Iwata Acknowledges the “Lugging Around Multiple Carts” Issue on DS

By Ishaan . April 2, 2009 . 10:22am


More than a year ago, famed Japanese copywriter and creator of Earthbound, Shigesato Itoi interviewed Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, covering a plethora of topics ranging from Nintendo to Iwata’s philosophy on design and a brief history of how the two men met. To date, I still think it is one of the Iwata interviews I’ve read, owing largely to his relationship with Itoi and his website, “Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun.” If you’re an Iwata fan, I would  highly recommend reading the piece.


Recently, Yasuhiro Nagata from “Hobo Nikkan Itoi Shinbun” conducted a special edition of the popular “Iwata Asks” series of interviews, with Iwata once again taking the spotlight and being grilled on a number of Nintendo-related matters. Here’s the portion of the interview I found most interesting:


Iwata: I’ve heard complaints—some not entirely bad, such as about having to lug around a bunch of game cartridges, for example— and noticed that, even though we have changed the nature of gaming with the Nintendo DSi, the other Nintendo DS family systems hitherto has represented the same old concept centered around plugging in a single game cartridge.


Also, sometimes when using my cell phone, I’ve thought that adapting this or that service to the DS would make it much more convenient. And, above all, I’ve thought about what should be done so the DS platform will remain vibrant years down the road.


But I wonder if perhaps Nintendo DSi solves all these problems by allowing users to tailor their own unit and walk around with their personalized Nintendo DSi systems.


I’ll admit, that is easily my biggest gripe with the DS at the moment.


Iwata goes on to state that famous Miyamoto quote that a true idea is “something which solves multiple issues at once.” Well, making it possible to load your DS games to an SD card on DSi and carry them all with you would solve the inconvenience issue and might also help offset piracy to an extent. That sounds like a true solution to me.


Question is, does Iwata think so, too?

Read more stories about & & & & on Siliconera.

  • It’ll never happen.

    • Jellybit

      Why will it never happen? Sony sells PSP games digitally. Nintendo sells downloadable Wii games that can go on an SD card. DSi could easily do it too. Why is that so crazy?

      • fallen

        Look how long it took for us to get a simple-to-integrate, unconvoluted SD Card Wii storage solution. What was it, 2 and a half years? Agreed, it will never happen.

      • Oh it could easily do it. It’s just that Nintendo won’t let you. Nintendo and Sony are very different companies. Sony’s been selling retail sized games as downloads for a long time, and I think Nintendo’s online strategy is going to just be selling bite sized games. I’ve downloaded a few of the DSi titles so far, and they’re great…but that’s what Nintendo’s vision is downloadable games. Maybe in the next handheld they’ll make it happen, but not during this generation.

  • maxchain

    Really? Because we made do back in the day of the Game Boy.

    Also, I’m willing to bet money on the SD cards being used for storing DSiWare and absolutely nothing else. C’mon, any takers?

    • daizyujin

      Does the current firmware allow games to be played off the SD card or do they have to be on the actual unit? Even if it doesn’t now, I would figure it might be added in the future. Also, is the slot SDHC?

      • Yeah, it supports both SD and SDHC. Which means up to, what, 32GB?

      • You have to play them off the unit. I’d suspect a firmware upgrade will allow for Wii style loading from the SD card though. Not sure about SDHC.

        • jarrodand

          I’m betting any SD-load firmware update coincides with the Virtual Portable launch. Probably (hopefully) later this year.

  • MadMirko

    If Iwata won’t allow it, homebrew hopefully will. It’s just a choice of giving the legitimate customer the same level of comfort the filthy pirates enjoy.

    With DSiWare I personally won’t need to carry too many carts with me (not that they are especially bulky), but it wouldd be nice to have another option.

    EDIT: Iwata: (laughs)

    • daizyujin

      They need to make a case that straps on the system on the back that can hold all your excess games. Probably could make something small. Honestly, I like the idea of the dual slots, I would prefer it over the slimmer design, but it is hardly the reason I am not picking the system up. I really don’t see the problem. I think anybody that has been in gaming for even the past five years is pretty used to the idea of being able to hold one game in the unit at a time. Still it is a nice idea.

