Lost Japan-exclusive Satellaview F-Zero GP 2 restored with footage and special tools

Game preservation is a tricky thing, especially for games that were so limited run that they were only distributed for a few weeks by satellite, in Japan — such as the two BS F-Zero GP games. These games were lost to the Super Famicom’s (Japan’s SNES) “Satellaview” satellite content delivery service back in the 90’s, which served as a precursor to modern DLCs. The Satellaview-broadcasted game content alongside radio content, which meant that Satellaview-limited games also often included new music, game progression hints, and more.

As heard through TechSpot, a group of dedicated F-Zero modders (and apparently Did You Know Gaming on YouTube) banded together to bring back F-Zero’s lost Satellaview content for modern gaming historians to enjoy.

At the core of how this restoration was pulled off is the emulation and speedrunning tool Graphite. Graphite helps recreate frame-perfect inputs in an emulator from video footage, which is fairly helpful for testing and analysis in speedrunning circles. 

Work on Graphite was used by F-Zero modder GuyPerfect to map old F-Zero GP and GP 2 footage onto an effective course, where every pixel could be drawn based on where in the course it came from. Other modders also helped with graphics, including PowerPanda and Porthor, who originally set a $5000 bounty for two intact F-Zero GP memory cards.

The end result is a mod, or ROM hack, for existing SNES/Famicom F-Zero copies that restores the content lost with the two-ever broadcasts of BS F-Zero GP and GP 2. How long this mod will stay online without Nintendo intervention is unknown, but past projects from Guy Perfect such as a level editor for F-Zero X (restoring 64DD functionality to standard N64 F-Zero) and a GBA F-Zero GP Legend mod that restored Japan-exclusive e-Reader content have (thus far) remained under the radar.

In any case, the restoration of the BS F-Zero GP games released for Satellaview back in the 90s off of video footage is an impressive feat. If nothing else, a gap in gaming history has been filled by this achievement — at least, until the real F-Zero GP cards are found.

As with any project relating to emulation, engage at your own risk. You’ll need to provide your legally-acquired F-Zero ROM file to try out the BS F-Zero ROM hack for yourself.