F-Zero Courses From a Dead Nintendo Satellite Service Restored Using VHS and AI

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Nintendo’s Satellaview, a Japan-only satellite add-on for the Super Famicom, is a rich target for preservationists because it was the home to some of the most ephemeral games ever released. That includes a host of content for Nintendo’s own games, including F-Zero. That influential Super Nintendo (Super Famicom in Japan) racing title was the subject of eight weekly broadcasts sent to subscribing Japanese homes in 1996 and 1997, some with live “Soundlink” CD-quality music and voiceovers. When live game broadcasts were finished, the memory cartridges used to store game data would report themselves as empty, even though they technically were not. Keeping that same 1MB memory cartridge in the system when another broadcast started would overwrite that data, and there were no rebroadcasts.

As reported by Matthew Green at Press the Buttons (along with Did You Know Gaming’s informative video), data from some untouched memory cartridges was found and used to re-create some of the content. Some courses, part of a multi-week “Grand Prix 2” event, have never been found, despite a $5,000 bounty offering and extensive effort. And yet, remarkably, the 10 courses in those later broadcasts were reverse-engineered, using a VHS recording, machine learning tools, and some manual pixel-by-pixel re-creation. The results are “north of 99.9% accurate,” according to those who crafted it and exist now as a mod you can patch onto an existing F-Zero ROM. […] Their work means that, 25 years later, a moment in gaming that was nearly lost to time and various corporate currents has been, if not entirely restored, brought as close as is humanly (and machine-ably) possible to what it once was.

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Mario Is Moving Away From Mobile Games

In an exclusive interview with Variety, legendary video game designer, Nintendo fellow and self-proclaimed “Mario’s mom”, Shigeru Miyamoto, said: “Mobile apps will not be the primary path of future Mario games.” From the report: After two moderately successful but dwindling iOS games, plus another that shuttered after two years, Nintendo is pulling Mario away from the mobile market. Released in 2016, Super Mario Run grossed $60 million in its first year, while 2019’s Mario Kart Tour has generated $300 million (compared to Mario Kart 8’s $3 billion and counting). Without explanation, Nintendo removed 2019’s Dr. Mario World from app markets two years after its release.

“First and foremost, Nintendo’s core strategy is a hardware and software integrated gaming experience,” said Miyamoto, who played a pivotal role in designing the Wii, among other Nintendo consoles. “The intuitiveness of the control is a part of the gaming experience. When we explored the opportunity of making Mario games for the mobile phone — which is a more common, generic device — it was challenging to determine what that game should be. That is why I played the role of director for Super Mario Run, to be able to translate that Nintendo hardware experience into the smart devices.”

Elaborating on the merits of Run and Tour, Miyamoto continued, “Having Mario games as mobile apps expands the doorway for far more audience to experience the game, and also expands the Mario gaming experience, where you only need your thumb on one hand.” Referencing the innovation of the Super Mario Maker series and Super Mario Odyssey, which Miyamoto called “the ultimate evolution of a Mario adventure game on a typical 3D platformer,” the Nintendo exec laid out how the company begins to develop a Mario game: “We try to define what is the gameplay, what is the method, and then define what devices we go on.” When asked when fans can expect the next mainline Mario game, Miyamoto chuckled and said: “All I can say is please stay tuned for future Nintendo Directs.”

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‘Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past’ Reverse-Engineered for Linux, Switch, Mac, and Windows

More than 30 years ago Nintendo released the third game in its Legend of Zelda series — appropriately titled, “A Link to the Past.”

This week Neowin called it “one of the most beloved video games of all time,” reporting that it’s now been reverse-engineered by a GitHub user named Snesrev, “opening up the possibility of Link to the Past on other platforms, like Sega’s 32X or the Sony Playstation.”

This reimplementation of Link to the Past is written in C and contains an astonishing 80,000 lines of code. This version is also content complete, with all the same levels, enemies, and puzzles that fans of the original game will remember.

In its current state, the game requires the PPU and DSP libraries from LakeSNES, a fast SNES emulator with a number of speed optimizations that make the game run faster and smoother than ever before. Breaking from the LakeSNES dependency, which allows for compatibility on modern operating systems, would allow the code to be built for retro hardware. It also offers one of the craziest features I have seen in a long time; the game can run the original machine code alongside the reverse-engineered C implementation. This works by creating a save-state on both versions of the game after every frame of gameplay, comparing their state and proving that the reimplementation works…. Snesrev now works alongside 19 other contributors.

