Do you have old Satellaview cartridges lying around that were last used 24 years ago to play an obscure, Japan-exclusive F-Zero game? Well, that aging data is now worth a good chunk of cash thanks to a pair of fans intent on preserving the franchise’s history.
BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2 was originally released via Nintendo’s unique Satellaview broadcasts. Accessed by way of a modem add-on for the Super Famicom, the service provided special programming as well as games that were only available for a limited time. BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2, for instance, was playable for just two non-consecutive weeks in August 1997.
As such, this makes backing up Satellaview data a tricky prospect.
“[Satellaview] games were broadcast on a weekly schedule and downloaded to a flash cart that only held one at a time,” explained Frank Cifaldi, founder and co-director of the Video Game History Foundation, “so every surviving game comes from a used cart where that game happens to be the last one the owner played.”
Adding to the difficulty is the fact that Satellaview memory packs are known to degrade in a process known as “bit rot,” or the eventual breakdown of digital information due to failures in the storage device. That’s why two dedicated F-Zero fans are now offering $5,000 (up from $1,500 two years ago) to anyone who contributes to their Satellaview preservation efforts.
In total, the Satellaview broadcasts gave players access to 10 separate BS F-Zero Grand Prix 2 tracks, half of which have already been found and backed up. The last five—Forest I, Forest II, Forest III, Metal Fort I, and Metal Fort II—still elude preservationists despite years of searching.
“If [the tracks] aren’t dumped by now, there’s a chance they might have gone bad,” wrote Porthgeidwad, one of the F-Zero fans who put up the bounty. “More like a lottery at this point. If you do have a [Satellaview] cart lying around with seemingly nothing on it, dump the information and see if it contains anything.”