Geek Trivia

Which Of These Features Do Nintendo Switch Cartridges Have That No Other Nintendo Cartridge Has Previously Had?

Bitter Taste
ROM Chips
Battery Backup
Region Codes
An Early Attempt To Combat VHS Tape Piracy Involved What?

Answer: Bitter Taste

When you think about features for a video game cartridge, you probably think about how much data it can store. After all, the name of the game (pun intended) is how much game data a company can pack into a single cartridge (the cartridges for the Nintendo Switch, for the curious, can hold up to 32GB of data). What you probably don’t think about is how that cartridge…well, tastes.

If you’ve been a longtime Nintendo fan, you’ve seen their game cartridges slowly shrink over time. The earliest game cartridges, for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System, were as big as small paperback books. Even when Nintendo introduced portable gaming with the Game Boy and their later portable devices like the DS and its descendants, the cartridges were still just big enough to not easily be bite size (unless you had a rather large mouth).

Yet concerns about the Switch’s cartridges literally being bite size (SD card-sized) were on Nintendo engineers’ minds when designing the cartridge. Nintendo has built a gaming empire around the concept of being the most family-friendly outfit in town, and a child choking to death on a Nintendo game is about as un-family-friendly as it gets.

To minimize (if not totally eliminate) that risk, all Switch cartridges are infused with a potent bittering agent (the kind added to household cleaners, anti-nail biting treatments, and automotive liquids to deter children and animals from consuming them). Pop a Switch cartridge in your mouth, and you’ll need god-level willpower to actually swallow it, let alone even keep it in your mouth for more than a few moments.