  • BobTheCat

    I don’t believe we will see the ability to load our DS gaming library onto an SD.

    Essentially it turns the DSi into a sort of flash cart, which is no bad thing but Nintendo would never do it for fear of piracy.

    It would make it a lot easier for piracy when all they need to do is transfer data directly onto the SD card.

    • Jellybit

      Nintendo won’t let you copy carts, no, but they will sell new games, and resell old games digitally.

    • daizyujin

      Nintendo doesn’t ALLOW you run copied games on an unmodded system yet it is very doable. Piracy is only part of the issue. Nintendo also doesn’t have the infastrutucure for this type of thing set up like Sony does. Sony has been building PSN up for a few years now, yet has only started in the past 6 months or so to really press digital downloads of full retail products. Even if this was to happen, it will probably be years for any company to set up. It could happen, it just will take time.

      Correct me if I am wrong (I may very well be.) but I think the DSi only has 256MB of flash memory. That sounds fine, but some DS games are pushing that in terms of size, quite a few are around 128MB. Now to do this the way it is done on the Wii, you would have to use the internal flash as a medium to play the game on, storing it on there temporarily off the SD, then erasing it after play. This is not practical since you would have to “ALWAYS” have half the flash ram open. In order to pull this off it will take them allowing the game to be played directly off the SD card similar to how games are streamed off the memory stick on the PSP. That requires more ram. There we go, now we know how Nintendo is going to use all that extra ram. ;)

      • jarrodand

        It’s 256MB of flash but (like Wii) half of that is reserved for system use and not accessible iirc.

        I think “full” DS game downloads will have to wait until DS-2 honestly.

        • daizyujin

          I agree. It is possible, like I said, but not likely. It will only work if they went with a streaming option, something they could have done on Wii but didn’t. That leads me to believe it is more about stopping piracy since streamed games would be a lot easier to fool the system into playing since the current system makes the machine authenticate the game in the same manner it always did.

  • DS cartridges aren’t so big. I don’t really mind.

    • Same here. I always carry a purse anyways, so it doesn’t bug me to toss a few of those cases that hold three carts in.

  • James

    I could definitly see some older DS games coming out on DSiware, maybe it eventually in a few years some big releases will get a digital and retail release like what sony are doing witha few PS3 games.

    But i think it will definitly be DSiware and old GameBoy releases for the time being.

  • If Nintendo does adopt storing full games on a DS, I believe it will be similar to how they handle the Virtual Console. Games will be downloaded from their server and then linked to that particular DS system.

  • Joanna

    I don’t I a problem with lugging around DS games. I’ve got a case that has a pouch on the bottom and I can fit around 8 DS carts, plus one in the DS. I don’t think I could possibly need more. Actually, 4-5 is usually enough for one trip. So I’ve never really felt irritated by this, but I guess I would have been if my DS case didn’t have that pouch :]

  • The reason I find this interesting is, it’s not like Iwata to bring up an issue unless he eventually plans to address it in some way. When I think of the concept of “personalization” for my DS, I feel the games I have on it are an important part of that.

    Adding this functionality shouldn’t be very hard. Considering DSi already supports SDHC, it’s just a simple matter of a firmware upgrade to allow for games to be played off of SD card.

    That, or it’ll turn out like Wiiware/Virtual Console where the new 4.0 firmware copies the game to NAND before running it, so you always need a little bit of free space on the unit. This option seems less likely in the case of DSi, though, as certain DS games can be up to 256MB in size, and that means you wouldn’t be able to copy them to the system’s memory even if you just have a couple game saves on there.

  • Icon

    I think the DS is probably the last cart-based system Nintendo will ever produce, if the iPhone is any indication (and don’t believe Nintendo when they say they’re not in competition with other companies…).

  • Justin Bailey

    Two words: Friend Codes

    Nintendo will never see my money again.

Video game stories from other sites on the web. These links leave Siliconera.

Siliconera Tests
Siliconera Videos