Nintendo Famicom Disk System - ROM Disk Set
- Nintendo, Famicon, Disk, System, Computer, NES, F.DISK, RetroArch, Batocera, Recalbox, Launchbox, Emulator, Emulation, RetroPi, Old School, Video Games, Japanese, Japan, Diskun, Mr. Disk
The Family Computer Disk System, commonly shortened to the Famicom Disk System or just 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 cheaper data storage and it adds a new high-fidelity sound channel for supporting Disk System games.
Fundamentally, the Disk System serves simply to enhance some aspects already inherent to the base Famicom system, with better sound and cheaper games—though with the disadvantages of high initial price, slow speed, and lower reliability. However, this boost to the market of affordable and writable mass storage temporarily served as an enabling technology for the creation of new types of video games. This includes the vast, open world, progress-saving adventures of the best-selling The Legend of Zelda (1986) and Metroid (1986), games with a cost-effective and swift release such as the best-selling Super Mario Bros. 2, and nationwide leaderboards and contests via the in-store Disk Fax kiosks, which are considered to be forerunners of today's online achievement and distribution systems.
By 1989, the Famicom Disk System was inevitably obsoleted by the improving semiconductor technology of game cartridges. The Disk System's lifetime sales reached 4.4 million units by 1990. Its final game was released in 1992, its software was discontinued in 2003, and Nintendo officially discontinued its technical support in 2007.
By 1985, Nintendo's Family Computer was dominating the Japanese home video game market, selling over three million units within a year and a half. Because of its success, the company had difficulty with keeping up demand for new stock, often getting flooded with calls from retailers asking for more systems. Retailers also requested for cheaper games; the cost of chips and semiconductors made cartridges expensive to make, and often cost a lot of money for both stores and consumers to purchase. Chip shortages also created supply issues. To satisfy these requests, Nintendo began thinking of ways to potentially lower the cost of games. It turned towards the home computer market for inspiration; Nintendo specifically looked to floppy disks which were quickly becoming the standard for storage media for personal computers. Floppy disks were cheap to produce and rewritable, allowing games to be easily produced during the manufacturing process. Seeing its potential, Nintendo began work on a disk-based peripheral for the Famicom.
For its proprietary diskette platform, which they dubbed the "Disk Card", Nintendo chose to base it on Mitsumi's Quick Disk media format, a cheaper alternative to floppy disks for Japanese home computers. The Disk Card format presented a number of advantages over cartridges, such as increased storage capacity that allowed for larger games, additional sound channels, and the ability to save player progress. The add-on itself was produced by Masayuki Uemura and Nintendo Research & Development 2, the same team that designed the Famicom itself. Following several delays, the Famicom Disk System was released on February 21, 1986, at a retail price of ¥15000 (US$80). The same day, Nintendo released The Legend of Zelda as a launch title, alongside disk re-releases of earlier Famicom games. Marketing material for the Disk System featured a yellow mascot character named Diskun, or Mr. Disk. The Famicom Disk System sold over 300,000 units within three months, jumping to over 2 million by the end of the year. Nintendo remained confident the Disk System would be a sure-fire success, and ensured that all future first-party releases would be exclusive to the peripheral.
Coinciding with the Disk System's release, Nintendo installed several "Disk Writer" kiosks in various toy and electronic stores across the country. These kiosks allowed customers to bring in their disk games and have a new game rewritten onto them for a ¥500 fee; blank disks could also be purchased for ¥2000. Nintendo also introduced special high-score tournaments for specific Disk System games, where players could submit their scores directly to Nintendo via "Disk Fax" machines found in retail stores. Winners would receive exclusive prizes, including Famicom-branded stationary sets and a gold-colored Punch-Out!! cartridge. Nintendo of America announced plans to release the Disk System for the Famicom's international counterpart, the Nintendo Entertainment System, however these plans were eventually scrapped.
Despite the Famicom Disk System's success and advantages over the Famicom itself, it also imposed many problems of its own. Most common was the quality of the Disk Cards; Nintendo removed the shutters on most Disk System games to reduce costs, instead placing them in a wax sleeve and clear plastic shell. The disks themselves are fragile, and the lack of a shutter made them collect dust and eventually become unplayable as a result. Piracy was also rampant, with disk copying devices and bootleg games becoming commonplace in stores and in magazine advertisements. Third-party developers for the Disk System were also angered towards Nintendo's strict licensing terms, requiring that it receive 50% copyright ownership of any and all software released — this led to several major developers, such as Namco and Hudson Soft, refusing to produce games for it. Four months after the Disk System was released, Capcom released a Famicom conversion of Ghosts 'n Goblins on a 128k cartridge, which as a result made consumers and developers less impressed with the Disk System's technological features. Retailers disliked the Disk Writer kiosks for taking up too much space and for generally being unprofitable. The Disk System's vague error messages, long loading times, and the poor quality of the rubber drive belt that spun the disks are also cited as attributing to its downfall.
By 1989, advancements in technology made cartridge games much cheaper and easier to produce, leaving the Famicom Disk System obsolete. Retailers were critical of Nintendo simply abandoning the Disk Writers and leaving stores with large kiosks that took up vital space, while companies began to release or move their games from the Disk System to a standard cartridge; towards the end of development, Squaresoft ported Final Fantasy over to the Famicom as a cartridge game, with its own battery backup save feature. Nintendo officially discontinued the Famicom Disk System in 1990, selling around 4.4 million units total. Disk writing services were still kept in operation until 2003, while technical services were serviced up until 2007.
- 2022-03-18 04:05:57
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