Ridge Racer’s “Mini-Games During Load Times” Patent Expires

Remember the good ol’ days when you could just pop a cartridge into your console and it would load up immediately? And then remember when things changed and you had to sit around waiting for what seemed like hours (but was probably only, uh, a few minutes at most) for your game to load?

Remember how that still happens? Ahem. Yeah.

Well, back in 1994, Namco took note of the issue and developed creative solution with their release of the game Ridge Racer. They included a copy of Galaxian, which could be played while the game loaded. Namco then went on to use this “loading screen game” concept for numerous additional Playstation games, and then took out a patent on the whole shebang.

Why haven’t you seen other loading screen games since Ridge Racer? It’s because of that patent. However, you may be reading this and thinking that’s a load of horseturd because you’ve played loading screen games recently.

Actually, you haven’t. In fact, the mini-games that you play in Splatoon or Star Wars Battlefront, for example, as you wait around…are not loading screens. You’re waiting in matchmaking, which means the patent is circumvented—and the second screen requirement for Splatoon, for example, also helped to get around it.

But that patent has now expired anyway, so—loading screen games may come back in vogue! It’s been 20 years since Namco grabbed the concept for themselves, but with the idea now ready for anyone else to use, it’s possible (and certainly likely, we’d venture) that we’ll see it appear in Nintendo releases in the future.


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Author: Micah View all posts by
Micah has been playing games since his first pong machine, and has been writing for as long as he could grip a pencil and not drool on the paper. So, for about a week.

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