Player Two Start: An SNES-CD Timeline

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Yamauchi's Fateful Decision
Welcome to Player Two Start! This is a timeline created jointly by Nivek and myself, with contributions from many other users.


"I honestly don't know where I'd be right now if Yamauchi hadn't made that phone call. The Nintendo/Sony deal, the deal that shaped...practically the last 20 years of video gaming, I can't even envision a world where that deal didn't go down. Certainly not a world where I'd still be playing video games."- Dan "Shoe" Hsu, managing editor of Electronic Gaming Monthly, June 2011

"Working with Victor and working with everyone in that industry for six great years absolutely prepared me for everything that's happened to me down the road. I can't call myself a gamer, but video games definitely opened the door for me. So I still have kind of a soft spot for them."- Jennifer Stigile, season 1 American Idol winner, in the June 20, 2005 issue of People magazine

"You know, I almost thought of suing to break them up, like what happened to us in 1999. They were so huge at that time. But I was never one to back down from a challenge. There was a niche for us. A small niche but a niche nonetheless. But it was always going to be an uphill battle."- Bill Gates, in a 2005 Forbes interview


June 24, 1991

Howard Lincoln and Minoru Arakawa, two high-ranking Nintendo representatives, were eating a quick breakfast in Amsterdam before their meeting with representatives from Philips later that day. The meeting would solidify Nintendo's new business partnership with one of the top electronics companies in the world, a partnership to design a new add-on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The console had yet to debut in North America or Europe, but the future already looked bright for the system, which had been selling well in Japan. The new CD add-on would help to futureproof the console against efforts by competitors, especially their growing rival Sega, to outmuscle their SNES with new technology.

The men were nervous. They knew the company was reneging on a deal it had already made to produce a CD add-on with Sony. Still, the stakes were too high and Sony's demands were too much. Philips, they were told, would give much better terms and would allow Nintendo more control over its properties, especially the highly lucrative Mario franchise, which had become one of the most recognizable in the world. It was far too risky to allow a company like Sony that much control over an icon like Mario. While the men, especially Arakawa, had their trepidations, both of them prefering a partnership with Sony over the unfamiliar company Philips, it was a deal that had to be made if the SNES-CD was going to happen the way that Nintendo wanted it.

Half a world away, Nintendo's president Hiroshi Yamauchi sat in the company's Kyoto headquarters, reading and re-reading his company's contract with Sony. The contract, which Nintendo had made back in 1988, gave Sony complete control over all games created for the SNES-CD add-on, including games featuring the company's flagship characters such as Mario, Link, and Donkey Kong. Nintendo, which had built a dominating market presence by maintaining complete control over its games and properties, was ceding an unacceptable amount of control to Sony through the contract. Sony would be allowed to publish anything it wanted for the add-on. Intellectual property concerns aside, this opened the floodgates to the kind of shovelware and porno games that had nearly destroyed the entire industry in 1983.

But the idea of partnering with Sony, the company that had developed the Super Nintendo's cutting-edge soundchip, was an intriguing one indeed. The company's knowledge of hardware and advanced computer tech was nearly unparalleled and their add-on could give the SNES an incredible amount of muscle. Then there was the question of honor...breaking the agreement by going behind Sony's back would almost certainly be met with anger, perhaps even lawsuits. Yamauchi read the contract again, his eyes scanning over the most troubling clauses. He was in a no-win situation and he knew it. The best solution he saw was partnering with Philips and he'd sent two of his best men to Amsterdam to hash out a deal with them, one that would allow Nintendo far more control over its properties.

But as much as the idea of giving up so much control troubled Yamauchi... every time he closed his eyes he saw the potential that Sony brought to the table. He could see the games that could be made for the system, the possibilities that abounded. He was far more unsure of what Phillips brought to the table. Their CD-I technology was impressive, but Sony had already proven itself. Ken Kutaragi had risked his CAREER because he saw the potential of the SNES. If Nintendo made this deal, it would always have a champion in Kutaragi, a brilliant and gifted man, a visionary...

Yamauchi put his head in his hands and took a deep breath. With shaking palm, he reached for the phone.

"This is Yamauchi. I want to speak with Mr. Ohga right away. I need to see him as soon as possible."

(This is the POD. IOTL, Hiroshi Yamauchi never makes this call.)
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What fun! Being a lifelong Nintendo Loyalist, I always enjoy seeing them maintain their supremacy, even if it is with the help of... them. This also covers some of the same ground as Thande's long-dormant unfinished timeline, Cronus Invictus, so it'll be interesting to see your take on similar material. Consider me subscribed! :)
Hashing Out The Details
Howard Lincoln: We spent about an hour with the Philips reps. The meeting had gone pretty well. We go enjoy Amsterdam for the rest of the day, we go to bed. As soon as we get up the next morning we've got a note saying to come down and get a call from the lobby. Mr. Yamauchi was in a meeting with Norio Ohga, from Sony. And of course we were told before going to Europe that the Sony deal was off and that we were going with Philips. They asked us how the talk had gone, we said it had gone well and they tell us that Yamauchi wanted to use that as leverage to get Sony to negotiate. So here we are, in a hotel in Amsterdam wondering what the hell's going on back in Japan.

(You had no idea that this was going to happen?)

No, none. Minoru and I went to Amsterdam knowing, or thinking that we knew, that the Sony deal was out the window and we were going with Philips. We hadn't put pen to paper yet with them, which of course was good, but we didn't have a clue that entire time that Mr. Yamauchi wanted to go back to the table with Sony. And by the time we got that call they'd finished talking, it was.... well it was in Japan so it must've gone down while we were sleeping.

(They signed the deal while you guys were sleeping in Amsterdam?)

Mr. Yamauchi wanted us both to come back to Kyoto immediately. He hadn't signed anything else with Sony but it was pretty much going to happen.

-Taken from a June 2007 interview in Game Informer magazine

Mr. Ohga was furious. He didn't show it during the conversation he had with Yamauchi but you could tell that the two were just about as mad as you could be in a civil conversation. Both of them were fuming. I was there watching the whole thing, just sitting there you know how when two parents are fighting and the child just sits there and watches, trying not to make either of them any angrier? That's how I was during that conversation, just wearing a stone-faced expression and trying my best not to make either of them notice me. Later on, Mr. Ohga told me that Yamauchi had called him a scoundrel. I hadn't heard it but Ohga kept saying that he'd implied it. I remember, in a roundabout way I think Yamauchi did call him that. He did say that the contract as he saw it was unfair and it gave Sony far too much control over Nintendo's properties. Then Mr. Ohga asked him if he'd even read what he signed three years ago. They kept talking and then Yamauchi brought up that two of his men were negotiating with Philips in Amsterdam. I thought I saw Mr. Ohga turn red at that point, I thought he might come across the table and there would be a fight, but it never happened. It was clear what Nintendo was doing, using the prospect of that deal as leverage to get us to alter our contract with them. I guess Mr. Ohga thought that 50 percent of billions was better than 100 percent of nothing, because he agreed to work on a new deal pretty soon after that. Things were so tense in that room but I'm glad the way it worked out how it did because I'm pretty sure my career would've been over if Yamauchi had walked out of that room without us agreeing to make a new deal.

