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What To Do In One Six Two (Part 2)

June 2, 2015 Haze Categories: General News. 10 Comments on What To Do In One Six Two (Part 2)

Important Introductory note

As well as the very simple to use Console based systems the new MAME also emulates a number of home computers.

Before you start there is one very, very important thing to keep in mind when running a computer in MAME, the default state of emulation is to give the entire keyboard on the system to the emulated machine, meaning that none of the usual MAME keypresses will activate MAME functions, this even means that in this state ESC no longer exits MAME, F3 doesn’t reset the system, P won’t pause/unpause etc.

By default there is one key assigned to toggle this mode on and off and that key is SCRLOCK (Scroll Lock) However some laptops and other modern keyboards (including my wireless Logitech) don’t have this key, so you’ll need to assign something else.

If you’re in that situation then (assuming you have MAME already setup, including ROM paths etc.) you should launch MAME with no parameters and use the internal menu to do the following:
Scroll down to “Configure General Inputs” select “User Interface” select “UI Toggle” (it’s about 70% down the list) and assign a new key to it, one that is out the way and unlikely to be used by the emulated systems, personally I picked ‘END’

I will refer to this key as ‘UI TOGGLE’ for the rest of this document, please be aware that if the UI is in ‘active’ state and you press ESC then you WILL exit the emulation so it’s important to remember to toggle it back off after each time you need to use the UI.

King of Kong – Arcades

In the previous part of the article I looked at how the integration of MESS made it easier to explore the different platforms to which a game was officially ported, this time I’m going to look a bit at how you can see the influence of a game, including both official and unofficial ports.

Even with just the Arcade side of things Donkey Kong is a game with an undeniably huge influence. In MAME, for a long time, there have been a number of takes on Donkey Kong, the arcade original looked like this:

Donkey Kong Donkey Kong

Even in the arcades there were a number of games that ripped off Donkey Kong. Crazy Kong is probably the best known variant of Donkey Kong and has a fair bit of history, and mystery behind it. While very similar in appearance it’s actually a very different piece of code to the original game. The Brazilian ‘Kong’ falls into the same category, it uses the Donkey Kong graphics, but the codebase is entirely different, resulting in a very stiff game with some redesigned levels; don’t be fooled by how similar it looks, there’s not a shred of the original Donkey Kong code in it!

Crazy Kong Crazy Kong
Kong Kong

The influence extended beyond games that were basically just creative bootlegs of Donkey Kong too, the CVS system game ‘Logger’ for example directly took the Donkey Kong concept but gave it a woodcutter theme.

Logger Logger

Even years later the game, and it’s sequels ended up being copied, one example is the ‘Tong Boy’ game within YunSung’s ‘New Multi Game’

New Multi Game - Tong Boy New Multi Game - Tong Boy

Let’s not also forget the unofficial sequel ‘Jump Man Returns’ which was made much more recently (2006) and plays out the idea of a sequel running on a modified version of the original game engine using the original hardware; quite a few PCBs actually ended up being converted to run it! Even more recently there were mods like the ‘Pauline edition’ where you play as the Heroine instead of Mario, although that one hasn’t yet made it to MAME (I’m hoping with the addition of the MESS stuff, and the more open / relaxed attitude towards after market developments it will)

Donkey Kong 2 : Jumpman Returns Donkey Kong 2 : Jumpman Returns

Beyond that there were numerous games that were clearly influenced by the game mechanics of Donkey Kong without actually being the exact same idea as Donkey Kong, there’s little point in me covering all of them, but needless to say it was a very influential game.

King of Kong – At Home

So that’s all things that were available in MAME already, so you’re probably asking ‘where does the newly added MESS component come in?’

Donkey Kong is a much earlier game than the previous covered Raiden, so the systems it was ported to were quite different, this was the 80s when home computers were commonplace.

The first port of Donkey Kong I’m going to look at is one of the most recent additions to the emulator, added in 0.161 it’s the Coleco Handheld which looked something like this

Coleco Donkey Kong Handheld Coleco Donkey Kong Handheld

A little background information is possible required here. This was 1982. While today you have machines in your pocket that are often more powerful than the PC sitting on your desk, in 1982 we didn’t, even the original GameBoy was not released until 1989, and the only real handhelds with a video display to speak of were things like the Microvision with a 16×16 pixel display.

In order to make something with reasonable art a different approach was taken, instead of trying to make up a screen of pixels VFD based displays were used, this allowed the manufacturers to use actual art to make up the game graphics by turning on / off various playfield elements. You can see one of the actual units here . Obviously this technique means animation is non-existent and what could be done with the games was strictly limited, but the Donkey Kong handheld made a brave attempt at simulating both the barrel and rivet levels and has been quite fondly remembered.

I’ve uploaded a YouTube video of this below to better demonstrate it. To run this in MAME you use ‘mame cdkong’ be sure to have the ARTWORK FILE in your artwork folder too because it’s not really playable otherwise.

If you didn’t read the important note at the top of the article now is a good time to read it because we’re going to look at some of the home computer versions of Donkey Kong, there were many of them, I can’t possibly cover them all, but to help people understand the functionality it’s worth looking at a couple.

One of the most critically acclaimed ports of Donkey Kong was the one to the Amstrad CPC, and I’m not surprised, for a system that received, for the most part, shoddy reworkings of Spectrum ports that were unflappably slow this is an absolute gem.

Now, for some reason running the cassette version of the game in the base Amstrad CPC464 driver results in raster timing glitches, I’m not sure why, it just does, I guess it might be because the CPC has the disk rom hooked up by default when really it should only be available if you plug the expansion in, but then I’ve noticed it works fine on some of the other models with a disk drive.

