Slack on an SNES? Engineer beams Slack messages to decades old Super Nintendo game

The Super Nintendo really was far ahead of its time.

Bertrand Fan, a senior engineer for the messaging and chat application Slack, recently came across an interesting find. During the mid-’90s in Japan, Nintendo released a satellite modem peripheral for its SNES game console (called the Super Famicom over there).

Known as the Satellaview, Nintendo would beam daily broadcasts to gamers’ consoles. According to Fan, Nintendo actually did this for years, broadcasting content over Satellaview every day from April 1995 to June 2000. 

This gave Fan an idea. “If you can beam satellite signals to a SNES, you can probably run Slack on it,” the engineer said in a post. So, that’s what Fan set out to do.

Here’s a video Fan uploaded showcasing his Slack on SNES achievement:

When Satellaview was released in Japan, it came bundled with a video game called BS-X: The Story of The Town Whose Name Was Stolen. When Nintendo would beam over content through its satellite in the ’90s, much like what would happen in today’s video games, the data would pop up directly in the game.

Using an SNES emulator called bsnes-plus, a BS-X rom (basically, the file containing the full game), and an old SNES controller modded with the 8BitDo Mod Kit, Fan was able to load up the game and create a character. Next, the engineer booted up a tool called SatellaWave, which allows users to create their very own Satellaview broadcast files. Using that tool, Fan was able to write some custom code that could be “beamed” into the BS-X game. He then utilized a bot and Slack’s API to automatically retrieve the last 10 messages from his Slack channel, for broadcast in the game.

Slack first launched in 2013. The Super Famicom hit shelves in Japan 23 years later, back in 1990. In fact, the World Wide Web wouldn’t go public until almost a year after the SNES release in Japan. Fan may end the post detailing his adventure by saying “follow your dreams, even if your dreams are stupid,” but with all that in mind this is really quite the impressive feat.

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