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Nintendo Nomenclature

The Nintendo Entertainment System is officially available today at select retailers in New York and some surrounding areas. In order to distance itself from the stigma of the recent videogame crash, Nintendo has created a whole new vocabulary for us to learn. Here are some of the terms that you’ll hear from kids and other game players, assuming of course this thing catches on.

Control Deck: This is the main hardware piece that hooks up to your television. The games go inside the system by opening the chamber lid and inserting them all the way into the console. You then push down until it clicks and you’re set to power on. The system has two buttons on the front of it, Power and Reset. It can be hooked up with the enclosed RF adaptor (channel 3 or 4 will work) or, for a slightly better picture, use the enclosed A/V cables (yellow for video, red for audio) if you have a TV that supports them.

Control Deck

Controller: OK, so this one isn’t really a mystery. Even the Atari 2600 called its joysticks controllers. There are two included in the box. Amongst my family and friends we usually just call them joysticks or paddles, but unlike most other systems, these controllers don’t feature a joystick. Instead there is a – well let’s just move on to the next term, shall we?

Control Pad: The controller features a 4-way directional pad on the left side and two red action buttons on the right side, “B” and “A”. In the middle are two more buttons, “Select” and “Start”. The Control Pad replicates a joystick with more precision. Those of you familiar with the Game & Watch handheld games will be right at home with this choice of control input.


Game Pak: Say goodbye to “tapes” and “cartridges” because Nintendo is calling its software Game Paks. These are notably larger than the ones found on systems we’ve played in the past, and they do look futuristic.

Game Pak

R.O.B.: You see that big robot that came with your Control Deck? His name is R.O.B., which stands for Robotic Operating Buddy. He can interact with two games on the market now, Gyromite and Stack-Up. We anticipate many more games to be released that take advantage of this cutting-edge technology.


Zapper: It’s not a gun. That wouldn’t be very family friendly! It’s a Zapper. This accessory allows you to play the pack-in game Duck Hunt. You point it at the TV and pull the trigger to take down as many ducks as you can to rack up that high score. Other games like Hogan’s Alley and Wild Gunman are already compatible with the Zapper. We expect more to be announced very soon.


NES: By now you should be somewhat familiar with this acronym, which stands for Nintendo Entertainment System. It sort of takes the place of Control Deck as it often refers directly to the console itself. Plus, “NES” better rolls off the tongue, with only three syllables instead of nine.

This is just the beginning. Assuming the NES gets a nationwide rollout next year and becomes successful; expect more interesting terms to come to light. We will revisit this subject in the future if that happens.

Craig Majaski

Craig has been covering the video game industry since 1995. His work has been published across a wide spectrum of media sites. He's currently the Editor-In-Chief of Nintendo Times and contributes to Gaming Age.

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