Sat. Oct 1st, 2022
You can't beat an authentic cartridge (reproduction) for that authentic experience.
enlarge / You can’t beat an authentic cartridge (reproduction) for that authentic experience.

The fact that Street Fighter II Seeing a reissue later this year isn’t all that surprising. Since its arcade and 16-bit heyday, the classic fighting game has appeared in one form or another on the PlayStation, PS2, PS3, PSP, Saturn, Xbox, Xbox 360, iOS, and feature phones.

What was surprising was that this latest re-release of the ur-fighting game would come on a real, playable Super NES cartridge. Creative manufacturing company iam8bit starts shipping limited edition of 5,500 Street Fighter II 30th Anniversay Edition cartridges – in “Opaque Ryu Headband Red” or “Translucent, Glow-in-the-Dark Blanka Green” – from November. Pre-orders have already sold out for the $100 pack, which includes a retro-style box, “Premium Instruction Booklet,” and “Retro Pack-In Surprises.”

Re-release of old games on new hardware, of course, has long been common practice, and there’s also a growing niche industry of specialists releasing playable cartridge versions of homemade titles, rare prototypes, and ROM hacks on various classic consoles. But this is the first time we can remember a cartridge-based game getting an officially licensed re-release in its original format, on the original platform, decades after its original launch.

Grab your original hardware, an old standard definition TV, and cherish your nostalgia.

The magic of the cartridge

“That’s because we’re old enough now.” That’s what Jon Gibson of iam8bit told Ars about why we’re seeing original cartridges making a vinyl-style comeback. “Patterns were something we idolized as kids — they were tangible, bulky, beautiful things that were worshipped. It was an emotional moment to get a new cartridge because they certainly weren’t cheap.”

Gibson recalls paying $70 in one dollar bills collected from birthdays and allowances to get a copy of bad guys for the Toys R Us NES (which is even more impressive if you adjust for inflation). “bad guys wasn’t a great game, but I cherished it because of the experience I had, read about it in magazines and decided I would get it!”

“There’s magic in inserting a game into the console — choosing that particular game to play,” Gibson continued. “It’s a procedure, and now that we’re all adults, the memories of that process are strong. We live in a digital age, but those analog sensations are still deep.”

iam8bit has been working with Capcom for over a decade on licensed products such as shirts and community events such as Street Fighter Club. The companies have also collaborated on cartridges before, sending a limited set of 150 gold-dyed The Scrooge McDuck series “Ducktales NES reproduction cartridges to promote the release of: Duck Tales Remastered in 2013. So working together to Street Fighter II going back to the SNES was a natural conversation, Gibson said.

iam8bit and Capcom previously released an extremely limited DuckTales NES cartridge as part of a press promotion.
enlarge / iam8bit and Capcom previously released an extremely limited DuckTales NES cartridge as part of a press promotion.

“We’ve built tremendous trust with Capcom over these years of collaboration, and that really helped us bridge the gap to make this project a success,” iam8bit’s Amanda White told Ars. “It’s so helpful to have shorthand with our partners, especially when there are so many important and beautiful details to think about.” And while Gibson says there have been “talks” with Nintendo about the idea, this is a third-party release that doesn’t require official support from the console maker.

While Gibson said he’s well-versed in the “bootleg” cartridge scene through shows like the Classic Gaming Expo, he sees his company’s “Legacy Cartridge Collection” as a fundamentally different endeavor, more akin to the film’s Criterion Collection. . “They’re not just releasing the film, they’re also restoring it,” he said. “They don’t just reprint the packaging verbatim, they amplify its functions. We’ve read some comments from people who think we’re just putting out a ‘red’ cartridge and quitting, but come on! That’s not the case on the iam8bit -way! As if we don’t have many surprises in store for the lucky people who landed a copy of this!”

While $100 may seem high for a “new” version of an SNES cartridge that can still be bought pre-owned for about $10, Gibson said it’s not a fair comparison for a “premium” pack like this. That package includes a shelf-worthy box of additional art on an expandable triptych, an instruction booklet with restored graphics printed on “heavy” paper (“for a sturdier page,” Gibson says), and a few surprises Gibson hadn’t been ready to give. to announce. “It’s a painstaking process, but it’s well worth preserving and hopefully adding to the legacy of what is one of the most enduring games ever made,” he said.

How to make a SNES cartridge in 2017

While many retro reproduction cartridges simply load a ROM file from flash memory, iam8bit produces its cartridges on an authentic SNES ROM chip that contains the original game code (no Criterion-esque “restoration” or a Mega Man Legacy Collection-style anthology). Unfortunately, says Gibson, the “big 16​-​megabit​,​ 5​volt memory chips that Street Fighter II use of cartridges is no longer readily available in today’s market. With the advancement of technology over the years, the majority of large memories have been reduced to ~3 volts or less.”

While a 3-volt ROM chip would likely run directly on a 5-volt system, iam8bit includes voltage level translators in its cartridges “to avoid excessive wear and risk of damage,” Gibson said. But the voltage difference also forced iam8bit to include a terrifying warning on its sales page, telling buyers that “using this reproduction game cartridge… on the SNES gaming hardware could cause the SNES console to overheat.” or catch fire.”

“Any time there’s even a suspicion of risk on the air, lawyers tend to intervene with language designed to protect both consumers and product manufacturers,” White told Ars Technica. “This is one of those cases — where the idea of ​​us producing a cartridge designed to plug into a vintage console whose operational status we don’t know — started shaking our lawyers.” Despite the serious-sounding language, White says, “We are confident there will be no problems with our cartridge. It was designed and manufactured with all safety considerations in mind.”

Going forward, Gibson and White have been hesitant about specific plans for cartridge-based reissues, but White did mention “a series of releases planned for 2018 and beyond. Let’s just say we suspect collectors and players alike will be very happy with what’s coming.” going to come.”

By akfire1

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