Here's what ray tracing looks like on a Super Nintendo

Ray tracing on SNES
(Image credit: Shironeko Labs (via YouTube))

A lot of modern gaming PCs aren't equipped to handle ray tracing, but the 30-year-old Super Nintendo is tracing rays all over the place without missing a frame. Of course, that's not without the help of developer Shironeko Labs, which used a homebrew catridge expansion chip to give the Super Nintendo ray tracing capabilities.

Amazingly, the Super Nintendo itself (technically a Super Famicom) wasn't modded for the experiment - aside from having its case removed to make room for cabling - just the game cartridge. The game Shironeko Labs used to test was "an awful Pachinko game" found at a second-hand shop. Anyway, check out the Super Nintendo running a game with real-time ray tracing, something even the most high-end PCs struggle with. Notice the realistic shadows and reflections around the moving parts.

I won't blaspheme the developer here by trying to explain how this all works, but if you're interested, definitely check out this blog post that details the whole process in-depth. Or you can check out the video below, which also goes a lot deeper into the technical details.

"What I wanted to try and do was something akin to the Super FX chip used in titles such as Star Fox, where the SNES runs the game logic and hands off a scene description to a chip in the cartridge to generate the visuals," Shironeko writes. "To that end I've deliberately tried to restrict myself to just using a single custom chip for the design, not making use of the ARM core available on the DE10 board or any other external processing resources."

Cheers, Gizmodo AU.

Looking for something that can handle ray tracing *and* more than 16 bits? Check out our round-up of the best pre-built gaming PCs in 2020.

Jordan Gerblick

After scoring a degree in English from ASU, I worked as a copy editor while freelancing for places like SFX Magazine, Screen Rant, Game Revolution, and MMORPG on the side. Now, as GamesRadar's west coast Staff Writer, I'm responsible for managing the site's western regional executive branch, AKA my apartment, and writing about whatever horror game I'm too afraid to finish.