Geek Trivia: Which Game Console’s Cartridges Featured In-cartridge Co-processors?


Geek Trivia

Which gaming console cartridges are the co-processors built into the cartridges?

An accidental spill that led to a 30-year oceanographic study?



Sample SNES game co-processorLusheeta / Wikimedia

Answer: SNES

Nintendo has invested huge amounts in the development and commercialization of its Super Nintendo entertainment system and wanted to maximize the life cycle of the console. Rather than restricting games to access only SNES console hardware, Nintendo has integrated console support for embedded processors. When a game needed extra processing power, they just needed to add a processor to the array located in the cartridge to help it.

Pilotwings (1991) was the first game to offer such a processor. Pilotwings was followed by dozens of improved titles using co-processors, including: Super Mario Kart, Star Fox and Mega Man X3. If you want to know if an older game has an additional processor or not, the cartridges with built-in CPUs include an additional 16 pins, or 8 on each side of the original pins. Simply flip the cartridge and search for additional pins.

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