The Nintendo Satellaview, or Broadcast Satellaview X (BS-X), is a satellite game and news delivery add-on for the Super Famicom, which was only released in Japan. It allows players to subscribe and connect to St. GIGA and download games and news updated from 4-7PM. The unit was released in 1995 and retailed for ¥14,000. Some games could only be played at certain times, while others were downloaded to the BS-X Cassette, a small memory cartridge. The service was supported up until 2000 with the last game release being in 1999. Sales numbers are unknown for the device, although it gained a good deal of support.
The Satellaview itself was a bulky add-on that snapped into the expansion port of the bottom of the Super Famicom. It was the first device to actually use the expansion port. A power transfer bracket was supplied which connected the Super Famicom to the BS-X to supply power so a separate adapter wasn't needed. An Satellaview-branded AV selector is also included with the package. The BS-X Cassette, the units storage device, could hold around 512kb of data. A deluxe package was available that included an 8Mbit memory pak, which was necessary for larger games or multiple game saves. The BS-X was the result of the failed SFC CD add-on. The CD add-on sparked interest in using the expansion port for something, but instead of a different storage medium, the developers created a digital distribution service in conjunction with the St. GIGA satellite radio station.
Updates were only broadcast between 4PM and 7PM (JST) by St. GIGA satellite radio. These updates contained game news, new games, quizzes and some advertisements. Quizzes had high score lists on the network and highest scorers could receive prizes such as telephone cards or a memory pak. Most games were only available for a limited time, being released in parts over the course of an amount of days or weeks (usually 4). For example, a game might have 25% of the world map revealed in it's first week, with the full world map available by the end of the month. Games on the Satellaview are often exclusive to the platform and many have not been released anywhere else; this makes units with exclusive games on them especially valuable to collectors.
Some games had a live, satellite streaming voice broadcast along with them, much like a radio drama and a coinciding real time in-game clock. Zelda no Densetsu Kodai no Sekiban for example, had live voice acted cut scenes, as well as voice acted optional side quests. These could only be played at certain times and not saved to the BS-X Cassette. There is a 13 minute window during which a side quest character can be saved, and the voice would only play if the player was on the same screen. It is assumed that the voice actor simply repeated the cries for help for 13 minutes and it was streamed if the player was "within earshot" in the game. Some games, such as the BS Zelda games were rebroadcast, but since the St. GIGA subscription ended in 2000, there is no way to play these games anymore. However, there are illegal ROM copies of the game made available on the internet.
Other than Satellaview-exclusive releases, there were also standard Super Famicom games broadcast, as well as vastly updated versions of popular games or "remixed" versions. There were a few original games for the device as well. Despite being a seemingly obscure add-on, the Satellaview garnered quite a bit of support, even getting third party releases from Square and Enix.