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Magmavision2000

Why Didn't Nintendo Release The FDS Overseas?

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I honestly think it could've been a success over here. It had an extra sound channel, you could save games without having battery backup, and not only the disks were affordable, but you could also rewrite them. To be honest, besides them not wanting to take any chances (which is understandable, considering how Nintendo wasn't as big as it is now), I don't know why they didn't release it overseas.

 

Is there something I'm not understanding here?

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Maybe they might have worried about the rewritable disks being used for piracy. The only thing that I can think of other than that, I guess, is that the NES just wasn't designed to accept the FDS RAM adaptor thingy and maybe they didn't want to have to redesign that as well. By the time the hardware got a redesign, the Super Famicom was already on the market in Japan and maybe the Super Nintendo was already released as well, so in that case I imagine they'd want to focus on their newest console, despite the NES doing very well overall, at least in the USA.

 

I don't know much about the FC, FDS, or NES, but I do know that the NES also doesn't have the support for cartridge audio like the FC does for some reason. I'd guess cost reduction was probably the reason, and if they were already trying to be cheap with the NES by not incorporating whatever it is that allows cart audio, perhaps they didn't feel like investing additional money into releasing the Disk System outside Japan.

 

This is all just a bunch of guessing, though, so I imagine I'm completely wrong.

Edited by Steven Pendleton
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I think the FDS was created to offer bigger games but cartridge ROM price was getting lower and lower anyway, so Nintendo could make a lot more money selling FDS games as cartridges in the West. Writing an FDS game on a blank disk would only cost around $5 - which is awesome for the consumer but not so much for the publisher. 😅
Also the FDS would require dedicated kiosks to write games, and I guess installing them in stores all around the USA for instance would have been a lot more problematic than in the very dense Japan.

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It's mostly due to FDS disk capacity.  It would have taken time and resources for Nintendo to establish an infrastructure outside of Japan for the disk writers, and by then the capacity of cartridges would have caught up to and exceeded what the FDS disks were capable of (this was already happening in Japan just a couple years after the FDS was launched, which is why the system was so short-lived in Japan).

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"Short-lived" is quite the overstatement, but yeah, his primes years were short. But for example, FDS exclusive games like Metroid or both Zelda wouldn't see a Famicom cart release until 1994.

 

And as already stated, by the time the NES was released and they tinkered about a NES FDS, their were selling consoles like hot cakes, they had found a way to put battery-backed RAM into carts, making the FDS a less desirable option.

Also, the FDS shortcomings were appearent, and while servicing it in Japan was not an issue, for the system was cheap, in the US and Europe where it was sold at a premium price, the unreliability of the FDS would have been potentially very damaging, especially on the US market that would still remember short-lived expensive add-ons.

So in all those regards, it was a better bet for Nintendo to go all carts for outside Japan.

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While the disk unit itself added some extra features, FDS games lacked the expansion options carts would later bring to the table. 

 

I know it's probably sacrilege, but I'm glad the FDS wasn't released here. It would have only cluttered the market and created confusion, not to mention it simply wasn't capable of doing what the most advanced carts could later on (not even that much later, honestly).

 

It was a stopgap device.

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We also probably have to consider that, after the video game "crash" in the United States, they probably didn't want to introduce an expensive add-on that the previous generation started pumping out (ColecoVision expansions, computer modules, etc.).  They probably thought Americans wouldn't buy it.

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I was really surprised when I went to Japan last year to see WALLS OF FAMICOM DISKS in almost every single retro gaming store. I had no idea it was really that popular there. Pretty neat sight to see!

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Yes. It remained very popular for rewriting games, even if new releases on it shrunk rapidly after 1988 or so. There were still new games available up to 1993 I think?

And when you see that the Famicom was "supported" by Nintendo up to 2003, it's in fact counting the fact that Nintendo maintained a Disk Writer Kiosk in working state in their offices and people could (and would) come to get games rewritten (otherwise, support for anything Famicom was halted around 1996). So yeah, it was popular, far from being "short-lived" or a "stop-gap".

Edited by CatPix
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It was a control, profit, and size issue.  By the time it had arrived (NES) in the US mainstream (1986-87) the FDS disks were already looking small, annoying (having to flip Side A/B, use more than 1) to use, and they'd have had to remake the device and module for the cart slot too.  It just would have been a total waste.  Factor in their want to control developers in the US after the 83 bomb out of the market, and wanting to control how many games/what games came out (6/yr limit by publisher), and that they were so cheap there was little profit on that too it just was a big mistake to bother outside Japan.

 

As far as the added audio goes, they could have just addressed it on the system itself I think if they really had cared given after market mods are so tiny on it to enable it while using something like the everdrive/powerpak kit it's not like it was out of the realm.

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20 hours ago, Steven Pendleton said:

The only thing that I can think of other than that, I guess, is that the NES just wasn't designed to accept the FDS RAM adaptor thingy and maybe they didn't want to have to redesign that as well. By the time the hardware got a redesign, the Super Famicom was already on the market in Japan and maybe the Super Nintendo was already released as well, so in that case I imagine they'd want to focus on their newest console, despite the NES doing very well overall, at least in the USA.

This sounds right.

 

You can use the ram cart with a toaster but its not ergonomical.  So would of been need to redesign the NES to fit.

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The NES shouldn't have been designed the way it was. But if it had a cart port similar to the Famicom, then the FDS ram adaptor could have included a pass through to insert cart games.

 

The huge disk drive was literally only a drive. The small ram adaptor had the ram and extra soundchip. It would have had much more longevity if cart games could include optional support to make use of those features.

 

They could have also later introduced a higher capacity device to hook up to it.

 

The disk format would have been popular if new content was sold later on at budget prices. Like additional Zelda "quests". They could make the new content B or C disks that still required the A disk. Complete sets of ABC disks could be sold at the same time updates were released.

 

But business-wise, Nintendo got rich gouging publishers on cart sales. It's too bad that the disk sysyem was a missed oppotunity for game players.

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