Famicom World


Would Nintendo’s Famicom Disk System have been popular in the United States? The Disk System is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting video game accessories/systems I’ve seen in all of my years of gaming. Nintendo of Japan thought it was a smart idea, but slowness and cartridges being packed with batteries made it obsolete. Could it, however, have worked in the United States? Or anywhere else, for that matter? I believe the answer is no, and here are the reasons why:

1. We, as Americans, are impatient. Due to how fast technology had improved in the 80s, we liked do everything in a hurry, especially when it came to video games. Would we have been able to accept the slow loading time of FDS games? We wait now, because every game these days takes time to load up; it’s a simple fact of video-gaming life.

One of the reasons for the creation of the Disk System was game saving. It was one of the bright spots of the system. I mean, why have to enter a password when instead you could save? However, it was the ability to save that hurt the Disk System. While a password is often a pain in the ass to remember, many would’ve found changing from Side A to Side B, back to Side A and then Side B, just in order to save a game, to be long, annoying process.

2. The glitches just would not fly with us, not at all. We Americans don’t like glitches; that’s why there’s always such an outcry when a product has to be recalled due to faulty inner workings. With the FDS, some disks were unreadable, having de-magnetized, and even scarier was the disk drive’s belt, which had a tendency to wear out quickly. The wait, to this day, to fix a Disk System’s band, is painfully long.

3. The choice of games was few, even if fun. The game choices were far from horrible, and many great FDS games were never released as cartridges, just disks: Super Mario Bros. 2j, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and Return of the Mario Bros., to name a few. Maybe it was just the failure of the FDS in Japan that kept down the number of released games, but only about 130 were released. You may not have wanted to make an investment in a system that had so few games from which to choose.

Now, what would happen if you couldn’t afford the Disk System? It’s not like you could find some secret hole where someone was selling pirated FDS games as cartridges, especially in the United States. What’s worse may have been if FDS games were only available at Disk Writer machines, as was true for some games in Japan. What if you don’t live near a Disk Writer? Japan, because it’s a small island, tends to be more metropolitan, while a great chunk of video gaming America is rural. Is it worth the hour or more drive for a game that you’re not even sure is going to be good? What are you going to do? Perhaps Nintendo’s marketing strategy would have been much different from its strategy in Japan.

It should be pretty obvious from these points as to why the Disk System would never have worked. The games, the loading, the glitches, and the marketing would have hurt the poor FDS and sent it to video game Hell.

This, however, should not stop you from purchasing one today. It’s a very fun little thing to use, particularly for the hardcore Famicom gamer.