An arcade cabinet known as an arcade/coin-op machine, is the housing within which an arcade game's electronic hardware resides. Most cabinets designed since the mid-1980s conform to the Japanese Amusement Machine Manufacturers Association wiring standard; some include. Because arcade cabinets vary according to the games they were built for or contain, they may well not possess all of the parts listed below: An output, on which the game is displayed, they may display either vector graphics, raster being most common. Standard resolution is between 315 vertical lines, depending on the refresh rate. Slower refresh rates allow for better vertical resolution. Monitors may be oriented horizontally or vertically, depending on the game; some games use more than one monitor. Some newer cabinets have monitors. Printed circuit boards or arcade system boards, the actual hardware upon which the game runs. Hidden within the cabinet; some systems, such as the SNK Neo-Geo MVS, use a main board with game carts. Some main boards may hold multiple game carts as well.
A power supply to provide DC power to the arcade system boards and low voltage lighting for the coin slots and lighted buttons. A marquee, a sign above the monitor displaying the game's title, they are brightly colored and backlit. A bezel, the border around the monitor, it may contain instructions or artwork. A control panel, a level surface near the monitor, upon which the game's controls are arranged. Control panels sometimes have playing instructions. Players pile their coins or tokens on the control panels of upright and cocktail cabinets. Coin slots, coin returns and the coin box, which allow for the exchange of money or tokens, they are below the control panel. Translucent red plastic buttons are placed in between the coin return and the coin slot; when they are pressed, a coin or token that has become jammed in the coin mechanism is returned to the player. See coin acceptor. Early coin slots could be defeated using a piezo-electric gas fire or gas oven igniter held against the steel bodywork of the cabinet, thus enabling free credits to be obtained.
In some arcades, the coin slot is replaced with a card reader that reads data from a game card bought from the arcade operator. The sides of the arcade cabinet are decorated with brightly coloured stickers or paint, representing the gameplay of their particular game. There are many types of some in fact being custom-made for a particular game. Upright cabinets are by far the most common in North America, they are made of wood and metal, about six feet or two meters tall, with the control panel set perpendicular to the monitor at above waist level. The monitor is housed inside the cabinet, at eye level; the marquee is above it, overhangs it. Controls are most a joystick for as many players as the game allows, plus action buttons and "player" buttons which serve the same purpose as the start button on console gamepads. Trackballs are sometimes used instead of joysticks in games from the early 1980s. Spinners are used to control game elements that move horizontally or vertically, such as the paddles in Arkanoid and Pong.
Games such as Robotron: 2084, Smash TV and Battlezone use double joysticks instead of action buttons. Some versions of the original Street Fighter had pressure-sensitive rubber pads instead of buttons. If an upright is housing a driving game, it may have a steering wheel and throttle pedal instead of a joystick and buttons. If the upright is housing a shooting game, it may have light guns attached to the front of the machine, via durable cables; some arcade machines had the monitor placed at the bottom of the cabinet with a mirror mounted at around 45 degrees above the screen facing the player. This was done to save space, a large CRT monitor would otherwise poke out the back of the cabinet, to avoid eye strain from looking directly up-close at the monitor. To correct for the mirrored image, some games had an option to flip the video output using a dip switch setting. Other genres of game such as Guitar Freaks feature controllers resembling musical instruments. Upright cabinet shape designs varies from the simplest symmetric perpendicular boxes as with Star Trek to complicated asymmetric forms.
