SEATTLE—Terry and Dan Diebold’s rise to geek fame hinges on a single piece of hardware, but when the kit is this good, that’s all you need. The father and son are the proud owners of the only known Nintendo PlayStation console, a hybrid Super Famicom and disc-drive system jointly developed in 1991 by Nintendo and Sony.
Thanks to reports on the internet, we’ve seen the system’s original, warehouse-related discovery, and we’ve seen an impressive teardown courtesy of hacker extraordinaire Ben Heck. But nothing beats getting a closer look at the “SNES-CD” hardware, which Ars got to see at the latest episode of the Seattle Retro Gaming Expo.
Father and son Diebold said it was the last stop in their nationwide tour of various geek events to show off their drooling discovery. They are well aware of the public interest in the system and to prove it they also had a laptop with an emulated version of Super boss Gaiden. That homebrew game was designed very recently with the hope that it will one day run on the Nintendo PlayStation (meaning it was designed for the weird system’s specs). Anyway, just to clarify: the game was not runs on the Nintendo PlayStation.
The Ben Heck Show‘s incredible video answers a lot of questions about the hardware, and I recommend reading Kyle Orland’s summary on that video if you haven’t already read it. However, Heck failed to name one key, a missing piece of the puzzle: a more powerful laser diode. Dan Diebold confirmed to Ars that the Nintendo PlayStation’s diode is currently too weak to read data from a compact disc, so that’s the next step in their quest to see if it can actually recognize and play disc media.
“We didn’t have enough time to stay” at Heck’s studio, the Diebolds told Ars, and that discovery came only after they left the production. Now they are looking for skilled hands to help them with a possible diode replacement and see if that works out. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take long.
After talking to the Diebolds, I played a quick game of the only Super Famicom game they had on hand, Street Fighter II turbo, and then asked for a demonstration of the system error state when attempting to run a CD-ROM game. The latter is shown in the gallery above, complete with a small hint of the Super Famicom’s iconic four-color spread on the error screen. I also completely mistreated the controller after blatantly begging to take a selfie with it. If the Diebolds come to your town and they’re currently crossing the US with a Nintendo PlayStation in hand, I suggest you try to do the same.
Frame image by Sam Machkovech