The Super NES is arguably the best known console of the 16-bit era. It typically came in the form of a grey box with either grey or purple buttons, and an angular or streamlined design, depending on whether you lived in North America, Europe or Asia. Compact and mini versions followed later, but there were also a few lesser-known models released during the SNES’s heyday in the early 1990s. One of these was the Sharp SF1: a CRT television with a built-in Super Nintendo. The cartridge slot was located at the top, with the controllers connecting at the front. The internal video connection even provided better image quality than a typical SNES setup.
The SF1 was never sold outside Japan and is quite rare nowadays. But even if you can find one, the bulky CRT will take up a lot of space in your home. [Limone] therefore decided to build himself a smaller replica instead. His “SF1 mini” comes in a 3D printed case that holds a 5.5″ TFT screen, stereo speakers, and connections for game paks and game pads.
Thankfully, [Limone] didn’t sacrifice an original SNES to make this project: instead, he used a DIY Super Nintendo kit developed by a company called Columbus Circle. This kit contains a modern replica of a SNES motherboard and is intended for custom builds like this. However, the layout of the motherboard didn’t match [Limone]’s intended design, so he desoldered several components and re-attached them using a huge web of magnet wire. An RGB-to-HDMI converter connects the SNES’s video output to the TFT screen and provides for remarkably sharp graphics.
[Limone] explains the build process in detail in the video embedded below (in Korean, with English subs available). We’ve seen a couple of neat SNES replicas, some small and some particularly tiny, but this has to be the first SF1 replica.
For the Nintendo aficionados of the 90s, the Super Game Boy was a must-have cartridge for the Super Nintendo which allowed gamers to play Game Boy games on your TV. Not only did it allow four-color dot-matrix gaming on the big screen, but it let you play those favorite Game Boy titles without spending a fortune on AA batteries. While later handhelds like the PSP or even Nintendo Switch are able to output video directly to TVs without issue, the original Game Boy needed processing help from an SNES or, as [Andy West] shows us, it can also get that help from a modern microcontroller.
The extra processing power in this case comes from a Raspberry Pi Pico which is small enough to easily fit inside of a donor NES case and also powerful enough to handle the VGA directly. For video data input, the Pico is connected to the video pins on the Game Boy’s main board through a level shifter. The main board is also connected to a second Pico which handles the controller input from an NES controller. Some fancy conversion needed to be done at this point because although the controller layouts are very similar, they are handles by the respective consoles completely differently.
With all of the technical work largely out of the way, [Andy] was able to put the finishing touches on the build. These included making sure the power buttons, status LEDs, and reset button all functioned, and restoring the NES case complete with some custom “Game Guy” graphics to match the original design of the Game Boy. We commend the use of original Game Boy hardware in this build as well, which even made it possible for [Andy] and his wife to play a head-to-head game of Dr. Mario through a link cable with another Game Boy. If you’re looking for a simpler way of playing on original hardware without burning a hole in your wallet buying AA batteries, take a look at this Game Boy restoration which uses a Lithium battery instead.
Listening to chiptunes on an emulator or software-based player is fine, but sometimes you just gotta have that real hardware charm. [Kazhuu] is one such enthusiast who feels this way, and set about building a hardware player for SNES chiptunes that can be controlled from a browser.
The build relies on an Arduino Micro to control the SNES Audio Processing Unit (APU), featuring the Nintendo S-SMP as produced by Sony and designed by Ken Kutaragi. Yes, the father of the PlayStation designed the capable wavetable synthesis chip in the Super Nintendo, and it’s that same hardware that [Kazhuu]’s project interfaces with modern hardware.
With the Arduino’s IO lines hooked up to the APU, song data can be piped out to the Arduino over a serial connection to a PC. This can be handled by a Python script, or more intuitively via a browser-based front-end. This uses WebUSB in order to take input from the browser and then send data out over the USB-serial connection to the Arduino.
It’s a neat demonstration of both working with vintage Nintendo sound hardware and how to code modern browser applications to work with embedded systems. If you’re a SEGA kid, though, you might prefer this build instead. Video after the break.
We can’t promise it will all be positive, but there’s no question you’ll be getting plenty of attention when you join a video call using the Game Boy Camera. Assuming they recognize you, anyway. The resolution and video quality of the 1998 toy certainly hasn’t aged very well, and that’s before it gets compressed and sent over the Internet.
From a technical standpoint, this one is actually pretty simple, if rather convoluted. [RetroGameCouch] hasn’t modified the Game Boy Camera in any way, he’s just connected it to the Super Game Boy, which in turn is slotted into a Super Nintendo. From there the video output of the SNES is passed through an HDMI converter, and finally terminates in a cheap HDMI capture device. His particular SNES has been modified with component video, but on the stock hardware you’ll have to be content with composite.
For retro gaming, there’s really no substitute for original hardware. As it ages, though, a lot of us need to find something passable since antique hardware won’t last forever. If a console isn’t working properly an emulator can get us some of the way there, but using an original controller is still preferred even when using emulators. To that end, [All Parts Combined] shows us how to build custom interfaces between original Nintendo controllers and a PC.
The build starts by mapping out the controller behavior. Buttons on a SNES controller don’t correspond directly to pins, rather a clock latches all of the button presses at a particular moment all at once during each timing event and sends that information to the console. To implement this protocol an Adafruit Trinket is used, and a thorough explanation of the code is given in the video linked below. From there it was a simple matter of building the device itself, for which [All Parts Combined] scavenged controller ports from broken Super Nintendos and housed everything into a tidy box where it can be attached via USB to his PC.
While it might seem like a lot of work to get a custom Nintendo controller interface running just because he had lost his Mega Man cartridge, this build goes a long way to understanding a custom controller protocol. Plus, there’s a lot more utility here than just playing Mega Man; a method like this could easily be used to interface other controllers as well. We’ve even seen the reverse process where USB devices were made to work on a Nintendo 64.
Turning a game like Super Mario World for SNES into a widescreen game is not a small task, but [Vitor Vilela] accomplished just that. [Vitor] has a long list of incredible patches such as optimizing code for better frame rates and adding code to take advantage of the SA-1 accelerator chip, so out of anyone he has the know-how to pull a widescreen mod off. This patch represents a true labor of love as many levels were designed with a specific screen width in mind. [Vitor] went through each of these single-screen width levels and expanded them by writing the extra assembly needed.
On a technical level, this hack was achieved by using the panning feature built into the game. The left and right shoulder buttons allowed a player to pan the camera to the left and right. The viewport is considered to be two times the screen resolution and so items will be rendered within the widescreen resolution. By taking away the panning feature and render a larger section of the viewport to the screen, you get a widescreen view. However, to save cycles, enemies and items don’t start moving until they get close to the screen edge. So how do you make a game widescreen without ruining the timing of every enemy that spawns? Suddenly the hours of muscle memory that fans have drilled in over the years is a disadvantage rather than a strength. The answer is a significant time investment and an eye for detail.
All the code is available on GitHub. A video of a playthrough of the mod is after the break.
The work was made possible when source code from the Gameboy Advance remake of Super Mario World was found in the leaked data. The source code included the names of the samples, which were the same as were used in the original SNES game. This allowed the team to find the original samples amongst the gigabytes of leaked files.
We wondered what would be done with all that code, speculating that it would be a poison pill for the emulator scene. This type of hack wasn’t even on our radar and we’re delighted to see the project come to light. The reproduced songs have an altogether different quality than the original SNES soundtrack. This is largely due to the samples not having to be compressed or cut down to fit on a cartridge and work with the console’s sound chip. Other variances in the sound also come from the fact that unlike in the game, the samples in these renditions don’t match the play lengths in the original game.
Regardless of the changes, it’s interesting to hear a more full, rounded sound of these classic video game tunes. It reminds us somewhat of the later CD console era, when sound designers were able to break free of the limitations of earlier hardware. Of course, we still bow at the alter of chiptune, though — and this MIDI Gameboy mod is a great place to start if you’re curious. Video after the break.