The Nintendo PlayStation: Finally Working

The Nintendo PlayStation is not a misnomer. Before the PS1, Sony teamed up with Nintendo to produce a video game console that used CD-ROMs as a distribution platform. These plans fell through, Sony went on to design the PS1, Nintendo the N64, but a few prototype ‘Nintendo PlayStations’ made it out into the wild. One of these unbelievably rare consoles was shipped to a company that eventually went into bankruptcy. The console was found when the contents of an office building were put up for auction, and last year, [Ben Heck] tore it apart.

It’s taken a year, but now this Nintendo PlayStation is finally working. This console now plays audio CDs and games written by homebrewers. The hardware lives, and a console once forgotten lives once more.

The last time [Ben Heck] took a look at the Nintendo PlayStation, the CD-ROM portion of the console was non-functional. The Super Nintendo was still functional, but for this prototype, the CD-ROM was completely self-contained and required a ‘boot cartridge’ of sorts to access anything on a CD. Somehow or another — [Ben] thinks it was a wonky cable or a dead cap — The CD-ROM came to life. Yes, jiggling a cable was the extent of the repair, after spending an inordinate amount of time reverse engineering the console.

With the CD-ROM working, [Ben] got audio playing and tried out of the few homebrew games for this PlayStation prototype. Super Boss Gaiden didn’t quite work because this game was designed to load in chunks. Another game written for this console, Magic Floor, was small enough to fit in the entirety of the CD-ROM’s buffer and loaded correctly. That doesn’t mean the game worked; there are some slight differences between the Nintendo PlayStation emulator and the actual hardware that now exists. [Ben] emailed the author of Magic Floor, and now, after a quarter-century, the Nintendo PlayStation works.

What’s next for the Nintendo PlayStation? Well, now the emulator for this system can correctly reflect the actual hardware, and hopefully the homebrewers can figure out how to write a game for this system.

19 thoughts on “The Nintendo PlayStation: Finally Working

    1. codenames are not commercial names, it was “PlayStation”, shortened to PS (then idiots kept saying PSX because that was its codename).

      You don’t go home and play Dolphin games on your Revolution, do you? No, you play Gamecube games on Wii. Do you understand the difference? Because there is a commercial PlayStation 2 variant that is commercially called “PSX” because THAT IS ITS COMMERCIAL NAME.

    2. This SNES-PS unit was called the “Play Station”. After Nintendo told Sony to fuck themselves, they went to the drawing board and started developing the “PlayStation-X” (no space). Hence PSX or PS-X.

    1. You don’t. The guy who bought it at auction thought he was just getting a lot that contained office furniture and kitchen ware. It wasn’t until he got home that he saw there was a box containing some cds and a strange console that said Nintendo Playstation. He had no idea what it was and it ended up in his attic and his son saw it, who also did not know what it was until he saw a picture of one on reddit and mentioned that there was one in his dads attic. This sort of stuff does not usually happen, and you can probably count how many of those consoles exist on one of the Simpsons hands.

    1. Small audience? They wrote it to work on emulators. There’s a HUGE audience that uses emulators. In fact, if you watch the video, they try running these games (for the 1st time) on real hardware and discover some bugs, and he informed the authors of the bugs and they realized they had made some assumptions about the hardware that were wrong, and fixed the bugs.

    2. Also, the hardware in a PS1 is vastly different than a SNES. It would be easier to build custom silicon to recreate the missing parts of a Nintendo Play Station than it would be to hack a Sony Playstation into/onto a SNES

  1. I suspect eventually somebody will reproduce the NPS simply because there is demand for it. All the high-end collectors will probably shit themselves bidding for the proto on ebay once the family gets tired of flying around to gaming conventions. Of course that’s assuming it doesn’t get stolen by a lowlife at a show. I REALLY hope that won’t happen but they should get it insured for $1 million dollars ASAP.

  2. Good to see they got it working although as I said at the start, this is a devkit not a prototype. I’ve worked in the games industry since the 8 bit days, it’s a dev kit. Not that it really matters :)

    That it is still around and now working is a big win for the computer history. Great work Ben and the community. :-)

  3. It was more than just cable wiggling. They replaced the drive unit in a earlier episode. Worked on various capacitor and power supply issues. He even figured out that the cd-rom unit was disabled using jumper wires and a tomb stoned resistor.

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