PCB size comparison of some snes games.


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PCB size comparison of some snes games.



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  1. The SNES cartridges were designed to allow additional computer hardware to be placed inside each game cartridge, up to and including additional processors. Often this was done for advanced graphics capabilities: the Super FX is the most well known- it was actually an additional chip included in games like Star Fox to do 3D computations the native processor wasn’t able to handle. Many other games included special-purpose chips that allowed for specific scaling and rotations to be done, for example Mario Kart was a 2D game that was scaled and rotated to give the impression of a 3D game.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Super_NES_enhancement_chips

    More mundane things were stuff like additional RAM/ROM or batteries to allow for bigger games or persistent storage.

    Some people like to talk about the inflation-adjusted cost of an NES game or SNES game as proof that the games industry needs to increase the cost of modern games, but it’s not a fair comparison. Many cartridge games shipped with significant hardware cost, sometimes 20 or 30 dollars, because the cartridges themselves were significant portions of a mini-computer.

  2. I’ve disassembled around 600 SNES games. The majority look like the bottom-right or bottom-middle. Very few are as large as the two on the top-left. Mega Man X2 and X3 are enormous, equal to or slightly larger than Mario Kart’s. Its supporting plastic peg is in a different place due to the CX4 chip.

    The difference in board size is dependent on how many EEPROM or Mask ROM chips are on the board and other things like the amount of SRAM + battery, the lockout chip, and specialty chips like the Super-FX, CX4, SA1, etc. (This is from memory, so don’t crucify me if I’m messing up a name or two)

  3. I worked at a video game store for nearly four years, and they carried games from all eras. I opened up my fair share of SNES games while I was there. The size of the PCB for Super Mario Kart was always surprising.

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