How the NES worked
The 1980s was the decade that witnessed the birth of modern video gaming. Back when Culture Club and Michael Jackson ruled the airwaves, the NES was at the forefront of a gaming revolution. The system shifted millions of unitsn and had an enduring appeal that lasted for 20 years until it was discontinued in Japan in 2003. Today it is 31 years since one of the console’s top games Super Mario Bros. was released so no better time than to lift the lid on the famous console and see what’s inside in a trip down memory lane…
The colour palette had 52 colours. The graphics were powered by electrons that moved rapidly across the screen, drawing pixels with them. The PAL version of the NES (that’s the one we had in Britain) operated at 50 frames per second with a resolution of 256 x 240. The undoubted star of the console was of course Mario but other legendary franchises like the Legend of Zelda, Tetris and Metroid also appeared on the NES.
The NES CPU utilized an 8-bit processor and had a separate chip to generate the graphics required for the game titles. The memory was stored internally within each corresponding cartridge rather than on the console itself. The NES had 64KB of memory and had a CPU speed of 1.66MHz, a paltry amount compared to the likes of the PS4 and Xbox One today.
The cartridges were known as Game Pak’s. A ROM chip within the Game Pak stored the games’ memory and some cartridges contained battery powered RAM that enabled you to save your progress.
With a familiar rectangular control pad and the now iconic A and B buttons, the NES Controller was a template in which other games console developers followed. The original controller was by far the most common but other types had features like slow motion and turbo fire. There was also a Light Gun called the ‘Zapper’, which supported shooter games like Duck Hunt.
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