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article imageNintendo may be heading back towards the game cartridges of old

By James Walker     Aug 22, 2015 in Entertainment
Nintendo has filed a patent for a games console that stores its content on memory cards, harking back to the days of the cartridge-based Nintendo 64 of 20 years ago. It's unclear whether the company intends to use the tech in its upcoming "NX" device.
The Nintendo NX was announced in March as a new console intended to revive the company's rapidly declining market share. The Wii U has failed to stand up to competition from Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One, due in part to a lack of high-quality titles being built for it.
Little is known about the console but a patent application registered in February has raised speculation that offline game loading could be based around a "classic" memory-card cartridge system instead of the optical drives used by competitors. A diagram clearly shows a memory card being used to directly load programs to the processor.
Polygon reports that NeoGAF user Rösti found the filing, described as a "Stationary Game Apparatus, Game Apparatus, Game System, Recording Medium and Speed Control Method." The patent also covers a controller with integrated display and explicitly states "the example system is not provided with an optical disk drive for reading out a program and/or data from an optical disk."
The console does include an internal hard drive and a method to connect another external one. It's unknown whether the primary way of installing a game would be from memory card cartridges or by downloading from an online store. The maximum size of programs stored on memory cards is also left unspecified.
The idea does seem similar to the old cartridges used to load games on consoles such as the Nintendo 64. It featured advanced 3D graphics powered by a 64-bit processor that led to its name. The console was very advanced for its time and sold 350,000 units in the first three days of availability. Ultimately, 32 million devices were shipped.
It's possible that Nintendo is simply reserving its new memory-card based console designs for future use. As is common for patents filed by technology companies, the systems described within may never see the light of day, although their use in Nintendo's next console certainly seems feasible. The company has said that the device will be a "dedicated games platform with a brand new concept."
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