Last updated

Super NES CD-ROM System
SNES-CD add-on.jpg
SNES-CD add-on prototype concept art
Also known asSuper Famicom CD-ROM Adapter, Nintendo Playstation
Manufacturer Nintendo, Sony
Type Video game console add-on
Generation Fourth generation
Release dateUnreleased
Media CD-ROM, ROM cartridge

The Super NES CD-ROM System [1] [2] (commonly shortened as the SNES-CD), known as Super Famicom CD-ROM Adapter in Japan, [3] is an unreleased video game peripheral for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). The add-on built upon the functionality of the cartridge-based SNES by adding support for a CD-ROM-based format known as Super Disc. [4] [5]


The SNES-CD platform was developed in a partnership between Nintendo and Sony. The platform was planned to be launched as an add-on for the standard SNES, as well as a hybrid console by Sony called the PlayStation [6] (nicknamed the "Nintendo PlayStation" to distinguish it from the later Sony console of the same name) similar to Sharp's Twin Famicom and NEC's TurboDuo. Another partnership with Philips yielded a few Nintendo-themed games for the CD-i platform instead of the SNES-CD. Sony independently furthered its developments into their own stand-alone console, which ended up inheriting the PlayStation name and would serve as the chief competitor of the Super NES's cartridge-based successor, the Nintendo 64.


Recreation of a Super Disc logo used from 1991 until 1993 Superdisc logo recreation.png
Recreation of a Super Disc logo used from 1991 until 1993

The relationship between Sony and Nintendo started when Sony engineer Ken Kutaragi became interested in working with video games after seeing his daughter play games on Nintendo's Famicom video game console. He took on a contract at Sony for developing hardware that would drive the audio subsystem of Nintendo's next console, the Super NES. Kutaragi secretly developed the chip, known as the Sony SPC 700. As Sony was uninterested in the video game business, most of his superiors did not approve of the project, but Kutaragi found support in Sony executive Norio Ohga and the project was allowed to continue. The success of the project spurred Nintendo to enter into a partnership with Sony to develop both a CD-ROM add-on for the Super NES and a Sony-branded console that would play both SNES cartridges, as well as titles released for the new Super Disc format. [7]

Development of the format started in 1988, when Nintendo signed a contract with Sony to produce a CD-ROM add-on for the SNES. The system was to be compatible with existing SNES titles as well as titles released for the Super Disc format. [8] [9] Under their agreement, Sony would develop and retain control over the Super Disc format, with Nintendo thus effectively ceding a large amount of control of software licensing to Sony. Further, Sony would also be the sole benefactor of licensing related to music and movies software that it had been aggressively pursuing as a secondary application. [10] Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi was already wary of Sony at this point, as Sony was the sole provider of the audio chip, the S-SMP, used in the SNES and required developers to pay for an expensive development tool from Sony. [10] To counter the proposed agreement, Yamauchi sent Nintendo of America president Minoru Arakawa and executive Howard Lincoln to Europe to negotiate a more favorable contract with Philips, Sony's industry rival. As described by David Sheff in his book Game Over , “[The Philips deal] was meant to do two things at once: give Nintendo back its stranglehold on software and gracefully fuck Sony." [10] At the June 1991 Consumer Electronics Show, Sony announced its SNES-compatible cartridge/CD console, the "PlayStation". [8] The next day, Nintendo revealed its partnership with Philips at the show—a surprise to the entire audience, including Sony. [11] [9]

While Nintendo and Sony attempted to sort out their differences, between two and three hundred prototypes of the PlayStation were created, [12] [13] and software for the system was being developed. In 1992, a deal was reached allowing Sony to produce SNES-compatible hardware, with Nintendo retaining control and profit over the games. The two organizations never repaired the rift between them and by the next year, Sony had dropped further development of the Super NES CD-ROM, and instead refocused its efforts on developing its own console for the next generation of consoles which became known as the PlayStation. [7] [14] [10]


A photo of the only known SNES-based PlayStation prototype Sony-playstation prototype.jpg
A photo of the only known SNES-based PlayStation prototype

