Released on October 20th, 1997 (March 27th, 1998, in Japan), The Super Nintendo Model 2 (aka “Junior”, “Mini”, or “Super Famicom Jr.” in Japan), is a slimmed down variation of the original Model 1 (aka “Fat”) Super Nintendo console. It was released as a budget console by Nintendo, for those that were looking for a cheaper way to get into gaming, but were put off by the high prices of the latest consoles of the time (Nintendo 64, PlayStation, and Sega Saturn).
Aside from cosmetic and size differences, there are a number of internal differences as well. For one, there is no eject mechanism (mainly because there is no eject button, to begin with), inside the lid of the Super Nintendo Model 2. In addition, the internals have been slimmed down considerably with a single chip solution that was introduced late into the Super Nintendo’s lifetime with the Model 1 consoles, often referred to as “1-Chip” models. These revisions of the Model 1 Super Nintendo consoles are often sought-after by people looking to get the best possible picture quality from their Super Nintendo, as they are considerably sharper than most other revisions of the Super Nintendo previously released.
There are also a couple issues with the Super Nintendo as a whole. One of which applies to every Super Nintendo, and one that applies only to the Super Nintendo Model 2. Since this article is about the Model 2, let’s get its unique issue out of the way.
Unlike all Model 1 Super Nintendo consoles, the Model 2 lacks any native RGB or S-Video output, on its AV Multi-Out. This is a huge problem, if you plan on using any of the Super Nintendo HDMI cables, HD Retrovision’s excellent Super Nintendo Component cables, or an RGB SCART/S-Video set up with a video processing device of your choice. While the games are still playable with the standard Composite cables (Yellow for Video, White for Left Audio, Red for Right Audio), the picture quality is far from perfect. Acceptable on older CRT TVs, but looks incredibly messy on any digital display. A comparison of video signals will be posted in the same article, further down.
The other issue that the Model 2 suffers from, that also plagues every other Super Nintendo console, is lack of proper power filtering. When Nintendo was manufacturing the Super Nintendo, they did whatever they could to keep costs low. To achieve this, they removed almost all of the necessary power filtering capacitors, to ensure a clean voltage signal is flowing through the Super Nintendo. With launch model Super Nintendo consoles, and every Super Famicom console, they did keep the main filter capacitor intact. However, Nintendo of America made sure to remove that same capacitor in every other Super Nintendo console after launch, to save more money on manufacturing. As a result, the Super Nintendo is susceptible to failing prematurely, because of the unclean 5 volt power, flowing through the console. The Model 2 has much better power filtering, but the North American Model 2 still lacks the main power filtering capacitor.
So with all that being said, the Model 2 is looking to be one of the worst possible Super Nintendo models to get, right? Well, not quite. Despite the limitations, it is still sought after by hardcore retro enthusiasts, and videophiles for retro gaming. Why is that? Because the higher quality video signals still exist on the Model 2, they just aren’t wired to the multi-out. All that we need to do is to restore those lost signals. While we are at it, might as well install the missing filter capacitors. This is exactly what happened to this gem of a console…
Behold, the new and improved Super Nintendo Model 2!!
On the outside, it looks nearly identical to a stock Super Nintendo Model 2. But on the inside, much has changed. For one, all the capacitors have been replaced, to ensure that it stays going for more years to come. In addition, the voltage regulator has been replaced with a more efficient regulator, and the missing power filtering capacitors have been added to the PCB, to ensure that this console no longer has that vertical white bar, and it will last much longer than stock consoles.
In addition to the new capacitors, RGB and S-Video has been restored on this console using Voultar’s excellent SNES RGB bypass kit! So now, we aren’t stuck with barebones Composite video, and we can use the higher quality video cables that stock Super Nintendo Model 1 consoles can use. Once more, the picture quality is far superior than most of those Model 1 consoles, as the Model 2 is said to have the sharpest RGB video out of all the Super Nintendo consoles. As an added finish, we also replaced C11 with a new ceramic capacitor, to fix the infamous “ghosting” issue that plagues the 1-Chip line of consoles. So now everything is pixel perfect!
So, what kind of quality can we expect with all this? Well, here are some direct screenshots from my personal Sony PVM. I will let them speak for themselves.
At last, there are some other modifications done to the console that, while not necessary for functionality of the hardware, is nice to have. For one, an LED was added to the console, to indicate that it is indeed getting power. In addition, the tabs inside the cartridge slot have been cut out, to allow us to play Super Famicom games without the need of an adapter.
Overall, the modded Super Nintendo Model 2 is quite the jewel of a console. It does take some work to get going, but the results are absolutely stellar. However, it does come at a cost, due to all the work that is put into it. On the rare occasion we have these in, it costs $159.99, with tax. That might be a lot of money for something like this, but for what you are getting with that money, I believe the results speak for themselves.
Credit goes to Voultar, for making the fantastic RGB Bypass kit for the Super Nintendo, and Ace for the information on proper power filtering of the hardware. Links will be provided to their YouTube channels, if you want to check out what they have going. And until next time Fair Gamers, Stay Strong and Game On!!