Either way, there is an Amstrad clone, the KC Compact, and we’ll be using that for our first example.

Launch MAME with ‘mame kccomp -cass1 dkong” this will launch MAME with the KC Compact drive running, and the Donkey Kong cassette (from the Software List) inserted into the cassette deck. Without loading the game however it will just sit there.

To get us moving type
and press enter, this will prompt you press PLAY then any key. The order you do this doesn’t matter here, so hit a key.

In order to start the tape playing you must enable the MAME interface keys, this is where the text at the top is important. Hit ‘UI Toggle’ (SCRLOCK by default) to enable the MAME keys.
Press F2, this is the keyboard shortcut to start a tape. A timer (3 minutes 36 seconds) appears in the top corner and the game begins to load. Hit the ‘UI Toggle’ key once more to disable the MAME keys again and hand the keyboard back over to the emulated system.

Wait. Eventually the game will load.

Donkey Kong CPC Donkey Kong CPC
Donkey Kong CPC Donkey Kong CPC

The graphics are fairly low resolution, but the look and feel of the game is spot on. Remember, if you want to exit the emulator hit the ‘UI Toggle’ key (SCRLOCK) before pressing ESC.

So far everything that has been covered in this articles has been loaded from the Software Lists. For ROM based games that is absolutely the correct way to go about things as the Software Lists often contain information about what was inside the cartridges, so some features like backup RAM might not end up being emulated properly if the Software Lists aren’t used, however for software that was on Cassette, Disk, or even CD Rom it is useful to know that unlisted software can also be loaded.

For the next example I’m going to look at one of the other 8-bit systems, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

Donkey Kong isn’t in the ZX Spectrum Software List (yet) so head over to the World of Spectrum and grab a loose copy. DonkeyKong.tzx.zip should do the trick, unzip it into your MAME folder so you have DonkeyKong.tzx sitting in the same location as your MAME.exe.

Launch MAME with ‘mame spectrum -cass1 “Donkey Kong.tzx”

this causes MAME to launch with the loose cassette image of Donkey Kong mounted in the cassette deck.

Now unlike the Amstrad, the Spectrum can be a bit of a pain when trying to load something because the build in BASIC uses a Macro system, meaning instead of typing words you must press keys that correspond to keywords. Luckily for loading a game you only have to know how to enter the command LOAD “”, which is ‘J’ (for load) then ‘Shift+P’ twice, for the “” part. After typing that, hit enter. The later Spectrum models have other easier ways of loading games, but not all software is compatible.

The procedure to start the tape is exactly the same as the CPC, hit the ‘UI Toggle’ (SCRLOCK), hit F2, tape starts playing, hit ‘UI Toggle’ again.

Spectrum Donkey Kong Spectrum Donkey Kong
Spectrum Donkey Kong Spectrum Donkey Kong

Not the best version of Donkey Kong, you can tell it’s meant to be Donkey Kong from the basic level structure but the graphics are dull and flickery and the controls / movement doesn’t really feel correct either.

With some of the systems now supported you’ll need to configure slots before launching the driver (unfortunately MAME still doesn’t support changing many of these at runtime which causes a problem with some games) To play the Commodore 64 (c64) version of Donkey Kong for example you’ll have to tell MAME that you want a C64 joystick inserted into one of the control ports. The launch syntax to do this is

“mame64 c64 -cart1 dkong -joy1 joy”

The Donkey Kong game in question is loaded from a cartridge, so the actual loading part is easy (loading a C64 game from Tape / Disk requires more effort) but without the -joy1 joy part, telling MAME that you want a joystick inserted into the first Joystick port it is impossible to control. With that added the game boots, can be started, and plays a reasonably good game of Donkey Kong.

C64 Donkey Kong C64 Donkey Kong
C64 Donkey Kong C64 Donkey Kong

One issue that was touched upon with the mention of the Spectrum is how some systems can be rather difficult to operate simply because the original keyboard layouts were so different to PC layout we have today. While the Macro based inputs of the Spectrum couldn’t really be made any easier there are cases where MAME can assist a little, by attempting to remap keypresses transparently. The option to enable this is ‘-natural’

A good example of where this is useful is the MSX. By default the ” symbol is very difficult to find when running the MSX driver (in all honesty I don’t know where it maps) but if using the ‘-natural’ option it maps to the same place it does on a PC keyboard, Shift + 2.

Let’s launch the MSX driver with that option for an example. MAME doesn’t have a generic MSX driver as the MSX was just a rough specification for a machine rather than an actual machine. One machine based on that specification is the Canon V-20E (canonv20). The following commandline is used to launch “mame canonv20 -cass1 dkong -natural”

This starts up the MSX driver with the Donkey Kong cassette in the cassette desk.

To start the tape loading you must type
In the case of the MSX driver the tape then automatically plays.

For the game in this driver I’ve found that once the game has loaded you must select ‘4’ (Joystick) in order for the controls to work well, I’m not sure if this is a conflict with the ‘-natural’ option or something else.

MSX Donkey Kong MSX Donkey Kong
MSX Donkey Kong MSX Donkey Kong

It’s an Ocean Software port, so very similar to the Spectrum version but with more colours, less flicker and generally improvements all round.

If you’re feeling lazy and pick an MSX model with a floppy drive then there’s actually a version of Donkey Kong available on Floppy Disk too.
The Expert DDPlus (Brazil) is one such MSX model, so using the launch syntax “mame expertdp -flop1 dkong” will load the floppy version from the Software List, exact same game tho.

