A Look At Nintendo's Satellaview

A Look At Nintendo's Satellaview

Exploring Nintendo's 1995 Super Famicom satellite modem
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Over the years, Nintendo has become known as the experimental company in terms of gaming hardware design. By this point, many of us are already accustomed to their trailblazing approaches to motion control with the Wii, or touchscreen gaming with the handheld DS family, but many in the West aren’t familiar with one of their most interesting experiments: the Satellaview.

In 1995 Nintendo joined forces with St.Giga, a satellite radio service in Japan dedicated to playing ambient and New Age music. While this may not sound like the most sensible combination in ‘90s gaming, Nintendo had a plan. Through this collaboration, the Satellaview was born, a satellite gaming peripheral designed to broadcast games and events to players across Japan.

The Satellaview attached to the expansion port on the bottom of the Super Famicom console (Japan’s Super Nintendo) and ran through the same wiring as a satellite television. Nintendo designed the games and planned the events while St.Giga was left in charge of data maintenance, server managements, and the sound broadcasting of “SoundLink” games.


These “SoundLink” games allowed Nintendo and St.Giga to circumvent the Super Famicom’s low quality audio systems and take advantage of satellite broadcasting’s higher quality sounds. Music and announcer narration would be broadcast live to gamers as they played whatever game had been scheduled for that hour. The games were positioned on a fixed time slot called the Famicom Hour, which worked like a television schedule where gamers “tuned in” to download the broadcasted game, and play them alongside the live music and narration.

This is where the concerns with the Satellaview come in. Due to the impermanent broadcast nature of these games, they pose a huge problem in terms of preservation. Without physical copies released at the store, the only way to preserve a Satellaview game is to keep it saved to whichever memory cartridge it was originally broadcast to. While this may not seem like a major issue, the problem lies in the fact that each of these memory paks only held about one game, meaning that to keep a game the player would have to never use its memory pak to download another broadcast, as it would rewrite the previous file. Because of this there are a great deal of Satellaview games that are either no longer available or cobbled back together by online communities such as some of the Legend of Zelda events.

Another problem arises in terms of background music and narration. Since Nintendo sought to achieve higher sound quality through live broadcasting the only way to preserve the music and announcer’s narration was to actually record the sounds yourself. Since most people playing a videogame don’t think to set up a tape recorder there are quite a few games where the game itself has been preserved, but there is a distinct lack of music in some sections.

The Satellaview is one of the fascinating stories of 1990s gaming, and a testament to Nintendo’s weird, experimental nature in terms of hardware. It also stands as a strong argument for further preservation efforts in tech and gaming. With St.Giga now long defunct and Nintendo having moved on past its satellite broadcasting experiments, the only way to preserve these games at present is for gamers to piece them back together. Some of these games were released episodically over the course of multiple events, while others lack recorded sounds to reconstruct the announcements and music. Without the continued efforts of preservationists and online fans many of these games would be lost.

Cover Image Credit: images.everyeye.it

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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New Technology Has Forever Changed The Way We Live Life And It's Mostly A Good Thing

The convenience and knowledge that our technology provides literally at our fingertips is unparalleled in history.

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It's no question that social media has impacted our culture tremendously and shifted the way we live our lives. We are living through one of the greatest technological revolutions in history and communication hasn't been changed this drastically since the invention of the printing press. We spend every day connected through texting, email, Facetime, social media and the internet. Technology provides enough convenience that we could hypothetically never leave our homes. Entertainment is available for streaming, food can be ordered to our doors using simple apps and everything from clothing to furniture can be shipped to our houses in under a week.

Is this constant tuning in and continuous connection good, is it bad, or is it simply a massive shift we need to adjust to? I'm not sure that there is one answer.

In our culture, smartphones are almost a necessity in order to optimize success. Jobs require constant emailing, classes are shifting to online, social media is one of the most major marketing tools you can employ and people expect you to always respond ASAP.

Before smartphones relationships were conducted in person, through letters, and over an occasional phone call. Now, with the invention of the text message the expectations of relationships have changed. People expect their significant other to always be there, ready to text back at almost any hour of the day. Friends who don't reply to text messages are labeled as self-absorbed and rude. Not receiving something as simple as a like on Instagram has major connotations for the way someone feels about you.

A lot of this connectedness is good. Positive social interaction leads to a happier life and feeling closely connected to your friends, family, and partners can be a really good thing. You don't really have to ever be alone and if you need something, someone is always there. The internet is an incredible database that anyone with wifi or cellular connection can access.

Educational materials can be found online and the information is not only kept in books that may be inaccessible to some people due to the sophistication of language or lack of copies. YouTube has millions of videos breaking down the most complex topics in the simplest ways. Technology allows us to listen to music all the time and have the ability to watch more movies than ever before. Our apps keep us updated on news, as long as we have the sense to fact check and avoid believing click bate.

As with everything, technology also has its pitfalls. The ability to be anonymous online makes users of technology bold, enabling them to say things they would never say to someone face. Constantly communicating over a screen can hinder our abilities to communicate in person. Being a bully online is easy, and suicide rates have gone up thirty-three percent since 1999, a time block that aligns suspiciously with the rise of new technology. People's perfectly curated social media pages inaccurately represent the complexity of their lives and seem picture perfect to struggling viewers.

Negative thoughts about one's own life can be worsened when constantly exposed to visuals that seem to suggest everyone else has it all figured out. The internet can feel deceptively safe, like a void where you can say anything with no consequences and still feel like people are listening to you. People my age tend to use their fake Instagrams, "finstas" as diaries. They spill their feelings to their followers and post photos and videos that could have negative effects on their future.

It's also questionable whether it's good to always be connected, to never have time alone, unplugged, away from the cyber world. Some people even want to call our obsession with smartphones an addiction. While I see and acknowledge the negative effects of our revolutionary technological world, I also can't dismiss the benefits. The convenience and knowledge that our technology provides literally at our fingertips is unparalleled in history.

It is changing, but change isn't always bad.

I think that we haven't had the chance to adjust to how fast we've created so many new things. In order to minimize the negatives aspects of technology, our society is going to have to undergo a massive change that reframes the way we view life, what we teach students, how we act from day to day and how we interact with one another.

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