Nintendo Entertainment System
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|Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)|
|Released||North America: October 18, 1985
Japan: July 15, 1983
|Discontinued||North America: 1995
Japan: September 1, 2003
|Successor||Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)/
The NES, or Nintendo Entertainment System, was Nintendo's 8-bit gaming console. With the NES, Nintendo single handedly revived the North American gaming market. Previously, the game crash of 1983 caused a sharp reduction in all electronic gaming. The success of the NES would last into the early '90s, before being succeeded by Nintendo's 16-bit upgrade, the Super Nintendo.
In Japan, the Nintendo Entertainment System was known as the Family Computer, or Famicom. The NES went under an extreme revision process to make it fit in with many electronics of the North American market, like VCRs and tape recorders. Nintendo made an effort to not advertise it as a gaming system, rather, as a toy. The Famicom is brightly colored with red and white, while the NES is simply different shades of grey. Along with that, the NES ditched the top loading nature of the Famicom, and many other consoles pre-1983, in favor of a front loading slot. This function alone is how the first model of the NES got the nickname "The Toaster," due to the slot's nature of going downwards and clicking in.
Games were no longer known as games, they were "Game Paks" [sic], another effort Nintendo made to distance itself from the classic consoles before the NES. ROB (Robotic Operating Buddy) was perhaps the most obvious of Nintendo's changes to give the NES an appearance of a toy; it was a large plastic robot that functioned along side the NES. With all these differences in place, Nintendo set out to distribute it.
One of the many people Nintendo contact was Atari. Atari, seeing as though they were a large player in the video game crash and didn't see how any console could survive, refused Nintendo's offer. Nintendo eventually went ahead with the console themselves, and achieved success. Soon, different types of bundles were released, primarily featuring different pack-in games and the exclusion of ROB. Then, the gaming boom was back in business.
After seeing the NES leap off the shelves, third party companies jumped on the opportunity to get back in the craze again. However, unlike Atari, Nintendo had quality control that was set in place to keep games in good standing, and to prevent such a crash like 1983 to happen again. Nintendo made third parties buy cartridges solely from them, and also forced each and every game to be screened for possible violations like obscenities, gore, or something that would not be taken well with the general public. Religious symbols were of extreme concern, and were wiped away from any game immediately.
These strict and somewhat costly protective measures stopped some companies form being loyal to Nintendo. In an attempt to keep third parties from making unlicensed software, Nintendo installed the NES Lock-Out chip in every console.
The NES lock-out chip, 10NES, was a way to stop pirates from making illegal copies of games, and also to stop third parties from making unlicensed games for the NES. It worked by a chip on a game saying a certain code to the chip inside in the NES. If it matched, the game would play; if it didn't, the NES would not boot the cartridge. Companies found ways to bypass this chip.
Bypassing was done through the following methods: "shocking" the chip so that it was offline, imitating the functions of a real NES cartridge chip, or using a standard NES game locked onto a dongle to bypass.
The NES 2 was a revision of the original North American NES. It featured a top loading cartridge slot and SNES-style controllers. It only featured RF output, unlike the original NES' supprot for both RF and composite output.