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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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  • "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."

    Only if you don't remember cartridges! :)

    LEXX
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:21PM (#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?
    • A little something called licensing.
    • Nothing is holding this back short of IP law. In fact, I've seen MAME/NESticle cabinets that do pretty much that.
    • Aside from lots of copyrights, a few patents, and an army of lawyers, not much at all. Oh, yes, supporting all of the different connectors would be a hassle if you go for actual emulation of the cartridges. Honestly, you're computer can do it now (for the most part), if you know where to look.

      BlackGriffen
    • by lightspawn (155347) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:33PM (#4276673) 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'

      You mean the Dreamcast [dcemulation.com]?
    • What is preventing someone from putting out a console capable of running games from all the classic system?

      Nothing. It's called a Sega Dreamcast.

      www.dcemulation.com has all the emulators and tools you need to put MAME, Stealla, NES, Sega Genesis, SNES, even LINUX on your Dreamcast. That is, assuming you have legally obtained ROMs.

      At last check, you could buy these units used for around $50. Sega killed it last Christmas, so there's no new ones to be found. Check your local Funcoland or pawn shop, you'll probably find one.
    • 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?
    • As the other posters have indicated, there are emulators for 'other' platforms that can do this.

      What'd be interesting would be a purpose-built commercial emulator that could do this, hook up to a TV and play actual ROM carts from all those systems.

      With the right licensing, I'm sure that Sega and Nintendo and especially older (Atari, etc) vendors wouldn't care, especially if it was designed to use legit media (ROM carts or official CDs). They're not making money selling the hardware, and they can only make money selling paid-for software again (presuming the device has a CD player or something they can supply old games on in a media format cheaper than making rom carts).

      The only objection I could imagine would be a small fear that "the retrostation" would canibalize sales from new hardware, but even that's iffy, since people that want to play the old games are probably dedicated enough to own *new* consoles and people that own none want the newer systems (PS2, Xbox, gamecube, etc).

      The bummer is that the hardware would probably be too expensive (since it'd probably be a cut-down PC inside).
    • "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?
  • by phigga (526030)
    Sweet...now I can play Burger Time without having to search for a ROM that works!!!
  • I'd rather play Mario 1 than the new game personally! Those games are still great today, and this idea seems pretty cool!
  • by Rude Turnip (49495) <valuation.gmail@com> on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:23PM (#4276567)
    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.
    • In this case, abandonware just makes an intermediate step. If there's some old software that I like that suddenly comes out in a new and useful format, of course I'll buy the new version.
    • 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.

      Exactly, which means that Nintendo "gets" it. That means its time to go out and show your support by buying those classic games instead of searching for the ROMs. Abandonware/Emulation is good for reviving the dead, but when a company brings the past back to life for us with their professional flare, we should support them with our dollars.

      Furthermore, the GBA re-releases of the Mario games and other classics are another good sign of the good 'ol games of yesteryear coming back for an encore. Good deal!

  • In other news, Nintendo is post-fixing an 'e' to each game's title in the hopes of jumping ahead of the next revolution in electronic naming.

    "People are tired of e-this, and e-that, k-this, g-that. We're leading the next naming revolution with new-age names like Donkey Kong-e, and Mario Brothers-e."

    -Adam
  • 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 hate reading over something I just posted and realizing it looks like a 3rd grader wrote it..been a long day..
    • Do the catridges really have a predetermined total space? The storage of a cartridge is really only limited by the amount of memory which can fit in that physical space and be powered by the amount of electricity provided by the console, right? Of course there might be some issues about the console being able to address large amounts of memory and such, but that could probably be fixed through swapping or some other means, I'm certainly no console programmer.

      • Correct me if I'm wrong (it's been awhile), but I believe the largest SNES cart was 32 MBits, or only a few megabytes.
        And, as stated above, most big RPG's such as FF3 and CT used about all this space - I remember some extra stuff at the ending of FF3 wasn't able to make the final release due to cartridge-size limitations.
        • Re:Data size? (Score:3, Informative)

          by photon317 (208409)
          In the old 8-bit nintendo (probably other and later consoles as well) cartridge programmers implemented bank switching to put more data in the cartiridge than the architecture was really designed to handle. They are known as "mappers", and it's what you hear about when you read about NES emulators and whatnot and what "mappers" they support - they're referring to memory addressing schemes used by games that couldn't fit normally.
        • 32 megabit, so they are 4 megabytes each, not counting the savegames, the size of which escapes me at the moment.

