Released in 1983, the Family Computer, or Famicom, was Nintendo’s first successful foray into the home video game market. While it was later released in the West as the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Famicom in no way resembles its western counterpart. Not only was the system’s appearance quite different, but even the cartridges housing the games completely changed as well when produced for western markets.
If you’ve ever seen an original Famicom cartridge before, you might have noticed that each one has two small holes in the top of the cartridge. Many have thought that they were a remnant of the manufacturing process. Others, like so many of us, might have had absolutely no clue why those holes were there.
Thanks to an interview with the Japanese website Afternoon News, we finally have an answer to this long-standing question. It’s quite anti-climactic, but according to the interview, Nintendo has stated that these holes were nothing more than a design choice, and unlike the indents on NES cartridges which held the two halves of the cartridge together, they have no function or purpose.
Clearly, Nintendo owes much of its success in Japan to these small cartridge holes, being an integral design element that helped boost the Famicom’s sales. Only time will tell if these cartridge holes will ever receive the fame and notoriety they so deserve.
Looking to pick up a Famicom of your own, but don’t want to have to worry about tracking down cartridges? Nintendo has confirmed that the Famicom Classic Mini will be returning to Japanese store shelves in summer 2018. A restock of the western NES Classic Edition is said to be on the way as well, in case you missed it the first time around.