This cool mock-up shows that writers at Beep predicted a console very different from the one we would all come to know and love.
For all of us eager gamers out there, wildly speculating about the potential for a new system has become a familiar ritual. What will the controller be like? What sort of specs will it boast? What sort of titles do we have to look forward to after launch? As soon as a new gaming system gets announced, it seems like we can’t help but fill the time it takes to wait imagining what the future might hold.
Gamers back in the 1980s were no different it would seem. So while Nintendo loyalists like myself eagerly await the release of the mysterious new Nintendo Switch and kill time playing Super Mario Run on our iPhones, we can take a trip back to simpler times, when Japanese players of the original NES, or Famicom as it’s known in Japan, were waiting for the Super Famicom to appear.
That’s thanks to Twitter user Ninty Memories who got their hands on this exciting bit of Nintendo-related ephemera and shared it with the world.
Ninty Memories (@NintendoMemo) December 13, 2016
So what are we looking at here, exactly? This is an excerpt from the gaming magazine Beep which was published by the Japanese company Softbank back in the day. The article describes, in somewhat indefinite terms, the features and specs they thought would likely be included with the follow-up to the popular Famicom system, which was originally released in Japan in 1983.
While it would be another two years until the Japanese release of the Super Famicom in 1990, the writers at Beep envisioned a system that would include many optional pieces of hardware, and (what was at the time) cutting-edge technology. Some examples described in the mock-up and the accompanying article include an optional keyboard, a modem, a detachable 2-inch video floppy disk drive (pictured at far right), and even a card reader for IC cards. The writers of the article also describe a small liquid-crystal panel display for showing short text-based messages to users unrelated to games.
We all know, of course, that the Super Famicom that ultimately came out looked considerably different than this, and didn’t include many of the features included in this write-up.
▼ A Japanese ad showing off the Super Famicom Japan became familiar with.
▼ It looks just a tad different from what Beep imagined.
At the end of the article, the writers also mention that the release of the Super Famicom had been delayed, and also allude to the rivalry to come between Nintendo’s new system and Sega’s powerful 16-bit Mega Drive system (known to Americans as Sega Genesis), which would’ve been sold in Japan for the first time around the time of the article’s release.
Though the predictions were a bit far off the mark, this article is an interesting artifact offering a glimpse into the not-so-distant past to would-be gaming historians. For another interesting vintage gaming “what if?”, check out this article about the ill-fated “Nintendo Playstation” console.