This iOS game cartridge could satisfy Game Boy nostalgia (if it’s not vaporware)

Pico Cassettes mimic the look and feel of handheld gaming cartridges, but are still just a conduit to the App Store.


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Handheld game cartridges are no longer essential in the age of app stores and bountiful flash storage, but Japanese startup Beatrobo wants to make some for your iPhone anyway.

The so-called Pico Cassette plugs into an iPhone through the headphone jack and sends an inaudible signal that acts as an authentication key, The Verge reports. This key directs the iPhone to the App Store, where it downloads the corresponding game. (Presumably, you’ll have to have some companion app installed and running first.)

So yes, in practice this isn’t really better than searching for a game in the App Store and hitting the install button. It’s just a more tactile and nostalgia-ridden way to do things.

If there’s one unique ability that Pico Cassettes could have, it’s the unique identifier that’s tied to each cartridge, letting users download data from Beatrobo’s servers. Potentially, this could allow two devices to access the same games and save files, even if they’re tied to separate iCloud accounts.

But right now, much of this exists only in theory. Beatrobo was only showing off one proof of concept game at Tokyo Game Show, where The Verge spotted it. The next steps are to finish lining up content partners and launch a Kickstarter campaign, so it could be a while before Pico Cartridges hit the market, if they make it that far.

Why this matters: The idea to bring game cartridges to mobile phones is clever, though the walled garden of iOS severely limits how far the concept can go. Would it be too much to ask for an Android version that stores actual game data and plugs in via USB?

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