You don’t see the NES’s belly often. Well, if you do you’re probably not using the NES properly. But did you know the bottom of the NES has a secret! Ooooh. No, it isn’t a snack, or gold coins. It’s none other than an expansion port. It was planned to be used on multiple occasions, but sadly the little guy was left alone. I know what you’re saying – “But every Nintendo home console had an expansion port that wasn’t used outside Japan!” I know dear reader, but I promise you this will be an adventure! Today, I’m going to shed some light on the unused expansion port.
The NES expansion port never received a commercial application. Which is a really sad fate because it was the result of some cool ideas. Firstly, there was going to be a western release of the Famicom disk system that would plug into the NES via the expansion port. But Nintendo cancelled that project. Why you ask? Pirates. No, Nintendo weren’t sailing the seven seas in search of buried treasure in the 80s, I mean an evil-er type of pirate. Its well known that the Famicom disk system has games that were too easy to copy. So pirates had a fun time making quick money with it. Nintendo feared that the same pirates would rest their sea legs in North America and copy games there. So, Nintendo would lose more money with pirates than they would making it bringing the disk system to The U.S. and Europe.
Teleplay tried again to give the port some credentials with a modem! It was only in development, but they claimed that it would allow you to dial-up your friends NES and play games together! It was said that NES and MEGA Drive players could play together too. Amazing! Teleplay approached Nintendo with the idea but sadly Nintendo refused to give them a licence to work on the NES. Its beginning to look like the expansion port will never find a compatible mate.
But the NES expansion port must do something! Nope. I’m afraid not. It’s useless. its why it was removed on the NES 2 (the top loader). But before that, one last try was given to make that port useful in 1991! But by who?
A lottery company of course! The NES was actually going to be used as a gambling machine. How dishonest! It was trailed by the state lottery in Minnesota, who would let people to use Nintendo equipment to play the state lottery in the comfort of their living rooms. If successful it would be made available to the rest of the USA. But don’t get the impression that little kids could just blow thousands of their parents money by gambling! To use the service, you needed to present a photo I.D., a bank account and pay ten whole dollars a month as a service charge. Then a special modem and cartridge would be shipped out to the participant who then could place bets, do the lottery and play gambling type games. A fifty dollar limit was placed on how much people could spend in a day. It all sounded pretty nifty. But politicians were unhappy that a childrens toy could be used for gambling and the project slowly drifted away leaving the poor expansion port forever without a lover.
Copyright (c) 2013 Eli Gali
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