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Over this past summer, Retro Game Network, alongside of many other retro and modern video game blogs, had reported that a prototype of the unreleased “SNES-CD“, also known as the “Nintendo Play Station”, had been found. There were a LOT of people all over the internet that were speculating that the device discovered was a fake, this writer included, mostly because the owners of the device were not able to power it on, and were not willing to open it up to show off the insides. (In a world of 3D printing, one could never be too careful.) However, this has all changed. The owners have finally been able to open it up and power it on, and while it doesn’t fully work, it does in fact power on to show off what could have been a complete alternate universe in the world of video games today, if it was released as scheduled.

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Nintendo’s interest in the CD-ROM platform started in 1988, when behind the scenes they were not only already working on the Super Famicom, but interested in having a CD-ROM based add-on device, a concept that would later be used for other future consoles like the Sega Genesis and the Atari Jaguar. After about 3 years of development, Sony introduced a standalone console at 1991′s summer Consumer Electronics Show called the “Play Station” (two words in the prototype phases.) Originally, the system was planned to be compatible with Super Famicom cartridges, but would also be compatible with special CD’s that would use an “SNES-CD” format. The following day, Nintendo revealed its partnership with Philips by making a formal announcement at CES in 1991. Licensing disagreements with Sony are what made Nintendo switch partnerships to Philips to produce the peripheral. Sadly, this other device would also not come into play, however the second agreement have Philips permission to create titles using Nintendo characters for it’s own console, the CD-i, in which a Mario based game and three Zelda style games were published.

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The “Nintendo PlayStation” had since become an interesting urban legend as the years went on, for no working prototypes had ever been found or discovered as the years ticked on. There had been reports of only 200 of these ever created, but none had ever been found, let alone operational. Earlier this year, one of these consoles was finally discovered by a father and son, Dan and Terry Diebold. Recently, the duo had traveled to Hong Kong to bring this rarity to a localized video game expo, where they not only showed it in operation, but gave some insight about the product.

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Terry had worked for the Advanta Corporation, which had filed for bankruptcy back in 2009. When that happened, the company had an online auction. As a part of this auction, where a bunch of “groups” of items that were available. Knowing what was in certain lots, he placed his bids and ultimately won the auction that this amazing prototype was in. (The cost of the lot? $75.) After winning the item, the Nintendo Play Station had literally sat in the Diebold’s attic. Recently, son Don had been going through Reddit, where he was reading about the prototype possibilities, in which he stated that he was the owner of one of them, in which obviously there was a lot of backlash saying that he wasn’t telling the truth due to it’s scarcity.

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Even after adequate photos were taken of the device, people still didn’t believe that it was a real system, mainly because there was no power supply (and couldn’t be turned on), and because the Diebold’s weren’t willing to open the console to see what was inside. After getting a hold of a proper power supply while in Hong Kong, it was decided to turn the system on to see how it functioned. From Engadget’s Richard Lai:

“We proceeded to plug the console into a TV, inserted a Super Bomberman 5 cartridge for the SNES and turned it on. The machine’s owners actually let me do the honors, and even though it was pretty much like turning on a SNES (the unit’s also compatible with the usual SNES controllers), it still felt amazing. Everything worked well except for the prototype’s audio output and the dormant CD drive. The debugging cartridge — labeled “For demo” in Japanese — that came with the prototype couldn’t detect the CD drive.”

 

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So, while the Nintendo Play Station certainly operates on a cartridge standpoint, sadly the CD-ROM drive aspect does not function because it could not be detected by the cartridge needed to run CD-ROM based titles. It was then decided to put the system through an X-Ray scanner to see if the device could have been repaired. While it has been determined that the drive is receiving power, it is unknown still why the system’s disc drive is not working. This could mean that either the drive is physically broken, or there is a problem with the software. There is a possibility that the drive may have been intentionally damaged for some reason by an unknown source, but that is still speculation. (It should also be noted that this system’s logic board is embraced with a “2” printed on it, indicating that these could be the second prototype style of the 200 known systems that were at some point created.)

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So while we still don’t have a fully functional Nintendo Play Station system up and running, we are getting closer and closer to having it somehow become a reality. We will continue to look over this story for any new leads, and maybe someday we will be able to report that a fully functional prototype has been shown! (Could this system truly be a Super Nintendo and Sony PlayStation combination? Only time will tell.)

Source (with more photos and complete interview): Engadget