TheSatellaview was a satellite uplink unit. It linked up to a system called "St GIGA" which is just a normal digital satellite channel, except instead of just downloading video images, you instead download games, demos, cheats, etc. StGIGA was a normal TV channel as well and the data you could download only made up a small fraction of the channel's air-time. You couldn't download something any time you wanted, only at a certain time... just like watching a movie on the TV.
The data you downloaded was stored in a Game Boy style cartridge(it plugged into a device called the BS-X Special BroadcastCassette, that looks just like a Super Game Boy), which in turn plugged into the SNES cartridge slot. The memory cartridge held 1 megabit of flash ram.
The new base unit (the one under the SFC) had 512k of memory added to boost the SNES's onboard memory. It also had a 1 megabit ROM chip in there as well which held the O.S. And a 256k flash memory chip inside, just in case the user hasn't paid (around $30) for a memory cart and another $50 for the Super Game Boy style adapter.
It had an AV slot and an AC adapter in the back, with ports for the antenna, just in case the television didn't have the necessary satellite antenna ports (most Japanese TV's do). It cost around $150, or should I say, around 14,000 yen. Plus you needed to pay subscription fees to the St GIGA channel. The actual time that you could download stuff was only from 4pm 'till 7pm every day. Everything you downloaded was free, and Nintendo intended to make up for this by making the user download advertising from other companies at the same time.
Various software companies supplied software to the St GIGA system. For the most it was Nintendo (well that's not a surprise), and Square (Nintendo had about a 25% share in Square). There was some mention of multi-player RPG's, like Enix's Dragon Quest; how they intended to manage that with a one way broadcasting system we don't know. They were probably going to make you use the phone line as well in order to use the multiplayer function (that's our guess).
Three of the games planned for the Satallaview, and released on the system were Zelda games, one was a 16 bit version of the original Legend of Zelda, a la Super Mario All-Stars! Sadly, this game was Satallaview only, and was not released as a cartridge game, and there are no plans to do so in the future. The others were Zelda 3 and a game that looked like it but had different dungeons and story. The latter too was not released on cart.
The device itself can't be emulated. Whilst in thoery it is, I'm sure linking up to the Satellite device would prove troublesome. Apart from this fact there is not need to emulate the Satellaview, as many of the games released on it can be found floating around the net.
All Material Copyright The SNES Emulation Centre 1998
So now you know what the BS-X is. How about trying it out? Recent versions of Snes9x can at last emulate the BS-X Satellaview BIOS. It's not really a game, but it can be interesting to see the original interface through which players could enter their name, select their gender, load the games and who knows what else. Here's a visual tour of BS-X town, from the first start up to the booting of a game.
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