NES cartridge-like device Picocassette to offer novel gaming experiences on mobile



See the original story in Japanese.

Surely there are more than a few men in their 30s whose hearts won’t skip three beats upon espying this device. Its design reminds one of the Nintendo NES, the home video game released by the Japanese game maker in July of 1983.

However, this is a new smartphone-use game device called Picocasette, jointly developed by Japan’s Sirok and U.S.-incorporated Beatrobo. One can play the game inside by inserting the device into the earphone plug of a smartphone.

Tokyo-based Sirok is in charge of app development while Beatrobo of San Francisco, with its wholly-owned subsidiary in Japan, is charged with hardware development. Apart from this, Beatrobo also develops and sells an instant media gadget using the earphone plug called PlugAir, which adopts the same technologies as those in Picocassette.

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The two firms have tied up with video game developers who had created famous titles in the past and will provide such games through the Picocassette device. Sirok will engage in development of Picocassette as a new challenge, although it is to continue app developments for businesses as its core business. Meanwhile Beatrobo aims to nurture this into its mainline business.

From the left: Beatrobo CEO Hiroshi Asaeda, Sirok CCO Takahiro Ishiyama

Sirok CCO Takahiro Ishiyama comments:

Once license management of a game has been permitted, Sirok optimizes the property for playing with smartphones. By adopting touch operation or swiping, we can fine tune the product offerings from the game feature perspective. Development of original games is also planned for the future.

While some “old favorite” game remakes for smartphones tend to be avoided by game geeks due to differences in the operation feel, their optimization may reduce mismatches in platform porting.

Beatrobo CEO Hiroshi Asaeda outlines the vision of Picocassette:

To provide games as smartphone apps, we need to have users search them from among a million titles on App Store or Google Play. Being limited to this market alone is too restrictive. Picocassette enables game sales at a variety of locations. It can also be used as a premium for making a certain purchase so the purchasers for play it on a trial basis. I foresee future use of Picocassette as a sales promotion tool too.

Asaeda added that it would be interesting if games within Picocassette can be sold at events like Comiket (“flea markets” for comics buffs in Japan); it could possibly be handled like CD-Rs of yore.

Today, when just a smartphone and apps are needed to play games, the Picocassette approach of aiming to develop a game software device may appear irrational. Yet, the goal set by Asaeda and Ishiyama appears to be the redesign of the “game purchase” experience itself. Godspeed!

Translated by Taijiro Takeda
Edited by “Tex” Pomeroy