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Games Entertainment

Nintendo Embedding Classic Games on Trading Cards 336

Posted by michael
from the yay-I-got-the-white-sword dept.
bacontaco writes "Here's a quick article over at Adrenaline Vault about Nintendo's plan to put out old-school Nintendo games with the use of a e-Reader that plugs into the Game Boy Advance and trading cards that can be swiped with the device. The article flips back and forth on which console's games will be supported, saying either NES or SNES games will be used with the cards. It's kind of eye-opening when you think about how games that seemed so great so long ago can now be fit on something so small as a card."
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Nintendo Embedding Classic Games on Trading Cards

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  • by Raul654 (453029) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @04:21PM (#4276555) Homepage
    What is preventing someone from putting out a console capable of running games from all the classic system? Let's say I want to do NES, Sega, SNES, and maybe one or two of the 'lesser console'. Better yet, why not have a cdrom drive so you can fit a thousand of those old games onto a single media. What would be the issues holding this back?
  • One of the main reasons people use to justify trading game ROMs is that the original publisher has "abandoned" them and that they're no longer selling or making money on them. Natually, if a company has gone under and no longer exists, that's a pretty good argument. However, here, we see Nintendo showing just the opposite.
  • Where is the data? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phriedom (561200) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @04:27PM (#4276617)
    It says that the e-reader plugs in and reads an optical dot code on the trading card. I expect that means the actual game data for all the games is already in the e-reader, and the trading card just enables the right game titles. Its probably microprinting too, to defeat photocopies.

    It is possible that the game data actually IS on the trading card. If that were true, I would say we have figuratively come full circle back to something very like punch cards.
  • by Benley (102665) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @04:38PM (#4276725) Journal

    Having read the article and also noticed this myself, I'm now wondering if the paper trading cards don't hold the game at all. Perhaps they are all pre-loaded on the e-Reader doohickey, and swiping the card just allows you to play it.

    That would be excessively lame, imho, but it wouldn't surprise me at all.

  • Re:Data size? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @04:40PM (#4276748)
    People are still hung up on this?

    This is why I have always despised the practice of reporting sizes in megabits instead of megabytes...8 megabits = 1 megabyte, simple as that. So, for example, Zelda 3 for SNES would be considered an '8 meg game', translating into the 1MB that you would see if you checked the ROM yourself (plus a tiny bit more for the SMC header). Of course, I understand that '32 megs' sounds bigger than '4 megabytes', but it's misleading. Using that logic, Dreamcast games can be up to '8 gigs', meaning '8 gigabits'.
  • by merlin_jim (302773) <.James.McCracken. .at. .stratapult.com.> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @04:41PM (#4276760)
    Actually, this is currently possible. Licensing is the big issue.

    Get a good NES emulator (Nesticle is fairly good), SNES emulator (ZSNES), Sega emulator (I forget... something like Genocide is what its called)... these are all available for Linux. I have a demonstration system for this; they all run with decent framerates on the VIA Mini-ITX board, which you can fit into a console size system. Throw a CDROM on it, and run all your software from a FLASH card... these are cheap and solid-state, both good things in a console that might need to be banged around a little. Parts are gonna run you $250 - $300. And that's consumer prices. Wholesale might get a little cheaper. You can throw in basic networking ,e-mail, and websurfing for free, though, so people might be willing to pay $300 or so for this system.

    The problem is, you have to license it. You MAY need to license the box; IANAL, but it seems to me that emulators are not infringing on any IP laws, with the possible exception of patents, but IIRC none of the systems mentioned except SNES with the special GFX games (StarFox and Zelda are examples) are patented. However, you absolutely have to license every game you sell.

    How much does Nintendo value their legacy games? The article mentions $1 - $4. So, put 100 games on a CD and you're talking about quite a large royalty. In addition, how likely is Nintendo to want to license games on a system that can also run Sega games? What if they foresee that one day, you'll have a decent Playstation emulator on the box too?

    How likely is Nintendo to want to even start a dialog with you?
  • PocketNES? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zoid.com (311775) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @04:49PM (#4276834) Homepage Journal
    Why not use something like PocketNES http://nes.pocketheaven.com/ and run all of the game?
  • Re:Data size? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LocalH (28506) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @04:52PM (#4276858) Homepage
    You're limited by the ROM size itself, which is why you wouldn't start burning ROMs until after you're already completely done with the game - you'd likely develop with either a hardware emulator or a flashcart on the real hardware, which would support the maximum the console supports. For example, the Genesis supports 4MB (=32Mb) of ROM without bankswitching hardware. On the NES, which I know less about, and going strictly by the CPU, it can only access 64KB of memory at one time - and part of that is taken by the PPU and I/O (reading carts, hidden I/O port, etc), which probably bumps the accessible ROM space at any given instant down to 32-48K, just guessing. Now you know why mappers are so prevalent in the NES world - mappers are essentially bankswitching hardware (some of them have added features as well, like MMC5). But to access more than the maximum ROM the console supports requires some sort of bankswitching logic to allow the coder to move banks of ROM in and out of the address space.
  • by Typingsux (65623) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @04:55PM (#4276884)
    It's been done already. Get the emulator here. [pocketheaven.com]

    Find some roms here and there....(No links)

    A little flash reader here.... [lik-sang.com]

    You got it.

