"Beam this message to SNES"
"Beam this message to SNES"

Back in 1995, Nintendo released a satellite modem peripheral for the Super Famicom in Japan called the Satellaview, allowing the console to receive data transmissions at any given time. Bundled with this peripheral was a game called BS-X: The Story of The Town Whose Name Was Stolen, and sure enough, Nintendo sent magical waves of data to the game through the ether every day for five years.

Naturally, this game operated very differently to the titles usually found on a gaming console at the time, with regular updates and in-game changes being possible through these data transmissions, rather than simply already having all of the content on the cartridge (think of it as a very early exploration into modern-day game patching). As an experiment, Bertrand Fan - an engineer working for collaboration tool Slack - wanted to see if he could make the app communicate with the game today, essentially making his own text appear inside the SNES title.

Sadly, and understandably, Fan didn't have access to an original Satellaview and a copy of the Japanese game, so had to use a variety of emulation workarounds instead, including a software tool which allows you to generate your own Satellaview files. According to Fan, the tool allows you to "take one of the buildings in BS-X, set its name, and list items for sale in the building" He goes on to explain that "each item has a name and a description. If we stretch our imagination a bit, the name can be the time and sender and the description can be the text of the message".

The video below shows the whole thing in action, with Fan typing text into Slack which can then appear in the game. If you're interested in the technicalities of how this works and want to explore the topic in a little more detail, you can find Fan's blog on the subject here.

For pretty obvious reasons, it's probably a good thing that games aren't built with the option to upload players' online chats into them, but this is a very cool little project indeed.

[via theverge.com, bert.org]