In 1995, the Internet sounded like something from the future. With Windows 95 about to change everything, the world was gearing up to change and adapt. And of course, video games were part of that change. One of the first consoles that had online capability was the Super Famicom, which in Japan released a small modem called Satellaview. It was launched in 1995, had content until 2000, and now it’s a fantastic paperweight.
The future in the past
Satellaview managed to attract 100,000 subscribers in Japan, a significant number considering that what it offered wasn’t groundbreaking by today’s standards: the gaming system itself was a game where you could create an avatar, buy items, play minigames, and participate in contests. In a way, it was a bit like Mark Zuckerberg‘s metaverse, but with pixelated graphics.
The most curious part is that all the games released for Satellaview were lost forever. And there were quite a few notable ones: remakes of ‘F-Zero’, ‘Kirby‘, or ‘Super Mario Bros’, a fishing game created by the author of ‘Earthbound’ that ran for eight episodes from April to November 1997 and eventually appeared on Nintendo 64. One of the few that got saved.
Thanks to the service, you could even read free magazines, listen to audio commentary, and ambient sounds. However, nothing can surpass the legacy of ‘BS Zelda no Densetsu,’ a remake of ‘The Legend of Zelda‘ that was “broadcast” for two hours a day, divided into four chapters, one per week, in 1995. The game was not just the classic Zelda; it also featured a narrator who provided hints and narrated the game’s plot, creating a unique storytelling experience.
This Zelda had 16-bit graphics, different dungeons, a smaller world, and replaced Link with a boy wearing a backward cap or a girl with red hair, the mascots of Satellaview. There was even a second version of the game in 1996, ‘BS Zelda no Densetsu MAP 2’, before it disappeared. It was a different time; nobody cared much about preserving things before they were lost, but it’s still a shame that both this game and ‘BS Super Mario Collection,’ which included everything from cinematics to live music and live commentary from Mario and Luigi, succumbed to the ineffable passage of time. Sigh.