Hacker Gets The Fabled "Nintendo PlayStation" Working

Geronimo Vena
Mag 8, 2017

The story of the Super Nintendo PlayStation is one of those retro gaming stories with interesting plot twists nearly from the very beginning. It would have represented Sony's entry into the game hardware market, had Nintendo not backed out on the deal. The collaboration between Sony and Nintendo ended on a sour note, with Nintendo dropping the partnership basically unannounced to work with Philips instead. It's insane to think how different the gaming landscape might be right now had Nintendo gone forward and put the Super Nintendo PlayStation into production. The Super Nintendo was still functional, but for this prototype, the CD-ROM was completely self-contained and required a "boot cartridge" of sorts to access anything on a CD.

Heckerdon tore down the Nintendo PlayStation in July 2016, finding that the console's interior largely resembled that of the original Sony PlayStation but with some Nintendo chips.

Before the parrtnership was broken off, about 200 prototypes of the SNES-CD were created. Efforts by hacker Ben Heck to get that kind of software actually working on the one-of-a-kind hardware, though, had been stymied by problems getting the CD-ROM drive to talk to the system. [Ben] emailed the author of Magic Floor, and now, after a quarter-century, the Nintendo PlayStation works.

However, Heckerson revealed that the CD drive of the Nintendo PlayStation suddenly started working literally overnight.

Master tech guy Ben Heck, who works on The Ben Heck Show over on YouTube as part of Element 14, recently posted a video about how he was able to get the system much more operational - and some of it was just based on luck. Despite initial tests with Super Boss Gaiden having failed, a subsequent attempt with Magic Floor worked albeit with some glitches due to unexpected interrupt requests (IRQs) coming from the disc system. By replacing bad capacitors and making a slew of other adjustments and fixes to the unit, Heck has restored its ability to run audio CDs and, most importantly, CD-ROM games.

With the Nintendo PlayStation up and running, the search for software specifically created for the console is on. Most notoriously, the Square RPG Secret of Mana began its life as a project for this device.

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