Games are for one or two players. Cocktail cabinets are shaped like low, rectangular tables, with the controls set at either of the broad ends, or, though not as common, at the narrow ends, the monitor inside the table, the screen facing upward. Two-player games housed in cocktails were alternant, each player taking turns; the monitor reverses its orientation for each player, so that everything seems right-side-up from each perspective. This requires special programming of the cocktail versions of the game; the monitor's orientation is in player two's favour only in two-player games when it's player two's turn, in player one's favour all other times. Simultaneous, 4 player games that are built as a cocktail include Warlords, others. Cocktail cabinet versions were released alongside the upright version of the same game, they were common in the 1980s during the Golden Age of Arcade Games, but have since lost popularity. Their main advantage over upright cabinets was their smaller size, making them seem less obtrusive, although requiring
The Game Gear is an 8-bit fourth generation handheld game console released by Sega on October 6, 1990 in Japan, in April 1991 throughout North America and Europe, during 1992 in Australia. The Game Gear competed with Nintendo's Game Boy, the Atari Lynx, NEC's TurboExpress, it shares much of its hardware with the Master System, can play Master System games by the use of an adapter. Sega positioned the Game Gear, which had a full-color backlit screen with a landscape format, as a technologically superior handheld to the Game Boy. Though the Game Gear was rushed to market, its unique game library and price point gave it an edge over the Atari Lynx and TurboExpress. However, due its short battery life, lack of original games, weak support from Sega, the Game Gear was unable to surpass the Game Boy, selling 10.62 million units by March 1996. The Game Gear was succeeded by the Genesis Nomad in 1995 and discontinued in 1997, it was re-released as a budget system under license from Sega. Reception of the Game Gear was mixed, with praise for its full-color backlit screen and processing power for its time, criticisms over its large size and short battery life, questions over the quality of its game library.
Developed under the name "Project Mercury", the Game Gear was first released in Japan on October 6, 1990, in North America and Europe in 1991, in Australia in 1992. Retailing at JP¥19,800 in Japan, US$149.99 in North America, GB£99.99 in Europe, the Game Gear was developed to compete with the Game Boy, which Nintendo had released in 1989. The console had been designed as a portable version of the Master System, featured more powerful systems than the Game Boy, including a full-color screen, in contrast to the monochromatic screen of its rival. According to former Sega console hardware research and development head Hideki Sato, Sega saw the Game Boy's black and white screen as "a challenge to make our own color handheld system."In order to improve upon the design of their competition, Sega modeled the Game Gear with a similar shape to a Genesis controller, with the idea being that the curved surfaces and longer length would make the Game Gear more comfortable to hold than the Game Boy. The console's mass was considered from the beginning of the development, aiming for a total mass between that of the Game Boy and the Atari Lynx, another full-color screen competing product.
Despite the similarities the Game Gear shared with the Master System, the games of the latter were not directly playable on the Game Gear, were only able to be played on the handheld by the use of an accessory called the Master Gear Converter. The original Game Gear pack-in game was Columns, similar to the Tetris cartridge that Nintendo had included when it launched the Game Boy. With a late start into the handheld gaming market, Sega rushed to get the Game Gear into stores having lagged behind Nintendo in sales without a handheld on the market; as one method of doing so, Sega based the hardware of the Game Gear on the Master System, albeit with a much larger color palette than its predecessor: the Game Gear supported 4096 colors, compared to the 64 colors supported by the Master System. Part of the intention of this move was to make Master System games easy to port to the Game Gear. Though the Game Gear was designed to be technologically superior to the Game Boy, its design came at a cost of battery life: whereas the Game Boy could run for more than 30 hours on four AA batteries, the Game Gear required six AA batteries and could only run for three to five hours.
With its quick launch in Japan, the handheld sold 40,000 units in its first two days, 90,000 within a month, the number of back orders for the system was over 600,000. According to Sega of America marketing director Robert Botch, "there is a need for a quality portable system that provides features other systems have failed to deliver; this means easy-to-view, full-color graphics and exciting quality games that appeal to all ages." Before the Game Gear's launch in 1990, Sega had success marketing its 16-bit home console, the Sega Genesis, by advertising it as a "more mature" option for gamers. In keeping with this approach, Sega positioned the Game Gear as a "grown-up" option compared to the Game Boy. While Sega's marketing in Japan did not take this perspective, instead opting for advertisements with Japanese women featuring the handheld, Sega's worldwide advertising prominently positioned the Game Gear as the "cooler" console than the Game Boy. In North America, marketing for the Game Gear included side-by-side comparisons of Sega's new handheld with the Game Boy and likened Game Boy players to the obese and uneducated.
