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Prototype Nintendo Play Station Surfaces From Failed Nintendo-Sony Collaboration

Category: Gaming
Posted: 08:26PM
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Back in the late 1980s, Nintendo and Sony were collaborating on a game console that would merge cartridge and CD-based systems into one. This Play Station could play SNES-CD games, SNES cartridge games, and would make use of Sony's SPC 700 chip for eight-channel sound. The partnership would also result in the SNES-CD, an attachment for current SNES consoles that could play CDs. However, the initial deal gave Sony control over any SNES-CD games developed, since the discs were a Sony design, and this didn't sit well with the folks at Nintendo. When CES 1991 rolled around, Nintendo's then-chairman Howard Lincoln announced a partnership between Nintendo and Philips to develop a CD-ROM-based console. This was a major shock to Sony, and a deal that Nintendo pulled off at the last minute in order to try and retain control of its games. That deal didn't work either, but it did lead Philips to creating and releasing its ill-fated CD-i.

This was not the end for Sony, as it would later take the work done by Ken Kutaragi to develop its own game console, the PlayStation. Kutaragi, who had been working on the SPC 700 in secret, was in danger of losing his job before Sony's then-CEO Norio Ohaga recognized the potential in the chip and the partnership with Nintendo. When that partnership collapsed, Sony went to Sega for another collaboration, but after that rejection, decided on its own console and the rest is history.

As for that initial Play Station from the Nintendo collaboration, well, about 200 prototypes were made, but were presumed lost as the years went on. Strangely, one of these prototype systems has recently turned up, and man, is it a sight. It apparently used to belong to a former Nintendo employee who gave it, along with assorted other items, to a friend, whose son has now shared it on reddit. The top part of it looks like a Super Famicom/SNES typically would, except for a small LCD display and audio playback controls. The front has the familiar controller connections, but also a CD tray. The controllers resemble the SNES ones, but have Sony branding on the front and Nintendo Super Famicom on the back. The rear has plenty of connections, and is actually quite similar to what the PlayStation would eventually have in 1994, minus the parallel port.

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It's strange to think what could have been with Sony and Nintendo working together on the SNES-CD and Play Station, and where the state of console gaming may now be if Nintendo didn't jump to Philips. Sony's current PlayStation 4 has sold more than 22 million units since its launch in 2013, while Nintendo's Wii U is at about 10 million since its 2012 launch (and the company's slowest selling console yet).

Source: reddit [1] & [2], YouTube, and Ars Technica




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IVIYTH0S on July 05, 2015 10:25

They musta felt the heat from Sega CD I guess? My cousin had one but it seemed like an overall failure (much like HDDVD adding on to the 360 later on)

bp9801 on July 05, 2015 17:29

This would have come out around the same time as the Sega CD. Nintendo more than likely wanted something to compete with the TurboGrafx-CD, which was released around the time development on Nintendo's prototype started.


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