Did Blowing on Nintendo Video Game Cartridges Help Them Work?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to video games and whether they are true or false.

VIDEO GAME URBAN LEGEND: If your Nintendo video game cartridge didn’t work, blowing on the contacts would help make it work.

In the latter half of the 20th Century, we as a society probably didn’t have what you would call “old wives tales,” but we had our own form of it, just conventional wisdom that was passed along between friends, or heck, perhaps just somehow ingrained in our minds like a piece of the public consciousness. One of those pieces of wisdom was what to do when your Nintendo video game cartridge was not working.

Nintendo video games came in these plastic cartridges that you would plug into your Nintendo video game system to play the games.

As you can see from the cartridge, the bottom of the cartridge is sort of open…

Therfore, the belief was that if the game wasn’t working properly, there must be some sort of dust that got into the open cartridge that caused some interference and thus, blowing on it would clear the debris and allow the game to work. And anecdotally, it sure seemed to work for most kids. And if it didn’t work right away, you just kept on blowing and blowing until it DID work.

But, really, DID it work?
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Did a Video Game Company Once Sue Viacom For Ruining the Star Trek Franchise?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: A video game company once sued Viacom for, in effect, ruining the Star Trek franchise.

As we have seen numerous times over the years, there is a delicate balance between artistic freedom and the more commercial aspects of show business. One of the more shocking examples was when CBS wouldn’t continue with Cagney and Lacey unless one of the leads was replaced with a more “feminine” actress. However, even more on point with today’s legend is the strange situation that ended up with the legendary Neil Young being sued by his own record company for breach of contract because they claimed that he was intentionally not making “commercial” music. Think, then, about what if you were a company whose products were based on another company’s artistic output and you, too, felt that their output was not commercial. What do you do? That was the basis for the video game company Activision actually suing Viacom over “ruining” the Star Trek franchise.

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Was There a “Nude” Cheat Code in the Original Tomb Raider Video Game?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to video games and whether they are true or false.

VIDEO GAME URBAN LEGEND: There was a “nude” cheat code in the original Tomb Raider video game.

One of the most famous video game characters of all time is Lara Croft, the archaeologist hero of the Tomb Raider series of video games (developed by Core Design and published by Eidos Interactive), which debuted in 1996 for PCs, Sega and Sony PlayStation.

Besides being an awesome hero, Lara Croft also gained a good deal of fame from hormone-driven adolescent (and sometimes older than adolescent) video game fans who liked her physical appearance. This has led to a persistent urban legend – was there a cheat code in the original Tomb Raider game where you could cause Lara Croft to fight in the nude?

Read on to find out!
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Did Universal Studios Sue Nintendo Over Donkey Kong Infringing on Their King Kong Trademark?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE/VIDEO GAME URBAN LEGEND: Universal Studios sued Nintendo over Donkey Kong infringing on their King Kong trademark.

One of the most interesting aspects of trademark law is that cases involving trademark infringement rarely actually make it to trial. This is because it is almost always more cost-effective for a person or a company to simply change the trademark that they are using when they receive a cease and desist letter from a large company asserting trademark infringement rather than spending the money to go to trial to defend their use of the mark. If you follow that train of thought to its logical conclusion, then, you will realize then that it is possible for large companies to successfully argue trademark infringement even if they don’t have a legal leg to stand on, simply because they have enough money to threaten smaller entities into backing down. They are essentially the 300-pound gorilla in the room and everyone has to get out of their way. When one of those small companies does choose to fight back, though, the results can be surprising. An excellent example of this is when Universal City Studios (“Universal”) decided to sue Nintendo over Donkey Kong infringing upon Universal’s King Kong trademark.

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Is There a Transgendered Character in the Super Mario Brothers Universe?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to video games and whether they are true or false.

VIDEO GAME URBAN LEGEND: Super Mario Brothers features a transgendered character.

In Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers 2, one of the various bad guys that Mario and Luigi have to fight is named Birdo.

Birdo would spit eggs, flames or some combination of the two. In Japan, the charcter was known as Catharine.

In the user manual, here is how Birdo is described:

Birdo thinks he is a girl and likes to be called Birdetta. He likes to wear a bow on his head and shoot eggs from his mouth.

The Japanese version says “Catharine” and “Cathy” in place of Birdo and Birdetta, respectively.

Well, as is the case with most of his former villains, Mario ended up befriending Birdo, and Birdo shows up in Mario Tennis…
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Did Iraq Really Use Playstation 2 to Help Develop Their Weapon Systems?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to video games and whether they are true or false.

VIDEO GAME URBAN LEGEND: Iraq was using Playstation 2 to help develop their weapons systems.

The second edition of Sony’s popular video game console, PlayStation, was released in 2000. Through various delays, only a million or so people had purchased consoles by the end of 2000, making it an extremely hard to find item, especially for Christmas 2000.

Right in the middle of all the fears of the shortage of PlayStation 2’s was the report in December of 2000 by WorldNetDaily that Iraq had imported 4,000 PlayStation 2s!

The WorldNetDaily report tied in with some reports that had come out when the game was first released. When the PlayStation 2 was first produced, the Japanese Ministry of Trade had to approve of its release outside the country because of two aspects of the console.

1. It had a powerfully encrypted memory card. Anything over 56 bit encryption has to be approved by the Ministry before it is exported from Japan. PlayStation 2 had a 128 bit encryption. Sony said it needed the encryption to keep people from making copies of videos or music.

2. The central procession unit (CPU) of the PlayStation 2 had impressive graphics processing. It theoretically could be used as the “eyes” of a missile guidance system.

WorldNetDaily argued that that is why Iraq was importing all of these PlayStations, because the “toys” would be able to pass by any weapons embargo placed on Iraq.

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Did Final Fantasy Get Its Name Because it Was the “Final” Chance the Company Had For Succeeding?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends related to video games and whether they are true or false.

VIDEO GAME URBAN LEGEND: Final Fantasy got its name because it was the “final” shot at the company succeeding.

Square was founded by Masafumi Miyamoto in 1983 soon after graduating from college. At first, Square, which was devoted to developing computer games, was part of a larger company owned by Miyamoto’s father, but in 1986, Square spun off as its own company. Its games were published under the brand name Squaresoft.

One of the earliest employees at Square was a young man who had recently taken a break from college, Hironobu Sakaguchi. Sakaguchi began working part-time at Square, and while part-time, he developed Square’s first two games, The Death Trap and its sequel Will: The Death Trap II, but by the time that the company spun off, Sakaguchi was the Director of Planning and Development.

Square’s first games, which were developed for the Nintendo Famicon Disc System, did not go over very well.

The company was in desperate need of a success soon or it was very likely that it would go out of business.
Sakaguchi, too, was frustrated, but the company placed all of their hopes on a game that was designed to respond to the success Square’s competitor, Enix, had with the role playing game Dragon Warrior.

The game was titled Final Fantasy.

It sold 400,000 copies and basically saved the company from financial ruin.

There are basically two stories about where the name Final Fantasy came from (it IS a bit of an odd name).

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