If you’ve ever seen an original Famicom cartridge, you probably wondered what those little holes on the top edge were. Were they ventilation holes? Part of the manufacturing process? Something to put string in? Nintendo has reportedly explained their meaning, saying they’re nothing more than a design element.
First released in 1983, the Famicom (and its cartridges) are shaped differently than the Nintendo Entertainment System and its carts, which were released in the West a few years later. Via Japanese blog Yappari DR30!, you can see the Famicom version of Super Mario Bros. in the top photo. Notice the holes?
Below is a photo of the Donkey Kong cart (image via Burusoku VIP):
The NES cartridges, however, have indentations at the top as seen in those photo from Terapeak, but those serve a clear function: they snap the cart in place.
But what about the holes on the Famicom carts? Japanese website Afternoon News asked Nintendo about them. Here is how the exchange apparently went:
Afternoon News: ‘I believe there are holes on the top of [Famicom] cartridges. Do you know what kind of meaning they had?’
Nintendo: ‘Yes, to be honest, they were just part of the design.’
Afternoon News: ‘Um, these aren’t holes made during the molding or the assembly?’
Nintendo: ‘That’s correct. They’re just [part of the cartridge’s] design.’
Afternoon News: ‘Then, the holes on the front and the back of Irem’s cartridges are also design?’
Nintendo: ‘That’s correct. Similarly, that’s the design.’
This explains those little holes. Mystery solved. Thank you, Nintendo!
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