The coming game cartridge renaissance? – Ars Technica


The fact that Street Fighter II is seeing another re-release later this year isn’t all that surprising. Since its arcade and 16-bit heyday, the classic fighting game has appeared in some form or another on the PlayStation, PS2, PS3, PSP, Saturn, Xbox, Xbox 360, iOS, and feature phones, after all.

What was surprising is that this latest rerelease of the ur-fighting game would come on an actual, playable Super NES cartridge. Creative production company iam8bit will start shipping a limited run of 5,500 Street Fighter II 30th Anniversay Edition cartridges—in “Opaque Ryu Headband Red” or “Translucent, Glow-in-the-Dark Blanka Green”—starting in November. Pre-orders have already sold out for the $100 package, which includes a retro-styled box, “Premium Instruction Booklet,” and “Retro Pack-In Surprises.”

Re-releasing old games on new hardware has long been common, of course, and there’s also been a growing niche industry of specialists releasing playable cartridge versions of homebrew titles, rare prototypes, and ROM hacks on a variety of classic consoles. But this is the first time we can recall a cartridge-based game getting an officially licensed re-release in its original format, on its original platform, decades after its original launch.

Grab your original hardware, an old standard-definition tube TV, and bask in the nostalgia.

The magic of the cartridge

“It’s because we’re old enough now.” That’s what iam8bit’s Jon Gibson told Ars about why we’re seeing original cartridges make a vinyl-style comeback. “Cartridges were something we idolized as kids—they were tangible, bulky, beautiful things that were worshiped. It was an emotional moment to get a new cartridge, because they certainly weren’t cheap.”

Gibson recalls paying $70 in single dollar bills gathered from birthdays and allowance money to get a copy of Bad Dudes for the NES from Toys R Us (that’s even more impressive when you adjust for inflation). “Bad Dudes wasn’t a great game, but I cherished it because of the experience obtaining it, reading about it in magazines, deciding that was the one I was gonna get!”

“There is magic in inserting a game into the console—choosing that particular game to play,” Gibson continued. “It’s a procedure, and now that we’re all grown up, the memories of that process are strong. We live in a digital age, but those analogue sensations still run deep.”

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