two hardwired controllers which were unusual, though not unprecedented, for consoles of this era. Additionally, the system had a 15-pin expansion port in the front side to accommodate add-on peripheral devices, such as the Light Gun, the Power Pad, the keyboard for BASIC programming, a Cassette Drive, and other specialized controllers. Among the devices produced for the console: a karaoke machine, true 3D glasses, and the Famicom Disk System (which incorporated the floppy drive dropped from the original specifications).

At first, the Nintendo Famicom did not meet success: during its first year, many criticized the system as unreliable, prone to programming errors and rampant freezing. Nintendo decided to recall most of the units and to reissue the system with a new motherboard, which basically solved all the reported problems. After the fixes, the system became very popular and it was the best-selling game console in Japan by the end of 1984.

Encouraged by its successes, Nintendo soon turned its attentions to the North American market. At first, Nintendo contacted Atari to release the Famicom under Atari's name as the name "Nintendo Enhanced Video System". This deal eventually fell through, and Nintendo planned to market a Famicom console in North America featuring additionl keyboard, cassette data recorder, wireless joystick controller, and a special BASIC cartridge under the name "Nintendo Advanced Video System". But also these plans never became real.

Finally, in June 1985 Nintendo unveiled its American version of the Famicom at the Consumer Electronics Show; and the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was officially released it in North America at the beginning of 1986.

In Europe and Australia, the system was released to two separate marketing regions (A and B). Distribution in region B, consisting of most of mainland Europe (excluding Italy), was handled by a number of different companies, with Nintendo responsible for most cartridge releases. On the other hand, Mattel handled distribution for region A, consisting of the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Australia and New Zealand, starting the following year. Only in 1990 Nintendo created its own European branch which took over distribution throughout Europe.

Nintendo continued to support the system through the first half of the next decade. In 1992, Nintendo released the AV Famicom in Japan, a redesigned version of the Famicom. Two removeable controllers were included with the system, whose ports were now placed in the front of the system (while the expansion port was moved to the side). The controllers were identical to the ones released in the US.

In North America, the support continued as well: a new version of the console, the NES 2, was released in early 90s to address many of the design flaws in the original NES hardware.

By 1995, though, Nintendo of America officially discontinued the NES. In Japan, the production remained active until October 2003, when also Nintendo of Japan officially discontinued the line.

Many videogame franchise, later migrated on new systems, had their origin on the Nintendo Famicom/NES: "MegaMan", "Castlevania", "Final Fantasy" and "Dragon Warrior", not to mention Nintendo series like "Super Mario Bros.", "The Legend of Zelda", "Kirby" and "Metroid".

Regional differences

NES and Famicom were not exactly the same console, even if they shared most of the hardware.

* Case design: The Famicom features a top-loading cartridge slot, a 15-pin expansion port located on the unit's front panel for accessories (as the controllers were hard-wired to the back of the console) and a red and white color scheme; the NES features a front-loading cartridge slot, an expansion port was found on the bottom of the unit and a more subdued gray, black and red color scheme.

* Cart design: Differences between NES carts and Famicom carts are not only aesthetic! The original Famicom and the re-released AV Family Computer both use a 60-pin cartridge design, which resulted in smaller cartridges than the NES (and the NES 2), which utilized a 72-pin design. Four pins were used for the NES lockout chip, 10NES. Ten pins were added that connected a cartridge directly to the expansion port on the bottom of the unit. Finally, two pins that allowed cartridges to provide their own sound expansion chips were removed. Many early games (such as Stack-Up) released in North America were simply Famicom cartridges attached to an adapter (such as the T89 Cartridge Converter) to allow them to fit inside the NES hardware. Nintendo did this to reduce costs and inventory by using the same cartridge boards in America and Japan.

* Lockout Chip: The patented 10NES was a chip Nintendo added to NES in order to avoid unlicensed software to boot the system: at start, the NES unit checks for the presence of the chip in the cart and simply stops if the chip cannot be found. At least three versions were created, one put in US carts, one in UK carts and the last one in other European carts. These chips also prevented North American carts from playing on PAL consoles and viceversa.