One Sega advertisement featured the quote, "If you were color blind and had an IQ of less than 12 you wouldn't mind which portable you had." Such advertising drew fire from Nintendo, who sought to have protests organized against Sega for insulting disabled persons. Sega responded with a statement from Sega of America president Tom Kalinske saying that Nintendo "should spend more time improving their products and marketing rather than working on behind-the-scenes coercive activities"; this debate would have little impact on sales for the Game Gear. Europe and Australia were the last regions to receive the Game Gear. Due to the delays in receiving the new handheld, some importers paid as much as £200 in order to have the new system. Upon the Game Gear's release in Europe, video game distributor Virgin Mastertronic unveiled the price of the Game Gear as £99.99, positioning it as being more expensive than the Game Boy, but less expensive than the Atari Lynx, a full-color system. Marketing in the United Kingdom included the use of the slogan, "To be this good takes Sega", included adv
The Atari ST is a line of home computers from Atari Corporation and the successor to the Atari 8-bit family. The initial ST model, the 520ST, saw limited release in April–June 1985 and was available in July; the Atari ST is the first personal computer to come with a bitmapped color GUI, using a version of Digital Research's GEM released in February 1985. The 1040ST, released in 1986, is the first personal computer to ship with a megabyte of RAM in the base configuration and the first with a cost-per-kilobyte of less than US$1; the Atari ST is part of a mid-1980s generation of home computers that have 16 or 32-bit processors, 256 KB or more of RAM, mouse-controlled graphical user interfaces. This generation includes the Macintosh, Commodore Amiga, Apple IIGS, and, in certain markets, the Acorn Archimedes. "ST" stands for "Sixteen/Thirty-two", which refers to the Motorola 68000's 16-bit external bus and 32-bit internals. The ST was sold with the less expensive monochrome monitor; the system's two color graphics modes are only available on the former while the highest-resolution mode needs the monochrome monitor.
In some markets Germany, the machine gained a strong foothold as a small business machine for CAD and desktop publishing work. Thanks to its built-in MIDI ports, the ST enjoyed success for running music-sequencer software and as a controller of musical instruments among amateurs and well-known musicians alike; the ST was superseded by the Atari STE, Atari TT, Atari MEGA STE, Falcon computers. The Atari ST was born from the rivalry between home-computer makers Atari, Inc. and Commodore International. Jay Miner, one of the original designers for the custom chips found in the Atari 2600 and Atari 8-bit family, tried to convince Atari management to create a new chipset for a video game console and computer; when his idea was rejected, Miner left Atari to form a small think tank called Hi-Toro in 1982 and began designing the new "Lorraine" chipset. The company, renamed Amiga Corporation, was pretending to sell video game controllers to deceive competition while it developed a Lorraine-based computer.
Amiga ran out of capital to complete Lorraine's development, Atari, owned by Warner Communications, paid Amiga to continue development work. In return Atari received exclusive use of the Lorraine design for one year as a video game console. After one year Atari would have the right to add a keyboard and market the complete computer, designated the 1850XLD; as Atari was involved with Disney at the time, it was code-named "Mickey", the 256K memory expansion board was codenamed "Minnie". After leaving Commodore International in January 1984, Jack Tramiel formed Tramel Technology with his sons and other ex-Commodore employees and, in April, began planning a new computer; the company considered the National Semiconductor NS320xx microprocessor but was disappointed with its performance. This started the move to the 68000; the lead designer of the Atari ST was ex-Commodore employee Shiraz Shivji, who had worked on the Commodore 64's development. Atari in mid-1984 was losing about a million dollars per day.
Interested in Atari's overseas manufacturing and worldwide distribution network for his new computer, Tramiel negotiated with Warner in May and June 1984. He bought Atari's Consumer Division in July; as executives and engineers left Commodore to join Tramiel's new Atari Corporation, Commodore responded by filing lawsuits against four former engineers for theft of trade secrets. The Tramiels did not purchase the employee contracts when they bought the assets of Atari Inc. so one of their first acts was to interview Atari Inc. employees to decide whom to hire at what was a brand new company. This company was called TTL renamed to Atari Corp. At the time of the purchase of Atari Inc's assets, there were 900 employees remaining from a high point of 10,000. After the interviews 100 employees were hired to work at Atari Corp. At one point a custom sound processor called AMY was a planned component for the new ST computer design, but the chip needed more time to complete, so AMY was dropped in favor of an off-the-shelf Yamaha sound chip.
