NES Development Timeline


TThe following is a brief timeline in the devlopment of the NES and Famicom.

First Generation
1983-1984
  • The Famicom is introduced in Japan
  • Games of this era consist of the most basic of game design.
  • Virtually no scrolling, either horozontal or vertical, games are strictly one screen action games. Graphics are very limited and some even look like Atari 2600 games. The games of this era are very primitive.
  • Games of this era include: Donkey Kong, Balloon Fight, Mario Bros.
  • Games of this era are produced exclusively by Nintendo, and feature plain, grey labels on the carts.
Second Generation
1984-1986
  • The NES is released in the US
  • Nintendo approves third parties to produce games
  • Games of this generation are noticably improved over the first generation. Scrolling, usually in one direction at a time, is introduced.
  • Games typical of this era include: early first party games such as Chubby Cherub, Fist of the North Star, and most notably, the game which I believe started this new generation, Super Mario Bros.
  • The Famicom sees a barrage of primitive shooters, including B-Wings, Tiger Heli, and others.
  • The Famicom Disk System (FDS) is released
Third Generation
1986-1988
  • The NES/FC begins to really shine in this generation! These games would forever makr the NES as one of the great revolutionary systems of all time.
  • Significant graphical improvement occurs.
  • The Legend of Zelda 1 and 2, Metroid, Kid Icarus, Mike Tyson's Punch Out!! and other classic games were released.
  • This generation introduced the password and battery backup features, which would be crutial to adventure and RPG games.
Fourth Generation
1988-1990
  • This generation would follow-up on the success of the previous one. Games of this generation would see much better graphics and more complex gameplay than games of the previous one.
  • Games such as Blaster Master, Crystalis would continue the NES/FC legacy of classic adventures.
  • The first unlicensed Famicom games appear
  • Mass piracy of FC games occurs, especially FDS games which are easily copied
Fifth Generation
1990-1992
  • This generation would see a great deal of scandal for the NES. The barrage of Nintendo lawsuits would step into high gear, icnluding the infamous lawsuit against Tengen for their version of Tetris.
  • The last era of new NES/FC game development. Only this and the following generation would see any more NES/FC games released.
  • The SNES and Sega Genesis are now both on the market, and biding for gamer's dollars, and attempting to dethrone the NES.
  • About 50 million NES units, to this point, have been sold in the US alone
  • A fury of unlicensed NES games appearm from a variety of companies trying to cash in on the huge success of the NES. Among them, Tengen, Color Dreams, Caltron, AVE, Panesian, and many others.
  • Games of this generation include: Super Mario Bros. 3
  • The last FDS game is released
Sixth Generation
1992-1995
  • This is the last generation of original NES and FC games. The SNES and Genesis have left the NES largely abandoned by the gaming public.
  • This generation of NES games pushes the NES to its absolute limits. Graphics almost rivaling 16 bit can be found.
  • Games of this generation include: StarTropics 2, a variety of Taito Hanna Barbera cartoon-based games, and Wario's Woods.
  • Unlicensed game companies also abandon the NES/FC
Post-NES/FC Development Era
  • The NES would be largely abandoned and forgotten in the mainstream gaming public, until about 1996.
  • 1996 marked a significant turn in the history of the NES. The NES would revived, at least in a limited circle of gamers. Two significant events marked the reinterest in the NES: the Internet opened up a whole new world for NES fans to get together and share info about the NES, and sparked a new interest in the machine; this was actually true of all classic gaming consoles that were no longer supported. Even more significant, was the era of console game emulation. The emulation of the NES, I believe, was the match which sparked a whole new fire of interest in this machine by a large number of people. Some people love emulation, some people absolutely hate emulation and it is their bane of their existance, but its effects of the increase of the popularity of the NES is undeniable.
  • A surge in sales of (used) NES games hits the US, and even more so in Japan, to the point it is fast beocming a viable gaming platform again!
  • Piracy in Asia of NES/FC games continues seemingly unhindered, due to the NES/FC's continued popularity there

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