Family BASIC or Famicom BASIC is the consumer product for programming Nintendo's Family Computer video game console of Japan. Providing a dialect of the BASICprogramming language, the application cartridge was originally bundled with a computer style keyboard and instructional textbook, and requires a cassette tape recorder to save user-generated BASIC programs. Family BASIC was launched on June 21, 1984 to consumers in Japan by Nintendo, in cooperation with Hudson Soft and Sharp Corporation. A second version titled Family BASIC V3 was released on February 21, 1985, with greater memory and new features.
Several visual components seen in Nintendo games, such as backgrounds and characters from Mario and Donkey Kong series games (c. 1984-1985), are made available as Family BASIC development componentry, or have appeared in premade Family BASIC games.
Programs can be saved using the Famicom Data Recorder cassette tape drive. The Famicom Disk System cannot be used together with Family BASIC because both the Disk System's RAM adapter and the Family BASIC cartridge must be inserted into the main unit's cartridge slot for each respective peripheral to function.
Family BASIC cannot normally be used on NES consoles because that console lacks the Famicom's 15-pin expansion port. This can be circumvented by the use of a custom I/O adapter that hooks into the otherwise unused NES Expansion Port on the bottom of the console.