MSX Floppy Donkey Kong MSX Floppy Donkey Kong

One thing I mentioned is influence, and an influential game leads to people still giving it care and attention many years later. Back in 2007 ‘Sock Master’ decided to do a port of the Arcade version of Donkey Kong to the CoCo 3 computer, with the goal of creating something as close to the arcade experience as possible.

In the end he succeeded in creating this port, although admitted that it performed better on a modified machine, one with the CPU upgraded. MESS was generally open to supporting unofficial modified hardware configurations (as long as they actually existed) so has a machine with precisely the recommended upgrades available by default. MESS was also open to some ‘homebrew’ software being documented, so this port made it’s way into the Software Lists.

To launch we use the simple syntax
“mame coco3h dkong”

Before going anywhere else it’s wise to hit the ‘UI Toggle’ key (SCRLOCK) bring up the TAB menu, scroll down to Analog Controls, and adjust the AD stick X and Y Digital Speeds and Auto Center speeds up to 50, why? because the system used Analog Joysticks, and the default mapping of ’10’ for the speeds makes the game very sticky. With the settings adjusted close the TAB menu (press TAB again) and hit the ‘UI Toggle’ key once again to give the system full keyboard access.

The game is on a floppy disk, to see the content of the floppy disk type DIR and press return. You can see see several files listed, the one with the .BAS extension (BASIC) is the game loader and the one we’re interested in, it’s called DONKEY.BAS. To run it just type
and hit enter

once the game has loaded you’ll want to hit ‘P’ to change the Palette Type to CMP (Composite) or the colours will be ugly ingame. By default the controls map to the numpad, NUMPAD0 is credit/start, and the 8/4/6/2 directions move your character.

CoCo3 Donkey Kong CoCo3 Donkey Kong
CoCo3 Donkey Kong CoCo3 Donkey Kong

Sound is a bit crackly (possibly our emulation, or a filter on hardware makes it sound better) and the game skips a few frames (the original machine isn’t quite powerful enough) but it’s a very solid effort and looks+plays great due to being a direct translation of the original arcade code.

Some ports are really easy to get going, the Apple II port for example
“mame apple2p dkong”

With that, the game auto loads and can be played using the Numpad, not a great port, but still recognizable as Donkey Kong.

Apple 2 Donkey Kong Apple 2 Donkey Kong
Apple 2 Donkey Kong Apple 2 Donkey Kong

So far all the versions that need to be loaded via BASIC have been fairly straight forward, and have auto-ran after the initial load sequence. That isn’t always the case however, some need a little more attention, and a little more knowledge of exactly what’s on the tape you’re trying to run. Another thing that you get with certain systems is the ability to configure different RAM sizes as many of these computers came in different models with different amounts of RAM depending on how much you were willing to pay, or modify your machine.

One example that ends up incorporating both of these elements is the Colour Genie EG2000. There was an unofficial port of Donkey Kong to the machine known as “Colour Kong” It was available in 2 versions, a 16K version and a 32K version, we’re going to look at the 32K version.

The launch syntax we will be using is “mame cgenie -cass1 colkong32 -ramsize 32K” The -ramsize 32K option configures the machine as a 32K machine, it’s 16 by default, the valid options here are defined in the driver.

The built in BASIC for the machine is incredibly unintuitive. The first thing I’d recommend is hitting the ‘UI Toggle’ key (SCRLOCK) to enable the MAME controls, we’ll need them in a bit to start the tape.

Upon booting you get a MEM SIZE prompt from the machine, just hit enter, at that point it will say COLOUR BASIC and READY.

The first command you need to enter into the emulated machine is
entering this, and pressing return gives you a *? prompt
This prompt is expecting you to enter a filename, to operate this system it appears you actually have to know the name of the file on the cassette, which is inconvenient to say the least. In this instance the filename is KONG32, so type KONG32 and hit return.
The system won’t prompt you to press play on the tape, but that’s exactly what it wants you to do right now, so hit F2 to start playing the tape. It takes about a minute and a half to load the game, during that time you’ll see some * symbols in the corner. After loading it returns you to the *? prompt

Again at this point it isn’t obvious what you must do, the game doesn’t auto-start (some games on the system do, but this isn’t one of them) to boot the game you must type a / symbol and press enter.

‘S’ starts the game, arrow keys move, Z is jump. It’s an unofficial port to an obscure system, and the barrel level is really tricky, but it does look like all the levels are implemented!

Colour Genie - Colour Kong Colour Genie - Colour Kong
Colour Genie - Colour Kong Colour Genie - Colour Kong
Colour Genie - Colour Kong Colour Genie - Colour Kong

Nintendo released versions of Donkey Kong on their own platforms too, one many people encountered is the NES version, it’s a decent port of the game. “mame nes dkong”

NES Donkey Kong NES Donkey Kong

That’s an easy one out of the way, now let’s look at something a bit more complex again.

For some systems you have to attach additional hardware before slots become available. One such system is the Famicom, aka the Japanese version of the NES. The Famicom had a ‘Disk System’ addon which allowed for games to be distributed on Floppy Disk. To use the Disk System add-on, and thus play games on Floppy you had to first plug it into your main system. In MAME you have to do the same.

There are two ways of doing things from here, option 1 is that we launch the Famicom with
“mame famicom -cart1 disksys”
this boots to the disk system bios.
from there you can press TAB to bring up the MAME tab menu, scroll down to ‘File Manager’, select it, scroll down to ‘floppydisk (flop)’, select it, scroll up to ‘[software list]’ select it, then ‘Nintendo Famicom Disk Images’, select that, then just type dkong to scroll the list to Donkey Kong and hit return. Assuming you have the ROMs available and where MAME can find them that will work. While for the purpose of this example I’m just loading Donkey Kong, which is identical to the NES version, there are a number of unique titles for the Disk System too.