It was during this time in late July/early August that Leonard Tramiel discovered the original Amiga contract, which required Amiga Corporation to deliver the Lorraine chipset to Atari on June 30, 1984. Amiga Corp. had sought more monetary support from investors in spring 1984. Having heard rumors that Tramiel was negotiating to buy Atari, Amiga Corp. entered into discussions with Commodore. The discussions led to Commodore wanting to purchase Amiga Corporation outright, which Commodore believed would cancel any outstanding contracts, including Atari's. Instead of Amiga Corp. delivering Lorraine to Atari, Commodore delivered a check of $500,000 to Atari on Amiga's behalf, in effect returning the funds Atari invested into Amiga for the chipset. Tramiel countersued Amiga Corp. on August 13, 1984. He sought an injunction to bar Amiga from producing anything with its technology. At Commodore, the Amiga team was in limbo during the summer of 1984 because of the lawsuit. No word on the status of the chipset, the Lorraine computer, or the team's fate was known.
In the fall of 1984, Commodore informed the team that the Lorraine project was active again, the chipset was to be improved, the operating system developed, the hardware design completed. While Commodore announced the Amiga 1000 with the Lorraine chipset in July 1985, the delay gave Atari, with its ma
Video game genre
A video game genre is a classification assigned to a video game based on its gameplay interaction rather than visual or narrative differences. A video game genre is defined by a set of gameplay challenges and are classified independently of their setting or game-world content, unlike other works of fiction such as films or books. For example, a shooter game is still a shooter game, regardless of when it takes place; as with nearly all varieties of genre classification, the matter of any individual video game's specific genre is open to personal interpretation. Moreover, each individual game may belong to several genres at once; the first attempt to classify different genres of video games was made by Chris Crawford in his book The Art of Computer Game Design in 1984. In this book, Crawford focused on the player's experience and activities required for gameplay. Here, he stated that "the state of computer game design is changing quickly. We would therefore expect the taxonomy presented to become obsolete or inadequate in a short time."
Since among other genres, the platformer and 3D shooter genres, which hardly existed at the time, have gained a lot of popularity. As hardware capabilities have increased, new genres have become possible, with examples being increased memory, the move from 2D to 3D, new peripherals and location. Though genres were just interesting for game studies in the 1980s, the business of video games expanded in the 1990s and both smaller and independent publishers had little chance of surviving; because of this, games settled more into set genres that larger publishers and retailers could use for marketing. Due to "direct and active participation" of the player, video game genres differ from literary and film genres. Though one could state that Space Invaders is a science-fiction video game, such a classification "ignores the differences and similarities which are to be found in the player's experience of the game." In contrast to the visual aesthetics of games, which can vary it is argued that it is interactivity characteristics that are common to all games.
Descriptive names of genres take into account the goals of the game, the protagonist and the perspective offered to the player. For example, a first-person shooter is a game, played from a first-person perspective and involves the practice of shooting; the term "subgenre" may be used to refer to a category within a genre to further specify the genre of the game under discussion. Whereas "shooter game" is a genre name, "first-person shooter" and "third-person shooter" are common subgenres of the shooter genre. Other examples of such prefixes are real-time, turn based, side-scrolling; the target audience, underlying theme or purpose of a game are sometimes used as a genre identifier, such as with "games for girls," games for cats,"Christian game" and "Serious game" respectively. However, because these terms do not indicate anything about the gameplay of a video game, these are not considered genres. Video game genres vary in specificity, with popular video game reviews using genre names varying from "action" to "baseball."
In this practice, basic themes and more fundamental characteristics are used alongside each other. A game may combine aspects of multiple genres in such a way that it becomes hard to classify under existing genres. For example, because Grand Theft Auto III combined shooting and roleplaying in an unusual way, it was hard to classify using existing terms. Since the term Grand Theft Auto clone has been used to describe games mechanically similar to Grand Theft Auto III; the term roguelike has been developed for games that share similarities with Rogue. Elements of the role-playing genre, which focuses on storytelling and character growth, have been implemented in many different genres of video games; this is because the addition of a story and character enhancement to an action, strategy or puzzle video game does not take away from its core gameplay, but adds an incentive other than survival to the experience. According to some analysts, the count of each broad genre in the best selling physical games worldwide is broken down as follows.
