the case of ‘Gran Turismo 2’ and ‘FIFA 2001’

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Although today we are more than used to digital purchases and disc boxes that, because they don’t come with them, don’t come with an instruction manual or illustrations of the game, there was a time when these boxes were full of surprises. Surprises like records that smelled.

Actually the discs did not smell per se, but had a sheet that, when rubbed, gave off the smell. The best known cases in the world of video games are those of ‘FIFA 2001’ and ‘Gran Turismo 2’which smelled like grass and burning rubber, respectively.

Uhmmm, tire smell…

Surely we remember when, not so long ago, they became very fashionable scratch-and-sniff stickers. Personally, I remember them on some cards from when I was little. We owe the invention to 3M, the company behind the mythical post-it, and behind these stickers is a technology called microencapsulation.

rough mode, microencapsulation consists of coating small particles or droplets to form capsules with different properties. When rubbing the surface, the capsules break and, in this case, the particles that give off the odor in question are released. The first was created in 1965 And they were used for many things.

'FIFA 2011' and 'Gran Turismo 2' discs.

Discs of ‘FIFA 2011’ and ‘Gran Turismo 2’

One of the first popular use cases was carried out by the American group The Raspberries, which released a disc with one of these sheets that (surprise) smelled like raspberries. That was in 1972. It wasn’t until 1999, with the release of ‘Gran Turismo 2’ and its two discs, that we saw it implemented in a video game.

‘Gran Turismo 2’ had two discs, one for arcade mode and one for GT mode. The GT mode disc had a sticker that, when rubbed with a finger or a piece of clothing, smelled like a burnt tire. Electronic Arts repeated the move later on, with ‘FIFA 2001’, whose disc gave off the smell of freshly cut grass.

They are two of the best known cases, but there are many others and much better implemented in the playable experience. For example, ‘Leisure Suit Larry: Love for Fall’ (1996) had a sticker, the CyberSniff 2000, with several numbered scents. During the game, a number would appear on the screen to indicate which sticker to rub in order to know what our character was smelling.

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Another curious use was in ‘Earthbound’, the 1995 game for the SNES. This game had six scratch-and-sniff cards and one of them was surprise. If the user guessed the smell and told Nintendo by letter, he got a prize. The award? A pizza-scented air freshener.

We don’t have to go that far to find implementations of this technology. If you like pop music, the album ‘Teenage Dream [Deluxe Edition]’ by Katy Perry (the one from the song ‘Last Friday Night’) has a cotton candy-scented scratch-and-sniff sticker. At the other extreme we have ‘Olidous Operettas‘ the album by the goregrind band The County Medical Examiners, which according to Fairbanks, their guitarist, smells like rotten meat.

Although today we are more than used to digital purchases and disc boxes that, because they don’t come with them,…

Although today we are more than used to digital purchases and disc boxes that, because they don’t come with them,…

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