A Satellaview research blog.

BS game saving on real hardware

Hey Folks, ChronoMoogle is back with another guest-blogpost for Satellablog. You probably already figured out the topic by the headline, so lets head straight on.

Satellaview SRAM saving on real hardware is not very well documented and I actually recognised some issues with it. If you don’t understand what’s going on, gaming and collecting can be pretty frustrating, so make sure you read this carefully before you dive into Satellaview collecting.

Every BS-X Bios got 256 kbit SRAM, which is a whopping lot of savespace. For comparison: a complex RPG like Final Fantasy VI needs 64 kbit SRAM to save. This actually means, multiple 8M Memory Pack games can be saved on one Bios cartridge which comes in pretty handy. Back in the days, Nintendo didn’t sell the BS-X cartridges separately and they only came with a full Satellaview set, so this feature was definitively a good decision.

But of course, 256 kbit are not endless and the bios needs a good amount for his own savedata, downloaded updates and items. 192 kbit are left for the 8M games, which means you can usually save 3, sometimes 4 games on one cartridge. I would be carefull and only save 3 games though. If a game can’t find enough space to save, it will clear one random save or even the complete SRAM reserved for 8M games. This is pretty important to know if you care about your progress. If you are not aware of this fact, it might feel like some games are responsible for it and clear the whole savespace for their own one. Actually it has nothing to do with the games, it just means the player overused the SRAM.

But well, there are some special issues with a few titles. I will list them for everybody to be aware of them.

If the Sutte Hakkun games detect a SRAM of another sequel or prequel of it’s own series, they seem to directly overwrite it. So better don’t even try to let them share one BS-X cartridge. It won’t overwrite other games as long as you don’t use too much SRAM though.

Also, as the name already  states, Chrono Trigger Jet Bike Special IS quite special. Squaresoft always liked to push things to their technical limit and they definitively did it with this short minigame. Jet Bike Special takes a LOT the SRAM space (at least it seems so, it always clears all the other saves) and might delete all your saves. The reason is pretty obvious: the savegames of Jet Vike Special contain up to 10 full replays of your races which are saved side-to-side with your highscores.

I only tested all Satellaview-exclusive games with save features (yes, including the Super Dante RPGs), so I can’t give you much info about the behaviour of demos with saving (like Kamigami No Triforce or Dr. Mario)… So yeah, this is everything so far, thanks for the read! 🙂

Please enjoy our upcoming ROM releases and stop by at #snesfreaks (euirc)!


Funny sidenote of the day: if you let Chrono Trigger Jet Bike Special run without pushing any buttons for some time, a “screensaver” will pop up. It’s a neat snow/star graphic-effect.

Trying to understand a Satellaview ROM’s SRAM system.

Something that’s confused me for a while about download games on the Satellaview, is how the SRAM stuff functions. Mostly, because it tends to be a problem when I try hacking around with ROMs. (I tend to try to get random ROMs to boot on BS-X in BSNES in my spare time.)

For reference, this has been an issue with getting various ROMs to play in older emulator versions and ROM Copiers, as well as with doing projects such as fan translations. Unfortunately, I do not have old tech notes on the Radical Dreamers fan translation lying around my computer to help with this at the moment.

I figured that to attempt to analyze this, I’d look into three of the retail-game ROM Dumps that support SRAM and compare them to the dumps of the retail carts.

– Actraiser
– Super Nazo Puyo
– Zelda No Densetsu: Kamigami no Triforce

Unfortunately, this just ended up confusing me even more. Running the original Actraiser up against the BS Counterpart in UltraCompare on Ubuntu showed no differences outside of the header (A measly 25 byes of difference?), and the same went for Super Nazo Puyo. As for Kamigami? There’s three different revisions to choose from, and the BS Version is slightly off from -all- of them in various random spots (and with a lot of “FFs in place of 00s” which are not helpful, either.)

I currently don’t have much of anything in terms of notes to help me out here, either. So much for my quick attempt to port SMW…