-Excerpted from a translated Ken Kutaragi interview in Japan Tech News on December 8, 2001, shortly after Norio Ohga's death from a cerebral hemorrhage


June 27, 1991

Nintendo's new deal with Sony was hashed out rather quickly, with both companies wanting to finalize negotiations over the SNES-CD before CES 1991 began in less than two weeks. Representatives from Nintendo, including Hiroshi Yamauchi and Minoru Arakawa, met with Sony reps including Norio Ohga and Ken Kutaragi in Kyoto. Representatives from Sony and Nintendo's American divisions were patched in via conference call. The new terms were far more favorable to Nintendo than before. Nintendo would retain complete control of all first party games developed for the SNES-CD, which included its Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and other franchises, along with any developed by Nintendo first or second parties in the future. Sony would be given complete control over any games it developed for the SNES-CD via its own game development division or any subsidiary second parties, allowing the company to begin developing its own stable of characters for the system. Control of third party games would be split 50/50, with Nintendo and Sony consulting regularly on what games to include on the new CD software. As it pertained to quality and content control, Nintendo would retain a "right of first refusal" of sorts, but would have to show cause that any games it did not wish to release on the system would cause serious detriment to the company's brand or its profits.

A point of contention between Sony and Nintendo was the latter company's censorship policies, particularly with games it released in North America and Europe. Certain third parties, most notably Squaresoft and Konami, had expressed to Sony their desire to create more mature-themed games, without the at times heavy-handed censorship guidelines given to them by Nintendo. While Howard Lincoln pointed out that changes between Japanese and American versions of games were small at best, Squaresoft's Hironobu Sakaguchi, one of the third party representatives who had been patched into the conference call, noted that Squaresoft at times had to self-censor its own games before releasing them in Japan, to keep changes between the Japanese and North American versions to a minimum. He said that while he had no interest in creating overly violent or sexualized contest, he wanted to be able to have more creative freedom when it came to his games, with the inclusion of more mature storytelling themes. The discussions over the inclusion of more mature content lasted for nearly an hour before Howard Lincoln and Hiroshi Yamauchi decided on a compromise: First and second party Nintendo SNES-CD and regular SNES games would remain subject to Nintendo of America's censorship guidelines in the West, while third party SNES-CD games and Sony-produced games would be exempt, subject to a few restrictions on violent and sexual content. Also, such games would include a rating descriptor that would advise would-be purchasers of any potentially objectionable content. Sony and the third party representatives thought this was agreeable and it became part of the contract.

The negotiations, which began early in the morning and paused only a few times for meal breaks, went very late into the night, but when the meeting ended, there was a new contract in place. There would be an SNES-CD add-on, along with a combo system which contained both the SNES and the CD add-on built in. Ken Kutaragi and Howard Lincoln would appear together at CES to show off the add-on and console, while third parties and Nintendo itself could begin to plan out the first generation of games.

Though the deal had been made, Norio Ohga was still fuming, already unhappy about all the concessions he'd made. Kutaragi reassured him.


"I remember what I told him right after we closed the deal with Nintendo. 'Our new soundchip was already a resounding success. This deal will put CD players in millions of homes around the world. This will be the best business deal we have ever made.' I forget how many times I told him that same thing over the next 10 months. It would have to be the sales figures that convinced him, because I really couldn't!"- Ken Kutaragi, Japan Tech News, December 8, 2001
Very interesting. Whilst I've seen this concept being explored before, I would like to see your interpretation of it. Looking forward to more.

The Sandman

Two things immediately come to mind.

First, how will this affect Sony in the future, given the degree to which the company came to depend on its profits from the Playstation IOTL?

Second, what will Gunpei Yokoi be able to create, given that the Virtual Boy and thus the chain of events that led to his death will presumably be butterflied?

I look forward to future posts with great interest.
Two things immediately come to mind.

First, how will this affect Sony in the future, given the degree to which the company came to depend on its profits from the Playstation IOTL?

Second, what will Gunpei Yokoi be able to create, given that the Virtual Boy and thus the chain of events that led to his death will presumably be butterflied?

I look forward to future posts with great interest.

I'm come from a Univerisity free time(so much darn term paper). But i'll ask your quiestions.

The First one is a pretty good question, in OTL Sony was pretty interesting in the market and the playstation probe to be a good brand extension for Sony, but that was a cost of other side(ie television one), but help a lot other division(optical format, help with the troy horse for DVD who was the PS2 but fail to replicate with the blu-ray), the butterflies in that regard would be one of tht timeline strong point, so keep in the way.

The second answer would means spoiler but keep in simple term: the otl reason of Virtual boy fiasco(lack of a console when sony was starting to have a strong first year and the delay of the Nintendo 64) are now butterfly away,those butterflies would lead to a much different Nintendo.

Keep with the TL, next come the public reveals and the 'industry' reaction to the alliance.
Oooh, neat!

Keep in mind that in 1991, plenty of people didn't own audio CD players, so you'll have some incentive for people to purchase a Nintendo CD-capable device to hook up to their stereos to play audio CDs -- just as, IOTL, lots of people chose the PS3 based on the fact that it was also a Blu-Ray player.
Keep in mind that in 1991, plenty of people didn't own audio CD players, so you'll have some incentive for people to purchase a Nintendo CD-capable device to hook up to their stereos to play audio CDs -- just as, IOTL, lots of people chose the PS3 based on the fact that it was also a Blu-Ray player.

Me and Nivek actually discussed this as something that could boost the SNES-CD's sales (and music sales in general) during the early and mid 90s, so that's definitely something it's got going for it. Thanks for checking this out!

My partner's busy with some stuff so the next update won't be until sometime next week most likely. We've got some good stuff planned though :)

Deleted member 67076

Sony and Nintendo working together!!:D Take all my money!!
Well shit... there goes that for Gone The New Hope... :p

However, subscribed!

I haven't thoroughly read the first posts yet, but when I get more time, rest assured, I'll be following this with great interest.
Summer 1991 CES - The SNES-CD Is Announced
CES - Summer 1991

Nivek asked me to post this for him, all credit for this post goes to him (though of course we both consult on all posts to this TL before posting them).

"The 1991 Summer CES was dominated by video games, demonstrating the increasing strength of the electronic entertainment industry. The industry has swollen to the point that it's nearly as large as the film and television industries, something that would've been regarded as unthinkable seven years ago during the darkest point of the industry crash. This year's CES featured a number of surprise announcements, but the most important was certainly the
public announcement of the alliance of the home electronics titan Sony Corporation with the very powerful video game company Nintendo Co., Ltd. for work on a brand-new peripheral for the Super Nintendo Entertainment console, set to be released in North America in just two short months. The peripheral in question is a CD-ROM attachment, and while much is yet unknown about the device, it will be able to play both CD-ROM based video games and audio CDs, greatly enhancing the new console's mutimedia capabilities. In other news, Sega announced the production of a similar peripheral, already announced in Japan but now confirmed for a 1992 release here in the States, after a holiday 1991 release in Japan. Along with the NEC TurboGrafx CD, this means that all three of the major Japanese video game consoles will be able to utilize the burgeoning CD format, a massive boon for the format which is already growing rapidly in popularity. Computer Chronicles can only wonder what this means for the future of both the music and electronic entertainment industries, but at the moment that future seems bright indeed."

-Closing words of Computer Chronicles' 1991 Summer CES Special

"The news of Sony and Nintendo's alliance at CES made big waves among my colleagues and I. I remember that some NEC people were wary of the implications, back in Japan, since NEC had a de facto monopoly of the CD-ROM tech us before us but they were still getting dominated in sales by Nintendo. They feared that the CD add-on would be the coup de grace, so to speak, and of course we know what happened at the end. It spooked us over here at Sega too, but there was a silver lining. The add-on will take time to enter the market, we'd have about a nine month head start, so we would have the chance to gain market share and endear ourselves to consumers pretty early. Were we intimidated? Of course not, even if the Mega-Drive, as it was called in Japan, was taking a beating against the SNES, here in America thanks to Sonic the Hedgehog we were having our biggest holiday sales ever. I was waiting for Nintendo to make its move, whatever happened, it was definitely gonna be interesting."