The other way to do the same thing (without having to navigate all the menus) is to simply launch with
“mame famicom -cart1 disksys -flop1 dkong”
however navigating the menus is good practice for some more complex cases you might encounter later, where you have to change disks at runtime.

Famicom Disk System Donkey Kong Famicom Disk System Donkey Kong
Famicom Disk System Donkey Kong Famicom Disk System Donkey Kong

The majority of the rest of the Donkey Kong versions I managed to launch were easy cases, there are 3 of them for Atari Systems

The Atari 2600 had a very basic looking version of the game, with minimal presentation

“mame a2600 dkong”

Atari 2600 Donkey Kong Atari 2600 Donkey Kong

There was an Atari 800 version..

“mame a800 dkong”

Atari 800 Donkey Kong Atari 800 Donkey Kong
Atari 2600 Donkey Kong Atari 800 Donkey Kong

and an Atari 7800 version

“mame a7800 dkong”

Atari 7800 Donkey Kong Atari 7800 Donkey Kong

The interesting thing with the Atari 7800 version is that back in 2012 a new version was released to make use of the XM expansion card for the A7800, this expansion card added High Score Save support as well as additional sound chips. The original A7800 version of Donkey Kong has rather awful sound, so ‘TEP392′ decided to reprogram the game, improving it in significant ways. He released demo versions of this to the public to show off the improvements. The Demo version is softlisted, and our emulation does support the XM unit, unfortunately support seems to have broken at some point causing the Pokey to output static instead of the new music meaning I can’t really add that one to the ‘Things to try’ list for now.

The Gameboy got a port of Donkey Kong too, however it’s not really faithful to the original game logic, you can do some back-flip type jump instead of using the ladders at times!
“mame gbcolor dkong”

Donkey Kong Gameboy Donkey Kong Gameboy
Donkey Kong Gameboy Donkey Kong Gameboy

The Gameboy version was also special in another way, it was one of a handful of Gameboy games to have ‘Super Gameboy’ support. The Super Gameboy was an underutilized expansion device for the SNES which allowed Gameboy games to be played on the big screen with extra content (typically more colours, and a bezel) Most SNES add-ons are supported in MAME via the slot device system, however the Super Gameboy hasn’t been fully converted yet and is treated as a standalone system. For the purpose of running Donkey Kong this is good enough.
“mame supergb dkong”

Super Gameboy Donkey Kong Super Gameboy Donkey Kong
Super Gameboy Donkey Kong Super Gameboy Donkey Kong

The Intellivison got a basic, slow and ugly port of the game, remember to use the numpad to select difficulty etc. or it looks broken.
“mame intv dkong”

Intellivision Donkey Kong AIntellivision Donkey Kong

The Colecovision port plays well, but has minimal presentation

Intellivision Donkey Kong Intellivision Donkey Kong
Intellivision Donkey Kong Intellivision Donkey Kong

There was also a TI99-4a port
“mame ti99_4a donkeykg” (really this should be renamed to dkong to be consistent with the rest)
This one also plays a good game.

TI99-4A Donkey Kong TI99-4A Donkey Kong
TI99-4A Donkey Kong TI99-4A Donkey Kong

Venturing well into obscure territory is a port that was done for the BeLogic Uzebox. The Uzebox driver is marked as NOT Working in MAME, and lacks sound, but the actual gameplay of the Donkey Kong port runs fine, it’s not a great port, and the emulation does struggle to maintain 100% even on my 4Ghz i7, but it’s an interesting one because it shows how we’re interested in emulating these ‘Open Source’ games consoles and the homebrew software developed for them.
“mame uzebox dkong”

Uzebox Donkey Kong Uzebox Donkey Kong
Uzebox Donkey Kong Uzebox Donkey Kong

Not All Working

That concludes all the versions of Donkey Kong I could get working, there were a couple of others I couldn’t, the Vic20 version for example hangs on the title.

VIc20 Donkey Kong

The GBA version which is a ‘NES Classics’ release doesn’t work because those have some kind of anti-emulator protection on them that our ARM core fails, the IBM PC version is out of the scope of this article to run (if I do a Part 3 I might cover it) and a number of the other cases where there is a Donkey Kong port the drivers are just skeleton drivers or don’t seem to have the tape / floppy hooked up to a point where it can be loaded. There are one or two others that are just direct ports of existing versions too. There are a couple more fan remakes that aren’t in the Softlists yet that I haven’t covered, and countless commercial rip-offs that wanted a chunk of the action from back in the day, but I feel I’ve covered enough here to demonstrate the features of the emulator I wanted to demonstrate. One significant thing I haven’t covered here at all are the Donkey Kong licensed Fruit Machines, those were rather interesting too, but as our drivers in MAME don’t yet work there’s nothing to show yet.

Wrapping Up

It should be noted that for a lot of the systems covered here MAME isn’t the absolute best emulator available, however, it’s certainly good enough for many use cases, as hopefully all these different versions of Donkey Kong running demonstrate. Knowing which machine to use, or how to configure the machine you want to use can be a challenge, and in some cases you’ll need to do a bit of research (I had to myself here for loading an MSX game from cassette) but don’t let that put you off, plenty really are just as easy to use as any arcade game.

What’s interesting with Donkey Kong is that while it was ported extensively outside of Japan there don’t seem to be that many cases where it was released on home systems in Japan, this contrasts greatly with the output of Namco where their most popular games were ported to a wide range of Japanese systems. Covering some of the Japanese systems is definitely an area I should consider for a follow-up article too because the obscure Japanese systems have some good ports and in many cases are an area in which the MESS code we’ve imported really excels.

