Modified Cartridge Gets Ray Tracing Working On A Super Nintendo

Illustration for article titled Modified Cartridge Gets Ray Tracing Working On A Super Nintendo
Screenshot: SuperRT

Ray tracing, currently the big thing in video game visuals, is a perk for those running bleeding edge hardware on PC or next-gen consoles. Or, conversely, anyone who owns a SNES.


This demo for SuperRT shows real-time ray tracing running on a Super Nintendo—a console first released in 1991—thanks to the use of a modified cartridge.

“What I wanted to try and do was something akin to the Super FX chip used in titles such as Star Fox, says creator Shironeko Labs, “where the SNES runs the game logic and hands off a scene description to a chip in the cartridge to generate the visuals.”

You can check out a breakdown of how it all came together here, or just soak up the video below, which is definitely a “this is how I actually remember SNES games looking in the foggiest recesses of my mind” kind of deal.

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs


Platypus Man

Just in case anyone isn’t aware, ray tracing is far from a new concept - it’s been around for decades (including in the SNES’s time), years ago I had to write a ray tracing algorithm in school as part of an introductory class to computer graphics in a computer science bachelors program. It’s actually a much simpler way to handle reflections and the like than what was being done for most of the history of computer graphics, it’s just that until recently computers haven’t been powerful enough to use it in any meaningful ways for realtime graphics like those in video games.

ALL THAT to say that yes, this is cool, but if someone really wanted to they probably could have done something with ray tracing on the actual SNES.