-Tom Kalinske, Former President of Sega of America, in a 2002 interview with Sega Retro

"Even if the negotiation in Japan were... rough, to say the least, here in the States the whole deal went a lot smoother, mostly thanks to both Mr. Arakawa and Mr. Lincoln being more easygoing and stable than Mr. Yamauchi back in Japan. Of course, Nintendo had to have its own way in the deal, particularly concerning their own interests, and that was about our new role as co-publisher for the peripherical and how we should be in line with Nintendo of America's ‘Content Guidelines’. I mentioned the new ‘Videogame Board of Content Control’ proposed in Japan, with warning labels and age designations for certain games. Nintendo was planning to suggest to its retail partners not to sell certain games to anyone under 17, which we hoped would avoid any problems or controversy. Then, of course, was our contract to produce content for Sega. It was expiring in 1992, and since Sony was partnering with Nintendo, we made the decision, pretty easy at the time, that we would cease support for Sega and decline to re-up the contract when it expired. We'd be making games for Nintendo now and that was fine with us."

-Excerpted from an interview with Ólafur Jóhann Ólafsson, President and
CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Inc., in the July 1995 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly
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The Rest Of 1991 - SNES Launch
August 23, 1991

The Super Nintendo launched in North America with relatively little fanfare. It wasn't due to the 1992 release of the CD peripheral. Instead, it was largely consumer apathy that kept SNES sales unspectacular. Indeed, Nintendo was still primarily focusing on their NES console, which was still dominating hardware sales and even beating the much more powerful Sega Genesis. The Super Nintendo came packaged with two controllers and the newest Mario title, Super Mario World, all for the price of $200. The other launch games, F-Zero and Pilotwings, weren't exactly system movers, though both were well-reviewed.

As for worries that the announcement of Nintendo's CD peripheral would slow sales, these worries turned out to be largely unfounded. For every person who claimed that the CD-ROM drive made them skeptical of the SNES's staying power, there was another gamer who claimed that the peripheral made them want to buy the system all the more, anticipating the possibility of playing CD-ROM based games and music CDs once it was released. Most consumers, however, didn't even know of the CD-ROM drive's existence, as the average consumer and even the average gamer didn't follow the big trade shows, and even the popular gaming magazines of the time mentioned the peripheral in passing, perhaps in a small article that people skimmed over for other sections of the magazine such as the game previews.

For the most part, Nintendo shrugged off news of the Super Nintendo's mediocre North American launch, anticipating much larger sales as Christmas drew near.


"By December 1991, the Super Nintendo's sales had picked up enough in both Japan and North America that we could begin to focus our attention on developing our launch window games for the SNES-CD add-on. Yamauchi-san was pushing Miyamoto-san very hard to have a Super Mario game available at launch, which in Japan was just eight months away. Miyamoto-san had just finished the work on Zelda 3, which he was VERY happy with, and his mind was flooded with ideas for the new Mario game, he knew he wanted to do a sequel to Super Mario World, which had been very well received, but it became clear from the start that this was going to be a much larger game than the original. Every day, he had a new idea for a level, or an enemy, or a power-up, and the game just got bigger and bigger and bigger. At the same time, we were working on a two-player kart racing game, and we had decided that we were going to incorporate Mario characters into that. So I was working on the maps for the new Mario World game at the same time that I was directing this kart game, which we ended up calling Super Mario Kart. Originally we had planned to make it an SNES cartridge."

Hideki Konno, N-Sider interview, September 2007

"The thing about Shigeru Miyamoto is that he always wanted to make his games as good as they could possibly be, and of course that sometimes takes time. What was it he said once, 'a delayed game will eventually be good but a bad game is bad forever'? Either way, it became a huge point of contention between Miyamoto and Yamauchi over not having Super Mario World 2 ready for the SNES-CD launch, since Nintendo had ALWAYS launched with a Mario game. You had Super Mario Bros. on the NES and Super Mario World on the SNES, and so it was becoming a sort of tradition to have that strong Mario platformer packed in. But with all the stuff Miyamoto wanted to do with Super Mario World 2, that wasn't going to happen. So that's when, I think, the proposal was made to have Super Mario Kart as the pack-in game."

-Nintendo historian Jeff Ryan, interview with, October 13, 2011

"And then came the issue of the two extra ports on the CD-ROM attachment. Could Super Mario Kart work as a four-player game? Was the co-processor strong enough to enable four players at once? The big selling point of the game was that it would allow two players to play, unlike F-Zero which had only allowed one. Once we learned that it was possible to have the four players, I was all for it but Miyamoto-san didn't like the idea of not being able to have all the stages and levels available, since the more complex stages would slow down the game. He didn't want to have the four player mode at all, but once we showed him how fun it would be he gave us the task of designing specific four-player stages for the game, ones that would be fun but that would not slow down the game. And so that was a fun challenge and that's why Super Mario Kart ended up having four-player support."

Hideki Konno, N-Sider interview, September 2007


Chihiro Fujioka (director of "Final Fantasy: New Generation" and "Super Mario RPG"): Late 1991, that was a hectic time at Square. We'd gotten word that the SNES-CD deal had been done, so development went full-steam ahead on Secret of Mana. Final Fantasy IV had been wrapped and work on Final Fantasy V was in progress for the 1992 release.

RPGamer: When did the word come down that Square wanted something done for the North American market?

Fujioka: That came to me probably around the time work on Final Fantasy V began. We had all intentions of bringing that game to the West as Final Fantasy III, and we were hoping to have it ready for the launch of the SNES-CD in both territories, but that wasn't going to be possible, development on V was more of a challenge than we'd thought it would be. Also, RPGs weren't an easy sell in North America and it was widely believed that they were too hard for American gamers, there had been complaints about the original Final Fantasy and sales hadn't been strong enough to bring over the other NES games.

RPGamer: I know the original idea behind what became Final Fantasy: New Generation was to create a beginner-level Final Fantasy. What was your opinion on the matter?

Fujioka: Well, Sakaguchi-san always believed that the challenge was part of the game, but he also had an eye on the business side of things and he wanted stronger sales in North America. But the SNES-CD, I think that was a game changer. We had gotten the go-ahead to bring some more mature games to the system, and Sakaguchi-san felt that that included more challenging games, that if the console was going to be played by more mature gamers that they would appreciate the challenge. So we retooled our intended game entirely.

RPGamer: What inspired the "New Generation" part of the title?

Fujioka: It was intended that this would be a Final Fantasy for a new generation of players, so to speak. We took some of the things we'd included in IV...the new Active Time Battle system, and we included it in the game, along with a fully CD audio soundtrack. (Ryuji) Sasai-san, he'd already started work on the soundtrack and had done some great work, so it was easy to transfer that over and produce a richer sound with the new technology.

RPGamer: And that was one of the things that got the biggest praise with the game, was that soundtrack.

Fujioka: Absolutely. We also tweaked some of the other aspects of the game, we made it a three-character party, we made it so the characters all stayed with you instead of leaving, tweaked the boss difficulty, added spells, added bosses and towns and dungeons, made it a more complex game for a more complex audience, and those changes we hoped would get the response we wanted and also we hoped this game would tide Americans over for Final Fantasy V which we'd release in 1993 contingent on how well this game did. 1993, with Final Fantasy V and with Mana, we hoped would be a big, big year for Square and would change the way RPGs were perceived in North America.

