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The Family Computer (HVC-001: 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, and 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.

The AV Famicom (HVC-101: also called New Famicom) is a Famicom model released in 1993 which outputs AV composite video. It is similar to the top-loading NES (NES-101). The original Famicom is sometimes called the RF Famicom to retroactively distinguish it from the AV Famicom, which is what this article will use.

Differences from the NES


  • On the RF Famicom, two controllers are hard-wired to the console. The AV Famicom uses standard NES controller ports.
  • Controller 2 on the RF Famicom has a microphone in place of the Select and Start buttons; the missing buttons always return "not pressed".
  • There is a 15-pin expansion port where the Zapper and other peripherals connect to. 1- and 2-player games tend to merge inputs from from controllers 1 and 2 with controllers 3 and 4 connected this way.
  • Only one peripheral may be connected at once. Despite using NES controller ports, the AV Famicom isn't wired to accept peripherals made for the NES. If a peripheral 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 RF Famicom had only RF output, not the AV output seen on the front-loading NES. Modifications to produce an AV output are common on second-hand units.
  • The Famicom is always NTSC. PAL Famiclones were designed for compatibility with the Famicom; the clock rate preserved the ratio of PPU to CPU cycles, and extra scanlines were 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 Sharp Famicom Titler (AN-510) and Sharp C1 (Famicom TV) have different palettes and emphasis behavior compared to other Famicom models due to them using RGB PPUs. Some commercial Famicom games are labelled as incompatible with these models.
  • 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. The Sharp C1 is incompatible with these games as it uses the audio path to detect inserted cartridges.


  • 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 non-standard 2.50 mm on the NES.
  • No expansion port on the bottom, and no ten pass-through pins on the cassette connector.
  • No CIC.