After setting up Satellaview, users could connect to the St.GIGA satellite station every night. During this time, they could download games (including some Satellaview exclusives), magazines, etc. while enjoying special shows. These shows also contained commercials, as Nintendo decided to finance Satellaview by selling advertising space like a traditional television network.

However, Satellaview offered more than just gaming content. Magazines covered everything from cooking to horse racing. In marketing, Nintendo emphasized that Satellaview is for adults, not just kids.

SoundLink in the past

Perhaps the most interesting part of the Satellaview was the “SoundLink” headers. These games will feature new or updated gameplay along with real-time audio, and in-game events will be synchronized to what’s happening in the audio. Sometimes it took the form of an audio drama, but at others it was closer to a radio show with music or talk show style segments.

However, because the audio was broadcast live using satellite radio technology, games could only be played during the pre-announced broadcast time. If you miss this time period, you will not be able to play the game. Also, each broadcast lasted a limited amount of time, so if you played too slowly, you might miss events or not be able to finish the story.

Most SoundLink games were released episodically, on a weekly schedule, with each installment having its own objectives and events, allowing more users to experience at least part of the current event.

SoundLink’s most famous game BS The Legend of Zelda. It was a remake of the first one Zelda, with updated graphics, shuffled maps, and a clock under the life bar. But during the game, the caveman kept talking, while the map and game mechanics changed depending on what he said.

An ambitious effort by fans to compile the original broadcast gives English-speakers an idea of ​​what it was like.

BS The Legend of Zelda will also get a sequel in the form of BS The Legend of Zelda Map 2 and the 1997s BS The Legend of Zelda: Ancient Stone Tabletswhich was both a remix and a sequel A link to the past.

But SoundLink was used a lot more than Zelda. In total, more than 50 SoundLink games have been streamed throughout the service’s lifetime, and many of Nintendo’s biggest franchises have been featured, including Mario (BS Super Mario USA Power Challenge), F-Zero (BS F-Zero Grand Prix), and Fire Emblem (BS Fire Emblem: Akaneya Senki). Also, some non-Nintendo games had SoundLink versions, including Harvest Moon (BS Harvest Moon) and Dragon Quest (BS Dragon Quest).

Everything has its season

In many ways, these SoundLink games are the forerunners of today’s seasonal live game model, used to stunning effect in games such as Fortnite, Apex Legendsand many others that offer gamers unique seasonal content that needs to be played for a limited period or you can lose the chance entirely. The episodic nature of SoundLink broadcasts meant that players had to come back every week to experience the full story and gameplay. As soon as that story was finished, a new one would begin (usually in another game).

Fortnite season 4
At the time of writing, Fortnite has had 24 seasons and is very different from the game of 2017. — Image: Epic Games

It’s a shame that Nintendo moved away from the SoundLink idea, because even after so many years it will be a unique gaming experience, as no modern game combines gameplay with live performance in such a way. Advances in technology will, in theory, make things much easier with high-speed internet connections standard in many homes and consoles, negating the need for an expensive add-on. Games are regularly built and optimized to work with downloadable content, and gamers around the world have become more receptive to limited-time events.

However, Satellaview didn’t just pioneer the idea of ​​limited-time gaming events.

Pioneering conservation issues

Much of Satellaview’s content has not survived, despite the relentless efforts of many fans to do so. This is doubly true for SoundLink games, as the audio was streamed live and therefore not stored in memory packs. So even if the memory pack data dumps are archived, the bulk of the experience is still missing.

While many assume that Nintendo must have the original sound files and recordings in its vault, it’s unlikely that the company will ever release them, as this would require permission from the various voice actors, musicians, and radio hosts who worked on the audio. Because of this, most of our information about these games comes from a tiny amount of home video footage of the players recorded during the original broadcasts.

Satellaview before the murder

Satellaview is a fascinating but overlooked part of gaming history. While not the first foray into downloadable gaming, the SoundLink titles in particular represented a unique, semi-utilitarian gaming experience that hasn’t been replicated since.

In retrospect, Satellaview was a crucial stepping stone towards the modern live service gaming environment, showcasing many of its best and worst elements and demonstrating how important it is to preserve video games. The vast majority of the creative work behind this groundbreaking console is now lost to time.