Modder Adds Real-Time Ray Tracing To SNES Games

If you’re up-to-date on your gaming terminology, you’ve probably heard of ray tracing. This cutting edge technology re-imagines the way light is distributed and reflected as it bounces off of objects, allowing for the creation of more realistic shadows and light patterns than ever before. Ray tracing is currently available for high-end PCs, as well as the PlayStation 5, and the Xbox Series X/S next-generation consoles. And, thanks to one particularly skilled modder, it’s also available on quite the classic console indeed: none other than the SNES.

Ben Carter of Shironeko Labs came up with the idea of adding raytracing to SNES games after studying the Super FX chip, which Nintendo used to add special effects, including 3D graphics, to games such as Star Fox. He calls his ray tracing-enabling invention the “Super RT chip” in honor of this.

The SuperRT chip can be used to create single-bounce reflections and direction light shadows. Carter demonstrated what his new chip can do in experimental test footage which he uploaded to YouTube for interested fans to view. He is also working with adding ray tracing to existing SNES game titles.

You can watch Carter’s footage here:

In order to enable ray tracing, Carter had to experiment with his Super Famicom console. He ultimately ended up removing the top case of the console in order to make room for the Super RT chip. He connected his personal Super Famicom to what he described as a “DE10-Nano FPGA development board with a Cyclone V FPGA.”

While the result is certainly impressive, it is unlikely that fully raytraced SNES games will be becoming a reality in the near future. However, it’s definitely something to think about. Imagine how awesome these classics would look with realistic light and shadow effects!

Which SNES games – or other classic titles – would you like to see with ray tracing added in? Let us know! 

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments