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Snes CD

One of the biggest drama stories of the 16 bit era was the Snes CD add on. If it had been released, the current video game market might look far different that it is.

Nintendo had experience with add-ons for its first console, the Famicom. The disc drive add-on was not quite the sucess as they hoped, due to excessive pirating of the discs. So, Nintendo looked to another manufacturer to produce their add-on for the Snes to counter Sega's Sega CD.

In 1990, Nintendo and Sony announce that they wer designing a CD based add-on called the PlayStation. Sony, who had designed the sound chip for the snes, was looking to design a system that improved the memory and audiovisual abilities.

By 1992, Sony and Nintendo broke apart, apparently due to an agreement where Sony would get publishing profits from its system. Nintendo then went to Philips, and make a system that was compadible with Philips' CD-i system. Several games with Nintendo characters were released on the CD-i, but the add-on was never released. Sony was not happy about this, and instead went to make its 32-bit Playstation, which became the most successful system ever released.

Nintendo never did release the Snes CD addon. This may have been a big dissapointment, but after the lack of success of the Sega CD, it was probably justified. There were many games that may have been developed with the Snes CD in mind, but they probably were retooled for a cartridge. The only one I know of off hand is Secret Of Mana, which had many incomplete areas that would have made it in if it were on the cd (probably explains why the game is so buggy too). Instead of focussing on an addon, Nintendo touted special chips, like the Super FX as being superior. Nintendo also pushed the Snes to its limit with games like Donkey Kong Country, which allowed the system to catch up in sales with the Genesis, and to show up the superior Jaguar and 3DO.

As I get more information, this article will expand.

Source: Video Game Buyer's Guide 2000


  • Nintendo Power, Super NES Preview (Mentions that the SNES CD was in development with Sony, and that the Super NES was designed with the add-on in mind), Publication date: June 1991, Volume: 25, Pages: 44-47
  • Nintendo Power, Pak Watch - Nintendo's Cutting Edge (mentions the switch from a 16 to 32 bit processor, possible August 1993 release), Publication date: November 1992, Volume: 42, Pages: 108
  • Nintendo Power, Player's Pulse (mentions the SNES CD would have a 32 bit co-processor), Publication date: December 1992, Volume: 43, Pages: 6
  • Nintendo Power - Super Power Club Extra, Future Technologies, Future Games (largely speaks negatively about the CD Rom format, mentions that the switch to 32-bit delayed the SNES CD), Publication date: January 1993, Volume: 44, Pages: 14-15

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