Music has all but gone entirely digital. Video rental stores are a critically endangered species. Even video games are steadily moving towards more online distribution. At this rate we’ll soon be welcoming the first generation to think sticking a piece of plastic into a machine for entertainment is as attractive an idea as rubbing two sticks together for fire.

Then again, isn’t there something intrinsic in humans to want to put a cartridge or disc into something for entertainment?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I really have no idea, but the makers of Pico Cassette are hoping so. This device will load video games both new and old into your smartphone by plugging into its headphone jack.

Pico Cassette works off of technology created by Beatrobo Inc. called PlugAir. These are little doodads (if you’ll forgive me for getting technical for a moment) that plug into the headphone jack of your smartphone. With a dedicated app already installed, users can download the contents of the PlugAir right into their phone. This system has already been in operation for a couple years, primarily to share music playlists.

However, the prime focus of Pico Cassette—whose name is derived from the onomatopoeia for the bleeps of an old-school video game, piko-piko, and the Japanese term for game for a game cartridge, kasetto—is video games. Its makers hope to strike deals for distributing Pico Cassette versions of retro classics from the NES/Famicom days such as (I hope) T&C Surf Designs and Yo! Noid. Also, in the future they would like to carry new games as well.

It’s hard to say what the future holds for Pico Cassette, though. On the plus side, the mini cartridges will probably be very cheap, have a lot of charm, and be universal since they use your device’s headphone jack. They could also make for a neat plot device for a spy movie.

▼ I smell a Cloak and Dagger remaaaaaake♫

On the other hand, it doesn’t seem likely that Pico Cassette’s nostalgic charm alone will compete with the plethora of emulators already available for direct download. To make matters worse Pico Cassette doesn’t appear to do anything to address the biggest problem with retro-gaming on a smartphone: those damn virtual buttons mapped to a touch-screen.

This is all just speculation at this point, however. For more information about Pico Cassette you can check out their booth at the Tokyo Game Show 2015 from 17 to 20 September and find out if there’s more than meets the eye with these things. If you do check it out, please let us know if you have to blow into your headphone jack to get them to work properly.

Source: Pico Cassette, Kai-You, Netlab, PlugAir (Japanese)
Images: CyberAgent
Video: YouTube/UniversalMoviesDutch