Cart Wars: The Evolution of the Cartridge, Episode 2 – MegaBites on RetroCollect.com

Cart-Wars-Episode-2Avert thine eyes! Nintendo alert! Once more, this site is graced with imagery of Sega’s mortal enemy, and for that I apologise. However, it’s all for a good cause – MegaBitesBlog.com’s latest article on RetroCollect.com – ‘Cart Wars: The Evolution of the Cartridge, Episode 2’.

During the early-to-mid 1990s, the bitter rivalries between the console superpowers were hard to ignore. It was Sega vs Nintendo, plumbers vs hedgehogs and Mega Drive vs Super Nintendo. Amongst these battles, one gaming format had risen to the top to rule supreme over the video game industry – the cartridge. ‘Cart Wars: The Evolution of the Cartridge’ is the story of that medium, and with it, the incredible lengths taken by developers of that age to topple the competition and reshape the gaming market forever.

Episode 2 picks up the tale as the handheld formats took their place on the front line. On one side of the battleground the Sega Game Gear stood proud, equipped with its almighty TV tuner cartridge peripheral. Whilst across enemy lines lurked the Game Boy, with the all-seeing Game Boy Camera, ready to pounce and stake its claim at the pinnacle of the Cart Wars’ 8-bit podium for supremacy.

Meanwhile, Sega and Nintendo locked horns in an entirely new and innovative form of cartridge combat – namely, the processor chip:

(Excerpt from RetroCollect.com) It was the 26th August 1992 – the height of the Sega vs Nintendo rivalry and a date that marked the arrival of the fourth annual Shoshinkai Software Show, a hardware and software showcase akin to the Consumer Electronics Show. But unlike its western counterpart, Shoshinkai was an event exclusive to all things Nintendo, as Peter Molyneux witnessed first-hand: “The show was held at one of the big exhibition halls in Tokyo – one that dwarfs somewhere like Earls Court.”

But no size of venue could eclipse the scale of the announcement that Nintendo’s then President, Hiroshi Yamauchi, would make that day. You see, Shoshinkai ’92 marked the announcement of Nintendo’s revolutionary new cartridge upgrade, the Super FX Chip. “It’s been designed by UK games developers Argonaut,” Molyneux continued. “It lets the Super Famicom do super-fast 3D vector stuff – top quality flight sims should now be possible.” And of these ‘flight sims’ came Star Fox/Starwing.

Clearly irked by Nintendo’s penchant for cartridge chip enhancements, Sega vented its frustrations in a 1994 edition of GameFan magazine: “Nintendo would like you to believe that by adding chips into their cartridges, they will be saving you money. If Donkey Kong Country, priced at $69.99 is any indication of the money they are saving you, it’s a good thing they are a game company and not your banker… By adding more chips to every cartridge game, Nintendo raises the cost of every cart.”

And how did Sega respond? Virtua Racing.

segasvp

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