In an alternate universe not entirely dissimilar to our own the Super Nintendo got a CD add-on made by Sony, much like the Mega Drive's Mega CD. This would bring full motion video and Redbook audio to the SNES games you know and love. In fact, some games would have been completely different in that universe. Secret of Mana was supposed to be Squaresoft's first game for the system, had things not got so sour so fast between Nintendo and Sony. The game you know and love today as a 16 megabit cartridge was initially designed as a much ambitious offering, with huge chunks of content cut from the final version in order to fit it onto cartridge.
So in our version of reality, we were restricted to imagine and speculate how Super Nintendo games would look and sound with the capabilities of CD-Rom support… or so it would seem. Enter prolific coder byuu and the MSU1 chip, a custom add-on chip not unlike the Super FX or the DSP chips found inside some Super Nintendo cartridges. The MSU1 allows up to four gigabytes of streaming data to be called during play on demand, be it either video or digital audio. One of the best early demonstrations of what the MSU1 could do is the full conversion of Mega CD's Road Blaster running natively on the Super Nintendo hardware.
As more time has passed, more hackers have turned to the possibilities of the MSU1. Some of them even managed to sneak a full motion video intro and digital audio to The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Yes, it is indeed very shocking to witness a talking Link, but it is not so farfetched to believe this would be the version of the game Nintendo would have released on SNES CD.
Retro gamers and hardcore SNES fans have been very excited about these projects for the past few years. As you might imagine, the very best JRPG is something most people have been hoping and requesting to get done, Squaresoft's Super Nintendo magnum opus, the timeless (no pun intended… maybe) Chrono Trigger. One of the most active hackers working on bringing MSU1 support to several games already is DarkShock. His latest offering brings Blake Robinson's fantastic orchestration The Chrono Trigger Symphony into Chrono's adventure, replacing the regular SPC music in the whole game! You can check the results in the video below.
Everyone can dream, but the effort and dedication to make those dreams a reality - namely everyone who worked to make this enhancement reality - is something we must salute. We can but imagine what future projects and possibilities the MSU1 will bring to the stellar Super Nintendo library.