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
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), also known as the Super Famicom CD-ROM Adapter, [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]

Video game electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device such as a TV screen or computer monitor

A video game is an electronic game that involves interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a two- or three-dimensional video display device such as a TV screen, virtual reality headset or computer monitor. Since the 1980s, video games have become an increasingly important part of the entertainment industry, and whether they are also a form of art is a matter of dispute.

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 versions from being compatible with one another.

ROM cartridge removable enclosure containing read-only memory devices

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.


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 (nicknamed the "Nintendo Play Station" to distinguish it from the later Sony console of the same name) similar to Sharp Twin Famicom and NEC TurboDuo. Another partnership with Philips yielded some poorly received Nintendo-themed games for the CD-i platform instead of the SNES-CD. Sony independently furthered its developments into their own stand-alone console of the same name, which served as the chief competitor of the Super NES's cartridge-based successor, the Nintendo 64.

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

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.

Twin Famicom

The Twin Famicom is a video game console system that was produced by Sharp Corporation in 1986 and was only released in Japan. It is a licensed Nintendo product that combines the Family Computer (Famicom) and the Family Computer Disk System (FDS) into a single piece of hardware.

TurboDuo video game console

The TurboDuo is a fourth-generation video game console developed by NEC Home Electronics and Hudson Soft for the North American market. The TurboDuo, released in October 1992, is the North American version of the PC Engine Duo, Japanese game console released in September 1991.


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. [6]

Ken Kutaragi Japanese businessman

Ken Kutaragi 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, the PlayStation 3, and the PlayStation 4.

Nintendo Entertainment System 8-bit third-generation home video game console produced, released and marketed by Nintendo in 1985 and 1995

The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is an 8-bit third-generation home video game console produced, released and marketed by Nintendo. It is a remodeled 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 the test markets of New York City and Los Angeles in 1985, with a full launch in the rest of North America and parts of Europe in 1986, followed by Australia and other European countries in 1987. Brazil saw only unlicensed clones until the official local release in 1993. In South Korea, it was packaged as the Hyundai Comboy and distributed by Hyundai Electronics which is now SK Hynix; the Comboy was released in 1989.

Norio Ohga Japanese businessman

Norio Ohga, otherwise spelled Norio Oga, was the former president and chairman of Sony Corporation, credited with spurring the development of the compact disc as a commercially viable audio format.

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. [7] [8] 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. To counter this, Nintendo president Hiroshi 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. At the June 1991 Consumer Electronics Show, Sony announced its SNES-compatible cartridge/CD console, the "PlayStation". [7] The next day, Nintendo revealed its partnership with Philips at the show—a surprise to the entire audience, including Sony. [9] [8]

Sony Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation

Sony Corporation is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Kōnan, Minato, Tokyo. Its diversified business includes consumer and professional electronics, gaming, entertainment and financial services. The company owns the largest music entertainment business in the world, the largest video game console business and one of the largest video game publishing businesses, and is one of the leading manufacturers of electronic products for the consumer and professional markets, and a leading player in the film and television entertainment industry. Sony was ranked 97th on the 2018 Fortune Global 500 list.

CD-ROM pre-pressed compact disc

A CD-ROM is a pre-pressed optical compact disc that contains data. Computers can read—but not write to or erase—CD-ROMs, i.e. it is a type of read-only memory.

Hiroshi Yamauchi Japanese businessman

Hiroshi Yamauchi was a Japanese businessman. He was the third president of Nintendo, joining the company in 1949 until stepping down on May 31, 2002, to be succeeded by Satoru Iwata. During his 53-year tenure, Yamauchi transformed Nintendo from a hanafuda card-making company that had been active solely in Japan, into the multibillion-dollar video game publisher and global conglomerate that it is today.

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

While Nintendo and Sony attempted to sort out their differences, between two and three hundred prototypes of the PlayStation were created, [10] [11] 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, but the two organizations never repaired the rift between them and by the next year, Sony had refocused its efforts on developing its own console for the next generation of consoles. [6] [12]

A photo of the only known SNES-based PlayStation prototype Nintendo Play Station 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 Interactive Entertainment CEO Ólafur Jóhann Ólafsson during his time at Advanta. [13] 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 the test cartridge that accompanied the unit, although the audio output and CD drive were non-functional. [5] The prototype came with a Sony/PlayStation-branded version of the standard Super Famicom controller (model number SHVC-005). [14] 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. [15] [16]

Ólafur Jóhann Ólafsson, usually known as Olaf Olafsson, is an Icelandic businessman, writer, and scientist. He is best known for his tenure at Sony and his leadership in the creation of the PlayStation video game console.

Advanta was an American banking company. It controlled two banks, Advanta Bank Corp and Advanta National Bank.

Emulator system that emulates a real system such that the behavior closely resembles the behavior of the real system

In computing, an emulator is hardware or software that enables one computer system to behave like another computer system. An emulator typically enables the host system to run software or use peripheral devices designed for the guest system. Emulation refers to the ability of a computer program in an electronic device to emulate another program or device. Many printers, for example, are designed to emulate Hewlett-Packard LaserJet printers because so much software is written for HP printers. If a non-HP printer emulates an HP printer, any software written for a real HP printer will also run in the non-HP printer emulation and produce equivalent printing. Since at least the 1990s, many video game enthusiasts have used emulators to play classic arcade games from the 1980s using the games' original 1980s machine code and data, which is interpreted by a current-era system.

