A brief history of colored game cartridges

One of these things is not like the other

Standard color: Fourth time’s the charm.

Special colors: Every color that came before, but in huge numbers. So many that the idea of a colored cart meant less and less as the years went on. We all know the N64 was getting trounced by the original PlayStation, so the only reason I can offer for the sudden surplus is a desperate attempt to make the games “feel” more fun by creating this rainbow of colors.

For the first time there are more colored carts than I care to show, but for the sake of “you forgot xxxx” comments, I know the following were either blue, black or red: Rally Challenge 2000, NBA Jam 2000, Tony Hawk 2, WWF No Mercy and Madden 2001. Odds are there are even more.


Standard color: Gre… hey, they’re almost black! Let’s go with “darker grey.”

Special colors: The usual Pokemon colors (red, green, blue etc) plus a clear version for the sun-powered Boktai. I searched through a rather large list of GBA games and that’s all I could find, unless you want to count Nintendo’s “Classic NES Series,” which shipped in the standard grey cases.


Above: Back to square one


Once games moved to discs (and therefore plastic jewel/DVD cases) there was no need for colored carts. The only available option was to change the color of the actual DVD case, a practice that Nintendo and Sony mostly ignored, but Microsoft embraced with its Platinum Hits line. Instead of the usual money-green case, those titles shipped in silver cases. This, along with the whole black/green label versions of PlayStation games has created a nitpicky collector subsetthat poo-poos any non-standard case colors.

Funny, how colored carts were beloved and colored cases were so strongly resisted. The reasoning, silly as it is, wasn’t about the color – it was the perceived lesser value of a “Greatest Hits” version as opposed to the “real” version. That’s why last year’s New Super Mario Bros Wii was met with praise instead of dread.

New SMB Wii shipped in a bright red case from day one. Not as a greatest hits line, but as its standard appearance. In a sea of Wii white, this red actually retains the cool factor of a colored cart, bringing us full circle.

You just spent five minutes reading about plastic.

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