PAL Nintendo NES-101 Top Loader Control Deck

7 Sep
toploader april 94

Australian advertisement – April 1994

The NES Top Loader console was released in 1993 (1994 in AUS) when the Super Nintendo was already on the market. It retailed for a much lower price than the original NES-001 and addressed some common issues. It was available for a short time, up until 1995.

toploader front

The newly shaped NES was designed by Lance Barr, who is also credited with the design of the original NES console, and US SNES console. Lance is still employed by Nintendo of America as a Product Design Director and has had input with the design of the Wii mote and nun chuck.

The NES Top Loader was much smaller in comparison to the NES-001, region free and believed to be more reliable. The 10NES chip was omitted, so now games from other regions and unlicensed games could be played on the system, although there were some exceptions. The method of inserting the game is an improvement. Rather than having a door at the front, and slide the game in, it simply attached to the pin connectors with the cartridge protruding out from the top of the machine. This helped to eliminate all the dirt and dust that was common in the original NES, and was quite difficult to clean without the aid of an NES Cleaning Kit. Blinking lights were no more, and the system endured much less wear and tear due to the new design. However, there is no LED power light and the Top Loader lacked AV capabilities and relied on a much more stubborn RF connection (unless modified). This would have been a cost cutting action, so the console could be provided at the lowest price possible.


The PAL NES Top loader was only released in Australia/NZ, in two different boxes, as pictured at the beginning of the article. The first promoting it as a “New Design” and the second, which was bundled with a 3 in 1 game pak containing Super Mario Bros, Tetris and Nintendo World Cup. This box lacked the “New Design” advertising on the front.


The NES-101 also came with a newly designed controller. Referred to as a “dog bone” controller due to its shape. This controller is similar in shape to the SNES controller, with its curves and diagonally placed buttons. As you can see on the side of both boxes, the“dog bone” controller was available separately. Both types of NES controllers are interchangeable on each system.

 Newly designed boxed

Newly designed boxed “dog bone” controller in comparison to the original NES controller

Summer CES 1993 - prototype rectangle controller.

Summer CES 1993 – prototype controller.

Source: 1995 Nintendo Australia product catalogue.

Source: 1995 Nintendo Australia product catalogue.

In America, the Top Loader was released in a box similar to Australia, but with a red stripe along the top. There were two box variants, one with more stars than the other. The reason for this is unknown. As far as the console goes, there are revisions which were provided by Nintendo in exchange for faulty consoles that had video quality issues. The replacement consoles were capable of AV output to fix that problem. It’s unknown if this was the case for Australia as well.



Japan also had a similar re-released version of the Family Computer, shaped slightly differently, known as the Famicom AV or HVC-101, which was released in late 1993. This addressed any RF problems, and the issue of wired controllers.


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