Apr 23 2014
Before there was Xbox Live, before there was PSN, before you were even sticking crappy broadband modems to your Gamecube and PS2 to play all of the five games that were compatible, there was the Nintendo Satellaview.
Released in the twilight years of the Super Nintendo (known as the Super Famicom in Japan), the Satellaview came out in 1995, only a year before the Nintendo 64.
This peripheral system plugged in to the base of the Super Famicom and acted as a modem that allowed you to download game data via satellite. The system boasted rare gems such as two sequels to F-Zero and a sequel/spinoff to The Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past.
Access to game content required not just the Satellaview, but also a receiver box for the main signal to be decoded and a monthly subscription fee paid to the satellite content service provider, run exclusively by a Japanese company called St. Giga. What’s more, game content was broadcast irregularly throughout the week and was only available during certain times of day according to a set program schedule. Think of the service as XM radio, but with game content instead of music.
Despite the high cost of entry due to equipment, service fees, and the limited window to access game content, the Satellaview was extremely popular in Japan. It peaked in 1999 with over 116,000 households subscribing. St. Giga was already a popular radio service, and their partnership with Nintendo only served to gain them more subscribers than ever before.
The service was canceled in 2000, just a few months before the release of the Gamecube, if that’s any indication of the Satellaview’s enduring legacy. Continue Reading »