Inside the Super Nintendo cartridges

One of the remarkable characteristics of the Super Nintendo was the ability for game cartridges (cart) to pack more than instructions and assets into ROM chips. If we open and look at the PCBs, we can find inside things like the CIC copy protection chip, SRAM, and even “enhancement processors”.

↫ Fabien Sanglard

When I was a child and teenager in the ’90s, the capabilities of the SNES cartridge were a bit of a legend. We’d talk about what certain games would use which additional processors and chips in the cartridge, right or wrong, often boasting about the games we owned, and talking down the games we didn’t. Much of it was probably nonsense, but there’s some good memories there.

We’re decades deep into the internet age now, and all the mysteries of the SNES cartridge can just be looked up on Wikipedia and endless numbers of other websites. The mystery’s all gone, but at least now we can accurately marvel at just how versatile the SNES really was.


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