* Zapper: this is a Lightgun device produced by Nintendo. Few games used it: among these "Duck Hunt", "Hogan's Alley", "Wild Gunman", "Gumshoe" and "Bayou Billy".

* R.O.B.: R.O.B. stands for Robotic Operating Buddy. Nintendo produced this Robot shaped device to provide an interactive medium between the TV screen and player. In the two games which supported it (i.e. "Gyromite" and "Stack Up"), R.O.B.'s actions affect gameplay on the screen and the player have to react to what happens in the game: in "Gyromite" R.O.B. pushes and hold buttons on the second controller; in "Stack Up", the player has to press a button when R.O.B. finishes a task.

* NES Advantage: This arcade style controller produced by Nintendo features a joystick in place of the D-Pad, a variable-speed turbo for A and B buttons, a slow-down effect (consisting in repeated pressures of the Start button) and the possibility to plug it in both joypad ports (so that it can be used in games with alternating 2 players mode).

* NES Max: This controller produced by Nintendo replaces the D-Pad with a button-shaped cycloid. It also featured two turbo buttons for A and B. Its shape anticipates the "winged" shape of Sony Playstation controllers.

* NES Four Score / Satellite: Accessories which will allow 4 player to play the same game. The Satellite is wireless, allowing even more distance between the players and the unit.

* Power Glove: In 1989 Mattel introduced the PowerGlove, a handtracking device based on a glove. The PowerGlove was intended to work in place of a regular controller. The PowerGlove can track motion of the glove in three-space, finger position, and has a set of buttons/switches on the top of the wrist. It has two modes "hires" and "lores": in "hires" mode, it tracks 3d position, the rolling and the position of fingers along with the state of SELECT, START, A, B, D-PAD switches (which are a part of the NES standard controller); in "lores" mode, the glove reports only the position of the hand on the x and y axis and the buttons (thus emulating a NES controller completely and allowing one to use the glove with non-glove-specific games). In "lores" mode, it is also possible to map up to 14 combinations of the buttons to movements of the glove. The only games which explicitly supported the Power Glove were "Super Glove Ball" and "Bad Street Brawler", other being announced but never released

* Arkanoid Controller: specific controller with a knob in place of the D-Pad to control the paddle in the game "Arkanoid".

* LaserScope: Produced by Konami, it is a head-mounted lightgun with a microphone and a crosshair that covered one eye. It was manufactured specifically for one Konami game, "Laser Invasion". Wearing the device on the head, the players had to shout "fire!" into the microphone to fire a shot at the on-screen object via the headset's crosshair. However, microphone technology was poor: saying almost anything else would cause the controller to react.

* Power Pad / Family Fun Fitness: Released by Bandai, this is a floor mat controller consisting of eight/twelve (depending on the side) pressure-sensors embedded between two layers of flexible plastic. It was used by "Athletic World" and "World Class Track Meet".

* U-Force: This device, produced by Broderbund, uses infrared sensors and switches to recognize movements across the sensor and use them as input for the NES.

* Miracle Piano: Created by The Software Toolworks, it is MIDI keyboard/teaching tool. It consisted of a keyboard, connecting cables and a cartridge. When connected to the console, the user followed the on-screen notes.

* Aladdin Deck Enhancer: Produced by Camerica, the Aladdin system is kinda like a cartridge split up in two in two parts: the common chips have been put into the Deck Enhancer, while the game specific chip is contained in its own cart. This way, you can buy a single Deck Enhancer and several Compact Cartridge (cheaper than original cartridges because part of the circuitry was not needed). Only few games saw the release for the Aladdin Deck Enhancer, and most of them (except the bundled game "Dizzy the Adventurer") were also released on common carts.

* Game Genie: Video game enhancer from Galoob (Codemasters), it was first introduced in 1991. It allows to change and customize gameplay and to create special effects on many popular video games. For example, you can have more lives or weapons, start on any level of the game, jump higher, be invincible, and more. The changes you make with Game Genie are not permanent, and disappear when the power to the game deck is turned off.

(info based on Wikipedia, FAQs, etc.)


* NESDev --
* NESdevWiki --
* NES World --
* Wikipedia page --

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Edit the History info for this game.


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