Saturday, August 13, 2016

Gaming Bits: Famicom Data Recorder and Family BASIC...

I honestly don't know if I can dedicate a whole segment to this thing, but I said I'd do this because right as I post a new gaming bits, I have to stick with the next segment idea until it gets written, and only then do Ideas come to my head, after that once I write a segment, My mind crashes, burns, and goes blank, so I'm forced to write stupid crap like this, here it's not stupid so much as it's not the best. Then again I dedicated a whole third of a year on a bunch of the most interesting consoles of the late 90s... Ah well, here's the Famicom data recorder...

In the early to mid 80s, Cassette tape usage became popular for storing data on home computers, yes for a time it wasn't just used for Music. This was especially big in the Europe where even games were on Cassette tapes. It may've been a novel idea for the time, but The tape could get caught in the tape deck, piracy was a huge problem for games in the Europe, and it was rather expensive to maintain. Tape decks on computers became less useful when floppy disk usage became cheap enough and accessible to the average joe.

As we discussed on a previous Gaming Bits, The Famicom was marketed as sort of a computer for a while, It was later marketed more as a game console, but they actually had some peripherals that made the computer feel increase.

The Family BASIC Keyboard allowed you to make programs to run on the Famicom, It was pretty much like any other BASIC Programming Language, I'm pretty sure there were coding tutorials on video game magazines like there were for the Commodore 64 or ZX Spectrum, But I assume you wanted to share your Programs, maybe you wanted to come back and tinker with it later. That's what the Famicom Data Recorder was for. It was tape deck you could find just about anywhere in the 80s, but it worked with Famicom. However you couldn't have one without the other, The Keyboard wouldn't save without the Data Recorder, and the Data Recorder wouldn't plug in period if the Family Basic Keyboard wasn't in the expansion slot.

You could do more than just make games/programs for the Famicom, you could also make levels for certain games, In theory this was a great idea, but only 3 games supported this feature, and saving them and finding the level you wanted to use was more archaic than than the memory cards and Hard drives of today. you had to record your level, then rewind/fast forward to the level you want for that certain game... Or before you record your levels, have a memo indicating what level you have... Like I do here...

*Presses Play*

Tape: On a cold winter of morning, In the time before the light. In flames of death's eternal reign, We ride towards the fight.

A. Yoshi: God dammit Yoshiette!!!!

As I was Saying, 4 Games supported The feature, They were Excitebike, Mach Rider, Wrecking Crew, and Castle Excellent.

The First 3 games allowed you to save custom levels while the 4th one allowed for you to use the tapes as a memory card for save files. (FAST FACT: Castle Excellent Came out in the US as Castlequest, the game used 50 lives instead of saves to justify the lack of a Tape Deck for the NES, Which brings us to...)

the NES Was supposed to have a tape Deck and keyboard as early as 1984, then once the console was redesigned, an expansion slot was put in the system, though it never happened. Even then the system hardly sold in japan, with the cost of all the peripherals being too much for normal people to afford.

Yoshiette 2: No wonder my copy of Excitebike won't sa...


Look to the second paragraph to see more reasons the FDR and Family BASIC Failed, But the Famicom Disk System which allowed for saving was released in 1986, but that's a story, for another day...


Looking at another interesting Nintendo peripheral, Next time...

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