I hope some of the things covered in this little write-up have been useful and again help show exactly what new abilities having the MESS code integrated has opened up to people. I think it’s fair to say that MAME is now the King of Kong, you can trace the game right from it’s arcade origins down to the best and worst of ports

*If* I do a Part 3 it will likely cover some even more advanced use cases for the emulator, such as using the PC emulation where you need to install the operating system first. I was going to do that using Raiden as an example (like Part 1), but have since discovered it suffers from an emulation glitch meaning I need to rethink my plan there.

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What To Do In One Six Two (Part 1)

June 1, 2015 Haze Categories: General News. 7 Comments on What To Do In One Six Two (Part 1)

As is now well documented MAME 0.162 is the first MAME build to officially ship with the MESS drivers included, giving you a whole host of extra capability for absolutely no extra cost on your part.

While this addition is aimed at showing the more serious side of the project it can also be a lot of fun. The big advantage is that you need only configure one emulator, MAME, after which you have, at your fingertips, the ability to run a whole lot more than ever before.

Let’s say you’re a fan of the Raiden series, you’ve likely experienced the original arcade version in MAME a few times, and maybe even recently Raiden 2 / DX which were emulated.

Raiden Arcade Raiden Arcade
Raiden Arcade Raiden Arcade

Prior to 0.162 that was the only version of the original Raiden you could run using MAME, for anything else you’d have to use a different emulator such as one of my UME builds, MESS, or various other console / computer emulators.

As of 0.162, without having to look at any other emulator you have the option to do so much more. Raiden had a lot of ports, maybe you weren’t aware of them, let’s look at some of them.

One of the best ports of the original Raiden was the one to the FM Towns / FM Towns Marty. This version, which is documented in the Software List, can be launched with “mame64 fmtmarty raiden” (make sure to use the Marty driver, not the regular FM Towns one, the keyboard / joystick input mappings conflict with each other on the FM Towns by default leading to control issues)

Visually it’s nearly spot on compared to the arcade version, gameplay wise it’s based on the Japanese version so it uses checkpoints, but what really sets it aside from the Arcade is the use of CD Audio for the soundtrack, meaning this game, while playing almost perfectly compared to the arcade also features a brand new arranged soundtrack at CD quality. The only thing it really lacks seems to be a rotation option, which is a shame if you want to run it on a vertical monitor.

Fm Towns Raiden Fm Towns Raiden
Fm Towns Raiden Fm Towns Raiden

From one of the most accurate ports, let’s look at the most stripped down, the Atari Lynx version. Like everything covered here this in the Software List and can be launched with “mame64 lynx raiden”

Obviously this is a port to a very simple handheld system, so it only bares a passing resemblance the the original. It’s interesting in that (to my knowledge) it’s the only handheld port of the game, and actually managed to maintain the look and feel of the original game fairly well once you consider the system they had to work with.

Atari Lynx Raiden Atari Lynx Raiden
Atari Lynx Raiden Atari Lynx Raiden

Back to fairly accurate ports let’s look at the Playstation release. This can be launched with “mame64 psu raidenpr” (Only the US version runs, there’s some kind of weird disc protection on the Japanese rips)

The Playstation version contains both Raiden and Raiden 2 (a very good port of Raiden 2 at that, possibly better than our current emulation) but for the purpose of this I’ll focus on Raiden 1. The graphics are the same as those found in the arcade game, it has both Horizontal and Vertical modes for if you want to use a Vertical screen (although you’ll need to remap the controls to play that properly, but MAME’s internal rotation at least makes it very easy to rotate the display)

Raiden Project Raiden Project
Raiden Project Raiden Project

Raiden Project Raiden Project

The PC Engine had 2 releases of Raiden, the original ‘Raiden’ was a regular cartridge game, while Super Raiden was a CD release with full CD soundtrack. Visually these are downgraded a bit from the arcade as it’s a weaker platform, but again they give you a slightly experience as a result.

The launch syntax for Super Raiden is the slightly more complex “mame64 pce -cart scdsys -cdrom sraiden” (because you have to insert the CD cart into the PCE cartridge slot in order to play CD games in the CD drive) For the regular Raiden it’s simply “mame64 pce raiden”

PCE Super Raiden PCE Super Raiden
PCE Super Raiden PCE Super Raiden

PCE Raiden PCE Raiden

One of the worst ports of Raiden I’ve played is the Atari Jaguar one. While the console should have been more than capable of running a game like Raiden it appears that the company porting it simply created a game that looked a bit like Raiden, but really doesn’t feel much like it at all when you play, everything simply feels a bit off. The Jaguar driver in MAME isn’t very good and doesn’t run many games, but Raiden is relatively undemanding and plays fine. “mame64 jaguar raiden”

Jaguar Raiden Jaguar Raiden
Jaguar Raiden Jaguar Raiden

The Genesis port is the one I’m more familiar with, the colours are a bit drab compared to some of the others but it plays a good game and is actually one of my favourite shooters on the platform. “mame64 genesis raiden”

Genesis Raiden Genesis Raiden
Genesis Raiden Genesis Raiden

The Snes port gives you yet another take on it, visually it’s less drab than the Genesis version, and doesn’t have the side bar obscuring half the view (so in that sense it’s closer to the PCE version) but it does apparently have quite a lot of slowdown. “mame64 snes raiden”

Snes Raiden Snes Raiden
Snes Raiden Snes Raiden

By integrating MESS in 0.162 we’ve given the opportunity for anybody with more than a passing interest in games to dig a bit deeper and see what they can find, to me that’s beautiful and being able to see all these different versions of Raiden without having to switch emulator at all is just pure bliss. I know some people are trying to throw a negative slant on it, and some of the builds that already like to do things we request aren’t done are already stripping out the extra content along with the nag screens (the main one of which was actually already removed in 0.162) but in the end that ends up being their loss, I’ve already read people saying they’re going to migrate away from those builds because they no longer offer the full MAME experience.

