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5 Reasons the Nintendo Switch Will Benefit From Cartridge Media

Nintendo is going back to cartridges, but what does that mean for the Nintendo Switch?

Way back in May of this year, I stumbled upon a lead about the then-called Project NX which talked about Macronix working with Nintendo to produce cartridge media for the upcoming console. In that same article I discussed some of the benefits that a move to cartridge media would have over disks, and how it might affect the NX's performance. Some of these benefits included faster read times, larger storage capabilities, and even the simple fact that they do not get damaged as easily.

Fast forward to today, and now we know without a shadow of doubt that the Nintendo Switch will be using cartridge media -- among a slew of other interesting features. But what does this actually mean for the Switch now that we know what the console is? Well here are just a few of my theories...

#1: All I Said Before Still Stands

I can't lie. I love cartridges. I love how they look, how I can drop them without screaming like a horror film's female lead, and how I never notice the load times. While I still cry over the shame that my N64 Cartridge Collection will one day suffer from Save Data Alzheimers in their old age once their battery cells die, I will never forget how well they have lasted up until now.

Modern day cartridges, on the other, hand are much better than they used to be. Memory storage is much larger than ever, battery saves are a thing of the past, and they are still virtually indestructible under normal circumstances provided you have the competency of the average animal.

What's even better is that load times are still practically non-existent. Those who have played Hyrule Warriors Legends on the New 3DS can attest to the fact that the game loads up unimaginably faster than its Wii U counterpart -- even if the 3DS version isn't as graphically impressive as the Wii U's. However, if the Switch is anything like the New 3DS in terms of loading speeds we could very well see Nintendo's new console outperform just about every console out there -- at least in terms of loading times.

#2: HD to Go

We already know that Nintendo has a knack for taking old hardware and making something beautiful, despite its limitations. Take Breath of the Wild (above) for example, and you'll see what I mean. Now that Nintendo has moved away from AMD and on to NVIDIA hardware, we can only imagine how the company's first-party games will benefit from stronger hardware.

The Nintendo Switch is unique compared to other consoles in that it's not only the first HD portable console, but also a rather compact one. Even compared to the NVIDIA Shield, the Switch looks remarkably easy to carry around - even with the Dock attachment in hand. As such, we can expect to be able to bring the Switch around with us, much like the Nintendo Gamecube initially set out to do.

Cartridges help this functionality further in that we don't need to worry about our game media getting damaged while we walk about. Unlike CDs, cartridges won't get scratched or fall out of disk reader clips while being tossed about. This will be another major advantage for Nintendo's Switch in the upcoming years, as this will be something that even the PS4 Slim won't be able to accomplish anytime soon.

#3: Never Gonna Let You Down

You know what sucks more than a damaged disk? A damaged disk drive.

While many of us might never see the day where our disk drive fails, those among us who didn't eject our disks religiously learned a little too late that most home consoles continue to read disks while not in use. Once again, this is never the case with cartridges, as the only risk to the cartridge readers is oxidation -- and that takes a very long time!

Even when cartridges or their readers fail, it's nothing that a good ol' wooden ice pop stick can't solve. That, or if you're really old school, the blow-on-it trick always works.

Fun Fact: It's actually the moisture in your breath that makes it work, not blowing away the dust!

#4: Literal Storage Space

I love the fact that I can walk around with over twenty 3DS cartridges in my pocket and still feel comfortable. In my Poké Ball 3DS Cartridge Holder I can store 3 games (5 if I stuff them in between each other as seen on the right) with ease. This is amazing for portable devices, as it means larger games can be stored on a device with little to no trouble at all. Trying to do the same with BluRay or DVD discs is not only a video enthusiast's nightmare, but any sane person's fear...as scratching the disks is always a risk.

Remember, these 3DS cartridges only store up to 8 Gigabytes of data to begin with. Even the largest 3DS titles -- Xenoblade Chronicles 3D -- only used up 3.6 GB of data, and that game was huge! It included fully voiced dialogue, detailed models, and large expansive worlds.

Now imagine that the cartridges used for the Nintendo Switch are actually the ones that were rumored earlier to store up to 32 GBs of data. That's still almost 1.5x bigger than the largest Wii U title -- Xenoblade Chronicles X -- which sat at 22.7 GBs. We already know that The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim - Special Edition will be on the Nintendo Switch, and that game sits at 22.75 GBs of space, so that rumor about the 32 GB cartridges is all but confirmed.

#5: Quiet Gaming

Another great thing about cartridges is that they are completely silent. I love playing on my friend's PlayStation 4 whenever I get the chance, but in the middle of the night I can't help but notice the whirring of the disk inside while we're playing. Unless you have the volume cranked up, it's impossible to deny that you can hear it -- and at times have it drown out the volume of your TV.

While this is more of a personal reason more than anything, the Switch's ability to play cartridges means I can play video games at night with the TV set to the lowest volume settings, and still hear everything perfectly.

It might not be something everyone experiences, but it's worth mentioning.

So what about you?

I've already listed my own 5 reasons for why the Nintendo Switch using cartridges will be revolutionary, but what about you? What benefits do you see the Switch having because of them? Do you hate cartridge and solid state media? Leave your opinions in the comments section below!

While you're at it, be sure to check out my analysis of the Nintendo Switch's trailer! Some of the features might surprise you!

Published Oct. 20th 2016

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