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Family Computer Disk System
Official Family Computer Disk System logo
Family Computer Disk System connected to the Family Computer
Manufacturer Nintendo
Type Video game console add-on
Generation Third generation (8-bit era)
Retail availability JP February 21, 1986
Media Floppy disksb[›]
CPU Ricoh 2A03 8-bit processor (MOS Technology 6502 core)
A Zelda no Densetsu disk card.

The Family Computer Disk System (ファミリーコンピュータ ディスクシステム?, sometimes abbreviated as the Famicom Disk System, the Disk System, or simply the FDS) was released on February 21, 1986 by Nintendo as a peripheral for the Family Computer ("Famicom") console in Japan. It was a unit that used proprietary floppy disks (called "disk cards") for data storage. It was announced, but never released, for the North American Nintendo Entertainment System. Through its entire production span, 1986-2003, 4.5 million units were sold.[1]

The device was connected to the Famicom deck by plugging a modified cartridge known as the RAM Adapter into the system's cartridge port, which attached via a supplied cable to the disk drive. The RAM adapter contained 32 kilobytes of RAM for temporary program storage, 8 kilobytes of RAM for tile and sprite data storage, and an ASIC known as the 2C33. The ASIC acted as a disk controller for the floppy drive, and also included additional sound hardware featuring primitive wavetable synthesis and FM synthesis capabilities. The disk cards used were double-sided, with a total capacity of 896 kilobits or 112 kilobytes per disk. Many games spanned both sides of a disk, requiring the user to switch sides at some point during gameplay. A few games used two full disks (four sides). The Disk System was capable of running on six C-cell batteries or the supplied AC adapter. Batteries would usually last 5 months on daily game play. The battery option was included due to the likelihood of a standard set of AC plugs already being occupied by a Famicom and a television.

Contents

History

In 1986, the disks' 112 KiB of storage space was quite appealing. The rewritable aspect of the disks also opened up interesting possibilities; games such as The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Kid Icarus were released to the FDS with a save feature. Many of these titles were subsequently ported to cartridge format and released for the NES a year or two later, with saving implemented with password resume or battery-backed memory.

Hardware versions

Sharp released the Twin Famicom (ツインファミコン?), a Family Computer model that features a built-in Disk System.

Technology

The Disk System's Disk Cards were somewhat proprietary 2.8" × 3" 56K-per-side double-sided floppy. These "Disk Cards," as they're officially called, were a slight modification of Mitsumi's "Quick Disk" 2.8" square disk format which was used in a handful of Japanese computers and various synthesizer keyboards, along with a few word processors. Some of the QuickDisk drives even made it into devices in Europe and North America, though they were somewhat rare. Mitsumi already had close relations with Nintendo, as it manufactured the Famicom and NES consoles, and possibly other Nintendo hardware.

BIOS

Nintendo's flagship mascot brothers Mario and Luigi make an appearance in the FDS's BIOS. After turning on the system, a "battle" between the two characters would begin over the color scheme of the Nintendo sign and screen border, until a disk is inserted into the FDS.

Piracy

Within a year of its release, piracy of disk cards became rampant via use of slightly modified QuickDisks and different disk copying techniques. Hacker publications such as Backup Technique (which later became Game Labo, still published today) and Famicom Kaizō Manual showed the plans to make various devices to copy the disks along with very simple plans to convert QuickDisks to FDS disks. At least a couple issues of Backup Technique even advertised products like the Dubbing Boy and the Dubbing Boy II for copying the disks, which were commercialized versions of some of the do-it-yourself projects that the publications wrote articles on. To thwart this piracy, Nintendo changed one of the ICs in the drive to a newer version and made slight modifications to some of the traces on the other PCB within the drive.[citation needed] Techniques were quickly published to build modification boards to circumvent these measures. Certain software techniques were used by some programmers to thwart the copying of their disks, but even these were circumvented by certain unlicensed FDS programs like Disk Hacker (versions include 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and II), Kosodate Gokko, Copy Master, Disk Keeper, and others, which facilitated the copying of disks.

Reliability

A blue game disk with shutter.

While the Disk System was years ahead of its time in terms of a disc-format game console, the system and games both have reliability issues. The drive belt in the drive is a proprietary size, and standard floppy drive belts are too large. Until 2004, Japanese residents were able to send their systems to Nintendo directly for repairs/belt replacements, but Nintendo of America and the PAL regions do not service them(as the system was not released in those regions). The old belts have a habit of breaking or even melting on occasion.