          Saving games might be tricky - I wonder if the e-reader (what a *stupid* name, reminds me of scientology :) will be capable of supporting savegames..
      • Re:Data size? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by LocalH (28506)
        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.
    • Re:Data size? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Euro (40585)
      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...

  • Where is the data? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phriedom (561200) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:27PM (#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.
    • The e-Reader accessory connects to the Game Boy Advance via the cartridge slot and uses "dot code technology" to read optical data imprinted on the specially designed trading cards. The e-Reader hardware has a one megabit flash ROM to store up to one video game for continued play. The hardware also links to a second Game Boy Advance or a Nintendo GameCube. Animal Crossing for Nintendo GameCube uses the feature and upcoming products will take advantage of it in exciting and innovative ways.


      It seems the game is actually on the cards themselves, but of course they could be bullshitting us... We'll see.

      Tim
    • by questionlp (58365)
      Each e-Card has two sets of dots... one running on the bottom and on the right-hand side of the card. Each set of dots can hold so many kilobytes of data. There was some information in the latest issue of Nintendo Power and probably can be found at nintendo.com.

      There is some ROM and Flash on the reader which is used to store the "OS" and the game data read from each of the cards respectively. Some games can fit on 2-3 cards whereas some games can take up 6+ cards.

      My guess is that the dots are arranged in a certain way and using a certain dye type to reduce/eliminate the ease of duplicating cards using copiers or printers... who knows. Each game goes for around $5-10 so it's not too expensive compared to GTA-3 or Halo.

      The idea of using the cards is also to trade stuff with friends for use in games (like Pokemon and the next Zelda game for the GC).
    • The cards have 2 stripes, one on the long edge and one on the short edge of the card. The short one holds 1.1KB and the long one holds 2.2KB. With compression, 4 or 5 cards is definitely enough to hold a complete game of that era. They fit in 8KB or 16KB of ROM in their coin-op or NES incarnations, after all.

      However, the e-Reader has 8MB of masked ROM and 128KB of flash RAM. The contents of the ROM is not disclosed but I would imagine it contains several things, namely:

      Graphics for more sophisticated games
      Sound samples (simulating the old sound hardware is nontrivial, it may be easier to use canned samples)
      Canned content unlocked through single cards (eg. promotional Pokemon cards which show a simple animation)

      Note that if the data for all these games was already in the e-Reader ROM there would be no need for multiple cards or multiple stripes.

      I do think this is a pretty cool little device and it would be fun to write something to be printed onto the cards. They're also a great promo tool for unlocking demos or extra content because they can be distributed with magazines or given away at retail.
  • by Kraegar (565221) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:28PM (#4276627)
    ...is available at Nintendo's site [nintendo.com]

    (note for some reason the link generates a 404, but if you refresh, it comes up with the page)

  • ROM sizes are usually 1mb, 2mb, or 4mb.

    Sometimes they are bigger, sometimes they are smaller.

    The world's greatest emulator [zsnes.com]
  • "Technology's progressed."

    Dude, the HuCard games for my TurboGraphix were on cards. Tiny little things...they liked to pick up legs when my other Turbo friends would come over. And they worked great...never had to blow on them or put them in new carts like genesis and Nintendo games.

    What's amazing is that the technology is so CHEAP you can do this with a trading card set.
    • Re:Uh, yeah. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Fnord (1756)
      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.
    • Sega has cards that were slightly smaller then the HuCards for their Master System. The cards were limited to 32k though, where Sega's biggest carts were 4 Mega[bits] (512k). The Sega Master System used a bank switching scheme much like the NES, but there was no need for "mappers" as the SMS had it's own built in mapping hardware. From my research it seems that it should have been able to address 256 banks (at least from a software standpoint, there probally were hardware limits like address lines, but I was a coder not a hardware designer).
  • According to this page [nintendo.com] the cards can hold up to two strips of data containing 2.2K each. The memory reader has 64 Mb mask ROM and 1 Mb flash memory.

