The mid 90s were a weird time for video game hardware. There were devices that could play videos from compact disks. Those never caught on. Virtual reality was the next big thing. That never caught on. The Sony PlayStation was originally an add-on for the Super Nintendo. That never caught on, but a few prototype units were produced. One of these prototype ‘Nintendo Playstations’ was shipped to a company that went into bankruptcy. Eventually, the assets of this company were put up for auction, and this unbelievably rare game console was bought by [Terry Diebold] for $75.
[Terry] allowed [Ben Heck] tear into this piece of videogame history, and he has the video proof that this was a collaboration between Sony and Nintendo.
On the outside, this Nintendo PlayStation is more or less what you would expect. There’s an SNES video connector on the back of the unit, an additional video output in the form of what could be found on a 90s Sony Handicam, and a weird serial port connector. There’s a CD drive, naturally, and a slot for an SNES cartridge
Inside, things get a little weird. The CD drive is completely self-contained, and the numerous random leads say this is most certainly a prototype unit. Surprisingly, the PCB for this prototype unit isn’t much different from a standard Super Nintendo. The RAM chips are laid out the same, the architecture of the system is pretty much the same, and even some part numbers are the same. This means the Nintendo PlayStation wouldn’t have enough RAM to make full use of the CD-ROM. To fix this small shortcoming, the designers of this system put 256k of RAM on the cartridge. Yes, a cartridge would have been required to use the CD drive, and the cartridge itself would have been fairly expensive.
With this teardown, we finally know this Nintendo PlayStation is not a prototype for what would eventually become the Sony PlayStation. It’s basically a Super Nintendo with a CD-ROM add-on, and Nintendo and Sony’s answer to the Sega CD. Aside from politics between Nintendo and Sony, even if this Nintendo PlayStation went on the market, it probably would have been a spectacular failure.
With the teardown and documentation, the only thing left for [Ben] to do is to get it working. Now that someone with the skills has gotten a good look at the guts of this machine, there’s a very good chance this classic console will live again. That’ll be in [Ben]’s next video, and we can’t wait to see what happens.