One of the defining features of the Nintendo Switch is the fact that the console uses cartridges instead of disks — a design decision that was rumored long before any official information about the system was released. Now that members of the press are getting their hands on the hardware, we’ve learned something else about the cartridges: they don’t taste great.
Last week, Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann performed a spontaneous taste test on a Switch cartridge, which has been preserved in GIF form thanks to Reddit. His passionate reaction to the flavor of the cartridge inspired other journalists to pop Nintendo Switch cartridges in their mouths.
A copy of launch title Just Dance 2017 was described as “revolting” in a tongue-in-cheek report published by Polygon. Fortunately, this prompted Nintendo to step in with official word on why the cartridges taste so terrible.
“A bittering agent (Denatonium Benzoate) has also been applied to the game card,” said a Nintendo spokesperson, confirming that the cartridges intentionally assault the taste buds of anyone that tries to ingest them. Denatonium benzoate is non-toxic, making it an ideal substance for this application.
Long story short, Nintendo manufactured its Switch cartridges to have a bad taste to avoid any health and safety risks. Gaming journalists demonstrated that the cartridges were indeed sufficiently foul-tasting to dissuade users (read: kids) from swallowing them.
It’s not clear why Nintendo felt it was time to put this precaution in place, given that the DS and 3DS both used similarly compact cartridges. However, given that the company’s focus on gaming experiences that are suitable for all ages, it’s not too surprising to see these measures implemented. So for any new Switch owners that happen to catch a taste of the game cartridges for whatever reason (curiosity, accident, etc.), know that the foul taste was put there on purpose
The Nintendo Switch launches on March 3, 2017.