In addition, the disks themselves must be tested and verified to work on both sides, as the FDS disks’ construction can allow dirt to get into the disk, or even for the disk to demagnetize over time. Even one bad sector on a disc will render it unplayable. In an effort to save money on production, Nintendo opted to not use disk shutters (a feature seen on 3.5” floppy disks) to keep dirt out, instead opting to include wax paper sleeves as with the older 5.25” floppies. The only exception to this were certain games that were specially released on blue discs (which did have shutters).

Also, error messages received when attempting to load a disk 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 often displayed as 'Err. ##', with ## being the designated number for the type of error message --- the most common ones are Err. 02 (the Disk System's batteries being low on power or with no batteries put in altogether), Err. 07 (Side A and B reversed when trying to load the disk), and Err. 27 ('Disk trouble', usually involving the disk surface itself). However, the error messages themselves consist of little explanation (Err. 27, for example, only give the accompanying message 'Disk trouble') and in most cases within gameplay itself, such as Zelda 2, the error message is not given at all, with only the number code shown.

Games

Square Co., Ltd. had a branch at one point called 'Disk Original Group', a software label that published Disk System titles from Japanese PC software companies. The venture was largely a failure and almost pushed a pre-Final Fantasy Square into bankruptcy. (Final Fantasy was to be released for the FDS, but a disagreement over Nintendo's copyright policies caused Square to change its position and release the game as a cartridge.)[citation needed]

Nintendo released a disk version of Super Mario Bros. in addition to the cartridge version. The Western-market Super Mario Bros. 2 originated from a disk-only game called Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic.

Launch titles

Disk-kun

Nintendo would hold game score contests, and the mascot was called Disk-kun (Mr. Disk or Disk Boy in English). Some of the prizes to these contests included 2 gold prize disks, one for the game Golf US course, and one for Golf Japan course (Not to be confused with the title simply called Golf). These two gold disks had metal shutters on them, like the aforementioned blue disk cards. Other prizes were a stationery set, and a gold cartridge version of the Punch-Out!! for the Family Computer. In the gold version of Punch-Out!!, the final opponent was Super Macho Man, before Nintendo used Mike Tyson and Mr. Dream instead in later NES versions.[citation needed]

Legacy

Many years after the FDS was released, the system and its Disk-kun mascot would be recognized by Nintendo and others. In the Nintendo GameCube video game Super Smash Bros. Melee, switching the language to Japanese (via the options menu) would also result in the trophy gallery's Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES being replaced with a Family Computer and Super Famicom, respectively. Additionally, Disk-kun could be unlocked as a trophy via accessing all bonus scores.

In episode 26 of the Oh My Goddess! TV series, a Disk System (and presumably a disk card) shows up in the episode as Skuld is making a 10-dimensional scythe.

See also

References

External links


Strategy wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Category:Famicom Disk System article)

From StrategyWiki, the free strategy guide and walkthrough wiki

This system category is a stub. Help us expand it with system details as well as a {{system}} infobox. Reliable information can be researched on Wikipedia or you can just search for "Famicom Disk System" on Google. Do this and you get a cookie.

Famicom Disk System
Manufacturer Nintendo
Active 19862003
Total Games 226 (85 present)
← (none) (none) →

The Famicom Disk System is a Japan-only disk drive addon for the Famicom (called the Nintendo Entertainment System outside Japan). Many games released for it later appeared in cartridge form.

Pages in category "Famicom Disk System"

The following 85 pages are in this category, out of 85 total.

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  • Igo: Kyuu Roban Taikyoku

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  • Relics: Ankoku Yousai

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  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link

Gaming

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

Famicom Disk System
Manufacturer Nintendo
Type Console Add On
Release Date February 21, 1986 (JP)
Media Famicom Disk Floppy disk
Save Format
Input Options
Special Features
Units Sold
Top Selling Game
Variants None
Competitor(s) Sega Master System
Predecessor None
Successor Satellaview


The Famicom Disk System was an add on for the Famicom in 1986 that used a non-standard 3" disk. It allowed games to be put on floppy disks instead of on cartridges. This was advantageous because disks were rewritable media, but disadvantageous are lower quality sound and graphics.

A special feature in the add-on is that you can save your game progress directly in the disk rather that use a password. This is pretty much useful for RPG games.

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This article uses material from the "Famicom Disk System" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.







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