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Family Computer (or Famicom, FC for short) is a video game console made by Nintendo and sold in Japan starting in 1983. The Nintendo Entertainment System, which Nintendo sold outside Japan a couple years later, is nearly identical in behavior with a few changes in the cords, controllers, system look. While the Famicom was made to look friendly and well matched for a Japanese household with bright colors, the NES was made to look like the "future" to get it into the homes of Americans who had been burned by the crash of the second-generation consoles in 1983-1984.

Differences from NES


  • On the original Famicom, controller 2 has no Select and Start buttons; they always return "not pressed". The AV Famicom uses standard NES controllers.
  • Controller 2 on the original Famicom has a microphone. It is missing on the AV Famicom.
  • There is a 15-pin expansion port. The light gun and other specialty controllers connect to this instead. Players of 1- and 2-player expect controllers 3 and 4 connected this way to behave the same as controllers 1 and 2.
  • Only one specialty controller, such as the Zapper, may be connected at once. Even the AV Famicom isn't wired to accept specialty controllers made for the NES. And even if a specialty controller was made for both the NES and the Famicom, the protocol may differ between the two, such as the Power Pad, Arkanoid controller, and Four Score.


  • The original Famicom had only RF output, not the yellow and red AV output seen on the side of the front-loading NES.
  • The Famicom is always NTSC. PAL Famiclones are designed for compatibility with the NTSC Famicom; the clock rate preserves the ratio of PPU to CPU cycles, and the extra scanlines are added to the post-render period instead of vertical blanking so that cycle-counting mapper IRQs and cycle-timed NMI handlers continue to work.
  • The Famicom Titler model has an RGB PPU whose palette differs slightly and whose emphasis behavior differs greatly. The RGB signals are internal of this unit and it outputs S-Video after conversion.
  • The APU on the earliest Famicom revisions doesn't support 93-step noise, instead playing it as normal noise.
  • The Famicom audio path loops through the cartridge connector. This allows cartridges to generate their own audio and mix it with the console's audio. A number of cartridges have their own audio synthesizers. Famicom Karaoke Studio is an example of a cartridge that provides its own microphone. Though not observed in any cartridge, global filters such as echo, reverb, chorus, distortion, and volume control could be applied to the console's audio this way as well.


  • Reset acts like a top-loading NES, not a front-loading NES: the Reset button resets only the CPU, not the PPU.
  • The "cassette" connector on the Famicom is smaller than the "Game Pak" connector on the NES. Famicom cassettes have 60 pins instead of 72. However, the pin pitch is slightly wider: 2.54 mm (0.1 in) on the Famicom vs. a nonstandard 2.50 mm on the NES.
  • No expansion port on the bottom, and no ten passthrough pins on the cassette connector.
  • No CIC.
  • The authentic Famicom was sold mostly in Japan. Players would appreciate translation of at least dialogue to the Japanese language. However, some Western collectors and Famiclone users would also appreciate an English option.