In November 2015, it was reported that one of the original "Nintendo PlayStation" prototypes had been found. The prototype was reportedly left behind by former Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Ólafur Jóhann Ólafsson during his time at Advanta. [15] A former Advanta worker (Terry Diebold) acquired the device as part of a lot during Advanta's 2009 bankruptcy auction. The system was later confirmed as operational and the unit plays Super Famicom cartridges as well as the test cartridge that accompanied the unit, although the audio output and CD drive were non-functional. [5] Some groups attempted to develop homebrew software for the console, such as Super Boss Gaiden, as there were no known games that utilized the CD drive. [16]

The prototype came with a Sony/PlayStation-branded version of the standard Super Famicom controller (model number SHVC-005). [17] In March 2016, retro-gaming website RetroCollect reported that they (and influential members of online emulation communities) had received (from an anonymous source) a functional disc boot ROM for the SNES-CD. [18] [19]

Diebold had given the unit to Benjamin Heckendorn, a console modder, to look at, around 2017. Heckendorn provided a tear-down video of the system, [20] through which he was able to identify faults in several on-board components that he subsequently replaced, which resulted in fixing the audio and CD drive issues indirectly. Heckendorn showed audio CDs working on the system, as there were no known game CDs, but affirmed that homebrew games worked. [21] [22]

The prototype was put up for auction by Diebold in February 2020, with an initial asking price of US$15,000, but the auction quickly exceeded US$350,000 within two days. [23] [24] It was auctioned off at US$360,000 to Greg McLemore, an entrepreneur and founder of, who has a large collection of other video game hardware and plans to establish a permanent museum for this type of hardware. [25] [26]

Technical specifications

Heckendorn's July 2016 teardown video provides technical specifications of the prototype, as none was published by Sony or Nintendo. [27] Heckendorn said the system would have probably been as powerful as a standard Super NES, but not as powerful as the Sega CD. The standalone unit has the following connectors: two Super NES controller ports, a cartridge slot, a dual-speed CD-ROM drive, RCA composite jacks, S-Video, RFU DC OUT (similar to the PlayStation SCPH-1001), a proprietary multi-out AV output port (the same one featured on the Super NES, Nintendo 64, and GameCube), headphone jack on the front, a serial port labelled "NEXT" (probably for debugging), and one expansion port under the unit. [28]

Co-CPU (MHz)None42.048
Bus Width (Bits)8168
Add-on Processor (MHz)None12.5None or 21 MHz (NEC V-810 Phillips version)
Add-on VideoNonePresentNone
Add-on AudioCDRicoh+CDCD
CD-ROM Speed1x1x2x
Main RAM (KB)864128
Video RAM (KB)646464
Audio RAM (KB)0864
Exp RAM (KB)64 (256 Kb Super CD and 2048 with Arcade Card)512256 (512 or 1024 with Phillips Snes CD)
Exp Video RAM (KB)02560
Exp Audio RAM (KB)64640
CD Cache RAM (KB)01632 (128 Phillips version)
Backup RAM (KB) for save data088
Total RAM (KB)200 (392 with Super CD, 2148 with Arcade Card)992552 (902 or 1416 Phillip Snes CD)


After the original contract with Sony failed, Nintendo continued its partnership with Philips. This contract provisioned Philips with the right to feature Nintendo's characters in a few games for its CD-i multimedia device, but never resulted in a CD-ROM add-on for the SNES. [14] The Nintendo-themed CD-i games were very poorly received, and the CD-i itself is considered a commercial failure. [29] The main game in development for the SNES-CD platform launch was Square's Secret of Mana , whose planned content was cut down to the size suitable for cartridge and released on that medium instead. [30] [31]

Ken Kutaragi and Sony continued to develop their own console and released the PlayStation in 1994. The CD-based console successfully competed with Nintendo's cartridge-based Nintendo 64 and other CD-based console systems such as the Fujitsu FM Towns Marty, the NEC PC-FX, the SNK Neo Geo CD, the Panasonic 3DO Interactive Multiplayer and the Sega Saturn. The broken partnership with Sony has often been cited as a mistake on Nintendo's part, effectively creating a formidable rival in the video game market. [32] [7] Nintendo would not release an optical disc-based console of its own until the release of the GameCube in 2001. [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

Nintendo 64 Home video game console produced by Nintendo

The Nintendo 64 (officially abbreviated as N64, hardware model number pre-term: NUS, stylized as NINTENDO64) is a home video game console developed and marketed by Nintendo. Named for its 64-bit central processing unit, it was released in June 1996 in Japan, September 1996 in North America, and March 1997 in Europe and Australia. It was the last major home console to use the ROM cartridge as its primary storage format until the Switch in 2017. The Nintendo 64 was discontinued in 2002 following the launch of its successor, the GameCube, in 2001.

