That poor old disk writer looks nervous...

For gamers in the West the NES came in one basic form. There were alternative models with a tray or a top-loader, but it was a cartridge based system that fired up those famous carts over its whole generation. Some retro fans reading this are more than likely aware of the Famicom Disk System, however, which was released as an expansion to the original system in Japan.

The disk media, despite some flaws with reliability, did hold advantages at the time with extra memory and capabilities, with some games having save slots in those iterations that were restricted to password systems on standard cartridges. In Nintendo's homeland some iconic games, such as The Legend of Zelda, even arrived on the disk format first.

As those that remember the days of floppy disks and their like can attest — the Famicom's media was proprietary — they could be easily overwritten. Naturally Nintendo wouldn't allow gamers to start messing around with their games by themselves, hence the proprietary status, but it did roll out Famicom Disk Writer Kiosks around retailers in Japan. As renting games wasn't allowed — and still isn't in the region — it became an affordable way for young games to shake up their collection in a sort of trade-in. For 500 Yen — as opposed to a typical 2600 Yen for a full game — Famicom Disk owners could take in a game they didn't want, hand them to the store's staff and choose another game they'd rather have instead. Using the Disk Writer (pictured below), the store would then take your disk and hook it up with a master cartridge containing the new game.

Famicom Disk Reader

The original game would be wiped and the new one would take its place; just like that, a fresh game was purchased for far less than the standalone option. It would hardly be conducive to building a sizeable collection, but on tight budgets it must have seemed like the perfect option; it's a neat twist on the current trade-in market, while this is also a nice physical alternative to the current realities of being stuck with download games with no hope of switching them for a discount on something else.

Even better, the video below shows the animation you could watch of Mario and Luigi transferring the new game to a disk — it certainly gives a fresh outlook on the neat Pikmin-themed animations for transfers on 3DS and Wii U. Check it out and let us know what you think.