There is actually some other stuff that’s brand new to 0.162; emulation of the original Tamagotchi is actually a landmark moment, as a piece of technology it had a huge influence, and the emulation of it is easily as significant as the emulation of the original Pacman arcade, just remember to run it with something like “-prescale 3″ to avoid it being a blurry mess.

Tamagotchi Tamagotchi
Tamagotchi Tamagotchi
Tamagotchi Tamagotchi

The Golden Tee Fore! stuff already mentioned is also working in 0.162; if you have performance issues be sure to set the resolution dispwitch to Low, that way a high end i7 should run it without frame drops or audio stuttering.

My message is simple here however; if you’re willing to embrace the changes made to the project, put a bit of effort in to learn how the new content works, have an open mind to explore some of it, and want to get a real insight into the industry back then, including how the arcades and home systems influenced each other, which software houses worked most closely with the original manufacturers to provide accurate ports, and where developers too liberties etc. then the new look MAME 0.162 is likely to be the first step in providing a very worthwhile experience.

If you’re closed-minded, unwilling to accept change, are lazy, or just want to be rebellious on the other hand, I can understand why this might not be for you ;-)

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The Gulf of Bothnia

May 11, 2015 Haze Categories: General News. 38 Comments on The Gulf of Bothnia

As has widely been reported commit 5df1b60963060ea61de7bed8d2e8f68f284bf1d9 marks the beginning of a new age of MAME.

The UME project, which began life as ‘Ultimate MAME’ in 2011 has dissolved into what from this point on will simply be known as MAME.

The option to build an ‘arcade only’ version of MAME remains as a subtarget, and likewise you can still build MESS if you have no desire for the arcade drivers, however the default ‘out the box’ configuration is now one that encompasses ALL the work that is being put into the project. I expect the other build options will evolve over time to become more hardware focused for example, allowing you to build a solution containing all drivers using a given device (which would obviously be beneficial to development) The way we generate the build solutions now using Genie gives us the possibility to explore more options in the future.

At the same time you’re also seeing a drive to clear up the licensing a little more. This, like the above, is just a step in the project maturing. As an arcade-only emulator it was easy to write MAME off as nothing but a toy; while it did have a number of other uses the majority of what it did (and what people ended up using it for) was run games. By bringing in the more serious side of the project we end up with a more professional piece of software with numerous irrefutable uses that extend well beyond any simple misconception of the project being nothing but a toy. With that more professional front to the project the need for a standard license also becomes greater, and I also feel more comfortable in re-licensing my code to be more permissive knowing that it is part of something that has many more legal uses. Obviously a number of the issues with older code that were raised before remain, but we’re in a better place right now than back then.

The main topic for discussion when it comes to MAME doing more than just arcade games is ‘what does MAME stand for’. While people like to put forward suggestions for new names still fitting the acronym I think the most important thing is not to focus on what the letters stand for, but to simply focus on what MAME as a brand stands for. For the longest time now ‘MAME’ has represented a bridge between the past and the present, a project providing a platform to keep creations of the past accessible, providing documentation (an insight into how things worked), reusable components, and importantly a place for those interested in emulation to do their work. Just like nobody really thinks of ‘SEGA’ as ‘SErvice GAmes’ the traditional meaning of the MAME acronym is less important than actual work we do.

If you still want something to mentally associate with the ‘new MAME’ then the suggestions of “MAME And MESS, Emulators” and “Multiple Archaic Machine Emulator” do strike a chord with me, but I doubt the official acronym will be changing, it simply represents where we came from.

People have asked what my opinion on all of this is, probably expecting me to have a lot to say about it now that it’s finally happened, however, I don’t. I don’t mind that the UME brand is gone, it was a fun thing, and yes, I did like the name (EMU backwards, the combination of two things ‘U and ME’, the way it was creatively used in the word ‘ConsUME‘ etc.) but in the end the project was only ever a means to an end, a way of showing that the projects could work as one, and a way of ensuring no further conflicts between the projects crept in after they’d ended up really quite far apart at one point. The brand has served it’s purpose.

I think, as the project grew up, this kind of change was inevitable; just as arcades saw a steep decline interest in the baseline MAME project saw a steep decline; hardware we were emulating was being better tested by non-arcade systems, and a lot of developers were already starting to write more code for the emulation of non-arcade systems than arcade ones. The flexibility and design patterns required for the non-arcade systems were already starting to define the project too, leading to better more reusable code. The source repository used for both projects already existed under the ‘MAME’ name only, the source distributions were already shared, and releases were already being made from the exact same code revisions. Mametesters has also already been taking bugs for the non-arcade side for a while, and a number of other sites were providing support for both due to improved awareness that they really are both built from the same sources. In that sense what we see isn’t such a big step at all, just another small step.

Obviously some work needs to be done on unifying terminology, there are many places in MAME which refer to things as ‘games’ (or in MESS as ‘systems’) where in reality a unified term (something like ‘machines’) would apply better to both the arcade ‘machines’ and home ‘machiness’, but again that would simply be refinement, and another sign of the project becoming more serious, and more mature. Concerns with UME such as not being able to identify the type of system from the XML are more likely to be addressed now that everything is included in the primary target.

For an end user (not interested in developing) all it really means is that you get the option to do more with the binary you download; you have the opportunity to see how the code used for emulating Sega C2 / Megatech / Megaplay games fares when asked to run larger parts of the Megadrive / Genesis library, you have the tools at your fingertips to explore the different home ports of various arcade games and compare them. If the new additions don’t interest you then you can simply ignore them, just like you ignore so many of the terrible games supported by MAME right now.