The most popular genres are Shooter, Role-playing and Sports, with Platformer and Racing having both declined in the last decade. Puzzle games have declined when measured by sales, however, on mobile, where the majority of games are free-to-play, this genre remains the most popular worldwide. List of video game genres
Taito Corporation is a Japanese video game developer and publisher of arcade hardware and mobile phones, an operator of video arcades. It is a former publisher of home video games. Taito is wholly owned by Square Enix Holdings. Despite being a subsidiary to Square Enix Holdings, the parent company has kept the branding of Taito distinct from Square Enix. Taito is known for producing arcade games, such as Space Invaders, Bubble Bobble, Arkanoid, its arcade games found success around the world. Taito imports and distributes American coin-op video games in Japan, where it owns several arcades, known as Taito Stations or Game Taito Stations. Taito has its headquarters in the Shinjuku Bunka Quint Building in Yoyogi, Tokyo, sharing the facility with its parent company. In the past, the company had operated divisions in North America, South Korea, the United Kingdom and China; the company was founded in 1953 by a Ukrainian Jewish businessman named Michael Kogan as Taito Trading Co. Ltd.. Taito started out distributing vending machines.
It was the first company to sell vodka in Japan. It began leasing jukeboxes and started to manufacture its own. Taito began producing electro-mechanical arcade games in the 1960s. Taito changed its name from Taito Trading Company to Taito Corporation in August 1972 and introduced its first video arcade game in 1973. Several of its early arcade games saw release in North America by Midway, a Chicago area-based arcade manufacturer with strong ties to Taito. In 1978 Toshihiro Nishikado, a designer at Taito, created Space Invaders which became the company's most popular title and one of the most memorable games in arcade history, responsible for beginning the golden age of arcade video games. Taito opened in 1973 its Taito America division. In its first years, Taito America's sole purpose was to handle the licensing of Taito's video games to American third party publishers, it was not until the late 1970s that Taito America began to self-publish Taito's video games in North America. Based in Elk Grove Village, Taito America relocated to nearby Wheeling in 1985.
While the majority of Taito America's catalog were titles that were released in Japan by its parent company, it did publish video games licensed from third-party companies, as well as games that were developed in the United States for Taito. In April 1986 and a month after becoming part of the Kyocera group, Taito merged with two of its subsidiaries, Pacific Industrial Co. Ltd. and the Japan Vending Machine Co. Ltd, absorbed them both. Japan Vending Machine was once an independent company but was purchased by Taito in July 1971 to strengthen its presence in the operation of amusement facilities. Pacific Industrial was created by Taito itself in 1963 to develop products for the company. In August 1988, on the occasion of its 35th anniversary, the company changed its logo to the current one. In April 1988, Taito Software, the subsidiary of Taito America responsible for non-arcade operations, opened its own office in North Vancouver, British Columbia. While manufacturing and distribution of Taito arcade video games in North America continued to be handled in Wheeling, the North Vancouver unit became in charge of releasing video games for Nintendo's products and the computer market.
In addition to its corporate offices in North Vancouver, Taito Software operated a distribution center in Bothell, Washington. By early 1991 Taito Software had shut down, publishing of home video games returned in Wheeling. Taito America ceased operations in July 1996 after more than 20 years of existence. Taito had sold exclusive rights for publishing its games in America to Acclaim Entertainment the previous year. A division existed in London, United Kingdom to distribute Taito games in Europe. Taito Corporation Limited was created in 1988 and liquidated in February 1998. Taito has developed many arcade video games. Space Invaders is most notable. Q. Puzznic, Kick Master, Gun Buster and Puzzle Bobble. Taito had a license from Hanna-Barbera to produce games based on The Flintstones and The Jetsons. Several of Taito's video games that were released for the Famicom and the Super Famicom in Japan were a joint venture with Disco Corporation. Disco Corporation was established in July 1972 by Taito as a subsidiary to import and sale home electronic products.