    I suspect that the original NES and SNES games were bigger then 4K so you'll probably only get a stripped down version of a game.

    • by Benley (102665)

      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.


      • They could be using a hybrid of the two techniques:

        Perhaps they've stored a whole library of generic graphics/sound/"ai" routines on the dohickey that given good common coverage to the legacy games, and the cards just store sprite and gameplay/flow data in a highly compressed format.
  • by sdjunky (586961) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:34PM (#4276684)
    You can see it here [ign.com]

    From my understanding the games either
    A. span multiple cards
    B. are built into the eReader and the cards have barcodes to unlock them

    Also, the games ARE for the NES.

  • If you look through the racks of the Gameboy Color, you'll see some NES games that were rereleased for that platform. If you look at the Gameboy Advanced, you see some SNES games (Super Mario Advanced series (NES SMB2 and SNES SMW), and the new Zelda is Zelda3:LttP, for example).

    So, now that the market for rereleases NES games ($30-$70 when new) as GBC games ($30-$40) has been exhausted, they are ready to be dumped ($5-$7).

    I would expect that the Super Advanced Gameboy, when released in 6 years, will get a lot of ports from the N64, selling at $40, and an e-card reader like device allowing them to dump old SNES games for $5-$7.

    That's the real reason that Nintendo can afford to "lose" the console war, they'll make enough money on the NGC to be happy and build a library of games. Then they'll make the real money porting old games to their handheld.

    It's a pretty similar strategy to certain genres in Hollywood... you know the internation and video distribution royalties, so you don't care if it tanks at the box office.

    Alex
  • by cje (33931) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:37PM (#4276721) Homepage
    Hey, I've got news for you, buddy .. a lot of those games were great!

    Sure, they didn't feature a lot of the CD-quality music and breathtaking FMV and first-person, three-dimensional, high-polygon-count graphics that you'll find in modern games, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're any less fun. I don't know about anybody else, but I probably had more fun playing the original Legend of Zelda than I did playing Zelda: Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask. Good graphics and music + glitzy presentation does not necessarily = better games. A lot of today's games are very nicely packaged, but all too many of them are nicely-packaged garbage.
    • I dunno, man, I had a great time playing Ocarina and my wife had fun watching (and playing too... when I gave up the controller!)

      Infact, that's what I like about modern games-
      The old ones were a heck of a lot of fun. The good new ones just have better graphics.
    • how about more fun with final fantasy 3 than final fantasy 10? Better story too.

      ~Will
    • And alot of the old games were nicely packaged (for the time) garbage.

      Hindsight is 20/20, history is seen through the eyes of its victors with a focus on the classics, yadda yadda.

      There are still lots of great games coming out. I also wonder if people who didn't like todays games but loved the classics have a much simpler reason for doing so: youth. There are tons of stuff I enjoyed more when I was a kid than as an adult. The game of baseball hasn't gotten worse ... I just had more time and appreciation for playing it when I was a kid. :)

      Disclosure: played lots of games then, play lots of games now. I think alot of the reason that its hard to find great games today is a matter of optics. We're spoiled by the classics (considering that you rightly point out that the quality of the game is not detemrined by its _absolute_ level of graphic and audio greatness), and so the bar is higher for people who've played way more games than kids today.

      Anyhow, I'm getting sick of this whole "back when I was a kid, you didnt need great graphics to make a game" thing. The games that were classics still usually had graphics that were better than its peers at the time .. everything is relative.
  • by Mike the Mac Geek (182790) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:39PM (#4276740) Journal
    Bought an E-Card reader today for my GBA and Animal Crossing (GameCube Game).

    The data itself is embedded in the card. It's a printed optical dot code. VERY TINY DOTS. I can't pick one out with my naked eye. I'm sure I could with a magnifying glass though.