From a developer point of view not much changes immediately; new developers get more in their build by default, and on a sufficiently high end system (as I’ve recently found out) build times and link times are still good. For developers on weaker hardware the old targets can still be built, and hopefully in the future things will become even easier with more focused targets for specific cases becoming much easier to generate than ever before. The project benefits because developers are more immediately aware that their changes must work with all sides of the project, as by including everything by default we’re showing we value it all equally.

There are always going to be people calling the project ‘Bloatware’ or throwing ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ statements around about the project, but in the end the people calling it Bloatware are never really going to be satisfied as long as it emulates things they don’t personally care about, and the only way we’re going to master the emulation of many systems is by increasing exposure, getting people on board, and working hard on doing what we’ve always done; every little step counts. One thing I’ve noticed with MAME is that it stands the test of time a lot better than many of the smaller emulators even if there is room for improvement (the number of older but popular emulators that fail on simple things like coping with a wide-screen display without distorting the image is disturbing for example, I’ve found myself using MAME/UME very often simply due to little things like that, there are many advantages to it being an active and open project with a wide variety of users and tasks that need to be done meaning we’re never far from a release)

Moving on to more random thoughts, I guess UI builds will adopt the existing MESSUI code (as it provides a way to use a number of features that MAMEUI doesn’t) meaning those who have been asking me to do ‘UMEUI’ for a long time might finally get something along those lines, although I’d definitely still recommend a real frontend over either.

Overall it makes me happy to see that the public response has generally been positive, with some uncertainty over how things will work, but I’m sure once there has been a release or two with this as the default configuration people will find it a lot clearer.

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Post Release Progress

May 8, 2015 Haze Categories: General News. 4 Comments on Post Release Progress

A while back I covered Race Drivin’ Panorama, but mentioned that it wasn’t full functional due to the side screens crashing when selecting one of the car types.

It turns out that the cause of this crash was actually a regression affecting ALL the Hard Drivin’ / Race Drivin’ sets in one way or another that had been introduced during a modernization prior to my changes. Osso tracked down his error when addressing the original MameTesters report, and as a result Race Drivin’ Panorama now runs correctly, displaying full-screen views (no car panels) when selecting the Roadster rather than crashing; it turns out the code I wrote before was actually just fine and the game can now be marked as working.

Race Drivin' Panorama
Race Drivin' Panorama

Couriersud did some more work on Breakout, improving looks and performance (it now hovers around 100% on a 4Ghz i7 )


Brian Troha located some alt Golden Tee Fore! sets, including the original release and the 2002 release. Tracking down the sub-revisions of this could be tricky, especially if the online system was used to provide game updates (I’m not 100% sure on that) Also the game stores a lot of data to disk, including operator info and records etc. as well as allowing full version updates to be installed via CD, so finding clean drives is next to impossible too. These definitely border on the annoying to preserve territory as a result.

Golden Tee Fore! Golden Tee Fore! Golden Tee Fore!

Golden Tee Fore! 2002 Golden Tee Fore! 2002 Golden Tee Fore! 2002

Even better news for fans of the GTFore! series is that Ted fixed the map display making them more or less fully playable.

Golden Tee Fore! Golden Tee Fore!

Peter Ferrie gave some much needed attention to an unknown gambler that uses a i186 CPU. Turned out to be some kind of multi-game. One interesting thing with gambling games is they often have undocumented init codes which are required before the game will boot, sometimes even finding out how to access the page where you need to enter the code can be a challenge. Finding the code screen on this one wasn’t too tricky (last screen of the test mode, although it doesn’t explicitly ask you to enter a code) but working out the actual init sequence required took some digging through the game code; turns out it wanted keypresses of “1 1 X X 1 1 1 X X X 1 1 X 1 1 1 1 X 1 1 1 1 1 X 1 1 1 1 1 1 X” where X and 1 are 2 of the buttons the game uses.

This also required him to hook up a number of other components in the driver, although even with all this hooked up it doesn’t work quite correctly; never underestimate the amount of work that goes into making some of these run tho, they might look like dumb pieces of junk but they can be an interesting emulation challenge to those interested.

i186 based gambler i186 based gambler
i186 based gambler i186 based gambler
i186 based gambler i186 based gambler

Another gambler, this time one running on a Hyperstone CPU was dumped by system11. The hardware is by F2 system and very similar to their ‘Mosaic’ game. It fails to boot with a ‘Secret’ Error, which I’m guessing is something similar to the above, or a protection check.

Royal Poker 2

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UME / MAME / MESS 0.161

April 29, 2015 Haze Categories: General News. 43 Comments on UME / MAME / MESS 0.161

UME (logo by JackC)
UME is the complete/combined version of the MAME / MESS project.

Official whatsnew texts for (MAME, MESS) provide full details of what has changed since 0.160.

This is based on the official ‘mame0161′ tagged version at GitHub.

UME 0.161 Windows binaries – 32-bit, 64-bit and all tools
(source matches official mamedev.org source distribution, here for completeness)

Other Binaries (if you don’t know what these are you don’t need them)
MAME/MESS split 0.161 Windows binaries – 32-bit, 64-bit and all tools

Windows SDL builds
The regular Windows build of MAME now has an OpenGL video mode, if you’re having BSOD issues with nVidia hardware on XP try that instead of DirectDraw, it should be more compatible with existing frontends etc. than the SDL builds were. I may reassess the situation later however because I’ve found the opengl output in regular MAME to have some drawbacks, it appears to be locked to vsync causing unwanted slowdown, especially on older hardware.

