Nintendo Switch: Don't lick our cartridges, warns Japanese firm
Nintendo Switch games are coated in horrible chemicals that you should not put near your mouth, the company has confirmed.
The Japanese game firm has released its new and perhaps riskiest ever console, the Switch, mostly to positive reviews and expected good sales. But one little secret is lurking on all of the games, which are delivered on small memory cards that are put into the machine.
“To avoid the possibility of accidental ingestion, keep the game card away from young children," Nintendo told Kotaku. "A bittering agent (Denatonium Benzoate) has also been applied to the game card.
"This bittering agent is non-toxic," the company confirmed.
That "bittering agent" denatonium benzoate is the most bitter chemical compound ever known, and means that anyone trying to lick, taste or eat them will find themselves undergoing a horrible experience. The chemical is similar to those used to stop people biting their nails by making them taste horrible, and it is also used in things like animal repellant.
Some had initially suspected that the taste was a result of the manufacturing process. But Nintendo has confirmed that it is a way of discouraging children from licking or eating the tiny cards.
People who have licked or attempted to eat the cartridges have found the experience awful. The taste also has a tendency to linger, according to games journailst Jeff Gerstman, whose advice after putting one in his mouth was "do not try this at home".
"Immediately upon touching a Nintendo Switch cartridge one’s tongue is assaulted by a harsh bitterness that spreads like a brush fire through the mouth," wrote Mike Fahey on gaming website Kotaku. "Having a drink on hand helps, but not completely.
"The taste and how it spreads suggests some sort of oily residue left on the cartridge. If you’ve ever pinched an orange peel and tasted the oil that oozes from the rind, it’s like that, only without the citrus accents."
Mr Fahey suggested that he could taste some of the same flavour on cartridges from the old Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super NES, but that it was a more faint taste and it didn't stick around.