Super Nt review: a SNES for the 21st century

Feb
11

Super Nt review: a SNES for the 21st century

In 2017, Analogue released the Nt Mini – a premium console designed to play 8-bit NES games with exceptional accuracy and video quality but at $450, it was prohibitively expensive for most. One year on, Analogue has returned with the Super Nt, an FPGA-based precision recreation of the Super NES with many new features. Priced at $189, it’s more affordable too, but with so many options available for playing Super NES games, you might be wondering what exactly makes this product special.

The Super NES is often heralded as Nintendo’s greatest console and it’s difficult to disagree. With its vast selection of genre-defining games and gorgeous pixel art capabilities, the Super NES helped shape gaming as we know it today. Despite its age, the success of Nintendo’s own SNES mini suggests that a lot of people are still very much interested in the platform, but what if you want to play your original cartridges on your new 4K TV with the most authentic recreation of the console’s original logic? That’s where the Super Nt comes in.

The FPGA at its core is a Field-Programmable Gate Array, and with Analogue reverse-engineering the digital circuits of original console hardware and transplanting them across into the FPGA chip. The Super Nt’s core is written using a hardware description language known as Verilog – this essentially allows the developer to define digital circuits in a textual manner. The result is a design that can execute instructions in parallel like the Super Nintendo’s original integrated circuits, but its accuracy ultimately hinges on the quality of the code. FPGAs are not a magic bullet but in the right hands, the results are impressive. The key advantage in using an FPGA then lies in its latency or lack thereof. With no additional overhead, the Super Nt can precisely reproduce the behavior of the original Super Nintendo hardware with absolute cycle accuracy.

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