RPGamer: But it all started with New Generation.

Fujioka: That it did! *laughs*

-Excerpted from an interview with Chihiro Fujioka, December 2003


This holiday season was one of the most robust in recent memory, partially thanks to the surge in sales for the new electronic gaming consoles, the Super Nintendo and the Sega Genesis. While the Super Nintendo was able to build its install base via the release of new games and through a fierce promotional blitz for the new system with its "Now You're Playing With Power" campaign, the Sega Genesis used the popularity of its exciting new mascot Sonic the Hedgehog to drive sales and gain a large chunk of market share, cutting into market leader Nintendo's sales in a significant way for the first time since the launch of the NES in 1985. With 1992 comes new games and the North American launches of the CD-ROM peripherals for both the SNES and the Genesis. Will 1992 be remembered as the dawn of the optical age? Only time will tell.

-Computer Chronicles, December 27, 1991
Early 1992 - The Games Take Shape
Contra III Won't Come To SNES-CD, Snatcher Coming Instead?

The highly anticipated Contra III, SNES successor to the original two Contra games for the NES, will not be getting a version for the upcoming SNES CD-ROM peripheral, according to Konami's Nobuya Nakazato. Nakazato stated his desire to create a new Contra game, presumably Contra IV or perhaps a spin-off title, for the SNES CD-ROM when it is released. Contra III: The Alien Wars, is set to be released in North America for the SNES in April.

In other Konami related news, Hideo Kojima, designer of the Metal Gear games, is said to be in talks with Nintendo to port his cult classic PC-8801 game Snatcher to the SNES CD-ROM. There is a rumor that the game is to be ported with the assistance of HAL Laboratory, which is also set to release Kirby's Dream Land for the Gameboy later this year, after young designer Masahiro Sakurai and Nintendo executive Satoru Iwata showed interest in a potential port. The port is still in the early development stages and will likely receive a 1993 release.

-Article in Electronic Gaming Monthly, February 1992


Another test of Street Fighter II on SNES CD-ROM today, game showed excellent frame rate even with arcade-level character detail. Processor very fast, special cartridge handles all co-processing enabling the SNES to run this game flawlessly with the CD-ROM. Will keep running tests but this was definitely the best one yet.

-Internal Capcom memo from February 18, 1992, translated from original Japanese



While Nintendo is still keeping most details of the upcoming CD-ROM peripheral for the Super Nintendo close to its chest, they did share some very promising morsels of info with Nintendo Power so that we can keep our readers informed!

Work on the peripheral is nearing completion in preparation for its unveiling at this June's CES and its anticipated August release in Japan, but one of the things Nintendo's designers are still hashing out concerns the video resolution of the new hardware. As some of you know, the Sega CD was recently released in Japan, and one of the major criticisms is that its video resolution just isn't up to snuff! The limited resolution of the Sega Genesis keeps full-motion video cutscenes confined to a small portion of the average television screen. This is a hurdle that the SNES CD's designers are dealing with as well, but we're assured that the peripheral will increase the progressive resolution of the SNES, enabling it to display full motion video that will fill your whole TV screen! We can't spill too much info on the CD-ROM's revolutionary co-processing until the big reveal at CES, but rest assured that Nintendo and its partner Sony are hard at work to make the SNES CD-ROM the next step in Nintendo's excellent gaming history.

-Article in Nintendo Power, April 1992
Spring 1992 - HudsonSoft And Philips
"Back in Japan, the launch of the Mega-CD had been pretty rocky. We had to use mostly internal tech and that drove the cost way up, all the way up to 49,800 yen, which at the time was $380 in US dollars. $380! More than twice the cost of the Genesis! I knew we up-marketed toward business types and high-profile consumers who demand the latest technology, but you compare that to the price tag of the PC-Engine CD or the rumored price of Nintendo's machine, both of those were launching at around 25,000 yen, 30,000 at the most. And our launch window games, shooters mostly, we didn't have a single killer app to move this thing, so there was nothing to justify paying top dollar for something when you could just wait for a price cut. Nothing to show off the capabilities of the new format to justify the price. Heavy Nova was the best we had and the Super Nintendo had better games than that. We'd lost our contract with Sony Imagsoft when Sony agreed to the deal with Nintendo, so that put us behind in a big way when it came to getting good games on the Sega CD. We started signing deals with movie studios, hoping we could snag a big licensed game... I remember signing with Virgin and doing the Aladdin game, that ended up being huge for us, but that was way down the road. At the time, we were getting killed and a huge part of that was Sony pulling out."- Tom Kalinske

"In retrospect, the PC-Engine was a console stuck between a rock and a hard place. First in innovation, but now trapped between two big players in Sega and Nintendo. Without proper developer support, stuck with trying endless hardware revisions in a vain attempt to catch up, the PC-Engine was doomed from the start in a lot of ways. The PC-EngineDuo was, in a lot of ways, what the system should have been from the first place. First out with the HuCard technology and the first major console to use CD-ROM, there was plenty of power behind the console... but NEC found itself squeezed out by the growing monster that was Sega and the rampaging beast that was Nintendo, soon to be the mighty Nintendo-Sony alliance. Despite ranking second internationally at the time, behind only Nintendo, NEC was falling rapidly behind and would be overtaken by Sega later in 1992. It's hard to believe it today, but at one time, the partnership of NEC and Hudson could well have shaped console gaming as it is today instead of falling into irrelevancy almost as quickly as it had risen to prominence."
PC-Engine/Turbografx-16, A Retrospective,

Philips Lawsuit Likely To Be Thrown Out, Deal With Sega Not Happening
There's a bit of interesting news concerning the ongoing legal battle between Nintendo and the European electronics titan Philips. Sources claim that Nintendo, which is currently working on the SNES-CD with the help of Sony, was looking to negotiate more favorable terms which would allow them to retain more control of games made for the new system. To gain leverage, Nintendo entered negotiations with Philips, which then claimed, after Nintendo changed its terms with Sony and re-entered into a deal with them, that Nintendo acted in bad faith and filed a lawsuit for damages related to expenses incurred during the negotiations with Philips. A judge in the Netherlands is now expected to throw out Philips' suit, agreeing to Nintendo's claim that it could have entered into a deal with Philips at any time and that Philips should have done its due diligence before taking the time to meet with Nintendo reps.

Philips was also rumored to be meeting with Sega earlier this year but those rumors turned out to be false.
-Electronic Gaming Monthly, May 1992
Summer 1992 CES - The Hype Builds
Summer CES - June 15, 1992

"The best CES that I've ever been to, I have to say, was in 1992. You had what was ultimately the beginning of the big CD boom in video games being unleashed on the public that year, with Phillips, Sega, and Nintendo all showing off their shiny new CD-ROM machines. By then Phillips' machine had already been out for a year but this was the first time they were really pushing it hard, probably in response to the CD-ROM add-ons for the big game companies. Speaking of which, you had Sega showing off the Sega CD that year and it looked fantastic, definitely something I knew a lot of Genesis owners would want to have. And then there was Nintendo and Sony's machine. Holy shit, that was some serious tech. Right away I knew it would be the one to have, the graphics were unbelievable and everything was moving so smoothly on the machine, I mean, it was more powerful than the Neo Geo for the cost of what, a Neo Geo GAME? The TurboGrafx guys didn't even show up, they knew they were done. If you're asking me when the 16-bit war was won, it was that day at CES 1992."

