Introduction to Software Development Kits (SDKs)

Edit on Github | Updated: 31st July 2021

Introduction to Software Development Kits (SDKs)

Software Development Kits come in all shapes and sizes, some are built by the games console manufacture themselves and others are built by 3rd-party companies.

We have tried to document all the software development kits available for the most popular retro consoles, so hopefully you will find the posts below helpful.


Nintendo Console Software Development Kits

Nintendo Entertainment System (NES/Famicom)

No information has been officially confirmed about whether an official NES SDK was sent out to developers, it may have just been documentation about the NES hardware given to developers and the companies themselves needed to pick their own tools.

We do know that Official Famicom development of Mario Bros 3 took place on the HP 64000 mainframe computers which had an assember simply called assemble that when paired with a 6502 add-on board could have been the SDK used. However since most third party developers would not have these mainframe computers there was no point distributing tools for these computers.

NES (Famicom) Development Kit Hardware

For more information on the Nintendo Famicom development kit check out this page.

Most third parties had their own custom assemblers and linkers at the time and so each company would have its own SDK toolchains.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES/Super Famicom)

Unlike the original Famicom system, Nintendo provided third party developers with some tools to make Super Famicom development easier. Although not all of these tools have been archived or released on to the internet, however the tools we know about are documented in the post below.

SNES (Super Famicom) Software Development Kit (SDK)

For more information on the Super Nintendo development kit check out this page.

We also know that it was common for third parties to create their own custom SDK, such as Sculptured Software who created the SSDS (Sculptured Software Development System) which was released to the internet and is also available in the post above.

Nintendo 64

The Nintendo 64 SDK was leaked some time in the late 2000s and now can be easily accessed online, this gives us the opportunity to dive in and document exactly what was contained in the Software Development Kit:

Official Nintendo 64 SDK

For more information on the Nintendo 64 SDK files check out this post.

Nintendo Gamecube

Nintendo Wii


Nintendo Handheld Software Development Kits

From at least the Game Boy Advance Software development kits for Nintendo’s handheld systems were often provided by Nintendo themselves via their online dev portal known as WarioWorld.

Nintendo Game Boy (DMG & GBC)

A few files were leaked from Nintendos development FTP server (WarioWorld?) in the early 2000s, this has allowed us to document some of the known tools that were found in the Game Boy Software development kit:

Game Boy Software Development Kits

For more information on the known Game Boy SDK files check out this post.

Nintendo Game Boy Advance (GBA)

We are currently in the process of documenting the files available in the Game Boy Advance SDK in the following post:

Game Boy Advance Software Development Kit (SDK)

For more information on the Official Game Boy Advance SDK files check out this post.

Nintendo DS (NDS)

We are currently in the process of documenting the files found in the Official Nintendo DS (NITRO) Software development kit:

Nintendo DS SDK (NITRO)

For more information on the Official Nintendo DS SDK files check out this post.

Nintendo Pokemon Mini

Pokemon Mini Official Software Development Kit (Toolchain)

For more information on the Pokemon Mini SDK check out this post.


SEGA Software Development Kits

SEGA Master System

No information is known about an official SDK for the SEGA Master System or Mark-3 consoles, it is likely that SEGA relied on the hardware manufacturers and thrid parties to provide the tooling such as Assemblers and Linkers.

SEGA Game Gear

Again no information is available about any Official Game Gear Software Development Kit

SEGA Mega Drive (Genesis)

SEGA Saturn

Official Sega Saturn Software Development Kit (SDK)

For more information on the files in the Official Sega Saturn SDK check out this post.

SEGA Dreamcast

There were two Software Development Kits for the SEGA Dreamcast, one for Windows CE (supported by Microsoft) and the standard Dreamcast SDK.

Sega Dreamcast Microsoft Windows CE SDK

For more information on the files in the Dreamcase Windows CE SDK check out this post.


Sony Software Development Kits

Sony Playstation Portable (PSP)

There are two main Software Development Kits for the Sony PSP, which were both merged into one single Development Kit when Sony bought SN Systems.

ProDG was the third party SDK developed by SN Systems and later incorporated into the official PSP SDK.

SN Systems ProDG PSP SDK

For more information on the files in the SN Systems ProDG PSP SDK check out this post.

Sony Playstation 1

Official Playstation 1 Software Development Kit (PSYQ)

For more information on the files in the Official Sony Playstation SDK check out this post.

Sony Playstation 2

We are currently in the process of documenting the files in the Official Sony Playstation 2 SDK in the following post:

PS2 Official Software Development Kit (SDK)

For more information on the files in the Official Sony Playstation 2 SDK check out this post.

Sony Playstation 3

We are currently looking for information about the Sony Playstation 3 Software Development Kit and will write a post on it in future.


Microsoft Software Development Kits

Microsoft Xbox

We are currently working on a post that will document the files in the Microsoft Xbox SDK here:

Official Xbox SDK (XDK)

For more information on the files in the Official Sony Microsoft Xbox SDK check out this post.

Microsoft Xbox 360

We are still collecting information about the Xbox 360 software development kit provided by Microsoft, a post will become available in the future.


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