Super Famicom: August 1988
Concrete details about the Super Famicom

A year prior to this article, on Sept. 9, 1987, the Kyoto Shinbun (newspaper) printed the first statement by Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi that the company was working on a 16-bit Super Famicom.

Finally, on August 30th, 1988, after doling out tiny tidbits about the SFC throughout the year, Yamauchi spoke more at length about the planned Famicom successor in an interview with TOUCH magazine.

"I think that if we continue like this with the Famicom, players will get bored... a dangerous situation." - Yamauchi

Other salient points of Yamauchi's interview:

  1. Specs for the Super Famicom will be announced on November 21, 1988.
  2. The CPU will be a 16-bit 65816.
  3. The sound chip will be custom made, in a joint development with Sony.
  4. Software quality will be focused on, rather than quantity, at a rate of 10 per year [by any licensee].
  5. In addition to 3 original games, Super Mario Bros. 4 and Dragon Quest 5 are in development.
  6. Target sales for the first year of release are 3 million units.

Famicom Hissyoubon magazine reported on this interview with a large article consisting mostly of speculation.  But they did follow up on the Dragon Quest 5 name-drop.

Koichi Nakamura, programmer of Enix's Dragon Quest games responded, "Of course, I am interested in more advanced hardware, but it's hard to decide until we see unit sales numbers.  Personally, I'm interested in multiplayer games over a network, so I hope the new machine is full of communications functions."

An Enix spokesperson said, "President Yamauchi asked our president Fukushima for an informal offer, but any actual progress has not yet been made.  Just as how we are waiting and seeing the direction that the PC-Engine will take, we'd like to do the same for unfamiliar hardware."

Looking at Enix's reaction, it appears that Yamauchi was either making random assertions in order to generate news, or throwing his weight around to goad Enix into starting SFC development.

The remainder of the article(s) had scant hard information.  The Hissyoubon writers and other journalists merely speculated on price and release date (Spring 1989, due to the chip shortage and the strength of the Famicom's game schedule.)  The writers guessed that the main purpose of Yamauchi's announcement was to forestall potential sales of the PC-Engine during the winter / Christmas shopping season.

Hissyoubon's writers went on at length in predicting what sort of the specs the SFC would have, and many rather missed their mark, with predictions like modem/comms hardware as standard for multiplayer games and stock trading, bitmap graphics with more powerful line-drawing capabilities, computer expansion capabilities for keyboards & printers.  It was obviously written by people who had had the luxury of using higher-powered personal computers for years, rather than tech-starved gamers who had a more exciting entertainment system in mind.

A second short article from the October 21, 1988 issue of Hissyoubon was written to clarify/quash some popular rumours that had been going around.  First, the planned release of the Super Famicom for August 1989 was printed in an interview with Yamauchi by the Mainichi Shinbun, but it was hinted that might have been a minsinterpretation by the Mainichi writers.  Second, that Yamauchi wanted to make the 'best baseball game ever seen' for the SFC, was denied [by Nintendo?] as just blue-sky dreaming during an interview on the topic of baseball in Be-Young Age magazine.

Finally, Hissyoubon contacted various Famicom licensees for their reaction to Nintendo's planned policy of limiting SFC releases to a mere 10 per year, and all of them reacted in the same way: "Is my company among these 10?" after which several of them rushed to contact Nintendo to try and find out.

Well, a lot of dust certainly got kicked up from one man running his mouth off, eh?

HERE IS A TRANSCRIPTION of these two articles in Japanese.

Use Google Translate to view this transcription in English.

ABOVE: TOUCH magazine, essentially a men's tabloid / nudie magazine.  High-class stuff.