-Ed Semrad, former editor-in-chief of Electronic Gaming Monthly, January 2008

"Oh, I had tons of fun at CES that year! Broderbund and Nintendo invited me up to Chicago after we'd finished all the work on Carmen Sandiego and they asked me to spend the day at the Carmen Sandiego booth. I know nowadays at the trade shows they have these "booth babes" or whatever they call them, but it was much classier then, it helped that I was in my full costume and not some silly bathing suit or something! I mean, with the trenchcoat and the fedora I still looked pretty nice and I got a lot of looks. Everyone was really nice and it was a lot of fun, people did double takes when they were playing the game and they saw me standing there watching them. And teaching high school drama, of course I'll still have students on occasion come up to me and ask me if that's me in the game, even though none of them now were even alive when the game was released, I'll still get people asking!"

-Jasmine Herrera, excerpted from "20 Years Later: Catching Up With Carmen" on, February 23, 2013

"I think we need to go back to the drawing board."

-overheard near the Sega booth at the Summer 1992 CES


Video Games At The Summer 1992 CES!

Everyone's been looking forward to the big Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, eagerly anticipating the latest offerings from Sega, Nintendo, NEC, Phillips, Atari, SNK, and all the other major hardware and software producers. In the spotlight this year are the CD-ROM peripherals for the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo, so let's give you the skinny on those right now!

First off, the Sega CD is bringing some major power to the table, but it'll cost you some major coin. It was unveiled at this summer's show and will be appearing on store shelves in October with a $299 price tag. That's a big investment, but you'll be getting the latest tech for your buck. The Sega CD, renamed from the Mega CD (its Japanese name), is packing a 12.5 Mhz processor under its hood, and that will be on top of the Genesis' 7.67 Mhz processor, taking "Blast Processing" to a whole new level! It will display full-motion video at 15 frames per second, which, while not quite cinematic quality, is still good enough to display beautiful animated cutscenes and real-life video footage. Tom Kalinske, Sega's president, mentioned some very intriguing titles for the new system, including Night Trap, a full-motion video game where you'll be able to take control of the action, using tricks and traps to save a group of beautiful girls from some deadly killers! There's also an arcade-quality Final Fight game, a massive new installment of the popular RPG series Ultima, and, perhaps most intriguing of all, a game based on this year's hit movie Batman Returns, integrating real scenes from the movie into the gameplay. Kalinske has also promised a brand new Sonic game exclusive to the add-on. While the Sega CD itself was not on display at the show, prototypes of the system along with a few of the games were available to play and what we saw was definitely impressive.

Next up was Nintendo's unveiling of the Super Nintendo CD, the official name for its CD-ROM peripheral. The peripheral will hit store shelves in December, and with a surprisingly economic $199 price tag. Hitting store shelves at the same time, for those who don't yet have a Super Nintendo, is something called the Nintendo Playstation Combo Pack, featuring a Super Nintendo with an integrated SNES CD built right in! That will retail for $349. Now, early adopters who bought the Super Nintendo for $199 may feel ripped off that they're paying $50 extra for the added peripheral over people who buy the Playstation combo, but Nintendo has them covered, announcing that a $50 coupon that can be used toward the purchase of any SNES CD game is included in all $199 add-on packages. In addition, Super Mario Kart, which Nintendo had on demonstration at the show, will be included with both the stand alone peripheral and the combo pack. The SNES CD is a technical marvel, and Sony has clearly done some impressive work. It clocks in at 21.477 Mhz, making it by far the most powerful video game device ever released. Nintendo has also addressed the problem of the SNES' limited memory, which would not allow it to utilize the full power of the SNES CD on its own. A special cartridge, which Nintendo calls "H.A.N.D.S." (Hyper Active Nintendo Data-transfer System), is plugged into the Super Nintendo's cartridge slot while the SNES CD is in use. This cartridge allows the peripheral to do most of the heavy lifting, giving the SNES console enough memory to take advantage of the SNES CD's power. The SNES CD also adds two extra controller slots to the system, allowing for four controllers to be plugged in at once (similar to the NES "Four Score" device). One of the games taking advantage of this is the aforementioned Super Mario Kart, which had its special 4-player mode available for demonstration at the show. Other games on display included Super Mario World 2, the sequel to the SNES' launch hit Super Mario World. While this game won't quite be ready for the SNES CD's launch, it is expected to be released sometime in the spring of 1993. Also appearing at the show: Final Fantasy: New Generation. The game is in a lot of ways similar to Final Fantasy II, only with three playable characters at a time instead of five, and with the ATB time bar appearing on screen instead of being hidden as it was in Final Fantasy II. Squaresoft had the game on display at CES, where we were able to play through one of the game's dungeons with the characters Benjamin, Kaeli, and Tristam. It was fun and fast-paced, with a more upbeat and rock-inspired soundtrack than Final Fantasy II, and should be more than enough to tide people over until Final Fantasy V (which will likely be renamed Final Fantasy III in the West) makes it to our shores. Dragon's Lair, said to be a launch title, was also demonstrated at the show, and is a very faithful reproduction of the arcade classic. Also appearing was a version of the popular "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?" computer game with full-motion video cutscenes (in fact, the actress who portrays Carmen in the game was demonstrating the game at the booth!) and Capcom's Ghouls 'n Ghosts CD, a sequel to the ultra-challenging Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts. Capcom also had Street Fighter II available for demonstration, but it was the version for the normal SNES, with the SNES-CD version only present via a video showing how smoothly the game would run on the CD peripheral.

Ultimately, we felt that the Super Nintendo CD had the most impressive showing, and the game of the show would have to be Super Mario World 2. Even from the few levels available to play, it's clear that Nintendo's gone the extra mile to make this a worthy sequel to the SNES classic, with excellent music, very colorful and smooth graphics, and level design that rivals or exceeds its SNES predecessor. We wish Sega had had more to display, particularly from its Sega-CD Sonic game, but though we were more impressed with what Nintendo and Sony brought to the table, it's clear that both CD-ROM add-ons are going to be a tempting (if expensive) purchase for owners of their respective consoles.

-Excerpted from the debut issue of GameFan, September 1992


"Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Summer 1992 CES. I have just a few words from everyone here at Nintendo of America as we eagerly look forward to our company's latest offerings. Our booth at CES 1992 was heavily geared toward promoting our new Super Nintendo CD add-on, and I just want to say that we have never been more excited to release a product. Our partners at Sony have exceeded expectations in creating a peripheral that works in tandem with the excellent Super Nintendo to bring gaming into the next generation. I know that you'll all be as impressed with their work as I have, and I hope that this device will not only create new opportunities for Nintendo developers and fans, but that it will also bring the exciting new medium of compact discs to the public at large, making the Super Nintendo your one stop shop for gaming, interactive multimedia experiences, and high-fidelity music.

We at Nintendo are proud of our reputation as a family-friendly company, and our partner companies are breaking new ground in interactive content. Some of the games for the Super Nintendo CD may not be for all of our players, and as fans grow and mature, some of their games are growing and maturing with them. We've created a brand new system for rating video game content that we'll be revealing in more detail in the coming months and working with our retail partners to ensure that our games are played by the appropriate people. We also want to address the worries of fans who just purchased a Super Nintendo last year and earlier this year, and who might be thinking of buying one in the months to come. The Super Nintendo CD will present unique gaming opportunities, but it is meant to compliment the Super Nintendo, not supplant it. Games will be released for both the regular SNES and the CD-ROM add-on for years to come, and indeed, though we have many CD-ROM games scheduled, we have more games scheduled for the Super Nintendo than we do for the CD-ROM add-on, and we will also continue to support the NES with exciting new games like Kirby's Adventure. The Super Nintendo is still the primary focus of our creative endeavors, while the SNES CD will allow us to expand our horizons and provide gaming experiences that would not be possible on a cartridge based system. Developers, both first-party and third-party, will have unparalleled freedom to create the games that you, the consumer, will want to play. At Nintendo, we have always been and will always be about the games, and with the Super Nintendo and our new CD-ROM add-on, the possibilities are, and will always be, endless.