In July 2016, a homebrew game titled Super Boss Gaiden was developed for the add-on. [17] Later that month, Benjamin Heckendorn posted a teardown of the device to his YouTube channel, "The Ben Heck Show", and repaired the CD-ROM drive to the point of getting CD audio output, but games could only be played from the top cartridge slot. [18] On May 5, 2017, Heckendorn published a video of a fully functional version of the console to his channel, where he described the procedure by which he repaired it, and played a couple of homebrew games from the console's CD-ROM drive. [19]


In July 2016, Benjamin Heckendorn documented a teardown of the only known prototype of the SNES-CD and published the specs of the console. [20] He 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. [21]

CPU (MHz)7.167.613.58
Co-CPU (MHz)None42.048
Bus Width (Bits)8168
Add-on Processor (MHz)None12.5None
Add-on VideoNonePresentNone
CD-ROM Speed1x1x2x
Main RAM (KB)864128
Video RAM (KB)646464
Audio RAM (KB)0864
Exp RAM (KB)64 (2048 with Arcade Card)512256
Exp Video RAM (KB)02560
Exp Audio RAM (KB)64640
CD Cache RAM (KB)01632
Backup RAM (KB) for save data088
Total RAM (KB)200 (2048 with Arcade Card)992552


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. [12] The Nintendo-themed CD-i games were very poorly received, and the CD-i itself is considered a commercial failure. [22] 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. [23] [24]

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 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. [25] [6] Nintendo would not release an optical disc-based console of its own until the release of the GameCube in 2001. [12]

See also

Related Research Articles

Nintendo 64 1996 video game console

The Nintendo 64 (N64 for short, model number: 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 Brazil, March 1997 in Europe and Australia, and September 1997 in France. It was the last major home console to use the cartridge as its primary storage format until the Nintendo Switch in 2017. The Nintendo 64 was discontinued in mid-2002 following the launch of its successor, the GameCube, in 2001.

A video game console is a computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play.

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.

The fifth-generation era refers to computer and video games, video game consoles, and handheld gaming consoles dating from approximately October 1993 to May 2002. For home consoles, the best-selling console was the PlayStation (PS), followed by the Nintendo 64 (N64), and then the Sega Saturn. The PlayStation also had a redesigned version, the PSOne, which was launched in July 2000.

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 provide advanced 2D and 3D techniques. 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.

The Tristar 64 is an unlicensed add-on for the Nintendo 64 (N64) video game console. Produced in Hong Kong by Future Laboratory, the Tristar 64 features two additional cartridge ports which are designed to accept cartridges created for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The device then emulates the NES or SNES hardware, and allows the cartridge to be run. The device also features built-in cheat cartridge functionality through a program called the X-Terminator, as well as the Memory Editor, which allows SRAM and EEPROM saved game data to be archived and edited.

Super 8 (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.

FC Twin

The FC Twin is a Famiclone that can play Nintendo Entertainment System and Super NES games. Manufactured by Qishenglong (奇胜隆), the system has been well-received due to the increasing scarcity of the original hardware. It is distributed by Yobo Gameware in the U.S. and Gametech in Japan.

Ending-Man Terminator video game console

Terminator 2 was a video game console sold in Poland, Slovakia, 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.

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.

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

Nintendo 64 Game Paks (NUS-006) are ROM cartridges that store game data for the Nintendo 64. Their sizes vary from 4 MiB to 64 MiB. The Game Pak's design tradeoffs were intended to achieve maximal system speed and minimal system cost, with a lesser storage space and a higher unit cost per game.

Game development kits (GDK) are specialized hardware used to create commercial videogames. They may be partnered with game development tools, special game engine licenses, and other middleware to aid video game development. GDKs are typically not available to the public, and require game developers to enter an agreement, partnership, or program with the hardware manufacturer to gain access to the hardware. As game console generations pass, development kits often get sold through websites like eBay without repercussions. This is often because the console manufacturers discontinue certain development programs as time passes.


  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.[ permanent dead link ]
  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. 1 2 3 Fahey, Rob (April 27, 2007). "Farewell, Father". Archived from the original on August 17, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  7. 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.
  8. 1 2 IGN staff (August 27, 1998). "History of the PlayStation". IGN. Archived from the original on February 18, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  9. Nintendo-Philips Deal Is a Slap at Sony - The New York Times, June 3, 1991
  10. "Sony PlayStation". Next Generation . No. 24. Imagine Media. December 1996. p. 48.
  11. 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.
  12. 1 2 3 Cowan, Danny (April 25, 2006). "CDi: The Ugly Duckling". Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  13. 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.
  14. "Did a SUPER RARE Sony-Nintendo PlayStation prototype just pop up online? Possibly, maybe".
  15. Buchanan, Adam (March 1, 2016). "Unreleased Super Nintendo CD "Nintendo PlayStation" Boot ROM Discovered". RetroCollect. RetroCollect. Archived from the original on March 10, 2016.
  16. "Super Disc Boot ROM - The Cutting Room Floor". Archived from the original on February 18, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. "Hacker Makes the Nintendo PlayStation Fully Operational". Kotaku. May 5, 2017. Archived from the original on May 5, 2017. Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  20. "Ben Heck tears down the legendary Nintendo PlayStation". Archived from the original on May 10, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Schaulfelberger, Frederik (September 2006). "Sanningen om Mana". Level (in Swedish). IDG (6): 114–121.
  25. Nutt, Christian. "Birthday Memories: Sony PlayStation Turns 15". Gamasutra. Archived from the original on February 14, 2011. Retrieved March 8, 2012.


  1. "Metroid Nes Rom. Make Your Day Fun By Playing Metroid Games". All Super Rom. May 31, 2019. Retrieved July 12, 2019.