As of 2003, Disco's main activities were the development and handling of licenses of computers, peripheral devices and software. In 1992, Taito announced a CD-ROM-based video game console named WOWOW, that would have allowed people to play near-exact ports of Taito's arcades, as well as download games from a satellite transmission, it was named after the Japanese television station WOWOW and would have utilized its stations to download games. The WOWOW was never released; when Taito was owned by Kyocera, its headquarters were in Chiyoda. Taito entered the Tokyo Stock Exchange in January 1993, listed in the Second Section, it transitioned to the First Section in September 2003. In October 2000, Taito merged with Kyocera Multimedia Corporation to enter the market of mobile phones for the first time. On August 22, 2005, it was announced that the gaming conglomerate Square Enix would purchase 247,900 Taito shares worth ¥45.16 billion, to make Taito Corporation a subsidiary of Square Enix
The Z80 CPU is an 8-bit based microprocessor. It was introduced by Zilog in 1976 as the startup company's first product; the Z80 was conceived by Federico Faggin in late 1974 and developed by him and his then-11 employees at Zilog from early 1975 until March 1976, when the first working samples were delivered. With the revenue from the Z80, the company built its own chip factories and grew to over a thousand employees over the following two years; the Zilog Z80 was a software-compatible extension and enhancement of the Intel 8080 and, like it, was aimed at embedded systems. According to the designers, the primary targets for the Z80 CPU were products like intelligent terminals, high end printers and advanced cash registers as well as telecom equipment, industrial robots and other kinds of automation equipment; the Z80 was introduced on the market in July 1976 and came to be used in general desktop computers using CP/M and other operating systems as well as in the home computers of the 1980s.
It was common in military applications, musical equipment, such as synthesizers, in the computerized coin operated video games of the late 1970s and early 1980, the arcade machines or video game arcade cabinets. The Z80 was one of the most used CPUs in the home computer market from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. Zilog licensed the Z80 to the US-based Synertek and Mostek, which had helped them with initial production, as well as to a European second source manufacturer, SGS; the design was copied by several Japanese, East European and Soviet manufacturers. This won the Z80 acceptance in the world market since large companies like NEC, Toshiba and Hitachi started to manufacture the device. In recent decades Zilog has refocused on the ever-growing market for embedded systems and the most recent Z80-compatible microcontroller family, the pipelined 24-bit eZ80 with a linear 16 MB address range, has been introduced alongside the simpler Z180 and Z80 products; the Z80 came about when physicist Federico Faggin left Intel at the end of 1974 to found Zilog with Ralph Ungermann.
At Fairchild Semiconductor, at Intel, Faggin had been working on fundamental transistor and semiconductor manufacturing technology. He developed the basic design methodology used for memories and microprocessors at Intel and led the work on the Intel 4004, the 8080 and several other ICs. Masatoshi Shima, the principal logic and transistor level-designer of the 4004 and the 8080 under Faggin's supervision, joined the Zilog team. By March 1976, Zilog had developed the Z80 as well as an accompanying assembler based development system for its customers, by July 1976, this was formally launched onto the market. Early Z80s were manufactured by Synertek and Mostek, before Zilog had its own manufacturing factory ready, in late 1976; these companies were chosen because they could do the ion implantation needed to create the depletion-mode MOSFETs that the Z80 design used as load transistors in order to cope with a single 5 Volt power supply. Faggin designed the instruction set to be binary compatible with the Intel 8080 so that most 8080 code, notably the CP/M operating system and Intel's PL/M compiler for 8080, would run unmodified on the new Z80 CPU.
Masatoshi Shima designed most of the microarchitecture as well as the gate and transistor levels of the Z80 CPU, assisted by a small number of engineers and layout people. CEO Federico Faggin was heavily involved in the chip layout work, together with two dedicated layout people. Faggin worked 80 hours a week in order to meet the tight schedule given by the financial investors, according to himself; the Z80 offered many improvements over the 8080: An enhanced instruction set including single-bit addressing, shifts/rotates on memory and registers other than the accumulator, rotate instructions for BCD number strings in memory, program looping, program counter relative jumps, block copy, block input/output, byte search instructions. The Z80 had better support for signed 8 - and 16-bit arithmetics. New IX and IY index registers with instructions for direct base+offset addressing A better interrupt system A more automatic and general vectorized interrupt system, mode 2 intended for Zilog's line of counter/timers, DMA and communications controllers, as well as a fixed vector interrupt system, mode 1, for simple systems with minimal hardware.
