Written by Paul Monopoli
In Japan Nintendo doesn’t dump its systems for the next big thing like the Western world seems to. Being that most video game systems debut there you would think they’d be the first to drop one generation & hop onto the next, but this is not the case. For example, they were still making Famicoms (the Japanese NES) right into the new millennia. So too, the Super Famicom had a life that extended way past 1996 when the rest of the world had moved to the N64, Saturn or Playstation.
In the late 90s Nintendo released blank cartridges labelled as “Nintendo Power”, not to be confused by the US magazine of the same name. The cartridges looked like this:
& were designed to be used in special kiosks to download games on to. The kiosks we big bulky things that had a cartridge slot, what looks like a card slot for possibly a credit card & advertising on the front.
The kiosks were discontinued in 2007. Yes, the Japanese were still playing SNES games in 2007. Technically the last official SNES release was in 2000, but the Japanese could buy the games through these kiosks for another 7 years. A similar system was used in China for the Nintendo iQue, but that’s another story for another day.
The benefit of using this system is to avoid piracy. Disc systems were notorious for it, but cartridges were a lot harder. As we know it’s not impossible, but your average Joe on the street wouldn’t know how to do it.
I purchased one of these cartridges from Japan Yahoo Auctions & it came with 2 games: Toribase No Daibouken & Super Puyo Puyo. Let’s plug in the cartridge & check it out.
Problem: it doesn’t work. Luckily I still had the Methylated Spirits from the last article (on the Barcode Battler) handy, so let’s give this sucker a clean.
Excuse the blurriness of the shot. It’s hard to hold a camera & clean at the same time.
We reinsert the now-clean cartridge & are greeted with this generic title screen:
Just incase you thought this was a Megadrive or PC Engine or something… The cartrtidge then jumps into the game menu.
Towards the top you’ll see 2 games in the list. I’m guessing the second one is Super Puyo Puyo as the last 2 characters are repeated (presumably for Pu-Yo). You’ll notice the green text down the bottom. This scrolls along the screen & I have no idea what it says, sorry.
Just above are 2 bars. The top bar shows 8 slots, meaning you can fit 8 games on the cartridge eventhough it says 7 on the cartridge itself. There ARE 8 blocks, but the first one is taken up by the menu (why that’s not reflected on the screen I do not know). The second bar shows how much space is left on the cartridge. The carts do have 8 slots, but a 32Mbit capacity, which could technically be filled with one game. Stickers were released to cover the numbered blocks on the cartridge so you knew what games were on it. These stickers are quite hard to get ahold of these days & most carts are sold without them.
For interests sake, let’s look at the games on here. First let’s check Toribase No Daibouken out.
UGH… too much Japanese… I don’t understand. We’ll just keep hitting “A” till we get to the game. Here we go.
You play the middle aged fat guy in the centre of the screen & have a tiny punch you need to standing right next to someone to use. It looks like an action RPG. I didn’t spend too much tine on it, so let’s move on to Super Puyo Puyo.
Yep, good old Puyo Puyo. Make no mistake, it’s an absolute classic.
For those unfamiliar with the game, it’s basically Doctor Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. For those unfamiliar with Doctor Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine you have to match up 4 of the blobs together & they disappear. It’s a bit Tetrissy… is that a word? Is now…
That little box on the left side is about to expand & tell me I’ve won. Yeah, I’m the man, the Puyo Puyo man!! Do I want to be a Puyo Puyo man? Yeah, why not!!
As it is I’ve already got Puyo Puyo on its original cartridge
& I can confirm it’s the same game. I might review it later…
So that’s the Nintendo Power cartridge system. It was also released on the Gameboy, but I haven’t picked up one of those yet. From what I understand the same kiosk did both systems, so the GB cartridge slot must be on the other side of the SFC one.
These are quite common on Ebay, but the more games on them the higher they tend to go for. Having the stickers also bumps up the price. As always Japan Yahoo Auctions are cheaper, so if you’re interested in getting one I’d be checking there first.
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