Prepare for the SNES Classic with an explanation of how the Super Nintendo works

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The upcoming SNES Classic Edition will be the first official video game console to emulate a number of the Super Nintendo’s most beloved games. This exhaustive breakdown by Digital Foundry of the Super Nintendo hardware explains why a handful of technically impressive games — like the original Star Fox — never appeared on Nintendo’s Virtual Console services, and the role supplemental cartridge chips played in the life cycle of the 16-bit hardware.

Hosted by John Linneman, the 25-minute video explains, in detail, how SNES developers would include specialty chips inside game cartridges to build upon the console’s capabilities, allowing for improved sound and graphics. While many of the chips have arcane names and functions, the Super FX, Linneman recalls, became something of a marketing tool. Its chip famously enabled the system to produce 3D graphics for games like Star Fox and Doom.

The supplemental chips make for more complicated emulation process, as the software must emulate both the SNES and its additional processors. But with the SNES Classic, Nintendo seems to be embracing that challenge, most notably with the inclusion of the hitherto unreleased Star Fox 2, designed for the Super FX 2.

We will be able to see the fruit of Nintendo’s labor when the SNES Classic is released on September 29th.

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