Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 22nd Jul 2016 23:30 UTC
Games

Back in the early '90s, a number of game consoles of the time got CD-ROM based add-ons, such as the the Mega-CD for the Mega Drive (or Sega CD and Genesis, respectively, in North-America). Nintendo wanted in on this trend as well, and in cooperation with Sony - which already made several of the SNES' chips - Nintendo explored the idea of a CD-ROM based add-on for the SNES. The plan was for the device to be connected to the SNES using the 28-pin expansion port located underneath the SNES.

The device - called the SNES-CD or Nintendo Play Station - eventually morphed into a single unit capable of playing both SNES games and new disc-based games, all in a single package. It never made it to market, though, and only 200 or so prototypes were ever made, which all seemingly were destroyed, or so the story goes. Sony took what it learned during its stint with Nintendo, and in 1994, unveiled the PlayStation.

Until in 2015, Terry and Dan Diebold by pure luck stumbled upon one of the presumed lost prototypes - probably the rarest console in existence. The SNES part of the device was in working condition (mostly), but the CD-ROM part was void of any signs of life. It seemed like the Nintendo Play Station would continue to hide its secrets.

That is, until now - Ben Heck has managed to fix the SNES-CD, and get it back into working order. The entire process is chronicled in two videos. In the first video, Heck takes the SNES-CD apart and analyses its insides, trying to figure out what each chip and component does. In the second video, the real magic begins - fixing the device.

I'm not going to spoil why, exactly, the device didn't work - it's too good of a story and too much of a fun surprise to spoil upfront. Grab something to drink, and enjoy an hour of delicately poking at the insides of one of the rarest pieces of technology.

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I don't have an hour
by WorknMan on Sat 23rd Jul 2016 03:10 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

Can somebody post the digest version here? ;)

Reply Score: 3

RE: I don't have an hour
by JLF65 on Sat 23rd Jul 2016 05:29 UTC in reply to "I don't have an hour"
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

Two things:
1) They tied one end of a resistor to disable the CD interface.
2) Bad caps.

Ben soldered the resistor back in place, replaced the caps, did general cleaning, replaced all the proto wiring, and it works just peachy. Now if they just had a CD game...

What was most surprising was that it really added very little to the SNES. One of the sound chips in the SNES is really a CD control chip, which was now used to actually control a CD. They added a 32KB ram for a CD cache. And that's it for the unit. It came with a special cart that held the CD BIOS and 256KB of ram for CD game code/data, and an 8KB battery-backed ram for saves. No wonder Nintendo passed on it.

Reply Score: 8

RE[2]: I don't have an hour
by WorknMan on Sat 23rd Jul 2016 15:20 UTC in reply to "RE: I don't have an hour"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Thank you for that fine breakdown. I appreciate it ;)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: I don't have an hour
by Drumhellar on Sat 23rd Jul 2016 18:46 UTC in reply to "RE: I don't have an hour"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

It came with a special cart that held the CD BIOS and 256KB of ram for CD game code/data, and an 8KB battery-backed ram for saves. No wonder Nintendo passed on it.

It's unlikely the retail version would have had the separate cart for the BIOS. This would have been for pre-production developer systems, so Nintendo could issue updates without having to send whole systems. They did the same with the 64DD, too.

Pre-production developer versions of that also had a separate cart for the BIOS and what not, but the version actually sold did not.

Edited 2016-07-23 18:48 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE[3]: I don't have an hour
by JLF65 on Sun 24th Jul 2016 18:07 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: I don't have an hour"
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

Yes, but the other stats would have still been pretty much the same. In the end, it only provided more storage, and Sony supposedly wanted to be the only provider of CD games. There really wasn't anything in it for Nintendo, especially with the N64 so close.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: I don't have an hour
by FlyingJester on Mon 25th Jul 2016 21:24 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: I don't have an hour"
FlyingJester Member since:
2016-05-11

You could imagine that there could be generic accelerator carts for this, though. Rather than every SuperFX game needing its own SuperFX chip, and SuperFX CD game would just need you to insert a dedicated SuperFX cartridge.

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: I don't have an hour
by JLF65 on Mon 25th Jul 2016 22:16 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: I don't have an hour"
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

Yeah, that would have been pretty neat. But it probably would have gone the same way the 32X did. I love the 32X, but Sega killed it way too soon. They tried to push everyone to the Saturn, but the Saturn was too expensive for many folks for the first couple years. During that time, the 32X would have kept the cheap folks (like me) happy.

Reply Score: 2

RE[6]: I don't have an hour
by FlyingJester on Tue 26th Jul 2016 15:36 UTC in reply to "RE[5]: I don't have an hour"
FlyingJester Member since:
2016-05-11

It could still work. It worked with the N64 expansion pack, even when some games started requiring it.

Reply Score: 1