Although they played many of the same games, Nintendo’s Japanense Famicom console was quite different from its American counterpart, the NES, in terms of aesthetics. One of the major differences was the design of each system’s cartridges. Famicom cartridges are thicker and feature a smoother overall design than NES carts, but one of the more mysterious differences appear at the top of the carts.
Whereas NES cartridges have indentations at the top to help snap the cart in place when placed into the console, the Famicom carts have holes on the top that don’t seem to have any practical purpose. Some common assumptions are that they are ventilation holes or just part of the manufacturing process, but the answer has never really been made clear … until now, that is.
Afternoon News: ‘I believe there are holes on the top of [Famicom] cartridges. Do you know what kind of meaning they had?’
Nintendo: ‘Yes, to be honest, they were just part of the design.’
Afternoon News: ‘Um, these aren’t holes made during the molding or the assembly?’
Nintendo: ‘That’s correct. They’re just [part of the cartridge’s] design.’
Afternoon News: ‘Then, the holes on the front and the back of Irem’s cartridges are also design?’
Nintendo: ‘That’s correct. Similarly, that’s the design.’
It’s not exactly made clear why the holes are part of the design, but at least now we know why Famicom carts have them. Thanks Nintendo!