PlayStation (console) Fifth-generation and first home video game console developed by Sony

The PlayStation is a home video game console developed and marketed by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was first released on 3 December 1994 in Japan, on 9 September 1995 in North America, on 29 September 1995 in Europe, and on 15 November 1995 in Australia, and was the first of the PlayStation lineup of video game consoles. As a fifth generation console, the PlayStation primarily competed with the Nintendo 64 and the Sega Saturn.

CD-i Video game console and interactive multimedia CD player

The Compact Disc-Interactive is a digital optical disc data storage format that was mostly developed and marketed by Dutch company Philips. It was created as an extension of CDDA and CD-ROM and specified in the Green Book, co-developed by Philips and Sony, to combine audio, text and graphics. The two companies initially expected to impact the education/training, point of sale, and home entertainment industries, but CD-i eventually became best known for its video games.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System Home video game console developed by Nintendo

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), also known as the Super NES or Super Nintendo, is a 16-bit home video game console developed by Nintendo that was released in 1990 in Japan and South Korea, 1991 in North America, 1992 in Europe and Australasia (Oceania), and 1993 in South America. In Japan, the system is called the Super Famicom (SFC). In South Korea, it is known as the Super Comboy and was distributed by Hyundai Electronics. The system was released in Brazil on August 30, 1993, by Playtronic. Although each version is essentially the same, several forms of regional lockout prevent the different cartridges from being compatible with one another.

A regional lockout is a class of digital rights management preventing the use of a certain product or service, such as multimedia or a hardware device, outside a certain region or territory. A regional lockout may be enforced through physical means, through technological means such as detecting the user's IP address or using an identifying code, or through unintentional means introduced by devices only supporting certain regional technologies.

In the history of computer and video games, the fourth generation of game consoles began on October 30, 1987 with the Japanese release of NEC Home Electronics' PC Engine. Although NEC released the first console of this era, sales were mostly dominated by the rivalry between Nintendo's and Sega's consoles in North America: the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Genesis. Handheld systems released during this time include the Nintendo Game Boy, released in 1989, and the Sega Game Gear, first released in 1990.

Ken Kutaragi Japanese businessman

Ken Kutaragi is a Japanese engineering technologist and businessman. He is the former chairman and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment (SCEI), the video game division of Sony Corporation, and current president and CEO of Cyber AI Entertainment. He is known as "The Father of the PlayStation", and its successors and spinoffs, including the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable and the PlayStation 3, not including the Playstation 4, onwards as Kutaragi left Sony Interactive Entertainment in 2007.

The history of video game consoles, both home and handheld, had their origins in the 1970s. The concept of home consoles used to play games on a television set was founded by the 1972 Magnavox Odyssey, first conceived by Ralph H. Baer in 1966. Handheld consoles bore out from electro-mechanical games that had used mechanical controls and light-emitting diodes (LED) as visual indicators. Handheld electronic games had replaced the mechanical controls with electronic and digital components, and with the introduction of Liquid-crystal display (LCD) to create video-like screens with programmable pixels, systems like the Microvision and the Game & Watch became the first handheld video game consoles, and fully realized by the Game Boy system.

Super FX 3D graphics chip used in Super Nintendo games

The Super FX is a coprocessor on the Graphics Support Unit (GSU) added to select Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) video game cartridges, primarily to facilitate advanced 2D and 3D graphics. The Super FX chip was designed by Argonaut Games, who also co-developed the 3D space rail shooter video game Star Fox with Nintendo to demonstrate the additional polygon rendering capabilities that the chip had introduced to the SNES.

