Nintendo Game Boy dual-mode cartridge (1998 – 2003)

When the Game Boy Color was launched by Nintendo in 1998, it had the ability to use cartridges (‘Game Paks’) from the original Game Boy, albeit in monochrome. Its own cartridges, usually translucent, were not backward compatible with the Game Boy but there was a third type of cartridge introduced at the same time as the Game Boy Color, and this was compatible with both models.

These ‘dual mode’ (also known as class B) Game Paks were usually black, and were the same shape as the original Game Boy cartridges (that were usually grey) including the notch that allowed the power switch to be moved across. They were programmed to play in colour when used on the Game Boy Color.

The dual mode Game Paks were compatible with all Game Boy models, except for the Game Boy Micro.

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Casio Loopy (1995 – 1997)

The Casio Loopy (subtitled My Seal Computer SV-100) was a fifth-generation home video console introduced by Casio in 1995. It was only released in Japan. While the system claims to use 32-bit RISC processing, it appeared technically unimpressive due to the nature of the software available.

It was unusual in being marketed to female gamers, and included a built in colour thermal printer to print stickers from game screenshots. An optional accessory called the Magical Shop Word Processor could also be used to obtain images from other devices (such as a DVD player) to allow stickers to be created using images from them.

Eleven titles were available for the Casio Loopy during its two-year lifespan. All the games tend to have the same themes – painting, dress-up/makeover, and romance stories were all that were offered.

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Nintendo Game Boy Color (1998 – 2003)

The Game Boy Color was a handheld video game console released by Nintendo in 1998 as a successor to the original monochrome Game Boy.

The Game Boy Color had double the processor speed, three times as much memory, and an infrared communications port as well as a colour display. Its main competitors were the SNK Neo Geo Pocket and the Bandai WonderSwan, but the Game Boy Color had much greater commercial success. The Game Boy and Game Boy Color combined sold nearly 119 million units worldwide.

Cartridges (called ‘Game Paks’ by Nintendo) for the original Game Boy could be used in the Game Boy Color, which was a major selling point.

There were also cartridges that could be used in either console (class B or dual mode). These are the same shape as the original Game Boy cartridges, but are usually black instead of grey. Cartridges that are designed specifically for the Game Boy Color (class C) are clear-coloured and are shaped slightly differently from the original Game Boy cartridges. They lack the notch that allows the original Game Boy power switch to be moved across, to ensure they could not be used in the original Game Boy by mistake.

The Game Boy Color was eventually discontinued in 2003, when the Game Boy Advance SP was launched (it had sold alongside the first version of the Game Boy Advance that was launched in 2001).

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Nintendo 64 Controller Pak (1997 – 2003)

The Nintendo 64 Controller Pak was a memory card for the Nintendo 64 game console. Like the PlayStation Memory Card, it was used to save game data and this could be shared with other Nintendo 64 owners.

The Controller Pak plugged into the controller rather than the console itself, and held 256 KB, split into 123 pages with a limitation of 16 save files. Data was not saved on flash memory, but on battery backed SRAM. Bigger memory cards were made by third parties and ranged from around 1-4 MB in size.

Many first-party games typically used on-cartridge storage to store game data. It was mostly third-party games that used the Controller Pak, to save the expense of including memory in the Game Pak itself.

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Sony PlayStation Memory Card (1995 – 2006)

The PlayStation Memory Card was a proprietary flash memory cartridge for the Sony PlayStation game console, released in 1995 in Europe.

Used for saving game play progress, the capacity of the official Sony Memory Card was 1 MB in fifteen blocks of memory. Some unofficial cards were made with higher capacities, but some games will not save to these. PlayStation Memory Cards could be used in the PlayStation 2.

Its successor, the PlayStation 2, was launched in 2000 with it’s own range of Memory Cards and the PlayStation (by then in redesigned form as the PSOne) was discontinued in 2006.

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Atari Jaguar (1993 – 1996)

The Atari Jaguar was a fifth-generation game console, released by Atari in 1993.

It was the first 64-bit game console, and was designed to surpass the Sega Mega Drive, Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Panasonic 3DO in processing power. By the end of 1995, it was in competition with the Sega Saturn, Sony PlayStation, and other new consoles that made up the fifth generation of video game consoles.

The Jaguar’s ROM cartridges could hold up to 6 MB.

An Atari Jaguar CD peripheral was released in late 1995, that allowed proprietary CD-ROMs to be played. The CD peripheral plugged into the cartridge slot, but also had its own cartridge slot so cartridges could be used without removing the peripheral.

The Jaguar proved to be a commercial failure, partly due to delays in game development, and prompted Atari to leave the home video game console market in 1996. Atari sold around just 250,000 Jaguar consoles.

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Nintendo 64 (1997 – 2003)

The Nintendo 64 (or N64) was Nintendo’s third home game console for the international market, after the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was named after the 64-bit processor it used, and was a fifth-generation console. Released in 1996 in Japan, it reached Europe in 1997.

It was the last Nintendo home game console to use ROM cartridges (the Game Boy however continued to use them). Cartridge size varied from 4 MB to 64 MB, and many included the ability to save game data internally (there was also an optional Controller Pak accessory for saving game data for those cartridges that didn’t). Nintendo cited the very fast load times for cartridges in comparison to rival CD-ROM based games, however they were expensive and time-consuming to manufacture, and were limited in capacity compared to the 650 MB of a CD-ROM.

The Nintendo 64 was in-demand upon its release and the console sold 3.6 million units in its first full year in the United States. The Nintendo 64 received generally positive reviews from critics. Reviewers generally praised the console’s advanced 3D graphics and gameplay, while criticizing the lack of games. A total of 387 games were released for the console, compared with 1,100 for the rival PlayStation.

Nintendo released a peripheral called Nintendo 64DD in 1999, allowing the use of Nintendo’s proprietary magneto-optical discs. It was a commercial failure, and only nine games were released for it.

The Nintendo 64 was discontinued in 2003, and replaced by the Nintendo GameCube, which used a proprietary version of the miniDVD format.

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Neo Geo Pocket / Pocket Color (1998 – 2001)

The Neo Geo Pocket was a fifth-generation monochrome handheld video game console released by SNK in 1998. It was only available in Japan and some smaller Asian markets.

Only 10 games were released for the original Neo Geo Pocket.

Lower than expected sales led to its replacement in 1999 by the Neo Geo Pocket Color, which was better placed to compete with the Nintendo Game Boy Color. The Neo Geo Pocket Color was also available in the US and Europe.

All Neo Geo Pocket games will play on the Neo Geo Pocket Color, and vice versa.

It was dropped from US and European markets in 2000, with remaining stock bought back by SNK for repackaging in Asia. It continued to be available in Japan until 2001, with a total of 2 million sold (including the original Neo Geo Pocket). The system enjoyed a greater success than any Game Boy competitor since Sega’s Game Gear.

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