A non maskable interrupt which can be used to respond to power down situations or other high priority events. Two separate register files, which could be switched, to speed up response to interrupts such as fast asynchronous event handlers or a multitasking dispatcher. Although they were not intended as extra registers for general code, they were used that way in some applications. Less hardware required for power supply, clock generation and interface to memory and I/O Single 5-volt power supply. Single-phase 5 V clock. A built-in DRAM refresh mechanism. Non-multiplexed buses. A special reset function which clears only the program counter so that a single Z80 CPU could be used in a
Family Computer Disk System
The Family Computer Disk System is a peripheral for Nintendo's Family Computer home video game console, released only in Japan on February 21, 1986. It uses proprietary floppy disks called "Disk Cards" for data storage. Through its entire production span, 1986 –2003, 4.44 million units were sold. Its name is sometimes shortened as Famicom Disk System or Disk System, abbreviated as FCDS, FDS or FCD; the device is connected to the Famicom deck by plugging a special cartridge known as the RAM Adapter into the system's cartridge port, attaching that cartridge's cable to the disk drive. The RAM adapter contains 32 kilobytes of RAM for temporary program storage, 8 KB of RAM for tile and sprite data storage, an ASIC known as the 2C33; the ASIC acts as a disk controller for the floppy drive, includes additional sound hardware featuring a single-cycle wavetable-lookup synthesizer. Embedded in the 2C33 is an 8KB BIOS ROM; the Disk Cards used are double-sided, with a total capacity of 112 KB per disk. Many games span both sides of a disk, requiring the user to switch sides at some point during gameplay.
A few games use two full disks, totaling four sides. The Disk System is capable of running on six C-cell batteries or the supplied AC adapter. Batteries last five months with daily game play; the inclusion of a battery option is due to the likelihood of a standard set of AC plugs being occupied by a Famicom and a television. In 1983, the disks' 112 KB of storage space was quite appealing due to the high cost of cartridge-based solid state storage chips; the rewritable aspect of the disks opened up new possibilities. Many of these titles were subsequently ported to cartridge format and released for the NES a year or two with saving implemented either via password resume or battery-backed memory. Sharp released the Twin Famicom, a Famicom model that features a built-in Disk System. Widespread copyright violation in Japan's predominantly personal-computer-based game rental market inspired corporations to petition the government to ban the rental of all video games in 1984. With games being available only via full purchase, demand rose for a new and less expensive way to access more games.
In 1986, as video gaming had expanded from computers into the video game console market, Nintendo installed Famicom Disk Writer Kiosks in game stores across Japan. For a rental fee of 500 yen as opposed to the 2,600 yen cost of new games, these stations allowed users to copy new games to their disks for an unlimited time; some game releases were exclusive to these kiosks. Calling the Disk Writer "one of the coolest things Nintendo created", Kotaku says the system's premise still offers modern retail and online stores a potential innovation in game rentals; the service was popular and remained available until 2003. Disk Writer kiosks in select locations were provisioned as Disk Fax systems. Players could take advantage of the dynamic rewritability of blue floppy disk versions of Disk System games in order to achieve and save their high scores at their leisure at home; the player could bring the disk to a retailer's Disk Fax kiosk, which collated and transmitted the player's scores via facsimile to Nintendo.
Players participated in a nationwide leaderboard, with prizes. The Disk System's Disk Cards are somewhat proprietary 71 mm × 76 mm 56K-per-side double-sided floppy; these "Disk Cards," as they are called, were a slight modification of Mitsumi's "Quick Disk" 89 mm 2.8 in square disk format, used in a handful of Japanese computers and various synthesizer keyboards, along with a few word processors. Some of the QuickDisk drives made it into devices in Europe and North America, though they are somewhat rare. Mitsumi had close relations with Nintendo, as it manufactured the Famicom and NES consoles, other Nintendo hardware. Nintendo's flagship mascot brothers Mario and Luigi make an appearance in the FDS's boot firmware. After turning on the system, a "battle" between the two characters begins over the color scheme of the Nintendo sign and screen border, until a disk is inserted into the FDS. While the Disk System was years ahead of its time in terms of a disk-format game console, the drive and disks both have reliability issues.
The drive belt in the drive is a proprietary size, since standard floppy drive belts are too large. Until 2004, Japanese residents were able to send their systems to Nintendo directly for repairs and belt replacements, but Nintendo of America and the PAL regions do not service them as the system was not released in those regions. Due to a flaw in manufacturing, the old belts have a tendency to break, decompose, or melt. In an effort to save money on production, Nintendo opted to not use disk shutters to keep dirt out, instead opting to include wax paper sleeves as with the older 133 mm disks; the only exception to this were certain games that were specially released on blue disks, which do have shutters. Error messages produced during disk read operations are unusually simple, to the point where it is difficult to know what the exact problem is. Most in-game error messages during loading are displayed as "Err. ##", with ## being the designated number for the type of error message.