GR Asks: Why do some cartridge games still have loading screens?

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GR Asks: Why do some cartridge games still have loading screens?

Answered by: Chris Charla, Foundation 9 Entertainment

Above: Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (DS) has frequent loading screens

“Decompression -- some carts use a system like .zip to pack more graphics into less cart space, which was/is pretty expensive. They decompress the graphics into RAM which can take a little time -- the more you compress the data, the more time it takes to decompress, especially on low-powered machines which didn't have the horsepower for realtime decompression, as modern systems do.”

Thanks, Chris!

Above: Out of this World (SNES), a cart game, threw up this clock image during its copious loading screens

Why is this a big deal? Cartridges used to be the industry norm, and Nintendo stuck with them through the Nintendo 64 days, almost always citing lightning-fast loading times as one of the chief advantages. Unlike CDs, which have to access data, carts have it all at the ready. Thus, it’s strange to play a cart game that asks you to wait while it loads the data that, near as we could tell, should have already been “loaded” from the start.

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Last week’s question:Why was Biohazard renamed Resident Evil?

Apr 15, 2009

Brett Elston

A fomer Executive Editor at GamesRadar, Brett also contributed content to many other Future gaming publications including Nintendo Power, PC Gamer and Official Xbox Magazine. Brett has worked at Capcom in several senior roles, is an experienced podcaster, and now works as a Senior Manager of Content Communications at PlayStation SIE.