NHK Gakuen Space School (partially found learning game for Famicom; 1989)

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Space School 5th grade cover.jpg

Elementary school math 5th grade cover

Status: Found (5th grade Part 1, 6th grade Part1/2), Lost (4th grade Part1/2, 5th grade Part 2)

Date found: August 27, 2019

Found by: Russian Geek (5th grade Part 1), CaH4e3 (6th grade Part 1/2)

NHK Gakuen Space School (NHK学園 Space School, translated NHK Academy Space School, Officially named "Famicom CAI Learning Course NHK Academy Space School") is a distance learning game for Famicom jointly developed by NHK Gakuen, Konami and Tokyo Shoseki.


The game was not sold at retail and was marketed to schools as a student educational tool. They were created as a math education tool, with the known games being 4th, 5th, and 6th grade, each in two parts, for a total of six games. They are priced at 18,000 yen and each game comes with a study text. The games require a special adapter called QTa, which is sold separately, and the price of the adapter is 10,000 yen.
The games developed are as follows

  • Shōgakkō no Sansū 4 Nensei (Jō/Ge) (小学校の算数4年生(上/下), "Elementary school math 4th grade (Part 1/2)")
  • Shōgakkō no Sansū 5 Nensei (Jō/Ge) (小学校の算数5年生(上/下), "Elementary school math 5th grade (Part 1/2)")
  • Shōgakkō no Sansū 6 Nensei (Jō/Ge) (小学校の算数6年生(上/下), "Elementary school math 6th grade (Part 1/2)")

Konami also developed a game for employees called Space Callage: Kikenbutsu no Yasashī Butsuri to Kagaku (Space Callage 危険物のやさしい物理と科学, "Space College: The Gentle Physics and Science of Hazardous Materials") with the oil company Idemitsu Kosan in 1990. This one came with QTa, but it is not clear how much it was sold for. This game was sold on Yahoo Auctions on November 26, 2008 for 401,010 yen[1].


This games were the holy grail of collectors as rare games, in part because they were not sold to the general public and were very expensive. Japanese rare game collector Jironosuke owns most of this series[2], and at the time he gave a blog showcasing them on October 1, 2015, the ROMs had not yet surfaced online. They also had Konami's proprietary memory mapper configuration and could not be played on even the latest emulators.

In 2019, Russian YouTuber and video game collector Russian Geek found the Elementary school math 5th grade Part 1 cart on Yahoo Auction and the QTa adapter on Mercari, respectively, and with the help of a Patreon subscriber was able to spend several hundred dollars to purchase them[3].

Russian Geek worked with CaH4e3, a well-known NES hacker, to attempt to make the game playable on an emulator. CaH4e3 investigated QTa and the cart in depth and deciphered its own memory mapper, which revealed that while the cart itself contained only a simple ROM file, QTa contained a proprietary Konami VRC5 microchip never seen elsewhere. This was similar to Akumajō Densetsu, which contained a VRC6 microchip, allowing as many as 256 tiles to be displayed on one screen, and this game likewise allowed text and other symbols to displayed over the main picture.

CaH4e3 was able to further decipher the hex code, test various response signals, and create a custom dump script to dump the 64KB mapper table, reducing QTa's ROM file to an understandable mere 32 bytes. In addition, CaH4e3 had already owned Elementary school math 6th parts 1 and 2, and The Gentle Physics and Science of Hazardous Materials for 10 years and had dumped it, but did not have QTa on hand, so I could not run it properly in the emulator.


On August 27, 2019, three Elementary school math ROMs that can now be run on the emulator surfaced on the CaH4e3 website, along with the The Gentle Physics and Science of Hazardous Materials ROM[4].

News of the preservation of the rare game drew much praise, with Frank Cifaldi, founder of the Video Game History Foundation, tweeting, "Today was a HUGE day for NES game preservation. Konami's ultra rare Space School series was completely undumped yesterday. Today, we have four of the seven ROMs playable on emulators."[5]

The only parts that have not been dumped are the part1/2 of Elementary school math 4th and part 2 of 5th, which remain unavailable to this day.

Auction sale of full set

On December 9, 2019, a full set of Elementary school math, including 4th and 5th part 2, was sold on Yahoo Auctions for 771,000 yen[6].


A video by Russian Geek introducing the game and explaining the process to make it playable on an emulator.