Saturday, May 24, 2014

Random Question: What is the deal with 17?

Just a random thing that has been puzzling me for a while.  Have you ever noticed how a lot of Famicom carts have the number 17 on the back of them?  Right there in the upper left hand corner of the back label?

Whats up with that?

Not all carts have the number 17, a lot of them are just blank.  But there are no carts with, for example, the number 15 on them.  Or 16.  Or 4.  And so on.

So I was just wondering about that.  Why 17?  Anybody know?


  1. Maybe there were a few inspectors, like for shirts, that were obsessive about the quality of the carts?

  2. If I am not mistaken with Super Famicom carts the number stamped on the back showed the factory it was made in and rom version number. Perhaps the numbers here also denote which Nintendo plant they came from.

  3. A book could be written about something like this. Take all the games with #17 on the back, then arrange their titles and stuff a certain way, or group by publisher, and it gives a map to a 30-year old (not ancient) secret temple where one would have to go through an Indiana Jones adventure to find a secret collection of extremely valuable Famicom games.

    But realistically, it's most likely just something to mark carts that are diffurent from the normal ones fur some reason, and the 17 is a reminder of what the change is.

  4. Candiman is right. All Nintendo game shells either on the back or the front will have a label stamp (almost always punched in after the label put on, and I've never seen it printed on like above) which denotes the factory it was made at (each factory has a unique number, and there is a few factories not owned by Nintendo, but owned by big companies like Konami which made their own carts to Nintendo's standard exactly like Nintendo with Nintendo's blessing (probably with Nintendo's equipment). I forget which numbers those are, but this was SFC and on. FC era other companies at least in Japan could make their own games (shells, boards, and chips) and wasn't strictly controlled like the NES or SFC onwards. Nintendo allowed this in the SFC-era onward because they had good relations, and Nintendo wasn't able to keep up with their demand for popular game titles. There was a plant in Mexico which did some SNES games for some North American titles at one point but it has since closed and all Nintendo games are once again made by Nintendo in Japan for all regions. Typically easiest was to spot fakes is if that number (Almost always a punched in) is missing. If there is a letter behind the number A, B, or C it denotes the game software's version 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3 respectively (only use if there was a game software code revision, else no letter appears and the game is version 1.0). This should correspond to the ROM etching on the top of the IC ending in -0 for v1.0, -1 for v1.1 etc. after the Game ID (HVC-IC) [So it would appear HVC-IC-0 for version 1.0 on the IC. (If it has a window or the first party (and most third party FC) game is missing this etching it is a fake)].

    More than you ever wanted to know on the subject. I was once curious too, but did a lot of research both online and of my own and figured this mystery out. Now I would just want to link these numbers to actual factory locations, I do know the PCBs where made at another set of factories and shipped in (also marked but in a different way) and has no bearing on the game assembly plants. If it is just printed on that's iffy (it is possible those are all early run games before they started stamping), but doesn't mean they aren't legitimate if all else is correct for the game. FC-era was a time of unstandardized games (most third parties making their own didn't even have this stamp at the time), if it is missing on a standard more Nintendo styled FC cart, then it is a fake (cannot be to careful as the FC world is pirate city), and if it is punched in you're golden (I've never seen a pirated copy with one)!

    1. I would add, even same game titles can have different numbers. Depends how many runs they did and what the demand was for it. So some times it was different run, different factor made the entire lot. Other times it was a big order, or a popular order so they split the load between factories to meet deadlines (which they set). Often times it was a big run because the wait to get another shot at the next run could take several months, by that time the demand would of eased.

  5. Anonymous - thanks a lot for the detailed response, that is quite interesting.

    Logan - a most interesting idea....

  6. Those don't seem to be the same thing that is in the back of SFC carts. They aren't pressed, they are printed. And there are no variations, just the 17. Maybe its something like a parental rating? If you make a list of all the games that you have with the 17, maybe we can see a pattern.

  7. I had a feeling I had seen them on SFC carts too. I don`t think its a parental rating, they have them on some games targeted at kids (the black cart in the photo in this post is Yume Penguin Monogatari, which is pretty safe content wise).