Nintendo Satellaview BS-X
Type Console Add-On Developer Nintendo & St. GIGA
Release Date 1995-Mar Region(s) Japan
Initial Price $149 USD Games Released 15 (exclusive)
     by Dark Watcher
The Satellaview was not really a console, but was an interesting add-on for the Super Famicom.  It was licensed by Nintendo and was released in Japan in 1995. It cost 14,000 yen (about $150) and a subscription fee had to be paid monthly to use the service.  The unit sat under the Super Famicom and was one of only two devices to utilize the port found underneath the console (the other was the Lifecycle Exertainment).

It connected to a satellite channel called St. GIGA and allowed subscribers to download games, demos, news, interviews, and whatever else Nintendo felt like offering.  There were no costs beyond the price of the device itself and subscription; all downloads were free.  The system focused more on BS exclusive games rather than just demos of existing titles.  The games could be saved for use later and could only be downloaded between 4 PM and 7 PM.  The small time window was because St. GIGA was also used to broadcast normal TV programming.
The base unit contained a 1 megabit ROM chip which contained the system's operating system, 256k of flash memory to store downloaded games on, and 512k of RAM to add to the Super Famicom's capabilities (this may or may not have also been necessary to run the OS and its various functions).  If the 256k of flash memory wasn't enough, you could also buy Game Boy sized carts containing 1 megabit of flash memory that fit into a Super Game Boy style cartridge, called the BS-X Special Broadcast Cassette (which retailed for around $30).
The Satellaview broadcasted from 23rd April 1995 to June 30th 2000.  It continued receiving new games up until March 1999.  The first game on the system was a graphical update of Zelda no Densetsu (aka. The Legend of Zelda).
     by ShellShock (Special Guest Contributor)
The BS-X is, as you might have heard, a sort of "online adapter" for the Super Famicom that Nintendo put out in 1995 after the infamous CD-ROM add-on fiasco with Sony.  BS-X literally stands for "Broadcast Satellaview X" (not "Bandai Satellaview X", like some sources proclaim).  Satellaview assumed to be a blend of the words "satellite" and "view", with "X" meaning "unknown".

The basic system set retailed for 14,000 yen back then, which converts to $113.47 nowadays.  It is composed of a base platform that fits underneath the console, a Super GameBoy-shaped adapter that plugs into the Super Famicom's cartridge slot, an AV selector and the system's interface application BS-X Soreha namae o nusumareta machi no monogatari or The Story of The Town Whose Name Has Been Stolen.  This is the BS-X's  user interface software, designed in the shape of an town that could be explored.  When accessed for the first time, the system prompts for the user's name and gender to create an avatar (or Satellaview "Mascot") with whom you'll be able to roam the town at will.  Each building represents many of the different features the BS-X is able to access through its satellite connection: online high score boards, news, game demos, game cheats and tips, quizzes, previews, games, etc.

All connecting cables are of course also included and a "Deluxe" set came with an additional 8-Megabit (1MB) of extra storage space in the form of a small memory cart (also sold separately) that boosted the system's basic 256 Kb of on-board memory and let you store more downloads.  Unfortunately the sources for these numbers are not 100% accurate, so take them as an estimate.  It is also believed that the base platform helped the Super Famicom's performance with extra on-board RAM.
The service was completely different than the ones last-gen consoles present nowadays.  Online multiplayer gaming was NOT the BS-X's purpose in any way.  Instead, its only function was that of content delivery thru a satellite connection, while player feedback to the server was minimum to non-existent.  For this purpose Nintendo teamed up with Japanese satellite station St. GIGA to handle the delivery and publishing.  Although a few other giants like Squaresoft and Enix also signed up on the deal, the big N ended up producing more than 80% of BS-X titles.
St. GIGA's satellite decoder box and dish were a must to enjoy what the BS-X had to offer.  These boxes must have been very popular in Japanese households, as Nintendo would obviously try to reach as much of a wider audience as it could without forcing gamers to pay full price for the extra equipment and its monthly fee on top of the already expensive BS-X system and Nintendo's own monthly subscription.

With all the hardware set up, and having paid Nintendo's subscription fee, we are finally ready to start downloading games for free!  But not so fast.  St. GIGA also broadcasted its regular programming during the day, so the delivery of BS-X content was only available in between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM. Not only were downloads, news, reviews and the rest of the features unavailable outside this time frame, but all of the system's games with "live" elements (which were the majority) were rendered useless during the rest of the day. This is the main reason why nowadays most BS-X titles can't be emulated.
Daily, weekly or even monthly schedules were set by the station for users to download or play games, often dividing them in chapters, maps or areas.  For example, you could only play Zelda's map 1-part 1 on a Thursday night between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM, and would have to wait until next Thursday to play the second part. Working late, going out with your girlfriend / boyfriend, or any sort of event characteristic to having a normal life meant you would have to wait an entire month for the re-broadcast; which in some cases are not confirmed to exist.  Blackout?  Missed the train?  Have a hot date?  Tough luck.  It was like waiting for the UPS man to deliver that great new game: You make sure you cancel any appointments and sit your ass at home around 4:00 PM because you know that's when he usually comes.  But the moment you leave your house you miss him, only to find that dreaded note on your door: "Next delivery attempt: next month".  Not a very strong content delivery model by today's standards, that's for sure.
Downloadable games can be divided into two main categories: installment-based (most of them playable in during broadcasting hours), and stand-alone titles.  The first were delivered in parts, and most of them were real-time titles with elements like live voice acting, live music, and a real-time clock.  Because of these features they could only be downloaded and played during the station's allotted broadcasting hours and were not accessible the rest of the time.  The second were stand-alone games that once downloaded and stored in memory (again in between 4:00 PM and 7:00 PM) could be played anytime without the need of satellite service, although high score boards were posted online by St. GIGA which in turn got this feedback via either regular mail or a direct upload thru the interface.

