Nintendo and Sony made a hybrid game console 2 decades ago no one has ever seen -- until now

SNES CD-ROMElectronic Gaming MonthlyAn old article from video game magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly.

Over 20 years ago, Nintendo and Sony weren’t rivals in the video game console business — they were partners.

Sony had yet to introduce its now-famous “PlayStation” line of game consoles. Nintendo was looking to expand its wildly popular, but flagging, Super Nintendo console with a CD-ROM drive. 

At the time — the late 1980s and early 1990s — Nintendo was facing increasingly serious competition from the likes of Sega and its “Genesis” console. Worse: it was rumoured that Sega had a CD-ROM add-on planned for the Genesis. Sony, meanwhile, was looking to get more serious about the video game business, having developed a piece of the Super Nintendo’s internals and seen a strong return on investment.

And thus, the “Nintendo PlayStation” was born. 

SNES CD-ROMDan DieboldA Super Nintendo gamepad with Sony PlayStation branding.

Er, maybe that would be the end of that story had the deal between Sony and Nintendo not fallen apart.

In the end, around 200 prototype units of the Super Nintendo / PlayStation were created and subsequently destroyed. Sadly, the device has never shown up on eBay (or Antiques Roadshow)… 

Until this past weekend! Behold, the “Nintendo PlayStation”:

SNES CD-ROMDan DieboldThe Super Nintendo PlayStation hybrid console, from the front. The ports on the bottom are for Super Nintendo gamepads.

Reddit user Dan Diebold found this in his father’s attic. Sounds too good to be true, right? Ridiculous, even. 

That it is, but the explanation is shockingly pedestrian.

Diebold’s father, Terry Diebold, reportedly worked at Advanta Corporation — a now defunct banking company  — in the early 2000s, under the leadership of president Olaf Olafsson. That last name is important: Olafsson was the former president of Sony Interactive Entertainment, the group that became Sony’s PlayStation arm. Olafsson had brokered the deal with Nintendo back in the late ’80s, as well as the deal with Sega in the early ’90s. 

SNES CD-ROMDan DieboldThe ‘Nintendo PlayStation’ prototype, as seen from the back

Olafsson is exactly the kind of guy who might have an extra prototype of the “Nintendo PlayStation” hybrid console. 

When Advanta went out of business in 2009, Terry Diebold was tasked with disposing of a variety of company resources. In one box, Terry Diebold supposedly found the prototype seen in the pictures here, subsequently posted to Reddit by his son, Dan Diebold.

Dan even made this video of himself over the weekend, showing off the device and its Super Nintendo-like controller:

Diebold’s prototype doesn’t have a power cable, and he’s wary of plugging anything into the console for fear of accidentally destroying it. It did have a game cartridge in the box, as well as a CD-ROM, though he says he’s not tested either just yet. 

The cartridge shown in pictures is a “Super Famicom” cartridge; Super Famicom is the name for the Super Nintendo in Japan (“Famicom” is a portmanteau of “family” and “computer”). The cartridge has a date on it — either June 10 or October 6, 1992. 

SNES CD-ROMDan DieboldThe ‘Super Famicom’ cartridge that was reportedly found with the ‘Nintendo PlayStation’ prototype.

Diebold told gaming website Polygon that he’s going to test the system when he brings it back to his current home city: Denver, Colorado. For now, we’ve got the best ever look at the fruition of Nintendo and Sony’s failed hardware collaboration — one that’s been hiding in an attic for over 15 years.

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