However, I’ve found, at least on my older hardware that the OpenGl renderer in the baseline build doesn’t perform as well as SDLMAME, so if you’re on older nVidia/XP hardware, or using integrated Intel graphical and getting corrupt graphics you might still prefer to use the SDL builds.

SDL MAME/MESS/UME 0.161 32-bit Windows builds
SDL MAME/MESS/UME 0.161 64-bit Windows builds

Experimental binaries
MAME / MESS / UME 0.161 64-bit Windows builds, compiled using CLANG (windows_x64_clang option)


I skipped 0.160 due to lack of time. I’ve upgraded my hardware since then cutting compile times from over an hour to around 7 mins. 0.161 also brings a brand new genie based build system, so there could still be some teething issues.

Points of Interest

The main thing of interest over the last 2 months comes in the form of the emulation progress made with the old handheld games, most of these are MCU based, so simply seeing somebody dumping them is an achievement, and beyond that the work required to create artwork etc. means that the number of them we see marked as working in this release is phenomenal. Some screenshots of these running were uploaded here. Most of these require external artwork to be functional, the current artwork being used can be found here.

Ted Green’s improvements to the driver for the more recent Golden Tee games continue to be a revelation, many of them boot and can actually be played to a degree, although there are still graphical issues (of note the map display on the bottom left) and no sound. They also require a pretty beefy machine but do actually hover around 100% on my new setup (faster when unthrottled but a bit uneven when throttled as the CPU load for each individual frame varies quite a lot) Interestingly the version we have marked as ‘Golden Tee Fore 2002′ actually shows 2003, I’m not sure if that means we’re missing a real 2002 set?

*edit* they have sound, some of them just have the volume set to 0 by default, it can be adjusted in service mode. We’re definitely missing images of Golden Tee Fore! and Golden Tee Fore! 2002, all the images we have are upgraded ones (it adds an extra partition to the drive each time you upgrade, unfortunately deleting the extra partitions doesn’t reverse the process as other data is changed too)

Golden Tee Fore Golden Tee Fore
Golden Tee Fore Golden Tee Fore
Golden Tee Fore Golden Tee Fore
Golden Tee Fore Golden Tee Fore
Golden Tee Fore Golden Tee Fore
Golden Tee Fore Golden Tee Fore

Work was also done on the Sega ‘Spider’ system, which is really just a revised Naomi platform (not actually compatible with Naomi) which Sega used mainly for Medal style games, and some novelty products. Tetris Giant was one such release, it boots to a title screen but hangs shortly after before showing any gameplay.

Sega Spider Sega Spider

A host of fixes to the GBA driver in the MESS part of the code significantly improved compatibility there.

In addition to the very rare French version of Berzerk I mentioned in an earlier update the Spanish version was also dumped thanks to Bartolomé López Giménez and Ricky2001. The Spanish version was licensed to ‘Sonic’ (or at the very least they made the cabinet and modified the game code to show ‘Sonic’) Interestingly it has far less speech than the other versions, choosing to reuse a much smaller selection of speech clips more frequently; I can only assume budget constraints.

Of course the things I’ve covered here already were also included; Table Tennis Champions, Car Hunt, Ma Cheon Ru etc.

DoDonPachi Dai-Fukkatsu Black Label was also added, although like all the SH3 based Cave titles it lacks emulation of the hardware limits so much of the slowdown is missing resulting in a much more difficult game. I’m starting to wonder if we shouldn’t just mark them as NOT WORKING until it can be emulated properly, it can be game breaking in places. For those not in the know the ‘Black Label’ version of this game is significantly reworked from the original releases and even includes a brand new soundtrack.

Golden Tee Fore Golden Tee Fore Golden Tee Fore

The Medal games Luca showed on his page are also supported.

The hard work of Couriersud and the DICE authors means that BreakOut becomes the 2nd major discrete game to show promise, it’s not yet marked as working, but can actually be played in it’s current state, runs at 60-70% speed on a 4ghz i7 tho, so be warned, it isn’t quick!


All in all it’s a ‘bit of everything’ release; I even had to dig out the old CPS2 key-finder for the new Super Puzzle Fighter 2 clone (parent)

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Little SemiCom in Dragonworld

April 13, 2015 Haze Categories: General News. 21 Comments on Little SemiCom in Dragonworld

system11 recently picked up another SemiCom title, this time it’s Ma Cheon Ru, a tile matching game which seems to be heavily inspired by IGS’ Dragon World series (the overall feel of the game is quite close to Dragon World 2)

It’s actually a bit of a mashup of your regular tile matching games and a selection on minigames because after each round you’re presented with one of a number of bonus features, including timed stamping of envelopes, punching a guy in the face and a shooting gallery of sorts.

The actual protection data for the game hasn’t been read out yet, but by hacking it up to use data from the XESS (Semicom 3-in-1) game I was able to get something which appears playable, obviously I want to extract the real data for this game before marking it as working tho (that’s the next task, working with system11 to do that)

Ma Cheon Ru Ma Cheon Ru
Ma Cheon Ru Ma Cheon Ru
Ma Cheon Ru Ma Cheon Ru
Ma Cheon Ru Ma Cheon Ru
Ma Cheon Ru Ma Cheon Ru
Ma Cheon Ru Ma Cheon Ru
Ma Cheon Ru Ma Cheon Ru
Ma Cheon Ru Ma Cheon Ru
Ma Cheon Ru Ma Cheon Ru
Ma Cheon Ru Ma Cheon Ru
Ma Cheon Ru Ma Cheon Ru
Ma Cheon Ru Ma Cheon Ru
Ma Cheon Ru Ma Cheon Ru

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