Inside a Super FX SNES Cart (Another Opening Up)

Back when I was 12 years old I was completly blown away by the Graphics from a certain game by the name of Starwing (Starfox to the rest of the world).  3D Graphics from a 16-bit console? Witchcraft I say!  In Reality this was simply a co processor in a game Cart that enabled the SNES to do 3D (in a really boarded window at somewhere around 9-13 FPS with virtuallly no polygons on screen by my estimation).  Still, I wanted it and I never got it (it was £70 in 1993 for pittys sake).  UNTIL NOW! where I found this little beauty in my local CEX for £6…  So i thought I’d open it up and see what all the fuss was about 23 years ago…


Starwing / Starfox / Whatever

Time to open this thing up.  As before it’s all held together with 2 gamebit screws (3.8mm) and comes apart pretty easily after unscrewing them.  When I opend up a Legend Of Zelda CART I was shocked at how little of the space in the CART housing was actually used by the PCB.  Not in this case.  Full utilisation 🙂



From the back we can’t reall tell anyting other than ‘it’s big’.  So lets flip it over and see where all the magic happens.  Much more going on here then a regular cart (just in terms of traces on the PCB!).  Center top we have the game ROM, Bottom left looks like the security chip.  Above that is probabaly the lookup / addressing chip (I cant really work out what it is though so it’s a guess). Which leaves us with…img_6062

The ‘Super-FX’ chip itself.  Mappily labelled here as ‘Mario Chip-1-100’ this is where all the 3D processing gets drawn and spat out bacn to the SNES itself.  If you look to the right we also have the 256KB RAM chip.  No wonder this thing cost a lot back in the day. An on cART processor AND memory….


It’s-a-me Mario(Chip)

So now I know….  I quite like the design of this really.  Not that complicated and, despite looking like garbage now, it really did push the boundries of what was possible back in the day.  Time t put it all back together and go play a game of StarWing (Which turned out to be really, really easy….).


About Alec Dunn (LegoYoda)

Alec is an IT Architect focused around large private / hybrid cloud design and automation. He's also a big fan of the 'arcade' culture and games of yesteryear and loves taking things apart to see how they all work.
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