Super 8 (video game accessory) video game accessory

The Super 8, also sold under the title Tri-star or Tristar, is an unlicensed video game peripheral released in 1995 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System designed to allow the system to run games developed for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The Super 8 utilized an NES-on-a-chip integrated circuit to duplicate the functionality of the original NES hardware, and connected to the SNES's own cartridge slot.

The history of Nintendo traces back to 1889, when it was founded to produce handmade hanafuda. Nintendo Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational consumer electronics company headquartered in Kyoto, Japan. It eventually became one of the most prominent figures in today's video game industry, being the world's largest video game company by revenue.

Ending-Man Terminator video game console

Terminator 2 is a video game console sold in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Montenegro, India, Kenya and Hungary. It was also sold in Italy as "top consolle". It is a hardware clone of the Nintendo Famicom.

ROM cartridge Digital data storage device used for the distribution and storage of video games

A ROM cartridge, usually referred to simply as a cartridge or cart, is a removable memory card containing ROM designed to be connected to a consumer electronics device such as a home computer, video game console or, to a lesser extent, electronic musical instruments. ROM cartridges can be used to load software such as video games or other application programs.

Video game console emulator program that reproduces video game consoles behavior

A video game console emulator is a type of emulator that allows a computing device to emulate a video game console's hardware and play its games on the emulating platform. More often than not, emulators carry additional features that surpass the limitations of the original hardware, such as broader controller compatibility, timescale control, greater performance, clearer quality, easier access to memory modifications, one-click cheat codes, and unlocking of gameplay features. Emulators are also a useful tool in the development process of homebrew demos and the creation of new games for older, discontinued, or more rare consoles.

Nintendo Entertainment System Home video game console developed by Nintendo

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is an 8-bit third-generation home video game console produced, released, and marketed by Nintendo. It is a remodelled export version of the company's Family Computer (FC) platform in Japan, commonly known as the Famicom, which was launched on July 15, 1983. The NES was launched in a test market of New York City on October 18, 1985, followed by Los Angeles as a second test market in February 1986, followed by Chicago and San Francisco, then other top 12 American markets, followed by a full launch across North America and some countries in Europe in September 1986, followed by Australia and other countries in Europe in 1987. Brazil saw only unlicensed clones until the official local release in 1993. The console's South Korean release was packaged as the Hyundai Comboy and distributed by Hyundai Electronics.

A home video game console or simply home console, is a video game device that is primarily used for home gamers, as opposed to in arcades or some other commercial establishment. Home consoles are one type of video game consoles, in contrast to the handheld game consoles which are smaller and portable, allowing people to carry them and play them at any time or place, along with microconsoles and dedicated consoles.

Benjamin Heckendorn American console modder

Benjamin J. Heckendorn is an American console modder and Computer engineer. He is better known as Ben Heck on the Internet. Heckendorn is also an independent filmmaker and he was the star of element14's The Ben Heck Show, a popular online series, until leaving the show in late 2018.

Nintendo 64 Game Pak official name for the ROM cartridges that store game data for the Nintendo 64

Nintendo 64 Game Pak is the brand name of the consumer ROM cartridge product that stores game data for the Nintendo 64, released in 1996. As with Nintendo's previous consoles, the Game Pak's design tradeoffs were intended to achieve maximal system speed and minimal base console cost—with a lesser storage space and a higher unit cost per game. Integrating a CD-ROM drive, with its expensive and slow moving parts, would have drastically increased the console's base price and reduced its performance.


