September 18, 2017 Super Famicom Box

Super Famicom Box – Another rare and awesome Japanese videogame obscurity

If you thought the M82 was obscure, wait until you hear about Nintendo’s Super Famicom Box. Launched in Japan in the early 90s, the Super Famicom Box is a video game system not unlike the beloved SNES/Super Famicom.

Coming complete with two SNES controllers, the Super Famicom Box was made specifically for use in Japanese hotels, and came with a “pay to play” system akin to arcade machines and the Neo-Geo Deck (a ¥100 coin would get you five minutes of play).

 

The Super Famicom Box from the front with controllers
(Image Credit: Video Game Museum)

Nintendo Super Famicom Box (Image Credit: Video Game Museum)

The SFB 4 from the back
(Image Credit: Play Asia)

Super Famicom Box back (Image Credit: Play Asia)

One strange feature of the Super Famicom Box is it uses utterly humongous multi-cards as opposed to traditional cartridges to run video games. And one of its system-specific cards (the one containing Super Mario Kart, Star Fox and the Super Mario Collection) holds within its tight, plasticky grip the unit’s BIOS, so it would be imperative to own that cartridge, alongside the unit, to actually boot-up the box. So keep that in mind when shopping for a Super Famicom Box.

But, interestingly, the Super Famicom Box’s games are identical to the SNES’, despite the multi-cards’ massive size. You could fit a whopping tenty-eight 3DS games into one Super Famicom Box cartridge. What the hell?

Super Famicom Box - The huge cartridges

Super Famicom Box cartridge
(Images Source: N-Sider Media)

Super Famicom Box multi-card (Images Credit: N-Sider Media)

Super Famicom Box Multi-Cards

Each multi-card contains up to two or three games, which was brilliant for Japanese hotels of the time. Y’know, because capitalism and all that. These include:

  • Super Mario Kart, Star Fox and the Super Mario CollectionPSS-61
  • Waialae No Kiseki (Waialae Golf) & Super Mahjong 2PSS-62
  • Super Donkey Kong and Tetris 2 & BomblissPSS-63
  • Super Donkey Kong & Bomberman 2PSS-64

Unlike the M82, the Super Famicom Box uses an on-screen display to run its game selection menu, a system unique to the box, and it also incorporates an overlay message box which coerces the user to chuck in a couple of coins to kick off game-time.

 

SFB6 screenshot
(Image Credit: Video Games Are Rad)

Super Famicom Box Video Game Boot Menu (Image Credit: Video Games Are Rad)

Super Famicom Box Specs

 

The Super Famicom Box in it's full glory
(Image Credit: Yaronet)

(Image Credit: Yaronet)

 

For you tech-minded zealots, let’s have a look at the Super Famicom Box’s innards.

  • Processor: 16-bit 65C816clocked at 3.58, 2.68 or 1.79 MHz (adjustable)
  • Working RAM: 128 KB
  • PPU(Picture Processing Unit): 16-bit
  • Video RAM: 128 KB total, 64 KB for setting plans and 64 KB for sprites
    • Number of colours: 256 to 4,096 to 32,768 (according to graphical mode selected)
    • Resolution: 256×224 to 512×448 pixels
    • Number of sprites: 128 (maximum 32 per scanning line) each of size 8×8 to 128×128 pixels
    • Graphics modes: 8 modes (0-7), each of which contain different display types, colors and resolution. Think Mode 7, the mode that created the scaling effect made famous by Super Mario Kart and F-Zero.
  • Audio processors: Sony SPC7008-bit S-SMP at 32 kHz, S-DSP 16-bit at 32 kHz
    • Sound: 16-bit, 16-channel, ADPCM compression
    • S-SMP: musical synthesizer
      • 8-channel ADPCM sound 16-bit at 32 kHz
      • Polyphonic support for 8 notes simultaneously
    • S-DSP sound processor
      • 3-way 16-bit ADPCM at 332 kHz
    • Acoustic effects: chorus, reverb, vibrato
    • RAM audio: 64 KB + usage of cart RAM
  • Storage: ROM carts
  • Input
    • Two controllers
    • One expansion port
    • Support for adding additional processors (Cx4, Super FX (version 1 or 2), SA-1, DSP and S-DD1)
  • Hardware manager for specific system screens

 

Nintendo developed a number of demonstration units for their consoles over the decades, and the M82 was one of the more common ones to be found in the stores of NA and Japan. But due to the availability of the Super Famicom Box being limited solely to Japan, this renders it one of the rarest Nintendo consoles to boot.

Pretty magical, right?! Good luck to all of you in your hunt for two of Nintendo’s rarest consoles. May the big N smile upon you!

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