Despite the immense amount of work that went into this project, the result is brilliant. Not only does the game play just like the original, it also includes a number of new features that were not present in the original. For example, the game now supports pixel shaders, which allow for even more stunning visuals. It also supports widescreen aspect-ratios, giving players a wider field of view, making the game even more immersive on modern displays. Another new feature of this reimplementation is the higher quality world map. The new map is much more detailed and gives players a better sense of the world they are exploring….
The amount of time, effort, and talent that went into creating this is simply astonishing.
Thanks to Slashdot reader segaboy81 for sharing the article.

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Nintendo’s Upcoming California Theme Park Has Augmented Reality ‘Mario Kart’ Races

“Starting next year, Nintendo fans can step through a life-size warp pipe and enter the Mushroom Kingdom,” reports Bloomberg, “for the first time on American soil.”

Bloomberg shares its reaction after “an early preview tour of the land as it finalizes construction,” noting that it has “a chirping soundtrack of cheerful instrumentals and distant coin clinks.”

Super Nintendo World, an interactive replica of Nintendo’s dynamic lands and characters, will bring its colorful chaos to Universal Studios Hollywood when it opens on Feb. 17, 2023. The expansion provides an opportunity to race alongside Mario and Luigi before meeting them face to face, and it will bring video game-inspired dining, retail and merchandise to the California theme park inside an immersive, bowllike structure lined with spinning coins and turtle shells….

Whether Koopa Troopas in motion or a fake desert set against the actual skies, there’s always something to look at — and somewhere intriguing to head first. Its marquee attraction, Mario Kart: Bowser’s Challenge, puts riders in augmented reality-enabled helmets to experience the Mario Kart racing game firsthand while the challenge plays out virtually in front of them….

Super Nintendo World was released at Universal Studios Japan in March 2021, but its arrival stateside marks Universal Studio Hollywood’s largest opening since its Wizarding World of Harry Potter expansion in 2016, and it’s the first of Nintendo’s notable footprints on domestic soil. The Super Mario Bros. Movie, starring Chris Pratt, hits theaters in April, and a third iteration of Super Nintendo World will open with Epic Universe, the all-new theme park arriving at Universal Orlando Resort in 2025.

In each iteration, the main draw is the Mario Kart experience. Here, riders in four-passenger vehicles will join Team Mario to compete across multiple courses for the Golden Cup — a familiar process to anyone who’s played Nintendo’s racing challenge back home.

The article reminds readers that “all attendees can punch blocks (with more force than one may anticipate) and re-create other moments in the Mushroom Kingdom.”
But they ultimately describe the experience as a kind of “overwhelming immersion, transporting people to a location they’ve previously seen, but never before in real life.”

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28 Years Later, Super Punch-Out!!’s 2-Player Mode Has Been Discovered

Hmmmmmm shares a report from Ars Technica: While Punch-Out!! has been one of Nintendo’s most beloved “fighting” series since its 1984 debut in arcades, it has rarely featured something common in the genre: a two-player mode. On Monday, however, that changed. The resulting discovery has been hiding in plain sight on the series’ Super Nintendo edition for nearly 30 years. Should you own 1994’s Super Punch-Out!! in any capacity — an original SNES cartridge, a dumped ROM parsed by an emulator, on the Super Nintendo Classic Edition, or even as part of the paid Nintendo Switch Online collection of retro games — you can immediately access the feature, no hacking or ROM editing required. All you need is a pair of gamepads.

[T]oday’s Super Punch-Out!! discovery revolves around a simple series of button combinations, which require nothing more than a second controller. The two-player mode is hidden behind an additional, previously undiscovered menu, which lets solo players skip directly to any of the game’s boxing combatants. It’s essentially a “level select” menu, which many classic games featured for internal testing, and speedrunners could arguably use it to practice against specific opponents more quickly.

This menu can be accessed by holding the R and Y buttons on player two’s controller at the “press start” screen, then pressing Start or A with player one’s controller. Do this, and a new menu appears, displaying all 16 boxers’ profile icons. Pick any of these icons to engage in a one-off fight; once it’s over, you’re dumped back to the same boxer-select menu. In this menu, friends can access a two-player fight if player two holds their B and Y buttons down until the match starts. You won’t hear a sound effect or any other indication that it worked. Instead, the match will begin with the second player controlling the “boss” boxer at the top of the screen. Combine the “ABXY” array of buttons with “up” and “down” on the D-pad to pull off every single basic and advanced attack. All credit goes to the coder responsible for the new @new_cheats_news account on Twitter, notes Ars.

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