    I saw somewhere that a long strip (lengthwise) can hold up to 2.2KB of data, and a short strip (width) can hold 1.1. Each card can have only two strips. Presumably so the card can be handled.

    Picked up a few ECard games, like Excitebike, Pinball, Etc. Games take 9-10 long strips. The game can the be saved in the reader, so you dont have to swipe again until you save another. Only space for one.

    This is easy to use, holds a good amount of data, and has a LOT of possibilities. Kudos to Nintendo/Olympus!
    • so you need 5 cards to play exciteabike? That sounds cumbersome.
      • Well, if you are going somewhere and want to take it with you, you scan the cards in the reader, and save it. Then you can turn it off, turn it on later, and load the save file from the ecard reader memory. You can play other games too, but those have to be scanned in, and if you save it, there goes Excitebike.

        Not a great system, but it's 40 bucks. Besides, having a little box of scancards with my GBA holder just seems cool.
        • The more I learn of this scheme, the more I think it is a clever way to tie into the "collector" thing that has made so much money for Nintendo and Wizards of the Coast, primarily related to Pokemon. Furthermore, if any Nintendo execs or marketing types are reading slashdot, they must be jumping up and down with joy because Mike says:"...having a little box of scancards with my GBA holder just seems cool."

          Cool=pure gold, baby.

          I still think its funny we are figuratively back to punch cards.
    • If a single card holds 3.3 Kb, then even with 5 cards, the game can only be 16.5 Kb big. Most games IIRC are bigger than that. I wonder if some of the basics are already in the reader. For example, all games might use the same font. IOW, a basic data set is in the reader and the dots only store which parts need to be accessed and what all the sprites are going to look like.

      Reader = building blocks
      Cards = specifics

      That would settle how you could put 20+ Kb games on smaller media.

      • Since each strip can hold 2.2K we get 4.4K per card. At 5 cards that is 22.0K is the size that they are using for the first set of games atleast (at most that is). Almost all games for the NES are smaller than 256K (and they HAVE to be less than 256K so they fit in GBA RAM). Actually they have to be even smaller than that cause the code for the emulator has to fit in the 256K of RAM too.
        Since the largest game to be announced so far is Zelda which is about 66K, but it wouldn't surpise me if they are using some form of compression and having the emulator uncompress it so it all fits on roughly 5 cards. But that is just my guess.

        Sizes of games out now:
        Donkey Kong Jr (10 bars): 16K
        Pinball (9 bars): 15K
        Tennis: 16K

        I don't remember what other ones are out on e-Cards, but that should give you all a clue :)
    • The data itself is embedded in the card. It's a printed optical dot code. VERY TINY DOTS. I can't pick one out with my naked eye. I'm sure I could with a magnifying glass though.

      So what DPI printer do I need to print NES ROMs and play them with this thing?

      It also seems like your cards would no longer be playable if they get too dirty, bent, smudged, etc. Of course that's good for Nintendo - you have to buy more cards.

      • From what I am reading other places, the dot codes are done using a proprietary ink. Only this ink can be seen by the reader.

        And yeah, I'm a fanboy. Never bought Pokemon cards, but now, I think I might. Nintendo really seems to have hit a gold mine here.
  • Great (Score:4, Funny)

    by sdjunky (586961) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:40PM (#4276744)
    I can see it now. you buy a pack of cards and you have ALL but that 1 card to finish the set to play Zelda.

    Just like Baseball cards you'll go buying pack after pack in hopes of finding the one
  • Depending on the price of the GBA hardware and the cards, this will be a great way to start a ROM collection. All we need is for somebody to make an interface between the computer and the GBA hardware. This is much easier than previous methods for obtaining ROMs. Nintendo is kindly making it cheaper to emulate your favorite games on your home PC.
    • I've got two word for you:

      Flatbed scanner.

      No need for an e-reader, no need for an GBA. You just need a piece of software that can convert the gaming cards into ROMs.

      Or, just buy the cards and then use Google to find the roms. I don't figure how you came to the conclusion that a few web searches would be harder than make a hardware interface with the accompanying software..
  • 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."

