Ditch Discs And Go Back To Cartridges
Most youngsters today won’t even remember the days when you had to plug in small cassette-sized cartridges into the gaming console to play video games. If the cartridge didn’t work at first, well, you have to pull it out, blow on it and reinsert it. And voila, you could continue playing your game. But those days of game cartridges are long gone; cartridges were phased out of use when Nintendo introduced the GameCube in 2001.
Gradually, optical discs took over, first came compact discs or CDs, then DVDs and now Blu-Ray discs. Optical discs became popular for physical distribution of games rather than the older NES-type cartridges because they offered more storage space and versatility than cartridges. This sounded the death knell for those old-fashioned cartridges and they disappeared completely from store shelves and were only to be found in the homes of some dedicated gaming fans. But now it has been reported that the cartridges are making a comeback, although obviously not in the same form.
With the launch of its new unnamed gaming console, known to the public only as the NX, Nintendo intends to bring cartridges back to gaming. Here are a few reasons why cartridges are the next big innovation in the gaming industry:
- The new cartridges will be based on flash storage media. This has become possible because the production of flash media is becoming cheaper day by day and also flash media storage limits have gone up to 2 TB, far exceeding the storage capacities of optical discs. And, whereas discs were far more prone to damage and breaking, a single scratch could render the disc useless. Many new flash storage devices nowadays are waterproof and shock-proof, a boon for kids who play video games, but aren’t always the most careful when it comes to handling the gaming media.
- The new Nintendo console will also have the dual functionality of being a portable console, which can be docked into your television at home. Flash media makes it possible for the gaming devices to be smaller in size and also you can carry around your cartridges. Nintendo already makes cartridges for its 3DS handheld console, so they have proven their point.
- Cartridges with flash media also offer faster access to data and quicker loading time for the game. This is where cartridges definitely trump optical discs. Also, optical discs wear out with time, accumulating minute scratches with frequent use which renders them unusable eventually. Flash media is not affected by repeated use and can be used for many years with the same speed.
- The nostalgic value of cartridges is just an additional benefit. Although not the same as the comparatively large NES cartridges of old, modern plug-in cartridges are more like SD game cards. But the way to use it is the same. This factor appeals to the adult players who grew up playing NES with their siblings and friends in the 80’s and 90’s.
- Cartridges are also more difficult to copy and produced by pirates without proper permissions or licenses, hence providing an inherent security against piracy, which caused millions of dollars of loss to gaming companies in the past.
Third-party support has already started popping up for these cartridges. News has surfaced that the new Zelda: Breath of the Wild game meant for the NX console is to be launched on cartridges. And Nintendo, as usual, has been leading the charge in this new innovation: the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One still rely on Blu-Ray discs. In the near future and with faster internet availability, it is evident that even cartridges will be passed over in favor of sole digital distribution.
But until that time, the cartridges have redeemed themselves. With several advantages of cartridges over optical discs, gamers are hoping that the cartridges are here to stay for many years to come.
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