When the cart died.

At the very moment the cartridge based gaming of systems like the SNES, Megadrive and Jaguar gave way to the CD based media of the Dreamcast, Playstation and Xbox, gaming died just a little bit.  Actually, that’s a lie – it didn’t die at all, but it did lose a little of its luster.  A bit of shine here, a little sparkle there, the modern age of CD/DVD based gaming media has none of the win-factor of its plastic encased predecessors.

The cart was something mysterious, magical.

Every console from the pre CD era had a different take on a gaming cartridge.  The Nintendo 64 had its weighty nuggets of plastic, the Atari Jaguar had its quaint carts with little handles on top and the Sega Master system had miniature VHS tapes.  Carts had style, something CDs lack entirely.  As a storage medium, CDs are so run-of-the mill, if they were a food they’d be porridge, if they were a sex position they’d be missionary.  With clothes on. 

In separate beds.

A CD is just a sliver of polycarbonate.  Nothing is hidden, nothing is intricate.  They’re in your Xbox, they’re in your CD player, they’re in your PC DVD drive.  Boring. With the cartridge, the plastic outer shell hides an entire civilization of chips and circuit pathways. When you buy a cart based game you feel as though at least a part of the inherent value of the game is actually contained in the storage medium.  The software wasn’t just burnt to a disc, it was crafted – assembled – into a cartridge, a self-contained motherboard of gaming bliss.

The cart is dead.  Long live the cart.

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5 Responses to When the cart died.

  1. Takoma says:

    Is that a SNES cart USB Hub? If so, god bless its creator. Sheer brilliance.

  2. Takoma says:

    Also, love the new graphic design. Much, much better.

  3. amiga4eva says:

    Glad you like the new look 🙂 The original site was more of a placeholder than anything….. I was always going to come back and give it some spit n’ polish.

  4. Sean says:

    This is a good post. I agree 100%. In fact, when I established the artificial “boundaries” of my collection about a year ago I decided that I would only collect consoles and games that were cart-based and not disk based. I think you’ve done a good job here of articulating the reasons behind that choice of mine. The discs just lack the class of the carts.

    The only Disks that I collect are for the Famicom Disk System, but they are a different breed from the post Playstation disks.

  5. That’s a beautiful homage to the humble cartridge. The artwork on them are great time capsules too, especially the old atari 2600 carts!

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