Similar to the Famicom Box (which is the original Japanese version of the famed Nintendo M82 system), the Super Famicom Box was a device manufactured by Nintendo of Japan in the early nineties for use in hotels. The device originally had a coin mechanism that could be attached to the right-hand side. The machine was created as a pay-to-play system that offered 5 minutes of play for a preset amount of Yen.
Like the Famicom Box before it, and unlike the Nintendo M82, the Super Famicom Box uses specially designed carts. Where-as the original Famicom Box used carts nearly identical to North American NES carts which contained one game per cart, the Super Famicom Box used large carts that held several games. By large I mean very large. The Super Famicom Box carts are nearly 4 times this size of regular Super Famicom games. They resemble a cross between the Japanese Super Game Boys carts, but are closer in size to Neo Geo AVS carts.
The Super Famicom Box has the ability to have 2 carts inserted into it at one time. All SF Boxes had a cart that contained Super Mario Collection (All Stars to us), Star Fox, and Super Mario Kart. This cart contained the systems BIOS and was required to power the system on and display the menu.
There are at least two other known variants available for the second cartridge slot. The first is Waialae No Kiseki (Waialae Golf) & Super Mahjong 2 and the other is Super Donkey Kong (DK Country) and Tetris 2 (Super Tetris). The most interesting of these title is the Golf game, as it was never released for the Super Famicom or Super Nintendo, and as such is only playable on the Super Famicom Box. There is an unconfirmed third variation that supposedly contained Super Donkey Kong and Bomberman 2 (Super Bomberman), however none are known to exist.
The machine uses two small barrel keys to lock the front panel. Opening this panel grants you access to the cartridges. The machine also uses a key to turn the system on and off. When locked into the “on” position, power can only be turned off and on by plugging in/unplugging the unit.
The machine connects to a standard TV via either RF or composite (using a standard red/white/yellow RCA cable). There is a selector switch on the back of the unit to toggle between Japanese channels 1 and 2 when using RF.
The Super Famicom Box comes with two hardwired Super Famicom controllers that are stored in a cubby-hole in the front of the unit when not in use. A definite plus when compared to the original Super Famicom console is that the controller cords are extremely long.
Upon powering on the SF Box you are greeted with a menu screen from which you select your game. After you have selected your game, you are brought to a menu sub-screen for each game. This menu provides 4 options. Option 1 starts the game, option 2 provides you with details of the game’s controls, option 3 is kind like a preview mode that lets you watch the game’s intro/title screen. Pushing any button while in this preview mode exits you back to the game’s sub menu. This option was most likely included so you could see what a game was like before actually putting any yen into the machine. The 4th and final option sends you back to the main game select screen.
An added feature specific to the Super Famicom Box is the ability to soft reset anyone of the games while you are playing them. This is accomplished by pressing the L, R, Start, and Select buttons simultaneously. This only sends you back to the games title screen. In order to reset the machine back to the game select menu you must push the “Reset” button on the front of the unit itself.
The Super Famicom Box is among the rarest SFC variations in existence. Although there is no variation between the games available for the system and their commercially released counterparts, the Super Famicom remains a unique curiosity that is popular among hardcore collectors.
That does it for the 12 Days of Famicom! Judging by the site views for December it seems that this experience was astoundingly successful. I would like to thank everyone who followed along and passed the links around, especially Bryan from The Gay Gamer and everyone at the Racket Boy, Famicom World and Retroware TV forums. Make sure you check back next week for my annual ‘year in review’ post! See you then!
Note: The picture of the unit with the carts on top are originally from SNES Central. They have been used here with permission. Special thanks goes to Eric and Matt for the image, as my unit did not come with the keys required to open the front panel.