  • Re:Uh, yeah. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Fnord (1756) <joe@sadusk.com> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:02PM (#4276938) Homepage
    Technology *has* progressed. The HuCards were rom chips in a card package. Look inside a genesis cart, its mostly air. If they had chosen to they could have put those on "cards". The cards this article is referring to are cardboard trading-card sized cards with an incredibly detailed barcode on one side (so detailed that the individual dots aren't distinguishable by eye). The e-reader actually scans them with a laser and stores the program in flash on the reader and runs it from there. So yeah, yesterdays games which used to be on huge cartridges (these will be original NES games so really huge) are now represented by dots of ink.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:07PM (#4276969)
    The actual unit is fair sized. And has a passthrough for the GBA link port.

    The unit comes with roughly 10 sample cards:

    1 Animal Crossing card that when used with Animal Crossing on the Gamecube let you swipe the card in the attaced GBA and have a special email sent to you.

    1 Game & Watch card with a complete Game and watch game (2 strips one on the top and bottom of the card)

    3 Pokemon cards (Mine was Machop and his evolutions) each card was fully setup for the Pokemon card game. They each had a strip on the bottom edge with a fancy display of info on that pokemon both in terms of pokemon info and card playing strategies. On the left edge of each card was a mini game. You had to scan all three cards to load up the mini game. Machop's workday had GBA quality graphics, but was just a mini game.

    5 Cards for NES Pinball. 9 Strips lengthwise along the cards with 2 strips on each card except the last one.

    These strips are an even more refined form of the 2-d UPS dot codes, a strip is only half a centimeter wide. And I certainly believe all the necessary info is on the code ready to be loaded into the ram of the dot code scanner.

    All the partial games would indicate what was scanned and what parts still needed to be scanned. And the one with 9 scans, pinball, actually let me save the scanned info to the scanner's memory so I wouldn't have to rescan it until I ousted it.

    Now on one hand it may seem hokey to scan 9 strips to play NES pinball (And does seem like it would be hard to recreate a full SNES game) but on the other hand, media costs are so neglible neglible. I may have to revist things once I can actually pick up some of the collector's packs, but it is very neat.
  • by Anonvmous Coward (589068) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:37PM (#4277250)
    "Better yet, why not have a cdrom drive so you can fit a thousand of those old games onto a single media. What would be the issues holding this back?"

    I'm sure pricing is a huge issue here. If you have 1,000 games, and they retailed at $50 a piece. It's pretty obvious the price of those games has little to do with the cost of manufacturing. However, you won't be able to sell this disc at $50,000. ($50 per game x 1,000 games) If you sell it for a reasonable price like... oh.. $200, then you're seriously undervaluing the games themselves. That may not matter if they're no longer around, but there may be executive suspicion that it'd hurt the market later.

    It's risky. They might be worried about destroying the value of every game ever made. It's interesting, though: Cartridge based cames from the 16-bit era didn't take up much space. I think 32-megabits (4 megabytes) was as big as it got, and the average was around 1 megabyte. You might come seriously close to putting all of SNES's games onto one CD. With compression such as ZIP, that's even more certain.

    I haveta say I like what Nintendo's doing, though. Personally, I wish they'd revive some of their old games for me to play somehow. Either via PC or Gamecube or something. Maybe an on-line pay-for-play arcade?
  • Re:Data size? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Euro (40585) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @07:00PM (#4277928) Homepage
    Really makes me wonder how many games used only a fraction of the cartridges total space. On one hand you have a lot of really easy to beat, small games and then you have games like FF3 and ChronoTrigger, which takes a really long time to beat.
    I really don't understand what you mean here. There was no fixed size for either SNES or NES cartridges. They had as much memory as the developers decided to stick in their game (of course, more memory used meant more expensive carts). If you wanted to use more than 64k of ROM for NES carts (and most developers certainly did!), you simply used a memory mapper of some kind that did the relevant bankswitching for you and stuck as much memory in the cart as you needed. In theory there is no limit on the size of a NES cart, you'll just need a suitable memory mapper so you can access all the ROM banks you put in.

    I don't remember offhand how this was done one the SNES (the 16-bit processor of the SNES could access much more memory at once than the 8-bit NES one), but the same kind of system could have been used there as well.

    Of course, this was exactly the beauty of game cartridges: the developers could stick whatever they damn pleased into the cart. Memory was of course the number one thing, but adding actual hardware to the cart to aid the main system was possible too. On the SNES, some games had DSP processors added (Pilotwings is one of the earliest examples, but most of us can certainly remember Super Mario Kart). Star Fox had some polygon-pushing stuff added to the cart (props to Argonaut Software for that). And in the very early days Konami added extra sound hardware to their Salamander cart on the MSX. I don't remember any NES game offhand that used this technique of adding extra hardware to the cart. I am pretty confident that this was done, but cannot remember any game offhand. It would have been technologically possible, at the very least.

    *sigh*. The good old days...

  • Re:Ahh, youth (Score:3, Interesting)

    by shren (134692) on Wednesday September 18, 2002 @08:49AM (#4280935) Homepage Journal
    I'd buy that. Every NES game on one CD? Neat idea.

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