    Do you guys not remember this platform? Those games were better than the SNES (on a technical level) and came on credit-card sized cartridges. In 1989. You remember 1989? A full two years before the SNES came out, if I recall.

    Granted TurboGraphix 16 used 2x8bit processors and a 16 bit graphics processor, so what does that make it, one and a half 16 bit? Unfortunately most the games for TG16 were Japanese based or horrible fucking American-cheezy games.

  • PocketNES? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zoid.com (311775)
    Why not use something like PocketNES http://nes.pocketheaven.com/ and run all of the game?
  • Take a look at the picture on http://www.nintendo.com/news/news_articles.jsp?art icleID=7318 [nintendo.com]

    Maybe it is the angle, but that e-reader looks about as big as the Gameboy Advanced itself.

    Neat idea but I'm not so sure about the execution.

  • by creep (150035)
    ..on my GBA for over a year. A Flash Advance card from these people [visoly.com] running this [pocketheaven.com] is one of the best investments I ever made.
    • Yeah, but the Nintendo-spawned copies are actually LEGAL.

      Fucking pirates. You are the reason why computer companies are cracking down on Fair Use laws and ruining life for the rest of us. Buy some fucking games once in a while and support the hobby you obviously enjoy.

  • This isn't going to run SNES games. The cards have a total capacity of around 3K: 2K for a strip along the side, and 1K for along the bottom. I'm not sure, but they might also be able to make them with strips along both sides (4k), or all around the edge of the card (6k... maybe closer to 7k).

    The reader itself has a meg of flash memory, so it can do some more interesting things than just read and play one game card in isolation.

    I think it's less about games, and more about add-ons for games. What a great idea. I would have loved video games in the price range of comic books when I was a kid.

    It's been out in Japan for a while. I wonder what their licensing system is like...
    • You just made me think of something really cool. What would happen if DC comics put out a new Batman comic book, and the back cover had a barcode reaching arould the three sides that weren't attached..

      If you zipped those sides through the reader, and could play the original Batman for the NES... Think they would sell more copies of the comic than they normally do? And it wouldn't cost any more to create, either... Think of the tie in possabilities!
  • by Typingsux (65623) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @05:55PM (#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.

  • "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."

    And it's kind of eye-opening to realize that this is the exact reason they are against ROMs, for those wondering why they'd care about such ancient games. It's not the games themselves they stand to make money off of, but the nostalgia they create and the more access the average gamer has to that nostalgia- aka ROMs -the less nostalgistic there will be when it comes time for Nintendo to release them and the less of a marketshare they'll have. And Nintendo likes marketshare. A lot. My theory at any rate. Time to go play some Battlefield: 1942...
  • I didn't think there was another use for it other than the Pokemon E-Card Series...
  • 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.
    Yeah, well the entire surviving literary output of Classical Greece -- a civilization of some small repute -- fits on a single cd [uci.edu]. With enough space left over to include all the literature of the Byzantine Empire as well! Someday, somebody will say, "Every line of code written during the Dawn Age of Computing is available on a single nanowarp needle! With enough space left over for that 'Library of Congress' thing. Pretty sobering."
    • Yeah, well the entire surviving literary output of Classical Greece -- a civilization of some small repute -- fits on a single cd [uci.edu].

      I'm surprised that they didn't get the complete works of Shakespere, the Greek New Testament, the Hebrew Old Testament, the King James, the complete works of Sherlock Holmes, and the complete works of Douglas Adams on there too.

      Seriously .. a CD holds about 670 MB, that's a lot of text. Most people could fit their entire libraries on there if they stuck to ASCII.

  • Animal Crossing (Score:4, Informative)

    by Wind_Walker (83965) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @06:11PM (#4277005) Homepage Journal
    As a self-proclaimed Nintendo fanboy, I think it's also necessary to point out Animal Crossing [gamerankings.com], dubbed a "communication game" by Nintendo. It's for the Nintendo Gamecube (the cheapest of the consoles at $150) and the game retails at $50, which includes a special memory card (retail $15).