Thank you all for coming.

-Keynote speech by Howard Lincoln at the 1992 Summer CES
This TL is really interesting and I wonder the surprises that will come in special for Pokémon, Persona 4, Trauma Center and Smash Bros (they are way in the future, but...)

I liked that you remember the Carmen Sandiego games :D
The Japanese SNES-CD Launch
(This is another of Nivek's posts, all of the quotes and the article are his, only the stuff about the Japanese launch is mine.)


"It has been two years since the release of our Super Famicom, the natural evolution of our old and venerable Family Computer. A decade ago, we had a vision for the Famicom, that it would be a tool in every family's home for the amusement of people both old and young, and we have succeeded in those aims beyond our wildest dreams. Today as I speak, we are about to release not one, but two new Nintendo products, which were made possible thanks to the support and technical skill of our new business partner, Sony Corporation. These two products will continue the evolution of the market of electronic entertainment.

The Super Famicom Computer Disk System, much like its predecessor the Famicom Computer Disk System which we released after the original Famicom, will allow our Super Famicom to player bigger and better games, as technically advanced as those currently available in the computer market. As I speak, these games are nearing completion. We have just finished work on our first Mario game for the new Computer Disk System, Super Mario Kart, which will allow four people to experience fast-paced racing action simultaneously. We are also previewing at Spaceworld the sequel to our Super Famicom hit Super Mario World, on which Shigeru Miyamoto has been hard at work. These two games will demonstrate how our new amusement machine will be at the cutting edge of entertainment and bring Nintendo games to an entirely new scope for consumers and developers.

I believe that the CD-ROM is the future of the market, but Nintendo will continue to develop for and push the limits of our cartridge format for years to come. I believe Nintendo's consumers will be excited as they discover what the future has in store."

-Translated transcript of Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi's keynote speech at Nintendo Spaceworld, August 10, 1992

"Hello everyone. It's a pleasure being here today, speaking to the press, video game retailers, and fans here at Spaceworld 1992. For those who don't know me, my name is Ken Kutaragi. I'm an electronics engineer, some of you probably know me better as "Crazy Kutaragi", you said I was crazy when I decided to make the SPC sound chip for Nintendo, but had I not done that we wouldn't be here today so I think I don't look quite so crazy now!

Many of you here have seen the new CD-ROM add on for the Super Famicom, you've gotten to play with it and look at some of the games. The colors are improved, the graphics move much more smoothly but I think the most important aspect of this add-on is the improvements to the sound of the Super Famicom. Don't get me wrong, I'm very proud of my work on the SPC sound chip but here, with the Audio CD Redbook capabilities, you can have the sound of a real orchestra in a game, or even full voice acting which was not possible on the Super Famicom. We have 4-player games available right out of the box, similarly to some hit arcade titles. Speaking of arcade hits, you've also seen our version of Capcom's Street Fighter II which I believe moves much more smoothly and realistically. We also have the capability to provide a full cinematic experience as demonstrated in Dragon's Lair, which Sony is publishing, this classic arcade game has been compared to an interactive movie and I think you'll agree when I say that this is the most arcade accurate version of the game to date, in fact with the Super Famicom CD's improved color palette, it looks even better than it does in the arcade.

There are other advantages to this system, utilizing the Super Famicom's cartridge port we will be able to create additional functionality for the consumer. We've explored karaoke as an option, very popular here in Japan but we may expand its popularity throughout the globe by enabling any family to have a karaoke device in their own home, perhaps utilizing a Sony music player as well. Having had a long relationship with Nintendo since 1988, when my own audio chip was accepted as the device that would power the Super Famicom's sound, and continuing through the meeting that created this alliance between Nintendo and Sony that will bring not only the Super Famicom Compact Disk System but the dual combination console known as the Play Station, I am glad to see our alliance opening up the potential of new markets via the proliferation of audio and photo CD technology. These new technologies, combined with the Disk System's incredible video came capabilities, are only the first step into this new potential market, which I call 'interactive entertainment'."

-Translation and transcript of a speech by Ken Kutaragi at Nintendo Spaceworld 1992


Space World 1992 - Super Nintendo CD Unveiled!

Here in Japan at Nintendo's annual Shoshinkai Software Exhibition, also known as Space World, the main focus of the show has been the new gadgets in town, born out of the partnership between Nintendo and Sony. The Super Nintendo CD, an add-on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, and the Nintendo Playstation, which combines the SNES and the new add-on into one super-console. The Super Nintendo CD will cost 29,980 yen, which translates to around $210 here in the States. As for the Playstation, it will cost 49,800 yen, or around $350. That's MUCH less than the price of purchasing both the Genesis and the Sega CD together, which in American dollars would currently run you about $500 when the add-on drops in October. That's before the recently announced price cut from Sega, which has cut the price of a Mega CD in Japan to 46,000 yen. That's a significant price cut, but it has yet to be seen whether they'll slash the price in the States. Just how will the company of the blue hedgehog fare? Much of that will depend on the games for both systems.

As for Nintendo, their early offering for the new CD-ROM is Super Mario Kart. Western gamers will see the game offered as a pack-in when the Super Nintendo CD drops in December, but Japanese gamers will have to buy it separately. Nevertheless, it's an exciting product, with a full range of 256 colors and fast-paced action with a high frame rate. The game's cast of characters is strong, featuring Mario, Luigi, Princess Toadstool, Toad, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, and even a Koopa Troopa and King Bowser will be playable. The game will be the first to take advantage of the added controller ports on the add-on with 4-player capabilities! While only a few tracks will offer the 4-player option, as opposed to the 2-player modes which will allow grand prix play and full selection of all tracks, the game offers some serious multiplayer madness and there were long lines at Nintendo's booth for this game.

Also demonstrated here in Japan, playable for the first time, is the CD-ROM version of the ultra-popular Capcom fighting game Street Fighter II. Based on the new arcade release "Street Fighter II: Champion Edition", the game is simply amazing, running as smoothly as and in some spots even better than the arcade version. The four boss characters from the original are now playable, and all characters have new moves. The game is full of new graphical detail, with hundreds of voice samples included. Another advantage is that in Japan, the price will be lower than the SNES cartridge, owing to the cheaper price of CDs as opposed to ROM cartridges. This may end up being a general rule, allowing perhaps for the CD-ROM add-on to pay for itself over time via cheaper game purchases. Also announced for next year is a new version of the game, Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, which will bring some of the Champion Edition enhancements to the normal SNES and may see a release for the SNES CD as well.

Aside from Nintendo, Squaresoft had a decent presence at Space World as well, with a Japanese version of their American launch title Final Fantasy: New Generation. The Japanese version is expected to be released in 1993. Another prospective 1993 title is something called "Project Mana", no footage was shown but Square staff did briefly discuss the game which has been in the works for nearly two years now. Whatever Square comes up with for this game will surely be a surprise and likely a pleasant one at that.

