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What Really Happened To The Super Nintendo CD-ROM?

Nintendo has been a pioneer in the video game industry for almost 40 years. It's a gaming giant that, on the surface, appears to be incapable of folly. That said, it is not an infallible company, and there are plenty of moments in its history that Nintendo wants you to forget. Probably one of the biggest blunders was a move that gave Sony the impetus to create the PlayStation, leading to one of Nintendo's biggest competitors.

What was this move that birthed the PlayStation? Why, a joint effort between Nintendo and Sony to create a CD-based Super Nintendo called the Nintendo PlayStation. How could Nintendo have stepped away from a burgeoning media format and allowed Sony to enter the gaming arena? This is the story of what really happened to the Super Nintendo CD-ROM. 

CDs were a hot new technology in the early '90s that promised to replace cartridges in a few years. As such, the new format even managed to catch the attention of the historically stubborn (and shady) company that is Nintendo. In fact, Nintendo teased a Super Nintendo CD-ROM system only a year after the SNES launched in the States, with a promised delivery of 1993. Why did that day never arrive?

A weary partnership between Sony and Nintendo

Over on Kotaku, Chris Kohler decided to set the record straight on what happened with the Nintendo PlayStation. After a successful partnership between Nintendo and Sony yielded a superior sound chip for the SNES, the two companies decided to collaborate on a CD-ROM project for the 16-bit system.

In a discussion with Denfaminicogamer (translation courtesy of Nintendo Everything), former Sony head Shigeo Maruyama revealed that Nintendo expressed concern over load times. Because of this, the gaming giant was inclined to stick with cartridge technology for games. Nintendo's reluctance resulted in a contract that was heavily stacked in Sony's favor. 

While the plan was for Nintendo to make games and Sony to produce content like encyclopedias and karaoke collections, Maruyama speculated that Nintendo pulled out because it grew nervous. Nintendo then partnered with Phillips, and Sony later returned to work with the two companies. However, Nintendo eventually backed out of CD technology entirely. Ken Kutaragi, the driving force behind the console, used Nintendo's alleged betrayal as fuel to push Sony to swoop in and create its first PlayStation, and the rest is history.