Playing out like a big-budget techno-thriller, this video from Gaming Historian chronicles the storied history of those weird, oddly-shaped Nintendo Entertainment System cartridges you have probably wondered about.

For those who don’t know, Tengen was a video game publisher and developer – originally created by Atari Games to release Namco arcade conversions on home consoles, before branching out to other non-Namco titles (even landing some Sega games like After Burner on the Nintendo console.)

After releasing some games on familiar, grey cartridges, Tengen decided they wanted to work around Nintendo’s restrictive practices – such as only allowing five games a year to be released per-company, and forcing these titles to be exclusive to their platform for at least two years.

This sets off a lawsuit, secret trips to the patent office in order to reverse-engineer workaround computer chips, and so much more. It’s all wonderfully edited, professionally narrated, and thoroughly engrossing (if you’re interested in this particular portion of video game history, that is.)

Gaming Historian also has a bevvy of other uploads, including videos focusing on the infamous LJN Toys, Ltd.the history of Wolfenstein 3Dthe Sega Nomad and more – so you’ll have plenty of viewing options for follow-ups once you check out his Tengen video.

What’s your favourite Tengen cartridge? Add yours to the comments below!

Dan Gorman