  1. "Super NES Technology Update: CD-ROM". Nintendo Power . No. 35. April 1992. pp. 70–71.
  2. "Super NES CD-ROM System documentation" (PDF). Nintendo of America, Inc. February 1, 1993. Archived from the original on June 19, 2018.
  3. "ニューマシン総まくり" [Overview of New Consoles]. Weekly Famitsu (in Japanese). July 3, 1992. Archived from the original on August 19, 2017.
  4. Theriault, Donald (July 3, 2015). "Nintendo Play Station Superdisc Discovered". Nintendo World Report. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  5. 1 2 Lai, Richard (November 6, 2015). "We turned on the Nintendo PlayStation: It's real and it works". Engadget . AOL Inc. Archived from the original on August 16, 2016.
  6. "Rare 'Nintendo PlayStation' sells for £230,000". BBC News . March 6, 2020. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  7. 1 2 3 Fahey, Rob (April 27, 2007). "Farewell, Father". Archived from the original on August 17, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  8. 1 2 Edge staff (April 24, 2009). "The Making Of: PlayStation". Edge . Future Publishing. Archived from the original on May 16, 2012. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
  9. 1 2 IGN staff (August 27, 1998). "History of the PlayStation". IGN. Archived from the original on February 18, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  10. 1 2 3 4 Robinson, Andy (February 5, 2020). "The Road To PS5: PSOne's Betrayal And Revenge Story". Video Games Chronicle . Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  11. Nintendo-Philips Deal Is a Slap at Sony - The New York Times, June 3, 1991
  12. "Sony PlayStation". Next Generation . No. 24. Imagine Media. December 1996. p. 48.
  13. Lipshy, Jarrod S. "Why the Super Nintendo CD Would Have Been the Greatest Console Ever". Unrealitymag. Archived from the original on November 9, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  14. 1 2 3 Cowan, Danny (April 25, 2006). "CDi: The Ugly Duckling". . Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  15. Brian Crecente (July 3, 2015). "HOW MISFORTUNE AND A BIT OF LUCK LED TO THE DISCOVERY OF THE FABLED NINTENDO PLAY STATION". Archived from the original on July 6, 2015. Retrieved July 7, 2015.
  16. Life, Nintendo (July 11, 2016). "Someone Has Actually Made A Game Which Works On The SNES PlayStation". Archived from the original on March 22, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  17. "Did a SUPER RARE Sony-Nintendo PlayStation prototype just pop up online? Possibly, maybe". July 4, 2015.
  18. Buchanan, Adam (March 1, 2016). "Unreleased Super Nintendo CD "Nintendo PlayStation" Boot ROM Discovered". RetroCollect. RetroCollect. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016.
  19. "Super Disc Boot ROM - The Cutting Room Floor". The Cutting Room Floor . Archived from the original on February 18, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  20. The Ben Heck Show (July 22, 2016). Ben Heck's Nintendo-Playstation Prototype Part 2 Repair. Archived from the original on July 27, 2016. Retrieved July 23, 2016 via YouTube.
  21. Good, Owen S. (May 6, 2017). "The 'Nintendo Play Station' is working, thanks to Ben Heck". Polygon . Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  22. "Hacker Makes the Nintendo PlayStation Fully Operational". Kotaku. May 5, 2017. Archived from the original on May 5, 2017. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  23. Philips, Tom (February 13, 2020). "Ultra-rare Nintendo PlayStation prototype up for auction". Eurogamer . Retrieved February 13, 2020.
  24. Smith, Andrew (February 14, 2020). "Auctioned Nintendo PlayStation Prototype Console Will Be the Most Expensive Video Game Item Ever, Current Bid is $350,000". IGN . Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  25. Carpenter, Nicole (March 6, 2020). "Rare Nintendo Play Station sold at auction for more than $300,000". Polygon . Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  26. Zweizen, Zack (March 7, 2020). "The Man Behind Pets.Com Bought The 'Nintendo Play Station' Console For $360,000". Kotaku . Retrieved March 7, 2020.
  27. "Ben Heck tears down the legendary Nintendo PlayStation". Archived from the original on May 10, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  28. The Ben Heck Show (July 15, 2016). Ben Heck's Nintendo-Playstation Prototype Pt 1 Teardown. Archived from the original on February 13, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017 via YouTube.
  29. Blake Snow (May 4, 2007). "The 10 Worst-Selling Consoles of All Time". Archived from the original on May 8, 2007. Retrieved November 25, 2007.
  30. Finnegan, Lizzy (April 7, 2015). "Secret of Mana: A Good Game With The Great Cut Out". The Escapist. Archived from the original on October 4, 2015. Retrieved November 9, 2015.
  31. Schaulfelberger, Frederik (September 2006). "Sanningen om Mana". Level (in Swedish). IDG (6): 114–121.
  32. Nutt, Christian. "Birthday Memories: Sony PlayStation Turns 15". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on February 14, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2012.