-Excerpted from an article in the October 1992 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, written by Peter Molyneux


August 24, 1992

The Super Famicom Computer Disk System, along with its Play Station combination console, launched in Japan with great fanfare. 500,000 units of the add-on and 150,000 units of the combination set were shipped, and most would sell out in the first few days, owing to the Japanese fervor over new technology and the extensive marketing campaign Nintendo had launched in Japan for the console. There were three games available at launch: Super Mario Kart, Street Fighter II: Arcade Edition, and Dragon's Lair, with most purchasers of the add-on and console buying Super Mario Kart and Street Fighter II at the same time. The early sellouts bade well for Nintendo's plans to launch the system in the West later that year and in Europe early in 1993, and with profits from early sales, Nintendo began the marketing and promotion campaigns for the West in earnest.
The North American SNES-CD Launch
"I remember, last year I was going to put my foot down and say no to the Super Nintendo, I explained how it was just a marketing tool to make you spend more money, but I relented and I ended up buying it for him for his birthday, and now they're coming out with this new thing? I'm pretty ticked off but it just proves that I was right, they just keep squeezing more and more money out of you and this is the trick they use, they sucker you in and make you spend more and more. Well fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice... I won't get fooled again."

-a concerned mother, quoted from a news report on the Super Nintendo CD, December 2, 1992

"Parents are in a fury, as expected, on the eve of the release of Nintendo's hot new CD-ROM peripheral, fresh on the heels of Sega's CD peripheral release earlier this year. Those who already spent $200 on Nintendo's shiny new toy are feeling ripped off at the news of a $200 upgrade barely more than a year after the Super Nintendo's release, and the Super Nintendo CD as it's called is not expected to be a hot seller this holiday season."

Phillip Elmer-DeWitt, Time magazine, December 7, 1992

"Am I excited, yeah I'm excited, this thing is gonna be awesome. You get to play CDs, there's Street Fighter, you can play with four people and I heard that maybe you could watch movies on it some day? I'll definitely be gaming on it as much as I can, I've got a lot of stuff going on right now but whenever I get some downtime I know what I'm gonna be doing."

-Leonardo DiCaprio, Entertainment Tonight, December 1, 1992

"...have I heard about the new Nintendo what?, I'm sure it'll be a big boost to the economy. Kids love the games."

-President-elect Bill Clinton, MTV News, December 3, 1992


Over the past decade, Nintendo has brought you high quality interactive family entertainment. Now, as we prepare to launch our Super Nintendo CD peripheral, we see that our fanbase has grown exponentially, and that many of our fans who started out playing games such as Donkey Kong in arcades or Super Mario Bros. on the NES are growing and maturing. These fans have made it known that they want some of their games to mature with them. In addition, several of Nintendo's software partners have expressed their desire to produce more mature, story-driven games for our new CD peripheral, with content similar to what you would see in highly acclaimed movies such as the recent Silence of the Lambs or Terminator 2. While Nintendo will always be family company first, we have decided to allow our software partners to pursue new creative avenues on the Super Nintendo CD, and as a result, some of the games that we will be approving for the system may not be suitable for all of our players.

Nintendo strives to remain a family-friendly company supporting entertainment that all ages can enjoy. We have created a new ratings system for our CD-ROM games, that will be clearly displayed on all games approved for sale, letting you the consumer know the appropriate audience for a certain game. The ratings symbols are as follows:

A green symbol will be marked with GA - General Audiences/Appropriate For All Ages, letting you know that this game adheres to Nintendo's standards for family-suitable entertainment. All first-party Nintendo games will conform to the standards for this rating.

A yellow symbol will be marked with 13 - Parental Advisory/13 And Up with additional ratings descriptors. These games may contain mild or moderate violence, mild language, and/or thematic elements that may be objectionable to certain audiences.

A red symbol will be marked with 17 - Mature Players Only/17 And Up with additional ratings descriptors. These games may contain strong, realistic violence, strong language, and/or some sexual themes. We strongly encourage all of our retail partners not to sell any 17 rated games to anyone under 17 without the presence of a parent or guardian.

Please also note that Nintendo will never approve games that contain highly graphic violence or strong sexual elements regardless of our ratings system. We encourage parents of children who plan on purchasing the new Super Nintendo CD peripheral to educate themselves on the ratings descriptors with our convenient pamphlets at retail locations wherever Nintendo games are sold, or by watching our brief videos at Nintendo kiosks. We will also be rolling out a television ad campaign alongside our promotional campaign to further educate parents and other concerned individuals about Nintendo's new ratings system.

With the new Nintendo ratings system in place, our talented software producers will have far more creative freedom to make the games that all Nintendo fans will want to play. We hope that the Super Nintendo CD ushers in a new age of interactive entertainment, where gamers of all generations can come together and enjoy the best of what Nintendo has to offer.

-Nintendo president Howard Lincoln, from the opening segment of a Super Nintendo CD informational video played at retail kiosks starting in October 1992

Super Mario Kart

Steve: 8
Ed: 9 (quote: "The 4-player action is this game's biggest attraction, even with only 6 of the tracks and 2 of the battle stages available in 4-player mode, you'll want to race them over and over again with three of your buddies, though all the shells and bananas lying about in the game might test some friendships!")
Martin: 9
Sushi-X: 8

Street Fighter II: Arcade Edition

Steve: 9
Ed: 9
Martin: 9
Sushi-X: 10 (quote: "The greatest fighting game ever released on any home console, bar none. Save your quarters and buy an SNES CD with this game, the action is just as fast and fierce and the character animations are as smooth as anything you'll see at the arcade. Plus, you can finally take M. Bison and his super-powerful moves for a spin.")

Final Fantasy: New Generation

Steve: 9
Ed: 8
Martin: 9 (quote: "Better than Final Fantasy II? It's awfully close, but the fact that you get to choose your characters puts this over the top for me. Take your party of three for a spin and restore the crystals as you traverse a colorful new world. The game's rock-inspired soundtrack really shines on the SNES CD's high-fidelity audio.")
Sushi-X: 7

Sewer Shark

Steve: 7
Ed: 6
Martin: 8
Sushi-X: 7 (quote: "It's like playing a Hollywood blockbuster. The only problem is that it's too short, but it's a good show of what the peripheral is capable of. The video plays in a lot more of the screen than on the Sega CD's movie games.")

Dragon's Lair

Steve: 5
Ed: 4
Martin: 7 (quote: "It's the same as back in the day but a lot more colorful. There are a couple of added scenes but nothing too special, it's still an arcade classic and it's the perfect game for younger players.")
Sushi-X: 5

-Electronic Gaming Monthly reviews the SNES CD launch titles, February 1993


*Several kids are shown running into the room and turning on a Super Nintendo, having fun with Super Mario World and Zelda: Link To The Past before one of the kid's dads comes into the room with a new box.*

Kid: Hey dad, the Super Nintendo's great!

Dad: Don't you wish it could be even better?

*Some of the kids laugh.*

Kid 2: There's no WAY you could make the Super Nintendo any better.

*The dad opens the box and takes out the Super Nintendo CD, connecting it to the Super Nintendo as the kids watch curiously.*

Dad: You wanna bet? *pops in a CD*

*Suddenly, the screen is filled with the high-speed action of Super Mario Kart as the kids look on in awe. Dad brings out two more controllers and suddenly him and three of the kids are playing Super Mario Kart, having the time of their lives.*

Narrator: The hottest thing in video games just got even hotter!

*Now scenes of all sorts of games are shown, from Street Fighter II: Arcade Edition to Sewer Shark and Final Fantasy: New Generation, along with Super Turrican, Double Switch, and even a couple of quick scenes of Super Mario World 2, interspersed with scenes of the dad and the kids having a great time.*

Narrator: Ten times the speed, four times the colors, with hi-fi CD audio for maximum immersion! The Super Nintendo CD-ROM peripheral connects to your Super Nintendo Entertainment System, creating richer, fuller, LOUDER experiences that you've never seen or heard before. Play all new games like Super Mario Kart and Super Mario World 2, play your favorite music CDs, play all new interactive movies that bring your favorite games closer to reality than ever before. It's the Super Nintendo CD.

