The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was an 8-bit home video game console produced by Nintendo. It was first released as the Family Computer (FC), more widely known as the Famicom, in 1983 in Japan.

The NES, a redesigned version of that console (the same hardware but inside a different case), made its debut in American in 1985, with a Europe regional release following in 1986.

The NES was powered by an 8-bit Ricoh 2A03 CPU, running at 1.79 MHz for the NTSC NES and 1.66 MHz for the PAL version. The NES contains 2 KB of onboard RAM, which compared to consoles of today in an incredibly tiny amount of RAM.

NES games were supplied on cartridge, with most of the RAM available for a game included on the actual game cartridge itself. The cartridge sizes of NES games vary from 8 KB (Galaxian) through to a whopping 1 MB (Metal Slader Glory), but 128 to 384 KB was the most common.

The graphics of the NES were handled by a custom-made Picture Processing Unit (PPU), again developed by Ricoh. This PPU featured 2 KB of video RAM, 256 bytes of “object attribute memory” (OAM) to store the positions, colours, and tile indices of up to 64 sprites on the screen, and 28 bytes of palette RAM to allow selection of background and sprite colours.

The NES had an available colour palette of 54 colours, and up to 25 simultaneous colours could be used. Colours were used in banks of 4, or 3 plus transparent for sprites. A total of 64 sprites may be displayed onscreen at once, and the display resolution of the NES is 256 horizontal pixels by 240 vertical pixels.

The NES colour palette

5 of the Best NES Games Ever

5 of the Best NES games ever made! These are not listed in order of preference, all 5 games are fantastic.

Super Mario Bros 3

Impossible to have a top NES games list without a Mario game. Platform game perfection, and possibly the most highly regarded game series ever.

Mega Man 2

Tough as nails, visually impressive and a lot of fun to play. You will need to be very determined to progress beyond the first couple of levels, although it was better balanced and less punishing than the original.

Castlevania III

The first two showed promise, but the third instalment really pushed Castlevania into new areas with much stronger level designs and a more compelling story.


Simple, yet incredibly playable. A work of game and puzzle creating genius, there is something very hypnotic about playing Tetris.


Another controller meltingly tough game, but that was the point. To progress in Contra requires you to dig deep and put everything you have into it. Run ‘n’ Gun awesomeness!

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