The gaming preservationists over at Forest of Illusion recently got their hands on the holy grail of the Nintendo DS catalog: a cartridge meant to teach McDonald’s workers the ins and outs of the fast-food restaurant via the popular two-screen handheld. It’s called eSMART 2.0, and after years of searching, it’s finally been backed up and made available for download.
eSMART 2.0 was part of a series of educational Nintendo DS pseudo-games distributed to McDonald’s locations throughout Japan in 2010 for the training of existing employees. A companion cartridge meant for new McDonald’s hires known as the eCrew Development Program, or eCDP for short, was found and shared online in 2020, but eSMART itself has long eluded both collectors and archivists.
Of course, there’s quite a story behind how this game ended up in Forest of Illusion’s capable hands, much of which is detailed by enthusiast Coddy Trentuit in the video below. The saga of acquiring eSMART 2.0 was filled with numerous starts and stops as various auctions for the training program appeared online and copies were purchased by folks unwilling to share with the community out of piracy concerns.
A group made up of Forest of Illusion and other generous benefactors was eventually able to secure a copy of eSMART 2.0 for a whopping ¥300,000 (or around $2,600 USD). After ensuring the game’s preservation by backing up the cartridge’s data, Forest of Illusion sent eSMART 2.0 to Trentuit, who shared a lengthy video detailing its contents for folks not able to download and play it themselves.
As you can see, this software isn’t going to be making any “Best Nintendo DS Games of All Time” lists. eSMART 2.0 is pretty much what it says on the tin: a way to teach McDonald’s employees of the era best practices for putting together orders of Quarter Pounders and Chicken McNuggets for hungry customers via demonstrations and interactive scenarios.
All that said, this is still an important moment for video game preservation. While it may not seem as momentous as, say, releasing hundreds of PlayStation 2 prototypes and demos, eSMART 2.0’s archival is a small step toward ensuring the entire Nintendo DS catalog is maintained for future use. And hey, you never know, maybe the secret to making an authentic Big Mac sauce is hidden somewhere in its code.