The Decades-Old CD-ROM-Based ‘Nintendo Play Station’ Prototype Is Up And Running

05.06.17 6 months ago

The SNES-CD system dates back to 1991 when Nintendo was still holding tight to the cartridge format while Sega was looking at all types of add-ons to the Genesis. With its pricey and clunky 32x and Sega CD, the Genesis certainly did what Nintendon’t — make your system look like an interstellar space cruiser. History shows Nintendo wouldn’t contribute too much to the peripheral frenzy that was the early ’90s, at least on its home systems, but at one point, the clunky SNES-CD, or “Play Station” (or Super Disc!) was close to happening. A few hundred prototypes were even made, and some guy found one of the rare systems at an estate sale in 2015.

Now, after over a year of tinkering, one of these suckers actually works and is playing CDs, something that the gaming community has never seen before. Hacker Ben Heck was tasked with the mission to get it working, and it seems like the only way to get it to recognize data from the CD port was through divine intervention (or a cable jiggle).

I was working on this yesterday and the CD-ROM wasn’t even detecting the disc,” Heck says in the video. “I came in this morning and jiggled the cables around and got ready to work on it some more, and all of a sudden it works… did a magic elf come in overnight?”

The question left is for all the marbles: What now? The system will recognize CDs, and software was being developed for in 25 years ago, but none of it has been found. So, instead of having a super-rare piece of out of date hardware that doesn’t work, someone owns a super-rare piece of out of date hardware that does work but has no compatible software to work with.

There are a few homebrew games making their way into the hands of gamers, but those don’t require an SNES-CD, just a computer. It’s cool they got one of those games to work on the system via the CD drive, but that system has now possibly reached its full potential beyond accurate emulation.

It’s still worth celebrating the accomplishment.

(Via Ars Technica)

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