Do you have old Satellaview cartridges lying around that were last used 24 years ago to play an obscure, Japan-exclusive F-Zero game? Well, that ageing data is now worth a good chunk of cash thanks to a pair of fans intent on preserving the franchise’s history.
BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2 was originally released via Nintendo’s unique Satellaview broadcasts. Accessed by way of a modem add-on for the Super Famicom, the service provided special programming as well as games that were only available for a limited time. BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2, for instance, was playable for just two non-consecutive weeks in August 1997.
As such, this makes backing up Satellaview data a tricky prospect.
“[Satellaview] games were broadcast on a weekly schedule and downloaded to a flash cart that only held one at a time,” explained Frank Cifaldi, founder and co-director of the Video Game History Foundation, “so every surviving game comes from a used cart where that game happens to be the last one the owner played.”
Adding to the difficulty is the fact that Satellaview memory packs are known to degrade in a process known as “bit rot,” or the eventual breakdown of digital information due to failures in the storage device. That’s why two dedicated F-Zero fans are now offering $US5,000 (A$6,908) (up from $US1,500 (A$2,072) two years ago) to anyone who contributes to their Satellaview preservation efforts.
In total, the Satellaview broadcasts gave players access to 10 separate BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2 tracks, half of which have already been found and backed up. The last five — Forest I, Forest II, Forest III, Metal Fort I, and Metal Fort II — still elude preservationists despite years of searching.
“If [the tracks] aren’t dumped by now, there’s a chance they might have gone bad,” wrote Porthgeidwad, one of the F-Zero fans who put up the bounty. “More like a lottery at this point. If you do have a [Satellaview] cart lying around with seemingly nothing on it, dump the information and see if it contains anything.”