Quick, grab it! Dedicated fans have released a mod for Nintendo's 1990 classic F-Zero. It adds new tracks, cars, and leagues. Adding fan-created content to already published games is commonplace, whether new or old. However, this mod is unique because the makers reverse-engineered it from ancient VHS recordings.

The mod is called BS (for broadcast satellite) F-Zero Deluxe. The creators even made box art and an instruction booklet to accompany it. An original F-Zero ROM is a prerequisite to which the mod acts as a patch, adding four new vehicles, 10 tracks, and two leagues.

This extra content comes from two Satellaview broadcasts – Grand Prix 1 and Grand Prix 2 – from 1996 and 1997, respectively. However, it wasn't as simple as ripping data from old Satellaview memory cards. A similar project produced a working version of a Legend of Zelda game.

The Satellaview peripheral combined a satellite receiver, a cartridge, and a memory card. The Satellaview cartridge downloaded broadcasts using the receiver and stored the data on a replaceable memory card. At the end of the broadcast time (in the case of GP1&2, four weeks each), the Satellaview flagged the card as "empty" without deleting the data. It would then overwrite it with the next broadcast.

This mechanic makes intact Grand Prix 1 and 2 memory cards very rare since most owners had only one memory card and used it repeatedly. Nintendo never rebroadcast the GP content, so finding intact data is like finding a needle in a haystack. Someone in the F-Zero community with the handle Porthor has even offered $5,000 to anyone who can produce both GP memory cards. Porthor was part of the team behind F-Zero Deluxe.

So without raw Satellaview data, the team of modders reverse-engineered the tracks by taking inspiration from a tool called Graphite. GitHub user Flibidy Dibidy designed Graphite to create a "living leaderboard" that simultaneously ran all Super Mario Bros. speed runs on the same screen.

One of the F-Zero modders, Guy Perfect, took that idea and built a tool that reproduced controller input from VHS recordings of the Satellaview F-Zero Grand Prix broadcasts posted online. The footage allowed the simple AI to recreate the tracks frame-by-frame. After that, the team painstakingly reproduced the vehicles and track backgrounds pixel-by-pixel.

Now that the modders went public with BS F-Zero Deluxe, there are a myriad of copyright issues that will more than likely have the Nintendo legal hawks swooping down to ruin the whole thing. The box art (above) infringes several trademarks, including the Nintendo seal, the Nintendo, SNES, F-Zero, Satellaview, St. Giga, and BS-X logos.

The mod also technically steals proprietary tracks and other assets, even though the modders didn't take them directly from the code. It also relies on the original F-Zero ROM, and as we have seen repeatedly, Nintendo hates ROM distributors and goes after them with a vengeance.

In my opinion, there is precisely F-Zero chance that Mario and Company will allow this mod to remain on the internet. So grab it from the Internet Archive while it's hot.