Titles featured include NES upgraded remakes, re-releases of exact copies of older Super Famicom titles, BS-X system exclusives and remixes of cartridge-based Super Famicom games.  For extended overviews of the games that were released for the BS-X, please check out my in depth article at my website.

All things considered, the BS-X is worth a look to SNES gamers even if its titles often have an unfinished, low-budget look.  Most of them are not emulated because of their real-time features.  The only way Nintendo could have ever been able to re-release them as a cartridge is at a discounted price, since you can't help but feel the system was often used as a dumpster for rejected / unfinished titles and remakes.

A special thanks to ShellShock for providing the screenshot pictures of the Nintendo Satellaview and for extending his considerable insight and knowledge to the creation of this webpage.  Please visit his excellent website for more great information on not only this console, but for other classic gaming articles and reviews.  You will not be disappointed with the expanded content!!
     Officially licensed releases
The Satellaview was offered in two versions - the standard and deluxe. The hardware was identical in each, but the deluxe version contained the Memory Pak card.

     Non-licensed hardware releases
No clones were released for this system.
     by Marriott_Guy
Consoles are rated based upon the available technology at the time of its release.  A 10 point scale is utilized, with 10 being excellent.

Console Design 07 The Satellaview resides comfortably underneath the Super Famicom console.  Connection is a snap with the add-on firmly connected to the mother base.
Console Durability 08 With this device being a glorified modem, the Satellaview has very few moving parts and is not prone to any type of failure.
Controllers N\A There were no special controllers for this add-on.
Graphics 05 Most titles were remixed NES games.  With the low capacity of the Memory Pak, games had to be streamlined in able to be delivered through the streaming satellite service.  Graphics suffered due to these reasons.
Audio 05 Basically the same as above.  Audio effects are solid, but pale in comparison to their Super Famicom counterparts.
Media 04 Though the concept is prevalent throughout today's gaming world, downloadable\streaming  content was difficult to deliver due to the limited data rate speeds and low capacity of the storage device.
Gamer Value 01 Since the satellite service no longer exists, there is really no reason to purchase this system from a gamer's perspective.  Allot of the games were also ported to the Super Famicom.
Collector Value 07 The Satellaview, though quite expensive, is rather easy to acquire.  This is only recommended for the console collector.

     Interesting facts on software for this system
Software for the Nintendo Satellaview was digitally distributed through regularly scheduled satellite broadcasts provided by St. GIGA.  Users had to subscribe to the service in order to access this gaming content.

The Satellaview is basically a modem device for the Super Famicom.  Network interfacing was provided by an included software cartridge (The Story of The Town Whose Name Has Been Stolen).  Game data was stored on Memory Packs which plugged into the top of this main interface cart.

Game offerings consisted of ports from the Famicom and Super Famicom, known as Best Selections. but also included some exclusive releases.  These BS Original Games were definitely targeted by subscribers to the St. GIGA service.

Sample Game Play - Main Interface
There were a handful of games that were released as standalone, retail titles which provided enhanced content through the St. GIGA service.  The Memory Pack cartridge accompanied most of these games.
     Captured in-game images
Loading Screen for the Satellaview BS-XSatellaview BS-X - Loading Screen Once loaded, connecting to St. GIGASatellaview BS-X - Connecting to St GIGA Once connected, Virtual World interfaceSatellaview BS-X - Virtual World Interface
BS Chrono Trigger Jet Bike Special
Chrono Trigger Jet Bike Special  Screenshot
BS Excitebike Bun Bun Mario Battle
Excitebike Bun Bun Mario Battle Screenshot
BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2
BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2 Screenshot
BS Super Famicom Wars
BS Super Mario USA Power Challenge
BS Super Mario USA Power Challenge Screenshot
BS Tantei Club: Yuki ni Kieta Kako
BS Zelda No Densetsu
BS Zelda No Densetsu Screenshot
Dynami Tracer
Radical Dreamers
Radical Dreamers Screenshot
Spriggan Powered BS
Spriggan Powered BS Screenshot
Treasure Conflix
Treasure Conflix Screenshot
     First and third party system emulators

This is a popular and amazing Super NES emulator.
ZSNES is also able to emulate Satellaview games.
     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
N\A N\A N\A 512 KB RAM (added to the Super
Famicom's existing 128 KB)
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
256 x 224 32K (256 on screen) 128 Sprites N\A
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
Digital (mostly), Cartridge Unknown 15 (exclusive) None
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
1 MB ROM (operating system files),
256 KB Flash (for games)
Memory Pack Cart (included
in the deluxe release)
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
N\A This unit is a network device None N\A
Power Supply - External Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
Ran off of the power supply provided by the Nintendo Super Famicom None None
Not available.  Can you help us out?  You will definitely receive full credit for your contribution.  Email

     Peripherals, Promotions, Commercials, Brochures, Etc.
Nintendo Satellaview BS-X Television Commercial (Japan)

Nintendo Satellaview BS-X Advertisements

     Visitor insights and feedback
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