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Nintendo’s PlayStation prototype seen in action for the first time

The owner of a one-of-a-kind Nintendo PlayStation prototype has successfully restored the unreleased hardware to working condition, showing it in action for the very first time.

Designed as a CD-ROM add-on for the 16-bit Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo’s PlayStation would have outfitted Super NES games with greater storage capacity and CD-quality sound, among other enhancements.

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The video above shows the prototype powering up for the first time, revealing that it’s still in working condition. Owners Terry and Dan Diebold are currently displaying the rare specimen at a retrogaming show in Hong Kong, shortly after the pair sourced a compatible power supply.

In its current state, the Nintendo PlayStation does not play any unique games, and may not even be capable of booting CD-ROM software, as the device’s CD-ROM drive appears to be non-responsive. When booted up with a debugging cartridge inserted, the device will cycle through a series of internal tests, confirming the working condition of its component parts. The Nintendo PlayStation also plays retail-released Super Famicom cartridges.

While Nintendo originally partnered with Sony to produce a CD-ROM peripheral for its Super NES in the early ’90s, the deal fell through, leading Sony to continue hardware development and eventually release its own game console, the Sony PlayStation, in 1994. The prototype discovered this year features both PlayStation branding and Super Nintendo components, making it a prized rarity.

Retro hardware enthusiast LuigiBlood confirmed the legitimacy of the hardware in a series of blog posts this week, noting that the unit shares many hardware similarities with the Super NES. The device contains the same sound chips used in retail Super Famicom units, along with typical CD-ROM interface hardware.

LuigiBlood confirms long-held suspicions that the PlayStation would not provide significant graphical enhancement for compatible Super NES CD-ROM games, instead supplementing the console’s capabilities with increased RAM and storage capacity.