Differences between the Family Computer and Nintendo Entertainment System

From FamiWiki

This page is to document the differences between the Family Computer and Nintendo Entertainment System.


  • The Family Computer released in 1983 in Japan. It would later get a release in Taiwan in 1987 and in Hong Kong in 1991.
  • The Nintendo Entertainment System released in 1985 as a test launch in New York, and would later release nationwide in 1986 and both Europe and Hong Kong would get the console in the same year.


  • Both the Famicom and NES runs on the Ricoh 2A03. Despite the similar internals the console designs and cartridge media result in incompatibility between both consoles and in some cases incompatibility due to lacking features from one console.
  • The original model of the Famicom had controllers that were hard wired to the console. The NES had ports on the front of the console for plug in controllers.
  • The Famicom uses 60-pin cartridges where as the NES uses 72-pin cartridges.
  • Controller 2 on the Famicom swapped the start and select buttons for a microphone. The NES had controllers identical to each other, both having start and select buttons with no microphone.
  • The Famicom has a 15-pin expansion port on the front of the console used for many accessories. The NES has an expansion port found on the bottom of the console which ultimately was never used during the lifespan of the NES.
  • Expansion audio is only possible on the Famicom via the cartridge port, the audio capabilities were moved to the unused expansion port on the NES which results in expansion audio not playing on the NES without modification.
  • An add-on for the Famicom would release in 1986, the Famicom Disk System. It never saw a release for the NES.


  • The Famicom had a total of 1047 software releases within its lifetime. The NES had a total of 716 software releases across all regions within its lifetime. Several games between the Famicom and NES stayed exclusive between both consoles.
  • In most cases, Famicom games are in Japanese but are sometimes released in English. The NES mostly saw games released in English with PAL territories getting games in their respective languages on occasion.
  • Famicom cartridges come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. NES Game Paks use the same tall grey cartridge design. The Legend of Zelda 1 and 2 as well as 1990 Nintendo World Championships have gold versions of these Game Paks.