*Shows both the add-on console and the SNES/SNES-CD combo*

Narrator: Available as an add-on for your existing Super Nintendo or as the Playstation Combo Set. Comes with Super Mario Kart, an additional controller, and accessory kit.

The Super Nintendo CD. Take it to the next level.

Super Nintendo CD's initial American launch commercial, first shown during the Cowboys/Giants NFL game on Thanksgiving Day 1992 and played throughout the holiday season. Commercial also displayed a release date of December 4, 1992, after that day it displayed an "Available Now" message.
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The North American SNES-CD Launch, Part 2
December 4, 1992

The Super Nintendo CD launched in North America. 600,000 add-on units were shipped with an MSRP of $199, while 150,000 Playstation Combo Sets (SNES/CD-add on combined) were shipped with an MSRP of $349. Included with the add-on was Super Mario Kart, an SNES controller, a set of connecting cables, and a coupon for $50 off any Super Nintendo CD game. The Playstation Combo Set shipped with Super Mario Kart, two SNES controllers, and connecting cables. The launch, though covered by many news outlets, was not nearly as successful as the Japanese launch, with few sell-outs reported in the first week of sales. With the economy still flagging and North American buyers reluctant to purchase an expensive new peripheral so soon after the launch of the Super Nintendo, Nintendo expected the low sales, though sales were a bit lower even than their projections. The CD add-on launched with five games: Super Mario Kart (the pack-in title), Street Fighter II: Arcade Edition, Final Fantasy: New Generation, Sewer Shark, and Dragon's Lair. Among the launch games, Street Fighter II was the highest seller, with a very high purchase rate among add-on buyers (particularly ones who shelled out the full $349 for the SNES/CD combo). As the launch week wore on, Nintendo hoped that the upcoming Christmas season would pick up sales.


"We had a lot of units shipped. Sega only shipped 50,000 of their Sega CD back in October and they sold through very quickly, while we were hoping that we could provide an SNES CD for everyone who wanted one. And sales in Japan were good, so we shipped far more of them. said we should have shipped around 250,000. Shipping 600,000 units and only selling about 100,000 or so in the first couple of weeks, that looked bad at the time. But we were outselling the Sega CD and our sales were constant. They weren't dropping, we weren't having 100,000 sell one week and only 20,000 the next. People were saving money. They were thinking about the new big game. So that was a good sign. It was still the Super Nintendo generating the big Christmas numbers, but the SNES CD was doing well even with all the unsold units on shelves."

excerpt from an interview with Nintendo of America president Howard Lincoln, Forbes magazine, March 24, 1997



The Super Nintendo CD hits store shelves this month, and you've never seen anything like it. It's 32 bits of power-packed visuals and incredible sound that will take your SNES to the next level. We've got 56 pages of coverage on every single launch game, giving you the tips and tricks you'll need to power your way through these tough new adventures. We'll also take you under the hood of the SNES' newest peripheral to find out just what makes this baby tick. While not every Nintendo fan will be able to purchase the SNES CD right away, we here at Nintendo Power absolutely recommend making the leap at some point in the future. From everything we've seen so far, the possibilities of this thing are absolutely endless!

-Introduction to Nintendo Power's coverage of the SNES CD launch, December 1992


Nintendo Co. Ltd./Sony Corporation

The Super Nintendo CD-ROM peripheral connects to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System to provide arcade-quality gameplay and high-fidelity sound for your favorite video games. Of note: Super Mario Kart, a fast-paced go-kart racer that can support four players simultaneously.

-Popular Mechanics, "Design and Engineering Awards 1993", January 1993


The Super Nintendo CD is undoubtedly an impressive piece of technology. The processor and storage capacity of the games not only rivals the hyper-expensive Neo Geo, it surpasses it. Street Fighter II plays just like it does in the arcade, maybe even a little bit better. The Mode 7 action of Super Mario Kart zips by just as fast as anything in Sonic the Hedgehog, and there's no slowdown in 4-player mode, even if only a limited selection of tracks are available. The FMVs of Sewer Shark fill MUCH more of the screen than Sega CD's version and the visuals are significantly clearer, making the Sega CD seem outdated by comparison. Make no mistake, Nintendo is going all out in supporting this thing and if it catches on, it's likely this will end up being a successor console to the Super Nintendo rather than a mere add-on. While Nintendo promises to continue supporting the Super Nintendo and while their policy requiring publishers who put out a game for the CD to also produce an SNES cartridge game, either a dual-release of the same game or a cartridge-specific title should keep the SNES alive and ticking as long as the NES has been in the post-SNES release world, the fact that Super Mario World 2 will be a CD-ROM game and not a cartridge game is telling. Normally I'd be worried about such a thing but I'm so impressed with the Super Nintendo CD that I for one welcome our new optical overlords. Let's hope that Sega learns from what Nintendo is doing and puts more support toward its new CD peripheral. Sonic CD is looking excellent and there are some other promising titles on the horizon. 1993 is looking quite promising indeed.

-Dave Halverson, GameFan Magazine, February 1993

In conclusion, we didn't get quite enough time with the Super Nintendo CD to provide a numerical rating in time for this year's buyer's guide, but my initial impressions were all positive. The SNES CD seems like much more of a natural progression than Sega's peripheral, with an increased focus on the gameplay rather than just showing off the tech. At $199, the price is surprisingly low for what you actually get, and indeed, for new SNES buyers I'd recommend springing for the $349 combo set. If you're unsure (or on a tight budget), reviews for Super Mario World 2, the system's first truly major game, will show up in EGM sometime around May or June. Again, despite the lack of a numerical score, my two word summation of the SNES CD thus far is this: "Highly recommended."

-Ed Semrad, 1993 Electronic Gaming Monthly Video Game Buyer's Guide


December 25, 1992

In Petaluma, California, an 11-year-old girl opened her last Christmas present. It's a big box and even her mother doesn't have a clue what's inside.

"Oh my God, dad!" shouted the girl as she looked at the large box sitting in front of her, a brand new Playstation Combo Set. "This is so cool!"

The girl's mother looked incredulously at her husband, glad that her daughter liked the gift but unsure if a $350 video game system was the best thing to be buying for her.

"We needed a CD player too," said her father. "Her birthday's coming up next week, figured this could count for both. The guy at the store showed me one of the games, it looked really fun."

The girl's mother still wasn't quite sure but the smile on her daughter's face as she looked at the back of the box removed some of her doubts... plus, she did want to hear some of her favorite songs on CD if she could find them in the stores.

"Okay... but she can only play it an hour a day. On weekends."

"Sure," said the girl, still looking at the pictures on the back of the box. "This Carmen Sandiego game looks kind of fun. Is it...around here somewhere?"

"The guy at the store said they only had four games for it but it comes with a game," said the girl's father, pointing out the Super Mario Kart logo on the box. "I asked about other games and he said they'd be coming later on."

"Here, you should open up your last present now, Marc," said the girl's mother, handing her husband a much smaller box. The girl pushed the Playstation Combo Set gently aside to watch her father open the gift. Unlike many of the other lucky kids who'd gotten the expensive new toy that year, she wasn't an avid gamer and could contain her excitement enough to wait until the Christmas festivities were concluded before tearing open the box and playing the SNES CD.

But make no mistake, when she got back to school, Polly Klaas would be the envy of her friends when she told them about what she got for Christmas.
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