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Created by: Sony and Nintendo
Intended for release: 1991
The hope: By the early '90s, it was becoming clear that CDs were the future of videogames. They were slower than cartridges, sure, but they could store a lot more data, offered unheard-of sound quality and were a hell of a lot cheaper to manufacture than clunky, plastic-encased circuitboards. Joining the Genesis and the TurboGrafx-16, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System would have its own CD-ROM add-on, enabling bigger games, better sound and cooler everything.
The reality: Nintendo signed - and then backed out of - two separate deals with Sony and Phillips to produce a CD-ROM add-on for the SNES. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity to SNES fans, Nintendo sighed, muttered something vague about "access times" and "providing the best possible experience for our users," and that was the end of the dream.
Luckily for Nintendo, the Sega CD was burdened by a lot of crappy games, and once their novelty wore off, nobody seemed to mind much that the SNES didn't have a CD add-on. It wouldn't be until two hardware generations later - after losing most of its best third-party franchises to the CD-based PlayStation - that Nintendo would take another look at disc-based media.
Why it never saw life: The story of the Super Nintendo CD is the story of one of the biggest, most thoroughly documented business disasters in videogame history. Here's the short version: Years after it signed an agreement with Sony to co-produce a CD-ROM add-on for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo actually looked at said agreement, and found it essentially gave Sony complete control over all CD games created for the SNES.
Finding this unacceptable, then-Nintendo chief Hiroshi Yamauchi secretly pulled the plug on the project - something Sony didn't find out about until Nintendo announced at a press conference that it would be signing a deal with Phillips instead. That deal eventually fell through as well, although Phillips retained the rights to make some of the worst bastardizations of Nintendo games we've ever seen for its CD-I player:
While Nintendo was certainly within its rights to cancel its deal with Sony, its decision unwittingly created its own biggest competitor and dramatically changed the landscape of the videogame industry. A few years later, Sony released a new, freestanding version of the SNES CD, with greatly improved hardware. You know it as the PlayStation.
Above: OH SNAP
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