Someday the National Game Registry will cover this in greater detail but I feel like talking NOW about a cool add-on for the Super NES that, naturally, only came out in Japan. It’s called the BS-X and it’s sweet. It connected to a satellite TV service that and it allowed you to download games. From that description it sounds like the SEGA Channel, which was cool in its own right, but it was more, so much more! See, Nintendo and friends produced several original games, upgrades, and remakes that were released exclusively for the BS-X add-on.
The coolest thing about BS-X was, thanks to being connected to a TV channel, allowed for CD quality audio to accompany some of the games, along with RECORDED voice actors for the games. I say RECORDED like that because a lot of the BS-X literature online suggests that the acting was actually conducted LIVE at the time of broadcast. I now realize this is retarded and that everything would have been pre-recorded and synchronized with the games. The games that had voice acting and CD quality audio had to be played at specific times, so that everything matched up. Most of these games were only broadcast a couple of times so playing them must have been both stressful (due to the limited time frame) but also special. Most of the games with special audio were also broadcast in 4 episodes. Most broadcasts were between 4 and 7 in the evening.
Two of the special audio update games that may be of most interest are ‘BS Zelda no Densetsu’ (aka BS The Legend of Zelda) and ‘BS Zelda no Densetsu: Kodai no Sekiban (aka BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tablets). The former is a remake of sorts of the original ‘The Legend of Zelda’ for NES. The BS-X version has Super NES-quality graphics and sounds. The world map is about half the size as in the original and everything is in a different place. The dungeons are totally rearranged, as well. Each of the 4 weekly episodes lasts 50 minutes and you need to defeat 2 dungeons in each episode. Another interesting detail comes in the form of seemingly random events that are actually programmed to occur at certain times. Most of these events are caused by the old man that gives you sword at the beginning of the game. These events can include unlimited bombs for a few minutes, full hearts for a few minutes, all enemies on screen being killed, and also weather conditions and changes in enemies.
The second Zelda game is more of a semi-sequel than a remake/upgrade, this time for ‘The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past’. The world map is largely the same but easier to navigate (thankfully, since each week is still only 5o minutes). The interior layouts of houses has changed, as the residents of Hyrule apparently felt the need to redecorate. Again, the dungeons are completely rearranged. There are some strange/cool new elements, like killer bees that can be used to protect you and rental shops that sell limited-time upgrades and items. Instead of collecting triforce pieces, you are now collecting the eponymous Ancient Stone Tablets, but I’ve already forgotten why. Characters in the game reference the events of ‘A Link to the Past’ but Link is nowhere to be found. Yes, that means you don’t play as Link. Rather, you play as one of the BS-X mascots, either an unnamed little boy or an unnamed little girl.
There are some other interesting BS-X only games. ‘Excitebike Bun Bun Mario Stadium’ is a remake/update/sequel for the original ‘Excitebike’ now starring Mario characters and containing Mario elements like coins. Like the Zelda games, this was released in 4 weekly episodes. ‘F-Zero’ released an upgrade/”sequel” in ‘F-Zero 2 Grand Prix’, which actually contains the original game with the addition of a new grand prix, some additional cars, and improved/altered driving mechanics. ‘BS Radical Dreamers’ is a graphical text-based adventure sequel/side-story for . . . ‘Chrono Trigger’! There are some other cool tidbits like sequels to Japan-only games that I’m interested in but haven’t played yet.
The BS-X was also used to distribute regular old SNES games that could be played at any time. Anyway, here’s some video . . .