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The Pico Cassette cartridge

Photo/IllutrationThe Pico Cassette cartridge for “Ninja JaJaMaru-kun,” still in development, is plugged into the headphone jack of a smartphone. (Naoyuki Fukuda)

Amid the enduring popularity of the retro games that took the nation by storm in the 1980s, two IT start-up firms are running a crowdfunding campaign to finance an old-school, plug-in gaming system for smartphones.

The firms are now working to develop their first offering, “Ninja JaJaMaru-kun,” for a commercial release probably in November.

The Pico Cassette system is being developed jointly by Tokyo-based Beatrobo Inc. and Sirok Inc. The former has a proven track record for its PlugAir, a physical device that allows access to music and video content stored in the cloud when it is plugged into a smartphone’s headphone jack.

Making use of this technology, the Pico Cassette cartridge establishes a connection to the Internet when it is plugged into a smartphone and allows the user to play an exclusive video game, according to the developers.

“We want to revive video games that linger on in our memories,” said Beatrobo President Hiroshi Asaeda.

“Ninja JaJaMaru-kun” is an action game in which the player controls a ninja boy to destroy enemies with “shuriken” throwing stars. It became a big hit after it was released for a home video game console in 1985.

The target price for a Pico Cassette cartridge is set at 1,980 yen ($18).

The companies are running their campaign on crowdfunding website Makuake to raise a total of 10 million yen to prepare for porting retro games to smartphones and producing cartridges.

The campaign has raised more than 4 million yen so far.


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