    Imagine a cross between Harvest Moon and The Sims. The player controls a small, cartoonish character and basically lives their life. You begin by getting a mortgage on a house, which you then have to pay off by performing tasks for the other villagers in town. There are also Pokemon-like collection aspects to Animal Crossing in that it features over 40 species of insects, dozens of fossils to discover (which you can sell for profit or donate to the museum), and also tons of fruit to collect and sell (or consume). You are also given a rating on your house, depending on how good your Feng Shui is. Actions affect how other villagers react to you. If you dig up their gardens, they'll stop being curteous to you, and eventually run the other way when you come around.

    But the game is about communication. You can visit other people's villages by inserting both your and your friend's memory card in the Gamecube. Items can then be traded with each other and collections can be completed. Don't have friends? You can also trade over the Internet by providing passwords that are keyed to the player name and the village name. There is already at least one good community for trading [ezboard.com].

    Finally, the game runs in real time, based off of the Gamecube's internal clock. If you can only play after work, then the villagers will begin to make fun of you for being a night owl. Holidays occur on their specific days, and special things happen (presents exchanged on Christmas, girlfriends on Valentine's Day, etc). Also, you will receive presents on your own birthday (set at the start of the game). Seasons change, and snow or leaves fall according to the season. Sales happen during specific hours, and if you miss it, you miss the sale. And don't try to reset the clock - if you do, a character named Resetti will be coming after you and bother you with text for a full 5 minutes.

    How does this relate to the story at Slashdot? One of the things to collect are first party NES games. Donkey Kong, Pinball, Ice Climbers, Balloon Brothers, and dozens more are available. All of them can either be played in-game or downloaded to the Gameboy Advance for play on the road (until the power is switched off, it's stored in RAM).

    I advise anybody who's into addictive, play-for-30-minutes-a-day-everyday games to buy it. You won't be disappointed. Now if you'll excuse me, Tanooki is having a sale on coconuts in an hour and I don't wanna miss it.

  • They've been printing games on trading cards for ages. You all played Solitare on Windows before? There's a game just like that, it was printed on 52 cards. You could even get them out of order and still be able to play!!

    As a matter of fact, I think Majong (sp?) has been ported to trading cards as well. Hell, Nintendo probably produced these cards as that was their previous business model before making video games.

    So get with the program guys, porting computer games to cards isn't new!!!
  • Just got mine today (Score:3, Informative)

    by GweeDo (127172) on Tuesday September 17, 2002 @06:32PM (#4277207) Homepage
    I picked up my e-Reader today and it is an interesting idea. It came with Donkey Kong Jr and it needs 5 cards to store that game. There are two bars per card for a total of 10 swipes for this one game. I believe that each bar can be either 1024bytes or 2058bytes each and no more. So SNES games are basically out the window since most where about 512K to 1M (I know I don't want to swip a card over 100 times!). But old NES games are all that Nintendo is using this for. there are also cards for the new game Animal Crossing that contain special songs and items that can only be gotten via the cards and their are new Pokemon cards for the up coming GBA pokemon as well. So it looks like Nintendo has a new cash cow on the way :)
  • 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.

    Remember the atari? You can fit the code and data from an atari cartridge on an 8.5x11 sheet of paper in human-readable form. With mnemonics, not hex.

    Ditto the works of the 4k demo crowd from years ago. I really should look those up again.
  • In 1985 my dad founded Data-Flex in Sunnyvale, CA. I was only 6 or so, so these are my recollections. He built a "cardette reader" which read bits from a 2"x3" piece of clear plastic. The bits were printed on the card with a laser printer and took up most of the card. He had it hooked up to a Vic-20 and an Atari 2600. You just inserted the card and pressed the button, and it sucked it in, read it into memory, and spit it back out. Due to mismanagement, the company went broke.. not before a lot of people ("potential investors") had seen the device, but before anything was patented.

    Later on... about '88, he built an updated model with a higher capacity. It was a lot smaller, more like the size of a cigar box, and it was connected to the Commodore 64. Instead of a motorized feed device, you just swiped the cardette through a slot. Since laser printers weren't very common, you had to encode your program into a graphic and have it printed onto plastic by a print shop. I don't remember the exact capacity of the cardettes.

    Anyway, another 80's technology rises again.

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