All the way back in 1986, Nintendo released one of its coolest devices ever. And you’ve likely never heard of it.
The Famicom Disk System was an add-on to the Famicom, which was the Japanese version of the original Nintendo Entertainment System. Instead of running games on those big, bulky cartridges, it read floppy disks. With that came a host of advantages.
As part of a series celebrating the 30th anniversary of “The Legend of Zelda,” Nintendo ran a piece on its Japanese website about one of their storage rooms that is full of rad Famicom Disk System stuff. Here’s a look inside one of the coolest gaming rooms in the world:
In case you've never seen one, this is the Famicom. Internally, it's the same as the original Nintendo we had in the west, but it had a different design and the controllers were hard-wired to the system.
Check out this shelf. Nintendo just has a shelf full of mint-condition, boxed Famicom Disk Systems at Nintendo HQ. It was sold separately as an add-on for the Famicom after launch.
This is ridiculously cool. You don't see old, semi-obscure tech (outside of Japan, anyway) in perfect condition like this every day.
The Disk System is a little less attractive than the Famicom itself. It's just a big ol' red box. Function over form.
You attached it to the bottom of the Famicom and shoved those floppy disks into it. The disks were cheaper to produce than cartridges, had more storage capacity and players could actually save their games instead of relying on passwords. 'Metroid' allowed players to save in the Japanese disk version, but in the western cartridge version, they had to use passwords.
'The Legend of Zelda' was originally a disk game before being converted to cartridge for its western release. Nintendo actually figured out a battery-based solution for the cartridge version, meaning this was the first cartridge-based game that allowed players to save their games. It was genuinely revolutionary.
Here's where the Disk System becomes really cool. Retail outlets in Japan had these disk writers that allowed players to write new games onto blank disks for a one-time fee, which was cheaper than buying a game on a cartridge. Just put a disk in there, pay the fee and you have a new game on it. That's awesome.
Some stores even had 'Disk Fax' machines, where players could use their disks to upload their high scores for certain games. The information was stored in a nationwide leaderboard and prizes were given out to the best players!
Sadly, Nintendo's website hasn't delved into any of their other rad storage rooms. The Nintendo 64 also had a disk drive add-on that was only released in Japan, and surely they have a room full of those, too!
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